One of the fastest growing cities in the United States, Houston boasts a complex assortment or boutiques and shops, parks and ponds, museums and zoos. Not only does this part of Texas burst with lush plant life, trees, and greenery, but its position by the Gulf Coast makes a day trip to the beach a distinct possibility. Check out Houston’s vacation rental locations and book your trip to The Lone Star State today!

1. Downtown, Houston

Downtown Houston lies between Interstates 45, 10 and 69, creating a pocket of shops, museums, and parks, all within walking distance. Explore underwater critters at the Downtown Aquarium, and then take a family walk along Buffalo Bayou. In fact, the walking/running path of Buffalo Bayou follows along the river, below I-45 and to Eleanor Tinlsey Park, dotted with wooded areas, greenery, and playgrounds. Sam Houston Park and Tranquility Park also boast plenty of outdoor fun in the midst of urban Houston.

2. Uptown, Houston

Follow Buffalo Bayou west past I-610 to Uptown. If shopping is your game, then the Uptown area proudly hosts Galleria, a 400-store shopping center that’s a destination in itself. However, you can always escape the hustle and bustle of your fellow shoppers at Memorial Park, located just a few minutes northeast of Uptown. Here you can catch a relaxing game of golf, go on any number of hikes through the woods, or learn about the outdoors at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.

3. Spring Branch, Houston

Spring Branch, just north of Uptown, is also just a few miles northwest of Memorial Park and directly east of Bear Creek Pioneers Park. The latter has it all from equestrian trails and nature trails to wildlife habitats, restrooms, and sports fields. Make a day of it at the park with an early morning hike, a picnic lunch, and fishing in the ponds. Enjoy some delicious Mexican and Oriental grub at Las Tortas Perronas, Paik’s Noodle, and Roostar Vietnamese Grill.

4. Energy Corridor, Houston

The Energy Corridor lies just south of the Bear Creek Pioneers Park and West of I-8. The George Bush Park lies within the Energy Corridor neighborhood. Take your guns out for a test drive at the park’s American Shooting Centers, or rent a few horses for the day, and explore the equestrian trails. With an included dog area of the park, you can bring your four-legged members of the family on vacation with you. Fishing, sports, and swimming are also available at the park.

5. The Woodlands, Houston

The Woodlands lies on the northern boundary of Houston, giving it an almost rural feel. Livestock roam the fields, and the neighborhood itself is inundated with walking and biking paths, the perfect place for a relaxing family outing after a day spent Downtown. Opt for a vacation rental on Lake Woodlands, and bring your family canoe for a little water fun. Enjoy some genuine Southern food Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen—try the beignets—or a hot sandwich at Grub Burger Bar. You can entertain your kids at the Woodlands Children’s Museum or Nancy Book Center for Performing Arts.

6. Oak Forest, Houston

Just north of Downtown, Oak Forest is close enough to urban Houston to make getting there fast and easy, but far enough away to provide a relaxing oasis. Take the kids Watonga Parkway Park for a day of grass and freedom. Walk along the nature trails or explore the creek, or take a quick drive down to Memorial Park for even more room to roam. After exploring the local parks, explore the local food joints as well. Mytiburger is a surprising ma and pa joint worth visiting.

7. Montrose, Houston

Other than Downtown, Montrose might be the most walkable neighborhood in Houston. Considered the street culture capital of the city, Montrose is the place to stay to really take in the local color, enjoy annual festivals, and stroll along quaint streets. A multitude of parks, from tiny Ervan Chew Park to long and languorous Eleanor Tinsley Park provides a breath of fresh air for the family. Throw a frisbee, go on a family hike, or just play a game of tag among the trees and grass.

8. The Heights, Houston

North of Montrose and northwest of Downtown, is Houston Heights. This area boasts some truly remarkable architecture, making a family scenic drive (or bike ride thanks to the bike-friendly layout) down the streets a must-do. Many of the rentals boast porches, perfect for relaxing in the morning or barbecuing at night. Of course, you can always get your dinner on the road at one of the many hip restaurants such Happy Fatz and Gumbo Jeaux’s.

9. The Museum District, Houston

Aptly named, Houston’s Museum District—located southwest of Downtown—bursts with museums such as the Children’s Museum of Houston. It’s filled with hands-on exhibits that teach kids about the world in a fun way. Older kids can appreciate the Holocaust Museum of Houston and Houston Museum of Natural Science. Catch a play at the Miller Outdoor Theare, or stroll the lush Japanese Garden. Complete your children’s Houston experience by taking them to the Houston Zoo, which boasts more than 6,000 animals.