7 Free Things to Do in Houston October 20-24

There’s never a dull moment in Houston. Here are 7 options for free fun in Houston October 20-October 24 before planning your free and cheap weekend!

We Love Houston sign

Monday (10/20) — Get active and fit at the CityCentre Running Club’s free 5K fun run Mondays between 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Then enjoy a little post-run snack at Ruggles Green. CityCentre Running Club is a free social running group.

Tuesday (10/21) — Don’t miss The Cat in the Hat’s visit to this week’s Toddler Tuesday at Discovery Green. The fun begins at 10:30 am at 1500 McKinney. Bring a gently used book for the weekly book swap.

Tuesday (10/21) — The Solar Energy Workshop continues this week at IKEA Houston. Tuesday’s topics features Community Solar from 6 pm – 9 pm. The Thursday session is on Disaster Recovery.

Wednesday (10/22) — Head downtown for a free outdoor movie, Young Frankenstein, 7 pm, at Market Square Park. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are welcome. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. Dog friendly!

Thursday (10/23) — Get ready to kick off The Addams Family musical Thursday — the first night of six performances. The show begins at 7:30 pm at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Free reserved seats are available performance day at the Miller box office, 10:30 am – 1 pm. This is a HITS Theatre production.

Thursday (10/23) — Enjoy all the Halloween activities for free at Children’s Museum of Houston’s Free Family Night Thursday, 5 pm – 8 pm. Don’t miss the trick-or-treating plus examining slime blobs and mastering monster calls. Located at 1500 Binz.

Thursday (10/23) — Don’t miss Open Mic Comedy Night Thursday, 6 pm – 8:45 pm, at downtown Houston Public Library! The free evening welcomes local comedians, puppeteers, ventriloquists, and impressionists to share their clean comedy. It also features a local version of Whose Line Is It Anyway with audience help. Seating is limited. Comedy Night is held Fourth Thursday each month, 500 McKinney.

Disney on Ice Discounts in Houston

Disney on Ice HoustonA new Disney on Ice show hits Houston next month, Disney on Ice: Princesses & Heroes, featuring Disney princesses, a few princes plus Anna, Elsa, and Olaf from the mega hit Frozen.

There are a couple of ways to save:

1) Attend November 12 and get the Opening Night discount. Tickets are $14 on opening night plus a service fee of $9.20 per ticket for $23.20 (versus $17 + fee = $27.34). No promo code needed. Go online to Ticketmaster here to get Opening Night discount.

2) Save $5 per ticket with promo code SAVE5. Enter the code on the first page (after you select your date) in the box labeled Offer Code near the top. It does not get used at the end during check out. Offer ends November 11. Buy tickets online here.

Disney on Ice discount

Disney On Ice: Princesses & Heroes will be at NRG Stadium. November 12-16. Parking is $10.

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Welcome to Houston, El Pollo Loco

This post is sponsored by El Pollo Loco. All opinions are my own.

El Pollo Loco celebrated the grand opening of its first Houston restaurant in October with a big ribbon cutting ceremony in Sugar Land. The fire-grilled chicken chain is quickly expanding in the Houston market with future restaurants opening in Copperfield, Katy, Humble and Spring in the next few months. Since 1980, El Pollo Loco, or “The Crazy Chicken,” has opened more than 400 restaurants in the country.

El Pollo Loco

Here are some fun facts about the California-based restaurant:

  • Grill Masters grill about 147 fresh, whole chickens each day. The complete process takes about an hour.
  • Employees hand chop about 357 tomatoes each day for its fresh salsa and other dishes.
  • Salsa and pico de gallo are made fresh daily.
  • El Pollo Loco is proud of its “5 Under 500 Calories” menu made with natural fire-grilled chicken. Items include Chicken Enchiladas, Grande Tacos, Mango Grilled Tostada and more.
  • Local stores love getting involved in the community through Fire-Grilled Fundraisers and El Pollo Loco Charities. The restaurant chain is proud to impact their neighborhood and communities.

As a local Ambassador for El Pollo Loco, I enjoyed a food-tasting event in August with folks from El Pollo Loco’s corporate headquarters,  Head Chef Heather Gardea and Manager, Research & Development, Chef Gabriel Segovia.

El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco has a large menu featuring its famous citrus-marinated fire-grilled chicken with salads, burritos, tacos, tostadas, and desserts. Families will love taking advantage of its healthy 8-piece Family Meal for under $20.

These are some of the menu items to look forward to, pictured below: Pollo Bowl, Under 500 Grande Taco, Poblano Avocado Burrito, and Cheesecake Chimichangas.

el pollo loco food WM

My favorite was the Pollo Bowl in a tostado bowl hand-shaped in the store each day. It includes the fire-grilled chicken, pinto beans, rice, cilantro, onions and pico de gallo. It’s actually a great value, too, as part of a $5 Combo with tortillas and drink.

The restaurant’s mantra, “crazy you can taste,” perfectly describes the lengths El Pollo Loco goes to create fresh, delicious food!

The Sugar Land restaurant  is located at 4528 Highway 6 and Austin Parkway. El Pollo Loco’s next Houston-area restaurant opens in Copperfield in NW Houston November 24. That’s my neighborhood, so I am especially excited!

Houston Pumpkin Patches, Farm Fun, Fall Festivals

pumpkin patch

Houston, we have a great weekend ahead to enjoy all things fall! Enjoy this round-up of Houston pumpkin patches, farm fun, fall festivals and more to add to your list of memory-making.

These are my previous posts (click title) for Houston fall fun — free and cheap:

photo: TGR Exotics

Free Adoptions at CAP October 17-19

Free Adoptions CAPIt’s a Mega-Weekend Sale with free pet adoptions October 17-19 at Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) in West Houston. This is sponsored by ASPCA and presented by Suburu.

Adoption fees range from $50 – $149, so it’s a huge savings. CAP adoption fees include a variety of services —  such as vaccinations, heartworm, and microchip — valued at $400. Katarina, pictured, is one of many available dogs available for adoption!

Search for your future friend online at the Pet Adoption page. CAP, a non-profit animal shelter since 1972, is located at 17555 Katy Freeway near Barker Cypress. Hours are 11 am – 6 pm Friday & Saturday and 1 pm – 6 pm Sunday.

Discovering Houston on the Cheap: Osman Ikanovic, Royal Sonesta Houston

Welcome to Discovering Houston on the Cheap, a weekly series highlighting cheap dates, cheap
meals, Houston’s best-kept secret and more — by local chefs, media, athletes, and folks in local business.

Osman Ikanovic, Chef Concierge, Royal Sonesta Houston
{A refugee from the Bosnian War, Osman Ikanovic found refuge in Houston and the hotel business 15 years ago. Today he is one of Royal Sonesta Houston’s most familiar faces. He also serves as the Houston liaison for Les Clefs d’Or USA, an organization that represents the best of the concierge industry.}

Osman Ikanovic1) Favorite spot for a cheap mealBubba’s Texas Burger Shack

Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack introduced Houston to the buffalo burger, an addictively delicious treat. I always pair mine with the jalapeno salad. As the name implies, it’s not a glamorous place, but an eclectic city staple in the shadow of Uptown.

2) Favorite spot for a cheap dateRivas

Rivas, which is located in the Montrose area, is another Houston classic. It’s intimate and tucked away on a back street with a very friendly staff and great food.

3) Houston’s best-kept secret — James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace

Located on the Rice University campus and constructed from grass, concrete, stone and composite steel, this fantastic art installation is equipped with an LED light sequence that projects onto the ceiling and through an aperture. The composition of natural and artificial light transforms the skyspace into something quite magical. The best time for viewing is at sunset, and reservations are free of charge through the website.

4) Best place to save money in Houston — Montrose shopping

Used, vintage and consignment shopping in Montrose. Whether you’re looking for a piece of furniture to liven up your patio or a fashion statement for a night on the town, you’re sure to find it off Lower Westheimer.

5) Favorite Houston festival or annual event — Houston International Festival

There is no festival that better showcases Houston’s cosmopolitan nature. Not only is it an opportunity for Houstonians to learn about different cultures through food, art and music, but proceeds support a curriculum component tied to the spotlight country that impacts children throughout the state.

6) My perfect day in Houston would be…

The fall is perfect time to be in Houston. Nothing better than to wake up early and walk or run in one of our great public parks. And in the evening, I love to take my family to Discovery Green, where there is so much to see and do.

Find more on Pinterest! If you love this interview, check out the complete Discovering Houston on the Cheap interview series profiles on Pinterest.

Free Weekend Fun in Houston October 17-19

It’s another weekend in Houston with plenty of free fun! Check out these 16 Free Things to Do in Houston October 17-19:

free fun in Houston


Scare up some funBoo on the Boardwalk continues for Halloween-themed fun through October 31. Enjoy trick or treating at retail stores 4 pm – 8 pm Fridays – Sundays, outdoor movie each Friday night, kids’ activities and more. This Friday’s movie and music is Beetlejuice and music by Epic Blaze. Lots of free fun but haunted houses have a fee. Located in Kemah.


Pick the perfect pumpkin — The Nature Discovery Center presents its Pumpkin Patch fall festival, October 18-19, from 11 am – 4 pm. Enjoy carnival games, pumpkin patch, fall crafts, games, wagon rides, food and drink. Free with fee for some activities. Located at 7112 Newcastle Dr.

Texian Heritage FestivalCelebrate Texian heritage — Don’t miss the Texian Heritage Festival Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm, at Montgomery’s historical park. The day features Texas Independence battle reenactments, Native American dancers, and a Texian Army Tent Encampment. It’s a great way to explore the daily lives of Texas settlers on the frontier in the 1800s. Fernland Historical Park has four cabins from the 1800s. The festival is located at the historic park, 780 Clepper in Montgomery. photo: Texian Heritage Festival

Go wild outdoors — Get ready for free family fun at the 8th annual KBR Kid’s Day: Wild on Buffalo Bayou Saturday, 11am – 3 pm. The day features activity stations with hands-on activities, pontoon boat tours, local entertainment and performers, Halloween Costume Parade, kayak and skateboarding demos, and Birds of Prey Show. This event, sponsored by Buffalo Bayou Partnership and KBR is located at Downtown’s Sabine Promenade, 150 Sabine Street (between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive).

Engage with energy – Don’t miss this free family festival around all-things energy, Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm. Energy Day features more than 70 kid-friendly demonstrations and energy exhibits, live music, contests, food, and fun. The festival highlights the importance of energy in the lives of Houstonians. Its mission is to spark the interests of the next generation in energy-related careers. The event is at Sam Houston Park, 1000 Bagby.

 Celebrate Centennial Gardens — Enjoy music, food, fun, performances and more at the Family Celebration of McGovern Centennial Gardens, Hermann Park’s newest improvement project. Schedule includes garden tours, children’s activities, art talk and art walk. Saturday, 9:30 am – 5 pm at Hermann Park.

Support the pups — Dog lovers can unite at Barkitecture Houston, an annual local fundraiser supporting Pup Squad and its rescue dogs. The city’s best architects and designers join together Saturday to build creative, designer dog houses for silent auction. The free event also features shopping and fun. Bring your dog, of course. This event is at GreenStreet downtown, noon to 5 pm, with free parking at 1301 Main Street garage.

See WWII Aircraft — Don’t miss your chance to tour the WWII Museum and visit the Hangar of the Houston Wing of the Commemorative Air Force Saturday 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. Located at West Houston Airport, 2 miles north of I-10 east off Barker Cypress on Groschke Rd.

Thrill at the mill — Play out on the farm with free admission October 18 only for Thrill at the Mill. It’s all at 7 Acre Wood 10 am – 4 pm in Conroe near The Woodlands. Enjoy park and games, petting zoo, putt putt golf, pumpkins, rope slide, playground, live music, free candy and more!

Free outdoor movies in HoustonWatch movies under the stars — It’s a big weekend for free outdoor movies in Houston. 1) Central Green Park, Katy: Batman , dusk 2) Sugar Land Town Square: Monsters University, 7 pm 3) Discovery Green: The Bully Project documentary, 7:30 pm 4) Pearland Town Square: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, 8 pm

See boats in action — Head to Sugar Land for the 11th annual Dragon Boat Regatta Saturday and Sunday. Watch dragon races, enjoy cultural performances and enjoy Asian cuisine. Some of the performers include belly dancing, Chinese Yo Yo, Kung Fu, and Asian Pie Eating Contest. This year’s theme is Breast Cancer Survivors. Held at Brooks Lake at Fluor in Sugar Land 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Scare up some funBoo on the Boardwalk features Halloween-themed fun through October 31. Enjoy trick or treating at retail stores 4 pm – 8 pm Fridays – Sundays. This week’s Saturday fun includes kids’ corner activities, Monster Magic Show, pumpkin decorating, Costume Contest (12 and under), Zombie Night Party, and music by Rapture. Lots of free fun but haunted houses have a fee. Located in Kemah.

Celebrate Korean culture — The Korean Festival kicks off Saturday, October 18, 10 am – 7 pm, at Discovery Green. Enjoy a variety of performances featuring folk musicians, Korean dancers, TaeKwonDo masters plus fabulous culinary cuisine. Located at 1500 McKinney downtown.


bayou bend family dayEnjoy family day at Bayou BendFree Family Day returns to Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens Sunday as the historic home celebrates “Energy: A Texas Legacy.” Families are encouraged to visit between 1 pm – 5 pm for music, games, art-making activities and more such as hunt for dinosaur food in the gardens, do a science experiment, and draw with charcoal. Don’t miss the chance to tour the first floor of Bayou Bend’s historic mansion. Located at 6003 Memorial Drive. photo: Bayou Bend

Scare up a pumpkinConcert in the Park is back Sunday in The Woodlands with a Jack-o-Lantern Challenge. Enjoy a family pumpkin carving competition during the concert in Northshore Park. The Jack-o-Lantern Challenge begins at 5:30 pm. This week’s music is provided by Subdivided Band. Located at 2505 Lake Woodlands Drive. This is the last week in the fall series.

Scare up some funBoo on the Boardwalk features Halloween-themed fun through October 31. Enjoy trick or treating at retail stores 4 pm – 8 pm Fridays – Sundays. This week’s Sunday fun includes pumpkin decorating, guessing games, creepy creatures, and music by Moodafaruka. Lots of free fun but haunted houses have a fee. Located in Kemah.

Katy Budget Books $1 or Less Semi-Annual Sale

BooksIt’s a book lover’s dream! Katy Budget Bookssemi-annual sale returns October 16 – November 2. This fabulous independent retailer is discounting more than 50,000 overstock used books for $1 or less. Find children’s books for 40¢, paperback books for 75¢ or less, and hardcover books for $1. All sale books will be marked on the bottom.

More books will be added to the shelves each night, so you might need to visit several times! Katy Budget Books is located at 2450 Fry Road (north of I-10) in Katy.

Test Drive Lincolns & $50 Goes to Houston SPCA

Driven to GiveTest drive a set of Lincolns this weekend and $50 will be donated to Houston SPCA! West Point Lincoln is sponsoring this fun Driven to Give campaign to make a difference in the lives of animals in need. Guests are invited to drive the new 2015 MKC (cue Matthew McConaughey commerical!) and 2015 MKZ.

Where: Houston SPCA
When: Saturday, October 18, 10 am – 3 pm
What: Test drive Lincolns, meet the adoptable animals, and get a free Texas Blizzard Shaved Ice

This is the third year for West Point Lincoln’s Driven to Give campaign to help organizations in the Houston community. Houston SPCA was a natural fit for West Point Lincoln’s charity of choice, since so many employees feel passionately about its mission.

“Driven to Give is a fantastic way to give back to the Houston SPCA,” says Chris Poulos, vice president/general manager, West Point Lincoln. “We hope it will bring a lot of people to the shelter to not only meet the animals up for adoption but also see how good these pets look in a Lincoln!”

Seven Lincolns will be onsite at Houston SPCA, so lines shouldn’t be an issue! Folks are asked to drive the MKC and MKZ. Houston SPCA is located at 900 Portway off 610 & 290.


Wings Over Houston Airshow Discount Tickets & Free Flights for World War II Veterans

Wings Over HoustonIf you plan early, you can save money on some of Houston’s favorite annual events.

Wings Over Houston Airshow returns to Ellington Airport November 1-2 for its 30th year, produced by Commemorative Air Force. It’s a jam-packed weekend adventure featuring U.S. Navy Blue Angels, vintage warplane demonstrations, civilian acrobatic pilots, Tuskeegee Airmen Traveling Exhibit, Legends and Heroes autograph tent, Vietnam Demonstration and Tribute, Freedom Flyers, displays of modern and vintage aircraft, along with kids’ zone, food, and vendors.  photo: Wings Over Houston Airshow

World War II veterans can receive a free flight on Ward’s P-51-D Mustang “Pecos Bill,” Friday, October 31. Contact Freedom Flyers at 512.756.6163 or email Cowden Ward at cw@cwsky.net to request a flight and make arrangements. Requests over the six slots will be honored and scheduled for different dates.

Beat the lines and save a bit of cash with online advance purchase:

  • adults: $25 + $2 fee ($30 at gate)
  • kids (6-11): $4 + .50 fee ($5 at gate)
  • kids under 6: free
  • Family Pack: $60 + $5 fee. Admission for 2 adults and up to 4 kids (6-11). Available online only.

Purchase your discount tickets online here. Discount tickets also are available at Kroger for $25 and $4, adult and child, respectively.

Free Admission

Vietnam Wall traveling exhibitFree admission Friday, October 31, 8 am – 5 pm, for folks interested in the Vietnam Demonstration and Traveling Wall exhibit, a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial Wall located in Washington, D.C. The wall honors those who gave their lives during Vietnam War at 300 ft. long and 6 ft. tall.

Ellington Airport is 15 miles south of downtown Houston.  photo: Maureen Welsh