John P. McGovern Playground

John P. McGovern Playground
The $2.3 million playground area completes improvements to the park’s northwest corner, an area bordered by La Branch and McKinney Streets, as part of the Discovery Green Conservancy’s $13.3 million park-wide master plan improvement project.

The new facilities give families double the amount of play space and feature ample seating, improved energy-efficient lighting for safer evening play and more shade thanks to 31 new trees.

For the youngest visitors, ages 2 to 5, the new Mendez Play Space—named for David Mendez, former chair of the Houston Endowment board of directors and VP at JPMorgan Chase—features nearly 15 pieces of equipment to encourage fitness and creativity, a play hill, as well as a concrete bench that serves as containment and seating for caregivers. For children ages 5 to 12, a section near the park’s popular interactive Gateway Fountain features a ropes course with innovative and age-appropriate equipment to improve strength and agility.

Since opening in 2008, Discovery Green has welcomed more than 15 million people and spurred more than $1.2 billion in development in downtown Houston. At the time of its opening, the northwest corner was considered a back corner of the park, but it is now a key gateway to Discovery Green.

The newly designed playground and other master plan improvements—including expanded restrooms that rolled out in May 2018 and the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club Allée that opened in August 2020—address the needs of the growing population of people who live, work and play downtown while positioning the park to meet the demands of the future.

Construction of the new playground started in August 2019 and was completed in August 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the completed project remained behind construction fencing as playgrounds across the city were closed to limit the spread of the disease. Beginning March 22, the playground will be open every day during normal park hours, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Completion of the project was made possible by grants from the John P. McGovern Foundation, The Elkins Foundation and the Houston Endowment Inc. in honor of David Mendez. Discovery Green Conservancy’s master plan project is funded by Houston Endowment Inc., Kinder Foundation, The Brown Foundation Inc., The Wortham Foundation Inc., The Cullen Foundation and the Sterling-Turner Foundation.

Hargreaves Jones Associates designed the new John P. McGovern Playground, with consultation by landscape architect Lauren Griffith and Gandy2 Lighting Design and construction by Forney Construction LLC.

For the safety and enjoyment of all, Discovery Green® manages park activity very carefully. Please click here to see other Park Rules pertaining to the playground.

Please take note of these Park Rules when visiting the playground:
  • Children age 12 and under only
  • No dogs
  • Adults must be with a child
  • No food, drinks or smoking
  • No bikes, rollerblades or skates
  • No coolers or chairs
  • Playground access may be restricted for safety
  • Playground may not be reserved
  • No fighting or reckless behavior

Discovery Green Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.