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Free Things to do in Houston

Houston is a big city with a lot to offer, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time; come discover our favorite free things to do in Houston! There is so much to explore, from our world-class museums to enjoying the outdoors. To make life easier, we are sorting this list by category to best get you tuned in to where you want to go and out the door. Let’s go!

table of contents

let’s find a free houston adventure!

Museums

Houston is home to some of the best museums in the world, and many of them offer free admission (for those that don’t we have some tips for you there too!). The Menil Collection is a must-see for art lovers, with its collection of modern and contemporary art. The Rothko Chapel is another must-visit, with its stunning collection of abstract paintings by Mark Rothko. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is also a great option, with its extensive collection of art from around the world.


the Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel

Art enthusiasts, rejoice! The Menil Collection is a stunning museum filled with works of art from around the world. Here you can admire famous pieces from the likes of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali without spending a penny. Then, walk one block east and you are at the Rothko Chapel. The chapel is a beautiful and moving space that houses a collection of abstract paintings by Mark Rothko. At each location, admission is always free and open daily. Likewise, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston is free all day on Thursdays.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Calling all mini-scientists and history buffs! The Houston Museum of Natural Science is a treasure trove of knowledge and excitement, showcasing fascinating exhibits from dinosaurs to ancient Egyptian artifacts. While admission can be a bit pricey, here’s a pro tip: visit on Tuesdays from 5 pm until closing time and enjoy free admission! Dive into the world of paleontology, explore the mysteries of the universe, and venture into the spectacular Butterfly Center with your little explorers. Get ready to create lifelong memories as you embark on an epic journey through time!

Free Things to do in Houston | HMNS

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

If you have budding artists in your family, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is an absolute must-visit. Immerse yourselves in the world of creativity as you explore stunning exhibitions showcasing contemporary crafts and art forms. Dive into hands-on activities and workshops that will inspire your little Picassos to unleash their imaginations and create their very own masterpieces. It’s the perfect place to ignite a lifelong passion for art while spending quality time together as a family.

Children’s Museum of Houston

Located in the Museum District of Houston, the Children’s Museum of Houston offers a range of free activities that combine education and fun in perfect harmony. Kids can engage in interactive exhibits, science experiments, and even build their creations! Don’t miss out on their Free Family Night, which takes place every Thursday from 5 pm to 8 pm!

Free Things to do in Houston | Houston Children's Museum - museumsonus

Outdoor Activities

Houston is a great city for outdoor lovers. Even though it gets pretty toasty in the summer (thankfully, we have a lot of free splash pads too) our mild winters make for year-round adventures. There are plenty of parks and green spaces to explore or head south, to Galveston, and dip your toes in the ocean. Similarly, several times a year the National Parks Service offers free entry!

Houston Zoo

Let’s kick things off with a classic family favorite: the Houston Zoo! This place is a paradise for animal lovers, and the best part is, it offers free admission on the first Tuesday of every month from 2 pm till closing time. Make sure to bring your little ones and embark on an unforgettable safari adventure where they can marvel at majestic lions, adorable otters, and playful monkeys!

Free Things to do in Houston | Houston Zoo

Hermann Park

If you’re looking for a place to stretch your legs, have a picnic, and let the kids run wild, Hermann Park is the ultimate destination. This sprawling urban park is perfect for families, offering a variety of activities that will keep everyone entertained. Hop on a bike or take a leisurely stroll along the winding trails, explore the beautiful gardens, or enjoy a tranquil boat ride on the lake. Keep an eye out for free concerts and events held throughout the year, guaranteeing a fun-filled experience for all! Hermann Park is the hub for many other free locales! The zoo train will take you around the park and by Miller Outdoor Theater, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and Centennial Gardens.

Discovery Green

Get ready to unleash your inner child at Discovery Green, a vibrant and interactive park located in the heart of downtown Houston. This urban sanctuary is a playground for the imagination, offering a plethora of free activities for kids and families. Let the little ones splash around in the Gateway Fountain, marvel at the whimsical sculptures scattered throughout the park, or unleash their creativity at the playground and interactive installations. From yoga classes to outdoor movie nights, there’s always something new to discover at Discovery Green!

Buffalo Bayou Park

While downtown the stunning Buffalo Bayou Park is beckoning us. This urban oasis is a slice of paradise. It offers breathtaking views of the city skyline, tranquil walking paths, and endless opportunities for outdoor fun. Additionally, you can rent a bike or scooter and zoom along the trails, take a kayak out on the water, or enjoy a leisurely picnic beneath the shade of ancient oak trees. Keep an eye out for free fitness classes. Those get the whole family moving and grooving amidst the beauty of nature. It’s time to enjoy some quality family time in the heart of Houston’s great outdoors!

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Located in the heart of Houston, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. This 155-acre nature reserve offers a range of free activities the whole family can enjoy. You can stroll along nature trails to visiting the interactive nature center and its educational exhibits. Keep an eye out for free guided hikes, birdwatching sessions, and other special events held throughout the year!

Free Things to do in Houston | Arboretum

Waugh Drive Bat Colony

Did you know that Houston is home to one of the largest urban bat colonies in the United States? Head to Waugh Drive Bridge at sunset and prepare to be amazed as thousands of bats take flight into the evening sky. It’s a mesmerizing natural spectacle that will leave the whole family in awe. Pack some snacks, bring your cameras, and get ready for a truly unique experience that’s sure to be the highlight of your Houston adventure.

Sam Houston Park

Take a step back in time and immerse yourselves in the rich history of Houston at Sam Houston Park. This expansive outdoor museum showcases historic buildings and artifacts that tell the story of the city’s past. Wander through preserved homes, schoolhouses, and churches, and witness what life was like in the early days of Houston. It’s a fantastic opportunity for kids (and adults) to learn about the roots of this vibrant city while having a blast exploring the past.

McGovern Centennial Garden

This 15-acre central garden, located within Hermann Park, is a true horticultural masterpiece. The McGovern Centennial Garden boasts a wide variety of colorful plants, flowers, and trees, including classic roses and an elegant arbor walk. If you’re looking for a serene escape in the heart of the city, with a plethora of photo opportunities, and moments to relax and enjoy, then look no further than this garden!


Other Free Activities

In addition to museums and outdoor activities, there are many other free things to do in Houston. You can catch a free outdoor movie at Miller Outdoor Theatre or take a free walking tour of the city. Notably, there are also many free concerts, fitness opportunities, activites, and festivals that take place throughout the year.

Miller Outdoor Theatre

Are you ready for some live entertainment? While technically outdoors, it is a bit of a different experience. So, make your way to the Miller Outdoor Theatre, where the magic of the stage comes alive in a beautiful outdoor setting. This iconic theater offers an array of performances, from ballet and musicals to orchestral concerts and thrilling plays. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and settle in for an unforgettable evening under the stars. Best of all? Most performances are free. In this way, it is easy to introduce your little ones to the wonders of art and culture without putting a dent in your wallet. Generally, tickets are available online the day before performances.

Houston & Harris County Public Libraries

Looking for some indoor activities that won’t cost a dime? Look no further than the Houston Public Libraries and Harris County Public Library systems. These knowledge-filled havens offer a plethora of free events and activities for kids and families. From storytime sessions that will spark your little ones’ imaginations to interactive workshops and craft sessions that will keep them entertained for hours, the libraries in Houston are a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Plus, let’s not forget the joy of losing yourself in a good book together as a family. Create a lifelong love for reading and watch your kids’ imaginations soar!

indoor playgrounds

It get’s hot here! And, even us locals do not acclimate enough to want to spend our summers outside on playgrounds. Not to mention, that equipment gets too hot for little people. Fortunately, we have a plethora of opportunities to take the kids inside to play at some amazing structures. Yay, for Indoor Playgrounds!

The Woodlands Church Indoor Play Area

Smither Park

Smither Park is a colorful, whimsical park in Houston that’s perfect for kids of all ages. This unique park has undergone a transformation over the years thanks to its imaginative and interactive artwork. These include a mosaic-covered stage, swings and benches, and a miniature space station. It’s a free-to-enter park where artwork is front and center, and is perfect for family picnics, playtime, and relaxation.

Our Local Markets and Shops

Locals and tourists alike love our farmer’s markets and local shops. They offer a treasure trove of items for all ages. From bookshops to records to local fashion to ethnic areas you will be immersed in Houston culture!


Free Things to do in Houston Each Month

Beyond the “regular” free things to do and places to go, our local businesses and institutions offer a plethora of oneoff and single events. Choose your month and explore the opporunities!

Ultimately, there you have it, fellow explorers! A comprehensive guide to all the incredible free things to do in Houston for kids and families. Whether you’re bonding with wildlife at the zoo, discovering art and history in museums, or immersing yourselves in nature’s playgrounds, this vibrant city has something magical for everyone. By all means, go ahead, embrace the wonders of Houston. Create lasting memories that your family will cherish for years to come. Happy adventuring!

Free Things to do in Houston

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