5 Things to Experience as a New Houstonian: A Newcomer’s Guide to Houston

space center houston NASAThere are a few spots in Houston that are must-see when you move to town. They just offer a glimpse into the history and unique ways of the city.

Check out my latest article, 5 Things to Experience as a New Houstonian, on CubeSmart’s site for A Newcomer’s Guide to Houston. I look forward to sharing new Houston-related articles there each month!

I am proud to be CubeSmart’s City Guide Expert for its online Houston Moving Guide. I will be sharing monthly insight for folks moving to Houston looking for local perspective.
Disclosure: I’ve partnered with CubeSmart as their local expert. Articles are written by me and my own opinion.

CubeSmart city guide

National Coffee Day 2015 Freebies in Houston

coffee at ToutSuiteDid you remember that National Coffee Day is Tuesday, September 29? Here are some freebies in the Houston area I’ve heard about so far:

Dunkin’ Donuts is offering free medium hot/iced Dark Roast coffee September 29. One cup per guest. This freebie is celebrating the 1st anniversary of Dark Roast coffee. Plus check out its exclusive, special one-day geofilter for Snapchat!

Shipley DoNuts is giving a free cup of coffee September 29 (5 am to noon) with purchase.

Whole Foods is offering 12 oz. Allegro coffee for just 25¢ through September 30.

IKEA Houston is sharing a coffee freebie September 29 (and every day). IKEA Family members get a free cup of coffee every day all day in the restaurant on the 2nd floor. It’s free to become an IKEA Family member! Sign up online.

Krispy Kreme has an amazing freebie (free donut and 12 oz. coffee) but our Houston Hwy 6. location is not opening till late October, according to corporate communications. We can dream about next year!

I hope to hear of more freebies as the date gets closer. I will keep this updated!

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Free Weekend Fun in Houston September 25-27

It’s another weekend in Houston with plenty of free fun! Check out these 17 Free Things to Do in Houston September 25-27:

Free Weekend Fun in Houston


Watch movies under the moon — Catch a free outdoor screening of Paddington, 8 pm start at Whole Foods Market Montrose. Located at 701 Waugh.

Enjoy a season opener — METdance kicks off its 20th season with Celebrating 20, 8 pm – 9:30 pm! Free reserved covered seats are available on performance day at Miller Box office beginning at 10:30 am.

Energize with Zumba — Local Houston-area YMCAs are sponsoring Zumba Fest Friday, 7 pm – 9 pm. This free event is open to the community + folks who sign up for membership over the weekend have no joining fee (save $125!). Find a local YMCA online.

Love me some gospel — Enjoy an evening of gospel music under the stars at Gospel on the Green featuring Houston’s Jones Family Singers and Sweet Honey in the Rock from 7:30 pm – 10 pm. Located at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney.


Volunteer to help the habitat — Sign up to volunteer at Hermann Park for National Public Lands Day Saturday, 9 am to noon.  You’ll be working at Hermann Park’s Bayou Parkland. National Public Lands Day is the single, largest day to volunteer on America’s public lands. For more info or to volunteer email [email protected]

Love the flowers — Don’t miss The Woodlands Wildflower Festival, 10 am – 2 pm, featuring a variety of wildflower seeds, live music, inflatables, local mascots, petting zoo, art contests, food trucks and more! Located at  2099 Lake Robbins Drive in The Woodlands.

Browse a museum for free — Visit participating Houston-area museums for free Saturday, September 26, as part of Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day. One pass for two people per household. Check out my previous post here for details and list of Houston participating museums.

Tour new digs at Alley Theatre — After completing its $46 million renovation in the last year, Alley Theatre is ready to show off its new digs! Head to the free Grand Opening celebration Saturday with the Ribbon Cutting at 10 am and self-guided tours from 10 am – noon. Located at 615 Texas Avenue downtown.

Enjoy the outdoorsTake Me Outdoors Houston returns Saturday to Discovery Green, 10 am – 3 pm. In partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife, families can enjoy hands-on education opportunities and local attractions. Located at 1500 McKinney.

Prepare for a crisis  — Engage with participating chefs in Ready Houston Preparedness Kit Chef’s Challenge Saturday at Market Square Park, 1 pm – 3 pm. Each chef must prepare a gourmet dish from canned and shelf-stable ingredients. Judges sample the dishes and select a winner. Participating chefs are from Landry’s, Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Southern Goods, and more.

Indulge in bugs and brew — Check out Tomball’s Bugs, Brew & Barbecue Festival Saturday 9 am – 6 pm. The free event features more than 100 classic VW bugs, barbecue, and live music. Several local breweries will share about their Texas beer including Saint Arnold, No Label, Karbach, Buffalo Bayou, and Lone Pint Brewing. Free admission and free parking. Located in Tomball at 201 S. Elm.

Visit a national parkU.S. National Park Service designates Free National Park weekends for all of its 408 national parks throughout the year. The next one is this Saturday for Public Lands Day. Texas is home to several national parks, preserves, and historic sites that will offer free admission: Big Bend National Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Padre Island National Seashore.

Get ready for RenFest — Head to Magnolia for Stroll through the Renaissance Saturday, 3 pm – 7 pm. The free event celebrates the 41st anniversary of the Texas Renaissance Festival: meet the king and queen, play games, indulge in food, and win prizes. Don’t miss the knighting ceremony for two local Magnolians. Free admission and free parking. Located Magnolia Town Center.

Watch movies under the moon Central Green Park: Catch a free outdoor screening of Disney’s Freaky Friday Saturday at dusk. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome! Located in Katy at 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd. Bellaire Town Center: Enjoy watching a movie under the stars, Guardians of the Galaxy, Saturday at dusk. Located at 7008 S. Rice in Bellaire.

Jam to The WhoThe Fab 40 Takes on The Who: Tommy on the Green brings together 7 musicians to take on Tommy note for note. Located at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney.

Dance all nightDancing Under the Stars returns Saturday night to CityCentre, 7 pm – 10 pm. Enjoy salsa with Shekere. Located at 800 Town and Country Blvd.


Celebrate Shasta’s birthday — Current and former University of Houston Cougars are invited to celebrate Shasta’s birthday at the Houston Zoo! UH fans will receive free admission to the Houston Zoo Sunday from 9 am to noon, if wearing UH gear! Shasta will open his gifts at 10:30 am. For more info, visit houstonalumni.com.

Watch opening night — Don’t miss the season opener of River Oaks Chamber Orchestra’s Sunday concert at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The program is titled “Gitcha Groove On” with a pairing of jazz and classical music by the 40-piece orchestra. Tickets for free reserved, covered seats are available on performance day at the Miller box office, 10:30 am – 1 pm.

Date Night on the Cheap: Laugh Out Loud

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.

It’s always funny until someone gets hurt. Then it’s just hilarious.Bill Hicks, who got his comedy start in Houston.

Leave the one-liners to the pros and take in the comedy nights around town for your next date night.

Montrose Open Mic

Start the week with some laughs at neighborhood hangout Rudyard’s British Pub where the open mic show starts at 8 pm (no cover). Aspiring stand-up comedians perform five minutes worth of material for the crowd with routines ranging from laugh-out-loud funny to risque. Take advantage of Rudyard’s steak night special, a hand-cut 10 oz. ribeye or NY strip with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies for $10. The menu has lots of heavy-duty classics like burgers and pizzas.

rudyards british pub

photo: Rudyards Facebook

Trip Chandler Tip: Be sure to check their online calendar just in case another event has been scheduled.

Head over to Boondocks on Tuesday nights when The Secret Group hosts open mic comedy starting at 9 pm (no cover). For pre-punchline dining, share authentic Chinese dishes on the spicy side at nearby Mala Sichuan.


Trip Chandler Tip: Be on the lookout for food trucks setting up shop along Westheimer for a quick meal.

A Night at the Improv 

Station Theater on Houston Avenue hosts a calendar full of comedy jam sessions where both seasoned improvisers and newbies take the stage for evenings filled with improv and sketch comedy. Be sure to check out the murals decorating the venue, including the Space Cat Mural by visual artist Black Cassidy, and Houston street artist, Corathao’s Aguacate Princesa. All shows are $6 unless otherwise noted and BYOB. Doors open 20 minutes before showtime.

station theater

Grab burgers before the show at nearby Stanton’s, a fixture on Houston Avenue and always on Houston Top 10 burger lists.

Competitive Comedy

For comedy on the competitive side, take a seat Friday nights at Phoenicia’s MKT bar for BETA Bracket, BETA Theater’s free stand-up comedy showdown. The tournament runs through October 30 with a 10 pm start.

Before the comics battle it out, peruse the two floors of Phoenicia’s market full of foodie finds from around the world. The MKT bar offers dining inside along with tables outside for future fall weather.

Trip Chandler Tip: Enjoy free parking for Phoenicia in the One Park Place garage, which features a Batcave-like exit.

The MKT bar also hosts a comedy night on the first Sunday of the month at 7 pm, which makes for a nice evening strolling the grounds of Discovery Green before the show.

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.

Free Pizookie at BJ’s Restaurant September 29

Free Pizookie™ September 29 at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse! It’s just too much excitement for me.

bjs free pizookie 600p

I’m not sure why, but it’s only been in the last few months that I first went to BJ’s and even ordered a Pizookie™. Now I am hooked! How perfect to have a free day right around my anniversary!

Here’s the deal: enjoy a free regular-sized Pizookie™ with purchase of $9.95 or more.

There are six BJ’s Restaurant locations in the Houston area: Willowbrook, Katy, Sugar Land, Shenandoah, Pearland, and Clear Lake.

Houston Aquarium: 2-for-1 September Saturdays

downtown aquarium HoustonIt’s the last Saturday, September 26, for this deal!

Take advantage of half-price tickets to Houston’s Downtown Aquarium with buy-one-get-one free All-Day Adventure Pass coupon available online. The $18.99 pass includes unlimited access to Aquarium Adventure Exhibit, Stingray Reef, and all the rides.

The coupon is valid Saturdays in September. The Adventure Pass retails for $18.99, so the deal makes it about $9.50 per person. Print the coupon here. Find the Houston Aquarium downtown at 410 Bagby at Memorial.

8 Free Things to Do in Houston September 21-25

Don’t miss these 8 options for free fun in Houston September 21-25 before planning your free and cheap weekend!

We Love Houston sign

Monday (9/21) — Enjoy Fun & Games Night Mondays, 2 pm – 10 pm, at MKT Bar, inside Phoenicia Specialty Foods. Challenge your friends in retro board games (such as Mystery Date, Operation, Clue and Twister), ping pong, darts, and foosball. Save with specials on craft beer & pizza. Free parking in One Park Place Garage on McKinney.

Tuesday (9/22) — Enjoy story time and activities each week at Toddler Tuesday, 10:30 am, at Discovery Green. This week features story time and a foam party! Located at 1500 McKinney.

Tuesday (9/22) — Got teens interested in crafting? Then get Teen Craftomatics on your calendar each Tuesday, 4:30 pm at Kendall Library. This is geared to kids ages 10 and up. Located at 609 N. Eldridge.

Tuesday (9/22) — Don’t miss the free KSBJ Brown Bag Concert Tuesday, 6:30 pm, in Humble. The free concert with Christian group Building 429 will be held at Chick-fil-A at Lake Houston, 19220 West Lake Houston Parkway in Humble.

Wednesday (9/23) — Opera to Go presents The Velveteen Rabbit Wednesday, 11 am, at Miller Outdoor Theatre. This family show is presented by Houston Grand Opera. Additional performances continue Thursday and Friday at 11 am at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Dr.

Thursday (9/24) — Free Trivalent flu shots are available to Harris County residents age 55+ Thursday, 1 pm – 3 pm, at Glazier Senior Education Center. This is located at 16600 Pine Forest Lane, 77084.

Thursday (9/24) — Sounds Like Houston Concert Series continues each Thursday this fall at Discovery Green. This week features Rosie Flores and Dale Watson from 6:30 pm – 9 pm. Located at 1500 McKinney.

Thursday (9/24) — Don’t miss Open Mic Comedy Night Thursday, 6 pm – 8 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 Hollywood Game Night with audience help. Seating is limited with doors open at 5:30 pm. Comedy Night is held Fourth Thursday each month, 500 McKinney.

Free Weekend Fun in Houston September 18-20

It’s another weekend in Houston with plenty of free fun! Check out these 17 Free Things to Do in Houston September 18-20:

Discovery Green


Watch competitive dogs — Get ready for a free 3-day festival that’s all things dogs! Dog Days at Discovery Green kicks off with DockDog competition Friday at 10 am and continues Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 4:30 pm. Other events include dog costume contest on Saturday and more! Located at 1500 McKinney.

Watch a movie under the moonFriday Flicks on the Lawn returns to GreenStreet Friday, 8 pm. This week’s movie is Hunger Games. GreenStreet offers free monthly outdoor movies this fall. Located at 1201 Fannin.

Be touchedLife Interrupted is an evening of contemporary art, dance and music around the content of World War II Internment Camp experience. Located at Miller Outdoor Theater beginning at 8 pm. Free reserved, covered seats are available on performance day from 10:30 am – 1 pm.

See the batsFamily Bat Chat returns Friday at the platform at Waugh Drive and Allen Parkway. Arrive 30 minutes before sunset to hear a brief presentation on Waugh Bridge Bat Colony. Free public parking at Spotts Park, 401 S. Heights Blvd. at Memorial. This is held the 1st and 3rd Fridays.

Enjoy music, movie & more — It’s a special Chipotle Music & Movie night Friday at Discovery Green, 7 pm. Texas-born band of brothers, Folk Family Revival, will provide the music followed by the documentary More Than Honey. Chipotle will be giving away free guacamole and chips + 500 BOGO coupons. Located at 1500 McKinney.


Get outside for fun — It’s World Wide Day of Play Saturday in Deer Park, noon to 3 pm. The free family event features inflatables, games, face painting, music, pool games, and more! The fun starts at noon. Located at Dow Park.

Watch competitive dogsDog Days at Discovery Green returns with DockDog competition Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 4:30 pm. Other events include dog costume contest Saturday at 3 pm and more! Prizes will be given to the top 5 costumes! Located at 1500 McKinney.

See WWII aircraft — The 3rd Saturday of the month means free WWII museum and hangar tour. Tour the WWII Museum and visit the Hangar of the 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. Located at West Houston Airport on Groschke Rd.

Love a parade — The 47th annual Fiestas Patrias Parade begins downtown Saturday, 10 am, on Texas at Jackson to celebrate Hispanic Heritage.

See traditional Folklorico — Celebrate the Hispanic heritage Saturday, 11 am, at Mesoamerica de Mexico, a performance of contemporary folkloric dances from the Mesoamerican region. Located at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Learn about safety –– Get educated at the Community Safety Expo in The Woodlands Saturday, noon – 3 pm. Kids will love trying on safety gear, face painting, bounce houses, live K9 demonstrations, crafts, McGruff the Crime Dog and other local mascots. Located at The Woodlands Township.

Watch a movie under the starsIn anticipation of the Men’s NCAA Final Four in Houston, enjoy a free outdoor screening of Hoosiers. Arrive at 7 pm for giveaways and interactive games related to the Final Four. Movie begins at 8 pm. Located at Market Square Park, 301 Milam.

Enjoy live music at Waterway Square — The Live at Night Waterway Music Series picks up again Saturdays this fall through October 10 in The Woodlands, 6 pm – 8 pm. The September 19 performance features Hazy Ray.

Celebrate African heritageStep Afrika! returns to Miller Outdoor Theatre Saturday, 8 pm, with intricate kicks, stomps, and rhythms mixed with spoken word. The performance creatively combines storytelling, songs, humor, and audience participation.


Watch competitive dogs –It’s the final day of Dog Days at Discovery Green 10 am – 4:30 pm. Cheer on your favorite pooch! Located at 1500 McKinney.

Explore natureFree Sunday in Nature returns this week to Armand Bayou Nature Center. Admission is free from noon to 4 pm, thanks to Dow Chemical Co. Hike trails with a naturalist interpreter, view live reptiles, relive 1895 history, and more. Located at 8500 Bay Area Blvd.

Share family fun — Enjoy fall Concert in the Park series in The Woodlands each weekend through October, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Sunday features Matt Mason singing Texas Country. Don’t miss this week’s Family Chalk Competition, with free chalk provided! The masterpieces will be judged during intermission at 6:30 pm. Located at Northshore Park in Panther Creek in The Woodlands.

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day: Select Houston Museums Free

houston holocaust museumSmithsonian Magazine is encouraging museum participation with its free Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live!, Saturday, September 26. There are several participating museums in the Houston area:

A free museum ticket is required for free admission September 26. Folks can register online to receive a free ticket by email for two people. There is a limit of one ticket per household, per email address.

smithsonian museum day 2015


Children’s Museum 35th Birthday Freebies

childrens museum bdayCan you believe the Children’s Museum of Houston opened its doors in 1980?

In honor of its 35th birthday, Houston’s favorite museum for kids is offering free admission for the first 35 kids each day through September 30. As a bonus, moms and dads who are actually 35 years old get in free, too! (ID will be checked!) This is made possible thanks to a generous donation by Phillips 66.

Houston is proud to house such an amazing museum for Houston families. What started as a pilot program at University of Houston has evolved to 90,000 square feet of interactive exhibits.

Children’s Museum of Houston is located at 1500 Binz in the Museum District. It’s open Tuesday – Sunday.