17 free things to do in Houston this summer

17 free things to do in houston this summer.jpg

June 10, 2018

Summer is here, alive, and well and even though I stopped getting an actual summer break roughly 10 years ago (can I go back?) I still love to spend my weeknights and weekends gallivanting around, pretending like my real world responsibilities don't exist. 

But summer gallivanting can get 'spensive, especially when you still have to, you know, pay your bills and stuff. So here's a quick little list of a bunch of fun and FREE summer things to do in Houston!

Miller Outdoor Theatre - This is by far my top 3 favorite things about Houston. What could be better than gathering your friends, sitting on a blanket with plates of cheese and meats and wine, and enjoying a show. From the Houston Symphony to the Houston Ballet to some killer community theatre by organizations like Theatre Under the Stars, there is not shortage of wonderful entertainment here. Pro tip: there are also a limited number ticketed seats in front of the stage if hoofing it up a gigantic hill to have a picnic isn't your thing. They're also free, you just have to come pick them up the day of the show from 10:30 am - 1:00 pm. There's usually a pretty long line but it moves quickly. 

The Art Car Museum - The Art Car Museum is a private institution dedicated to contemporary art, with a focus on how people take something as fundamental as a vehicle and turn it into a personal symbol. Fun fact: Houston is often considered the "Art Car Capital of the World," with an entire parade dedicated to them every April. However, if you can't wait around until April to see some, admission to the Art Car Museum is free of charge year round.

Screen on the Green - Among other fun, free things to do at Discovery Green (read: the flea market, Flea by Night), there are also free movies on a giant blow up screen throughout the summer. Again, it's another pack up everyone and spread out a blanket on a hill situation but free and kid-friendly.

Cistern History Tours on the Bayou - Sure you can do a lot of free things along the Bayou already, like...walk or run, but you can also get in on some history as well. On Thursdays, free guided tours are given to learn about this unique space and the history of Houston's water system.

Water Wall - Not only a free and awesome thing to see, but also making for an incredible photo opp, the Water Wall is a 64 foot U shaped wall with water rushing down both its inside and outside walls. 

Houston Arboretum and Nature CenterNestled in Memorial Park, which in and of itself already has a ton to do, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center has trails, a discovery room, and other interactive exhibitions all dedicated to educating people on how to take care of the plants and animals local to Houston. 

Urban Harvest Farmers MarketsThis is just one of a bajillion farmers markets that can be found around Houston on Saturdays in the summers. And while, sure, you do have to buy things if you want to take anything home, there are always a ton of free samples for those looking to stay on budget and just enjoy a Saturday morning stroll. ;)

James Turrell's Twilight Epiphany Skyspace - At sunrise and sunset this artistic structure reflects the natural light illuminating the grass covered pyramid beneath it. Shows to this are free but reservations are required. 

Waugh Bridge Bat Colony Viewing - For free, you can witness over 250,000 bats emerging from one of Houston's bridges right after dusk each night. I know it sounds a little batty (intended), but it's an actual thing that actual people do and I think it's actually pretty cool. 

The Menil Collection - With four museum buildings, The Menil Collection is a 30-acre neighborhood of art completely free of charge. A few exhibits are permanently dedicated to two artists and others host year-long exhibitions.

Rothko Chapel A spiritual space located right next to the Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel contains 14 murals of art by Mark Rothko and is visited by people from all over the world of different faiths.

Free Museum Entries - And if you have figured it out already, Houston is a pretty cultured place with many museums. Most of these museums have pretty typical entry fees, but on Thursdays many of them are free!

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum: Free Thursday 1 - 5 pm

Children's Museum of Houston: Free Thursday 5  -  8 pm

The Health Museum: Free Thursday 2  -  5 pm

Holocaust Museum Houston: Free Thursday 2  -  5 pm

Houston Museum of Natural Science: Free Thursday after 2 pm

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Free Thursday 10 am  -  9 pm


What did I miss? Do you have any other suggestions of fun, free things to do in Houston this summer?


PS - Need to figure out if you can afford any summer fun that may cost money but aren't sure where to start? Download my free budget template to see how far you can stretch out your fun money while still being a responsible adult. Just click the picture below!