Welcome my friend Amy Patton from Kidsivity. She’s here to share her favorite Free Family Activities in Houston.
Three years ago, my husband and I came to live in Houston for my husband’s internship. A few days after we moved into our rented townhouse, we were excited to visit downtown Houston to soak in the big city feel with all of the super tall buildings.
We parked our car in one of the countless parking garages and started walking around the city. We realized one thing about downtown Houston.
It’s dead. Totally dead on weekends. At least whenever we visit there on weekends!
There was nobody. (Well maybe with very FEW hobos walking by) It was deadly quiet. On a Saturday?? What’s going on?? My husband and I wondered, “Well… is there ANYTHING we can do here?” We kept walking and eventually found this neat park, Discovery Green.
After almost two years of living in Houston, we learned that Houston turns out to be NOT dead. 😉 I found plenty of fun things we can do with our family in the downtown Houston area. Best of all, most of them are free! Keep reading to find out what they are. 🙂
If you don’t have time to read through the list, pin this for later.
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Free Family Activities in Downtown Houston
1. Discovery Green
This is a beautiful park right in the middle of downtown Houston. It includes a kids playground, splash pad, and an outdoor rollerblading rink (summer) that converts to an ice skating rink in wintertime. They have tons of family events going on for free. You can check out the calendar at discoverygreen.com.
2. Library in Discovery Green
After playing on the green just walk over to the library to enjoy their fun family programs. The program offer activities for age range infant to adults. This library opens mostly on weekends. Check out the website to see what and when the programs you’d like to attend.
3. Take a Stroll in Downtown Tunnel
I just took my mother-in-law on a little tour through Houston’s Downtown Tunnels yesterday. They literally have a little community underground. The tunnels take you from building to building, which is nice for workers to get to places without having to go outside when it’s pouring rain or blistering heat. They have tons of restaurants and shops down there. Pretty cool.
4. Bike Along the Buffalo Bayou
Apparently, they spent a lot of money (58 million) renovating Buffalo Bayou Park. Must be really awesome. I can’t wait to take my family biking there.
Here’s the map of the bike trails.
5.Take a Walking Tour of Rice Campus
Take a nice stroll around the Rice Campus and talk to your kids about the importance of education.
6. James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace
Skyspace a great light show you can watch as the sun sets. You can find it on Rice campus. Keep in mind that reservations are free but required for sunset light sequences.
7. See the Bat Colony on Waugh Bridge
Go to the Waugh bridge at sunset most days to see 250,00 Mexican free-tailed bats fly out from the crevices underneath. We haven’t done this, but I heard that you should capture this using I-Phone slow-mo video.
8. Enjoy the State Flower in Spring
In April, the bluebonnet flowers sprout in the surrounding areas of Houston. Take the Azalea Trail to see the beautiful flowers.
9. Take a Family Selfie at 64 ft Waterfall
The 64 ft Waterfall is a really cool waterfall in the middle of buildings. It’s right across the street from the Galleria, Texas’ largest mall.
10. Get Samples of Unique Fruits from Canino Market
Go food-tasting at a family-owned market, Canino Market, on the 2nd Saturday of every month from 10 am-Noon.
11. Urban Harvest Market
Free samples at the Urban Harvest Market every Saturday.
12. Free Cheese Tasting at Houston Dairymaids
Do your kids like cheese? You’re in luck! Houston Dairymaids offers free cheese tasting every day.
13. Have A Picnic at One of Houston’s Best Parks
Have a nice picnic with a skyline view of Houston at this park. This park also is a site for all big festivities, especially 4th of July.
Take a 3-mile walk loop at this park.
Like Discovery Green, they have free events and movie screen showings. Click to see the event calendar.
14. Take Pictures at Houston Most Colorful Murals and Walls
Here’s a post of the full list of locations of all of the murals>> wearwherewell.com
15. Visit the Seven Wonders of Houston
See what the Seven Wonders of Houston are >> thrillist.com
16. Hermann Park
I’m amazed by this park. I could spend the whole day there. This park has two gardens: Japanese Tea Garden and McGovern Centennial Garden. I’ve been to McGovern Centennial Garden and I’ve never been in a garden like this one before. It has multiple themed mini gardens within this giant garden. It also has a giant hill with the paved sidewalk that will take you to the top to see the view of the garden at higher ground.
Hermann Park has a beautiful lake with paved walking trails around. It’s so gorgeous.
There are a lot of unique things you can find in this park like this monument. It totally reminds me of Washington Monument in D.C. This monument is called Pioneer Monument in honor of women and men pioneers in Houston.
Boat paddling, Zoo, and riding on the train are some of the fun activities you can do at the park.
Right in Hermann Park is the popular Miller Outdoor Theater.
17. Miller Outdoor Theater
No wonder why people love to live in Houston because of this awesome free theater. They have bits of everything: ballet, classical music, humor, dance, film, Shakespeare, and the list goes on. You can bring your picnic and settle in to enjoy the show! You think the children would be bored with the ballet? Well, they also have children’s plays that kids would enjoy! They play earlier in the day (so your kids can still go to bed at their bedtime!). Check out the calendar.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, go to the museums! Most of them are right across the street from Hermann park. Houston is a museum rich area. Here are some cool museums that I recommend, including their free days times.
Here’s the complete list of ALL museums and their free admission times.
Free on Thursdays 5-8 pm.
We always visit when it’s free because my daughter is not old enough to really do everything there because it’s huge! We always go to the Tot Spot on the third floor. My child is in heaven in there. Then we explore other sections in the museum because it’s just so cool! This museum is completely interactive and is for kids of all ages.
Free in permanent exhibit halls on Thursdays 2-7 pm.
There’s always something new to see here. The paleontology hall is very popular.
Free on Thursdays 2-8 pm.
This museum has a great interactive section for kids to learn more about their bodies.
Here’s the complete list of ALL museums and their free admission times.
For eating in this area, I recommend Barnaby’s Cafe. They have the best hamburgers and sweet potatoes fries. They serve LOTS of fries. My husband and I shared a $13 dollar meal. Worth it. If you know me, I always crave a good hamburger. 🙂
If your kids like cars, go here. It’s completely free.
The Zoo is free every first Tuesday of the month September-May from noon to closing. It may be crowded, but it’s definitely worth going. Especially for free! We have gone on free days twice and it’s very doable. The only thing I recommend is to go there early to find parking or else you will drive around forever to find parking. Or come later when people are leaving.
Houston Zoo is a 55-acre zoological park with over 6,000 animals. There are so many unique animals that I have never seen. And there are always new exhibits to view.
They have many fun things for kids to do such as splash pads, animal feeding, and a playground.
If you want to see more animals, especially reptiles, go to Crocodile Encounter. It’s not free and I have not been there before, but I’ve heard it’s awesome. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Houston.
Galveston is my another favorite place. It’s a beach town 30 minutes south of Houston.
If you can’t make it to those free days, no problem!
City Pass is the way to go to take your kids to those fun places for A LOT cheaper. Click on the link to find more information about it >> CityPASS – Houston TX <<
Free and Cheap Events
Cheap on Houston a great website to see up-to-date events that are free or cheap. Check out the calendar to see what your family can do this weekend! They also have information on places where your kids can eat for free (sweet!) Go out and have fun! 🙂
Make sure to pin this for later so this can become your bucket list. 😉
Thanks for taking the time to read this post! Follow Amy on social media to see what other fun activities you can do with your kids! 🙂