Houston July 4th Celebrations & Parades 2015

Independence Day was full of tradition in my childhood days in Austin: decorating bikes for the neighborhood parade, homemade ice cream, and fireworks over Town Lake downtown. Fun memories!

Make your own summer memories July 4th with these 30 Houston-area celebrations, parades, and fireworks:

Freedom Over Texas

Near Downtown: Houston’s official July 4th celebration, Southwest Airlines Freedom Over Texas, is hosted by Mayor Annise Parker, 4 pm – 10 pm. The evening features live music by Houston’s own Clint Black + Josh Turner as well as family activities and kid fun in the variety of Kids’ Zones. The fireworks’ finale features choreographed music. Admission is $8 online through midnight, July 3. Children 5 and under are free. $10 admission at the gate. Located at Eleanor Tinsely Park at Allen Parkway.   photo: flickr/eschipul

Miller Outdoor Theatre: The Houston Symphony’s annual Star-Spangled Salute starts at 8:30 pm July 4 at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Of course, the evening includes 1812 Overture and a fantastic fireworks display. Free tickets for reserved covered seats are available on performance day at Miller Outdoor Theatre box office from 10:30 am – 1 pm. Four per person while they last.

Bayou Bend July 4Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens: This historic home hosts July Fourth Celebration with historic family fun! Free fun July 4, 1 pm – 5 pm, with historical performers, crafts, activities, refreshments, and the chance to sign a Texas-sized reproduction of the Declaration of Independence. Birthday cake and a reading of the Declaration of Independence starts around 3 pm on the north side of the house. Bayou Bend is located at 6003 Memorial. Photo: Bayou Bend

Children’s Museum of Houston: This family museum honors July 4 with a Kidpendence Day celebration. The festivities feature a 1:40 pm parade with the High Steppers Brass Band. There will be lots of options for patriotic creativity plus a crazy Elephant Toothpaste Geyser Burst and superhero accessories. Museum admission is $9. The museum, open 10 am – 6 pm, is located at 1500 Binz.

CityCentre: The outdoor retail spot hosts Fourth of July Music & Fireworks for its patriotic celebration. The concert features Marcus Eldridge Band at 7 pm – 11 pm. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs! The evening concludes with a fireworks display at 9:30 pm. Live music continues every night through July 2-July 5. CityCentre is located at 800 W. Sam Houston Parkway N. {Get a free Uber ride: Download the Uber mobile app and enter promo code July4CC for a free first ride, up to $20 off.}


Baytown: It’s a 2-day July 4th celebration with live music July 3 by Gary-Michael Dahl at 6 pm following by headliner 38 Special at 8 pm. On July 4, games booths and vendors open at 4 pm. Texas Avenue Band takes the stage at 4:30 pm with the parade on Market St. Hill Country Jane kicks off live music at 6 pm with Clay Walker taking the stage at 8 pm. The big fireworks extravaganza is 9:30 pm. Located at 1001 Market St.

Bellaire: The city is hosting a parade and festival July 4 with the parade at 9:30 am and festival from 10 am – 1 pm. A children’s parade will lead the big parade! Free festival fun at Bellaire Town Square includes live entertainment, carnival games, petting zoo, a mini ferris wheel, moon walks, dunk tank and more! The parade begins at the Bellaire Triangle and goes down Bellaire Blvd. and S. Rice.

Bridgeland: This NW Houston community is having a private fireworks event for its residents.

College Station: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is hosting the “I Love America” celebration July 4 plus free admission all day Thursday, July 4 9:30 am – 8:15 pm. Special activities begin at 6 pm with live entertainment, games and activities for kids. The Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra kicks off its performance at 8:45 pm with fireworks following at 9:45 pm. Located at 1000 George Bush Drive West. {Note parking changes this year: There will not be shuttles this year from West Campus Garage or Reed Arena. Free parking is available at Fan Field, the gravel parking lot on Research Parkway on the Texas A&M University campus.}

Houston fireworksFriendswood: The city proudly hosts its 119th annual Friendswood July 4th Celebration with a 10 am parade featuring more than 100 entries. Live entertainment and afternoon fun lasts till 3:30 pm. The evening festivities kick off at 7:30 pm at Centennial Park featuring ’80s cover band The Spazmatics. Fireworks will begin around 9:20 pm. There is no public parking at Centennial Park. Shuttles are available at Friendswood High School and Brookside Intermediate.

Galveston will host its annual July 4 parade beginning at 7:45 pm starting at Seawall and 41st. Enjoy the floats, military vehicles, and performers. Then stick around for the 20-minute fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico near Seawall and 37th beginning at 9:15 pm. It’s the 176th City of Galveston celebration!

Katy: Folks in Katy can enjoy a day filled with activities, thanks to Katy Fire Department, Katy Heritage Society and Heritage Park, VFW Lodge and Park, and Katy Parks and Recreation. Don’t miss free hotdogs at the Fire Station, lemonade and family pictures in front of the Heritage homes, water hose playtime and more. The City of Katy Freedom Celebration fireworks begin around 9:30 pm at Katy Mills Mall, 5000 Katy Mills Circle.

Katy: LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch hosts its own July 4th Independence Day tradition kicking off at 4:30 pm with the Kids’ Patriotic Bike Parade. This annual event features live music by Sheila Marshall, Chris Boss, an interactive Kids’ Zone, food, and fireworks at 9:15 pm. LaCenterra, 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd in Katy.

Kemah Boardwalk: The Kemah Boardwalk will have a fireworks display over Galveston Bay at 9:30 pm.

Kingwood: Kingwood is hosting an all-day July 4th event 2 pm – 9 pm at Town Center Park. The event features live music by That 70s Thing and Thunder, inflatables, craft and food booths, and fireworks at 9 pm. Streets around the park are closed so folks can stroll around the booths.

League City: League City is hosting its July 4th Celebration and Citizen Appreciation Day 11:30 am featuring live music, face painting, giveaways, hot dogs, and family fun. Located at League Park, 512 2nd Street.

Missouri City:  It’s a July 4th celebration from 6 pm – 9 pm at Buffalo Run Park, 1122 Buffalo Run Blvd. The evening features moonwalks, video gaming station, rides, human hamster balls, face painting, and other free activities. Fireworks begin around 9:15 pm over the lakes. Stadium seating will be available at Thurgood Marshall High School for the fireworks show.

Pasadena: The city’s Annual 4th Fest features lots of patriotic fun right at the Pasadena Convention Center. The event is July 4, 4 pm – 10 pm, with live music, car show, Kid Zone, water balloon war zone, USMC Toys for Tots BBQ cookoff, sports, entertainment, and more. Stick around for the 20-minute firework show. Located at 7902 Fairmont Parkway in Pasadena.

Pearland: Celebration of Freedom features a free concert and fireworks show July 4 with gates opening at 6 pm. Stadium and field seating is free at the Pearland High School Stadium with music by Spinsations, a 50s & 60s classic oldies band. Activities include bounce houses and inflatable slides. The 20-minute fireworks display begins at 9 pm. Located at 3775 South Main in Pearland.

Richmond: George Ranch Historical Park is hosting July 4th Games of our Forefathers. Enjoy vintage games, parade (11 am), 1890s baseball, hands-on history, reading of Declaration of Independence, cobbler eating contest and more. A Historic Lunch is served for an extra fee beyond admission. Admission fees: $10 adults and $5 kids age 5-15. Located at 10215 FM 762 in Richmond.

Rosenberg: The city celebrates with Family 4th Independence Day Celebration July 4 from 6 pm – 10 pm.  Enjoy live music, children’s carnival area, complimentary horse-drawn wagon rides, trackless train ride, and more. Fireworks begin around 9:30 pm. Located at Seaborne Creek Nature Park, Hwy 36.

roundtop july4Round Top: This year marks the 165th July 4th parade and celebration in Round Top around the square.  The historical day kicks off with civil war-era cannons booming at 10:30 am to announce the parade start. Imagine close to 5,000 folks coming in for this parade in a town that has only 90 people!  Music, raffle and games for the kids last until 4 pm. Then live music kicks off again for the afternoon dance. I’ve actually experienced this parade, and it’s fun celebrating July 4th in a small town! Round Top is about an hour-and-a-half west of Houston.

Sheridan: Head to Splashway Waterpark for its own July 4th fireworks celebration. Admission is $14.99 after 5 pm — and they are open late. The waterpark will remain open until after the fireworks show. Located at 5211 Main Street in Sheridan.

Spring: Don’t miss Celebrate Freedom at Faithbridge Church July 4, 7 pm. The free community event offers plenty of food for the family (hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn, ice cold water) and games for the kids (moonwalks, face painting, and rock climbing) plus live music throughout the evening. The evening concludes with fantastic fireworks, of course! Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome. Park at Klein High School or Klein Collins High School and ride the free shuttle to the event. Air conditioned buses will begin running at 6:30 pm.

Stafford: The City of Stafford hosts the 40th annual July 3rd Celebration with a parade at 7 pm along with game booths, free carnival rides, free hay ride, and a dance till 11:30 pm. Enjoy the patriotic concert Freedom Rings 2015, July 4 at 7 pm featuring the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra. This free, festive performance is at Stafford Centre, 15050 Cash Road. Fireworks follow at 9 pm.

Sugar Land: The city’s Star-Spangled Spectacular is July 4 in Constellation Field. {There are no more free tickets to this event. You can get four free tickets if you book a room at a Sugar Land hotel with the Star-Spangled Hotel and Ticket package.} The fun kicks off at 7 pm with live music, food, children’s activities and more. The evening ends with a fireworks finale. Constellation Field is located at 1 Stadium Drive in Sugar Land.

Towne Lake: This NW Houston community is having a private fireworks event for its residents.

red hot blue fest july 4The Woodlands: July 4th fun in The Woodlands begins a day early with a free Houston Symphony concert, Star-Spangled Salute, Wednesday, July 3, at 8 pm at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. The evening would not be complete without 1812 Overture and cannons on the hill!  The patriotic fun continues July 4 with a 9 am parade at Grogans Mill and Lake Woodlands.  Concert in the Park and activities begin at 5:30 pm at Waterway Square. The Red, Hot, and Blue Festival is 6 pm to 10 pm featuring live entertainment, face painting, strolling performers, games, hot dog and watermelon eating contest, and more. The fireworks begin at approximately 9:30 pm with simulcast on 99.1 FM.

Tomball: Enjoy Tomball’s annual street party July 4 from 5 pm – 10 pm on Business 249 north of FM2920. The event features live music, water activities, games, pony rides, face painting, and the traditional fireworks at dark. Symchronized music is available at Tomball’s own 95.1 FM. Admission and parking are free.

Waller: The Waller Freedom Festival is a two-day celebration July 3-4. The free family event features a Worship Night July 3, beginning at 6 pm as well as fireworks! July 4 features a family festival and fireworks, 3 pm – dusk, with live music, zip line, bumper boats, water slides, petting zoo, rock climbing wall, bubble runners, helicopter rides ($25) and more. The event is located at Waller High School stadium, 20735 Stokes Road, Waller.

Webster: Webster hosts its 4th of July Celebration at Texas Avenue Park, 5 pm. The evening includes A Salute to Veterans, entertainers, bingo, free watermelon and snow cones, laser tag, games, K-9 demos, and inflatables with fireworks beginning at 9:15 pm.

Top 11 Free Things to Do in Houston in July

Houston is full of free fun! Don’t miss Top 11 Free Things to Do in Houston in July:

The Mural Project
July 4 – August 31 @ CityCentre

mural logo

The Mural Project @ CityCentre is a series of art installations July 4 – August 31. Talented urban artists will create 18 colorful murals that will be designed on unused advertising spaces throughout CityCentre. Visitors can visit the “cultural trail” beginning July 4 and vote for their favorite through July 15. A portion of proceeds from in-store sale of artworks will benefit the participating artists and MD Anderson Children’s Art Project.

Houston Symphony Summer Community Concerts
July 7 @ Dobie High School (7:30 pm)

Houston is blessed with free performances by The Houston Symphony. This is the last one for the summer! Arrive early for the kids to enjoy the instrument petting zoo! Located in Pasadena at 10220 Blackhawk Drive.

Houston Symphony

photo courtesy Houston Symphony

Moonlight Movies for Kids: Maleficent
July 8 @ CityCentre (8 pm)

The free night of fun kicks off at 8 pm with free popcorn from Sewell Cadillac. Kids can come dressed for the Little Prince and Little Princess contest beginning at 8:30 pm with the winner receiving a treat from Sweet! Movie kicks off at 9 pm.

movies citycentre

photo courtesy CityCentre

3rd Annual Day of Music
July 12 @ Jones Hall (noon – 9 pm)

It’s 9 hours of free music and fun, presented by the Houston Symphony! The day features two performances by the Houston Symphony (1 pm & 8 pm), children’s activities, salsa dance lessons, harmonica clinic, instrument petting zoo and more! Some of local performing groups include AFA Summer Conservatory Orchestra, Joy of Djembe Drumming, Apollo Chamber Players, CityWide Grassroots Chorus, Music Doing Good Jazz Quintet and Baby Sonic Boom. No tickets are required for this day-long music festival. Catch some of Houston’s food truck fare on the plaza across from Jones Hall!



Houston Symphony instruments.kids watermark

Houston World of Series Dog Shows
July 15 @ NRG (9 am – 3 pm)

This 38th annual dog show offers free admission and free parking July 15, 9 am – 3 pm only. Enjoy agility, demonstrations, pet vendors, seminars, relay races, breed information, show competitions, and more. The dog show runs July 15-19 in Houston.


Smokey Joe’s Cafe
July 16 @ Miller Outdoor Theatre (8:15 pm)

This Grammy Award-winning tribute to legendary songwriters Leiber and Stoller features an amazing song-and-dance celebration of more than 40 of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest hits. This is produced by Theater Under the Stars with free shows July 14-July 19. Free reserved covered seats are available on performance day, 10:30 am – 1 pm, at Miller Box Office.

Smokey Joes Cafe

Summer Sounds on the Plaza
July 16 @ Rothko Chapel (7 pm)

The Rothko Chapel is dedicating its 2015 Summer Sounds series to the music and people of Louisiana, in honor of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. The 2nd of three monthly summer concerts features Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws’ traditional zydeco music. Don’t miss free Saint Arnold beer, snacks and Yeti snowballs for sale!

step rideau


WWII Museum & Hangar Tour
July 18 @ West Houston Airport (10 am – 3 pm)

Tour the WWII Museum and visit the Hangar of Houston Wing of the Commemorative Air Force 10 am – 3 pm. It’s a great chance to get up close to the Wing’s five flyable WWII military aircraft: climb into a cockpit of a WWII trainer or go inside a WWII Paratroop aircraft.  The hangar and museum are open the 1st and 3rd Saturday each month. Located at West Houston Airport, 18000 Groschke Rd.

WWII hangar

DIY Kids Craft Workshop
July 23 @ Kendall Library at Eldridge (3 pm – 5 pm)

Pop Shop Houston is sharing free DIY Craft Workshops for kids all summer at Houston-area libraries. All supplies are provided free. July 23 features concrete vases. Kids can add dye to make each one unique — or even paint and embellish the outside. Simply register at each library branch for your favorite!

Pop Shop Houston craft workshops

Michael Cavanaugh with Houston Symphony
July 30 @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (8 pm)

Michael Cavanaugh has been dubbed the “new voice” of the American Rock & Roll Songbook. He performs songs by Billy Joel, Elton John, James Taylor and more. Joel actually handpicked Cavanaugh to be in the lead roll of his Broadway musical, Moving Out, on piano/lead vocals, which he performed for three years. I heard him perform in 2013 with the Houston Symphony and he is fabulous! Mezzanine and lawn seats are free, thanks to Insperity & Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. {Orchestra seats are $20.}

michael cavanaugh

Photo: MichaelCavanaugh.com

Macbeth: Shakespeare in the Park
July 31 @ Miller Outdoor Theatre (8:30 pm)

This annual free production by University of Houston shares two Shakespeare plays each summer on alternating nights at Miller Outdoor Theatre. This year it’s Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice, July 31 – August 9. Free reserved seats are available on performance day at the Miller Box Office, 10:30 am – 1 pm.

shakespeare festival


For more free & cheap events in Houston, check out our Houston events calendar!

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Free Weekend Fun in Houston July 3-5

Get ready for a weekend of free fun! Here is a snapshot of Free Things to Do in Houston this weekend, July 3-5:



Enjoy a Houston tradition — Enjoy patriotic favorites at this free July 3 concert with the Houston Symphony — a tradition for 25 years. The concert will be at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion beginning at 8 pm.

Watch movies under the moon — 1) Market Square Park: Head downtown for Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, a free outdoor movie at Market Square Park. The movie begins at 8:30 pm, 301 Milam. Bring your blanket for the perfect lawn seat. 2) Messiah Lutheran Church is hosting free movies each Friday night in July (both indoor and outdoors) with a corresponding Sunday sermon with movie clips. The movie July 3 is Remember the Titans. Messiah Lutheran is located at 11522 Telge in Cypress. 3) Miller Outdoor Theatre: It’s another night of Movies at Miller with the The Wizard of Oz Friday at Miller Outdoor Theatre. All the fun begins at 8:30 pm.

Learn to salsa dance — Enjoy free salsa dance lessons at Latin Beats every Friday night at the Downtown Aquarium. From 7 pm – 11 pm you can learn salsa dancing from professional dance instructors. The Aquarium is located at 410 Bagby at Memorial.


fireworks in HoustonCelebrate the 4th — There’s an abundance of free fun Saturday to celebrate July 4th. From the Houston Symphony’s Star-Spangled Salute at Miller Outdoor to fireworks all around town. Get the big list of July 4th Celebrations here.

Explore art in the Heights — The First Saturday Arts Market returns July 4 with its summer hours from 9 am – 1 pm. This monthly outdoor market features original art, music, and fun. Located at 540 W. 19th.

Mingle at free museums and zoo — It’s another weekend for Bank of America’s “Museums on Us” program with free admission to the Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This is for Bank of America cardholders only, not their children.

basspro family campPlay at summer campFamily Summer Camp at Bass Pro Shops begins Saturday with free activities for kids Saturdays and Sundays (& Tuesday/Thursday) plus family workshops and more. Family Summer Camp lasts from noon to 5 pm through July 27. Engage in activities such as casting challenge, BB shooting range, weekly crafts, shooting arcade, free workshops, catch and release pond. Bass Pro Shops has two Houston-area locations in Katy (5000 Katy Mills Circle) and Pearland (1000 Basspro Drive).

Watch Elf under the Galveston starsMovie Night on the Strand in Galveston returns July 4 with Elf, 7 pm, at Saengerfest Park, 2300 Strand. Grab your chairs, blankets and enjoy a family-friendly movie outdoors! This is held the first Saturday of each month.


Mingle at free museums and zoo — It’s another weekend for Bank of America’s “Museums on Us” program with free admission to the Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This is for Bank of America cardholders only, not their children.

Play at summer campFamily Summer Camp at Bass Pro Shops begins Saturday with free activities for kids Saturdays and Sundays (& Tuesday/Thursday) plus family workshops and more. Family Summer Camp lasts from noon to 5 pm through July 27. Engage in activities such as casting challenge, BB shooting range, weekly crafts, shooting arcade, free workshops, catch and release pond. Bass Pro Shops has two Houston-area locations in Katy (5000 Katy Mills Circle) and Pearland (1000 Basspro Drive).

Star of Hope Diaper Drive = Free Astros Tickets

Beginning today through August 31, Houstonians can help Star of Hope Mission whittle away their wish list — and get a freebie in return!

Star of Hope diaper drive

The local nonprofit is encouraging folks to donate toiletries or large-size diapers (size 4, 5 and 6) to Christian Brothers Automotive and get free Astros tickets (while they last) and $10 off any automotive service.

Find 24 Houston-area Christian Brothers’ locations here.

Star of Hope Mission is celebrating 108 years of service in Houston this year. On any given day, it helps approximately 1,200 homeless men, women and children at its Men’s Development Center, the Women and Family Emergency Shelter, the Transitional Living Center for Women & Families and New Horizons.

Free Bayou Bend Celebration July 4th

bayou bend july 4 kids 2015Celebrate Independence Day at Houston’s home for American decorative arts July 4, 1 pm-5 pm.

The annual free July 4th event at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens offers lots of free fun with its extravaganza of Americana: performers, crafts, activities, refreshments, and more. At 3 pm, catch a reading of the Declaration of Independence followed by birthday cake! While you’re there, don’t forget to sign the giant Declaration of Independence!

Bayou Bend is the perfect place to celebrate American freedom in style! Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Memorial Drive, is the house museum for American decorative arts of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Visit mfah.org/bayoubend for more info.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bayou Bend.

Discovering Houston on the Cheap with Momma Strong

Welcome to Discovering Houston on the Cheap with ideas for cheap dates,
cheap meals, & more from
local chefs, media personalities, and folks in local business.

Courtney Wyckoff, MommaStrongCourtney Wyckoff, founder, MommaStrong.com
{Courtney has 14 years of experience in the fields of fitness, nutrition, and injury prevention/treatment. She has been working exclusively with pre- and post-natal women the last eight years. In 2012, she founded MommaStrong.com, which now serves more than 5,000 women worldwide, with the help of Barbie Atkinson, M.S, LPC.}

1) Favorite spot for a cheap meal — Kim Chau Restaurant

Five Dollar Pho on Fridays at Kim Chau Restaurant on Long Point.  My picky eating kiddos even eat it (shocking!) and the beef pho is the best I’ve had in town.

2) Favorite spot for a cheap date — my front porch!

I live in the historic Sixth Ward, and my porch at dusk is a real treat.  I can watch the sunset glow on the buildings downtown while eating a homemade picnic and then go for a walk on the Buffalo Bayou just a few steps away.

3) Houston’s Best Kept Secret — the Gandhi District (Little India/Hillcroft)

Fancy dining is not for me, as I often find the ordeal to be all form and no content. And in the Gandhi District, it is quite the opposite. The food, the restaurant service, the shops, the grocery stores are all authentic and hard working.  It also provides evidence for the fact that Houston is not merely “diverse” — its texture and expanse of possibilities for people from all over the world is legitimate and unlike any other city.

4) Best Place to Save Money in Houston — Rothko Chapel

Just stepping in there will beg your attention to simplicity.  And it has an endless stream of incredible programs, workshops, discussions, musical events that are free and completely rich in all the right things.

5) Favorite Houston Festival or Event — Buffalo Bayou Regatta

Buffalo Bayou Regatta, hands down.  It’s a gorgeous Spring event, with boats of all sizes and kinds slicing through the murky bayou.  I grew up kayaking on the Potomac River in D.C., and while this is definitely grittier (as is Houston), it’s a remarkably impressive race.

6) My perfect day in Houston would be:

… to wake up a bit before my girls, sit on the front porch with a hot cup of tea watching my neighbors sleepily walk their dogs. I’d then pack the car with snacks, lunch, gummy bears, an extra change of clothes, tons of water bottles, my Leatherman, a first-aid kit and put my pajama-wearing groggy wee ones and old dog in the car. We’d stop at a greasy breakfast place and then drive out to Lake House Wilderness Park. Hike. Eat. Sit. Repeat. And, if it were to be a really perfect TWO days, we’d stay the night in one of their incredible cabins.

Date on the Cheap: Free Sam Houston Boat Tour

Date Night on the Cheap shares inexpensive outings in Houston that will impress your date without breaking the bank, thanks to our partnership with Trip Chandler. Their service creates customized guides to Houston for visitors and residents.


Port of Call

The Port of Houston offers free public boat tours of the Houston Ship Channel Wednesday-Sunday aboard the M/V Sam HoustonOn-line reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance, especially for the popular weekend tours. Boat tours run Wednesday through Saturday at 10 am and 2:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. {Currently, all tours are booked through last week of August! Check back occasionally online, since folks do cancel sometimes.} Be sure to review the rules before your voyage and arrive 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time.

Port of Houston boat tour

Trip Chandler Tip: If you get held up by a train at the gate entrance, don’t despair as it’s a common occurrence given that Houston is home to one of the world’s busiest ports. Take in some trainspotting and look for freight graffiti while you wait.

Freight Graffiti

Parking is provided at Sam Houston Pavilion, which also features mosaic-tiled murals and historical markers for the history buffs.

The M/V Sam Houston holds 90 passengers and has an air-conditioned lounge with a big screen TV view of the vessel’s bow.  Head out to the deck and crew members will be happy to snap a “Jack & Rose” inspired pose, especially the vessel crewman who also officiates and photographs weddings! The 90-minute round trip cruise features a narrated tour and views of international cargo vessels — some stacked high with containers and others with yachts and pleasure crafts hoisted on lifting belts. Houston’s “Petro Metro” title is on full display as the boat makes its way around the Turning Basin Terminal, which is 52 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Tugboats, barges, cranes, grain elevators, and wharfs provide the backdrop for this unique insider’s glimpse of the Houston Ship Channel.


Free soft drinks are served towards the end of the cruise. However, no outside food or beverages are allowed. Here are some options for post-disembarkment dining to complete your aquatic outing.

Drop Anchor

Nearby Monument Inn offers more maritime views and platters of seafood ideal for sharing.

port tour monument inn

Shore Excursions

Chart a course to Navigation Boulevard where sculptor Gary Sweeney’s giant anchor on the promenade serves as a reminder of the Second Ward’s ties to the Houston Ship Channel. Give your sea legs a a rest with a round of chips and queso at the original Ninfa’s or neighboring El Tiempo Cantina.

Port of Houston shore excursions

If your cruise falls on a Sunday, make time to visit the East End Street Market on the Esplanade at Navigation which opens at 10 am or enjoy breakfast tacos at Villa Arcos or Dona Maria Mexican Cafe.

Steer towards nearby Canal Street for icehouse-style dining featuring big burgers and wild game weiners at Moon Tower Inn. Veggie options available as well.

Bon Voyage!

Your Trip Chandlers,

Joni & Dana

Trip ChandlersJoni is a Houston transplant via Kansas, North Carolina, Scotland and New Orleans. Dana is a native Texan who grew up in Houston but considers New Orleans a second home. They have joined forces as Trip Chandler to personalize the city whether you’re here for a short stay or a permanent move.

7 Free Things to Do in Houston June 29 – July 3

There’s never a dull moment in Houston. Here are 7 options for free fun in Houston June 29-July 3 before planning your free and cheap weekend!

We Love Houston sign

Monday (6/29) — Get a free bicycle safety helmet for your child, thanks to Heads in Helmets and the Sloan Firm. They are giving away 250 free children’s safety helmets from 4 pm – 7 pm Monday to prevent traumatic brain injuries. The helmet distribution is at KCOH 1230 AM Radio, 5011 Almeda Road. Families must register in advance by phone or email to participate. Call or text 713.419.1776 with number of children needing a helmet, call back number and parent’s name. Or email the same info to info@penninoandpartners.com.

Tuesday (6/30) — Houston Young Artists Concert features two performances this week at Miller Outdoor Theatre: Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 am. Hear talented young prodigies ages 4 – 18 as they dazzle the audience.

Wednesday (7/1) –Pop Shop Houston shares free Gastronomy Experiments Wednesday, 2 pm – 4 pm, at Meyer Library, 5005 W. Bellfort. This week makes Dry Ice Ice Cream! You need to have a library card and RSVP.

Wednesday (7/1) — Summer Neighborhood Concert series continues Wednesday evening at Dulles High School in Sugar Land. Enjoy the free Houston Symphony concert with Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Lincoln Portrait as well as works by John Williams, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and more. Arrive early for the Symphony’s Instrument Petting Zoo.

Thursday (7/2) — Culinary Institute LeNôtre hosts free culinary movie screenings the first Thursday of each month at 1:15 pm and 6:15 pm. This month’s movie features Like Water for Chocolate (rated R). The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles. Located at 7070 Allensby St.

Thursday (7/2) — CityCentre welcomes July 4 with four nights of live music, Thursday through Sunday. Thursday features Grady Gaines (R&B) from 7 pm – 10 pm. Located at 805 Town and Country.

Friday (7/3) — Explore China’s many rich cultures, traditions, and regions in this 11 am morning program, Journey to China V, through exciting  Chinese dances. Located at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park.


50+ Spots Kids Eat Free in Houston {Updated}

Check out the freshly updated Kids Eat Free in Houston list! Summer is a great time to enjoy some restaurant outings without spending a fortune. Most of the restaurants on the list offer free kids meals with purchase of an adult entree. A few are available for 99¢…

kids eat free Houston

Restaurants listed by day of the week here.

Restaurants listed alphabetical here. 

The lists are always tied to the top navigation bar at Houston on the Cheap so you can find them easily under Kids Eat Free!

As always, deals can change or end quickly so please confirm before you head out…

**For more money-saving ideas, check out 82 Things to Do in Houston This Summer: Free & Cheap!

Houston Discounts: Sugar Land Skeeters {Free}, Idina Menzel, The Molly Ringwalds, HMNS & more

Don’t miss these discounts to Houston area fun. Here are a few that caught my eye:

Houston Museum of Natural ScienceHouston Museum of Natural Science$9 for Houston Museum of Natural Science ($20 value)

Idina Menzel$30-$45 for a ticket to Idina Menzel at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion ($71-$91 value)

The Molly Ringwalds — FREE – $7.50 for a ticket to The Molly Ringwalds ($19 value)

The Foreigner $21 for a ticket to Alley Theatre’s The Foreigner ($36 value)

A Midsummer’s Night Dream$11.50 for a ticket to A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Houston Family Arts Center ($23 value)

Sugar Land SkeetersSugar Land SkeetersFREE tickets to Sugar Land Skeeters + $3.50 fee ($8 value). Dates through August 23.

Yes & Toto: Classic Rock Legends Live$20 for a ticket to Yes & Toto at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion ($53 value)

Studio Movie GrillOne, Two, or Four Movie Groupons, Each Good for One Movie Ticket at Studio Movie Grill (Up to 50% Off).

Floetry$21 for British R&B duo Floetry ($42 value)


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