10 Best Free Things to Do in Houston

One of the great things about living in a city the size of Houston is that there are plenty of fun and interesting things to do that don't cost a lot of money. Here's your go-to guide to the best free attractions in the Bayou City.

01 of 10

Cruise the Houston Ship Channel

Visitors on a Sam Houston Boat Tour of the Houston Ship Channel
Roy Luck / Flickr
7300 Clinton Drive, Houston, TX 77020, USA
+1 713-670-2631

Sam Houston Boat Tours are a free, 90-minute cruise aboard the Port of Houston Authority’s public charter boat. This 95-foot vessel holds 100 passengers. Scheduled tours are Wednesday through Sunday at specific times.

The boat tour is free, but reservations at least 24 hours in advance are required. Reserve your spot online.

02 of 10

Watch a Bat Colony Under the Waugh Drive Bridge

Flying bats silhouetted against the illuminated buildings of downtown Houston
Norm Lanier / Flickr 
Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77002, USA
+1 713-752-0314

More than 250,000 Mexican Free-Tailed bats live under and emerge each night from the Waugh Drive Bridge at sunset—unless it’s rainy or foggy, of course. This bat colony inhabits the Waugh Drive Bridge over Buffalo Bayou between Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway. Kids are fascinated by bats, so this is fun, free entertainment! Free parking is available along Allen Parkway and Spotts Park.

03 of 10

Browse the Museum District

Dinosaur skeletons at the Houston Museum of Natural Science
Robyn Correll
Museum District, Houston, TX, USA

Houston's remarkable Museum District has more than 17 attractions all within a 1.5-mile radius. Thursday is the magic day for free admission to many of Houston’s museum, though it varies by location.

04 of 10

Play at Discovery Green

Children of all ages enjoying the interactive splash pad at Discovery Green Park
Larami Serrano
Julian St, Houston, TX 77009, USA

Downtown Houston is home to a unique outdoor green space dubbed Discovery Green. With a schedule consisting of all kinds of free weekly events—Zumba, Thursday Concerts, and STEM Saturdays—as well as loads of special events, including a winter ice rink, Discovery Green is a winner in free entertainment. The venue also offers fountains, restaurants, a dog run, and a playground.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Skate Around Jamail Skatepark

A skater at Jamail Skatepark in Houston
Skate Houston
103 Sabine St, Houston, TX 77007-8322, USA
+1 713-222-5500

Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is a public skatepark near downtown Houston with 30,000 square feet of fun. Skaters of all levels are encouraged to work on their tricks—or just learn how to stay balanced. Helmets are required.

06 of 10

Marvel at the Waterwall

The Waterwall at Gerald Hines Park in Houston
Enrique A Sanabria / Flickr
Waterwall Dr, Houston, TX 77056, USA

The horseshoe-shaped waterwall in Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park in the Uptown District is a sight to behold. At 64 feet high, the rushing water fountain is certainly worth a visit. It’s especially beautiful at night with the lights shining on the unique sculpture, which has been in operation since 1983.

Note: Drought conditions may affect the waterfall’s operation.

07 of 10

Catch a Show at the Miller Outdoor Theater

Houston Symphony performing for a crowd at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Houston
Adam Baker / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 
6000 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, USA
+1 832-487-7102

Miller Outdoor Theater is a rare outdoor amphitheater situated in Hermann Park near the Houston Zoo. For more than 80 years, it has offered Houstonians dance, theater or ensemble performance for free. Miller Outdoor features lots of cultural events and performances each weekend.

08 of 10

Explore Nature at the Houston Arboretum

Children walking the Outer Loop Trail, Houston Arboretum
Roy Luck / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024-7708, USA
+1 713-681-8433

Outdoor spots promoting nature, fun and education are great choices for free family entertainment. The Houston area is home to two such venues—Houston Arboretum & Nature Center and Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (in Humble).

The Houston Arboretum features a 155-acre nature preserve with five miles of walking trails, a Discovery Room with hands-on activities, and lots of special programs and classes.

Mercer Arboretum features 300 acres of East Texas Piney Woods along Cypress Creek. Sights include a beaver pond at the Endangered Species Garden, trails, visitors’ center, playground and special educational events.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Experience Hands-on Science at the Nature Discovery Center

Children inspect pond creatures in nets at the Nature Discovery Center
Nature Discovery Center
7112 Newcastle St, Bellaire, TX 77401-5225, USA
+1 713-667-6550

Hana and Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center is a little-known gem for free science-related activities. It offers a variety of kids’ science activities geared to toddlers through elementary and up. Discovery Rooms feature interactive exhibits and 23 Discovery boxes—modeled after the Smithsonian—for hands-on learning. Topics are targeted to specific age groups and entice children to explore topics such as shells, critters, snakes, seeds, minerals, birds, and animal teeth.

10 of 10

Catch Some Crazy Cars at Houston's Art Car Museum

A car painted with psychedelic designs at the Art Car Museum in Houston
 A Yee / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
140 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007-3729, USA
+1 713-861-5526

What more can you say about Houston’s Art Car Museum? This collection of eclectic, unusual and creative cars is all about fun. If you miss Houston’s classic Art Car Parade in the spring, you can still catch a glimpse of some of the elaborately decorated cars here. The museum also features innovative art throughout the museum, so it’s not just about cars. The best part? Admission is always free.

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10 Best Free Things to Do in Houston Year-Round