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America's Coolest City Parks

Discovery Green Park, Houston

Katya Horner

Discovery Green Park, Houston

Concrete parking lots were torn up to make way for this 12-acre downtown paradise of lawns, a man-made lake, and cool features like 14-foot-high arcing water jets. Dog jumping and other wacky competitions, free classes, and fine dining at James Beard award–winning chef Robert Del Grande’s restaurants have helped lure some three million visitors since the opening in 2008. It’s a transformation that would make singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell proud.

Coolest Time to Visit: During Houston’s annual Restaurant Week (actually a month, August 1–31, 2011), whose participants include Del Grande’s park restaurant, The Grove. Its elegant, glass-walled dining room overlooks century-old live oak trees.

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