Free museums in Houston are a thing and if you are traveling this summer (or any time of the year) keep reading! And, PIN or bookmark this for future reference.
Houston is hot in the summer and rainy in the winter. You will definitely want to beat the weather by visiting our lovely air-conditioned museums! However, entrance fees can stack up! Here are the best tips for getting discounted admission, finding free museums in Houston, and making the most of your money!
1 | Check for In-House Deals and Promotions
Head to the museum website – most have in-house discounts they offer for different promotions and people (such as the active-duty military Blue Star Museums program, first responder, AAA, seniors, students, Lone Star Card, etc.).
2 | Get a Bank of America Card for Admission for Free Museums in Houston
If you have a Bank of America card you get free admission to over 100 museums nationwide on the first full weekend of every month. It can be a credit or debit card. Each person requesting complimentary admission via the BOA Museums on Us Program needs their own card and photo ID.
3 | Take Advantage of Free Days at the Museum
Many of the most popular museums in Houston have a free day. However, be aware many require you to pre-reserve tickets. Definitely check the website for complete information before arriving.
Free Museums in Houston – Only Free on Certain Days/ Times/ Specific Occasions
- Asia Society Texas | Thursdays noon to 7pm
- Buffalo Soldiers National Museum | Thursdays 1pm-5pm
- The Children’s Museum Houston | Free Thursdays 5pm-8pm
- Czech Center Museum Houston | Free Thursdays 2pm-4pm for all and Second Saturdays Free general admission for students with a valid school ID
- Fort Bend Discovery Center/ Houston Children’s Museum | Free with a FLIP Kit pass from the Houston Public Library
- The Health Museum | Free Thursdays 2pm-7pm
- Holocaust Museum Houston | Free Thursdays 2pm-5pm
- Houston Museum of Natural Science | HMNS | Free Tuesdays 5pm-8pm
- Houston Zoo | Free all day on the first Tuesday of the month, pre-reserved tickets required
- Museum of Fine Arts Houston | Free all day on Thursdays (free parking does not start until 5pm)
- Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center (Galveston) | 18 & under are free on the second Saturday of the month with a paying chaperone
- The Printing Museum | Free Thursday, admission by appointment only from 10am-2pm
Free Museums in Houston (and Wildlife Education) – Always Free
- Antique Toy Museum & Gift Shop
- Art Car Museum
- Bear Creek Pioneers Park & Wildlife Habitat
- Blaffer Art Museum
- Byzantine Fresco Chapel
- City of Houston WaterWorks Education Center
- Commemorative Air Force – Houston Wing
- Contemporary Arts Museum
- Cullen Sculpture Garden
- David Adickes Studio | Exterior only & by appointment
- Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary
- Fernland Historical Park
- Friendswood Schools Museum | by appointment
- Geoscience Center & Museum | by appointment
- HAM – Harrisburg Arts Museum
- Houston Arboretum and Nature Center | Parking is also free on Thursdays
- Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
- Houston Center for Photography
- Houston Museum for African American Culture
- Houston Police Museum
- Humble Museum
- James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace
- Katy Heritage Park & Historical Homes
- Lawndale Art Center
- The Menil Collection
- Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens
- Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Depot and Caboose
- Moody Center for the Arts
- Nature Discovery Center
- Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts
- Pioneer Memorial Log House Museum
- Port of Houston Authority Sam Houston Boat Tour
- Project Row Houses
- Rothko Chapel
- Russian Cultural Center
- Sea Center Texas
- Spring Historical Museum
- Sugar Land Heritage Museum
- Waugh Bat Colony
- Wunderlich Farm
For more museums, zoos, aquariums, & wildlife education, and eclectic places around Houston be sure to visit our main Museums page. It also denotes which museums have free or discounted admission.
4 | Use a Promo Code or Pass
Promo or coupon codes are commonly produced throughout the year. Use them to get a discount on memberships. If there is not a current code available or you are not ready to buy get on their mailing lists. Discount codes are often sent out in newsletters. Ongoing offers can often be found on sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon.
Or, if you are seeing more than one site consider a CityPass which bundles discounts to several city attractions like Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, Kemah Boardwalk, Children’s Museum Houston, or Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Feel free to drop current codes in the comments below!
5 | Traveling? Two Words – Reciprocal Program!
Whether it is summer break or you are just hitting the road. Purchasing a local museum membership can save you big money through reciprocal programs. So, when purchasing a membership to a museum research to ensure that it is part of a reciprocal program like the Smithsonian Affiliated Members or ASTC | Association of Science and Technology Centers Passport Program.
For instance, If you have a local membership to the Children’s Museum of Houston, The Health Museum, or Space Center Houston you are eligible for admission to hundreds of other science museums nationwide (via ASTC)! You cannot use the reciprocal program within the city – the museum you are visiting needs to be at least 90 miles away from your home. Also, make sure your membership level includes the ASTC reciprocal program – some of the base level memberships do not.
For example, we are planning a big drive this summer. Purchasing a Thinker level membership at the Children’s Museum Houston (the first one that includes the ASTC program) costs $170 – with the $30 discount code (like the one in #4) we’re at $140. We are planning on visiting at least the US Space and Rocket Center – tickets there will run us $110. So overall we’re only out $30 on that one museum. There are several others that line up with our trip as well as many, many here in Texas that we may get to this year. Plus, we can still go hang out at the Children’s Museum.
The Best Deal for Maximizing Reciprocal Benefits is the Health Museum
The best deal is, if you are not interested in a children’s museum, to switch the membership to the Health Museum. All of their memberships participate in the ASTC reciprocal program and family memberships start at $85! Plus, their memberships that start at $120 include the Smithsonian Membership. Space Center Houston also has membership levels that include the Smithsonian Affiliate but those start at $600!
One benefit of the Smithsonian Affiliates is you are not restricted by distance. You can use your membership to visit either one as well as over 50 other great museums nationwide (even the US Space and Rocket Center). Though the Smithsonian reciprocal only allots two admission tickets at reciprocal sites.
Looking for zoos instead? They have their own reciprocal program through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
We love a good deal and visiting our free museums in Houston. How do you score the best deals? Give us your tips in the comments!