82 Things to Do in Houston This Summer *Free/Cheap*

Get a printable list of 82 Things to do in Houston this Summer: Free & Cheap! Find the list here!

summer fun in Houston

Get ready for summer fun in Houston: free & cheap! Price: free – $10.

MUSIC

Free Summer Symphony Nights, Houston Symphony: Miller Outdoor — June 18, June 20, June 26, June 27, July 4 @ 8:30 pm

Free Neighborhood Concert Series Houston Symphony:

June 10, 8:00 pm @ Clear Falls High School
June 11, 7:30 pm @ The Centrum (Spring)
June 23, 11 am @ Miller Outdoor Theatre
June 30, 7:30 pm @ North Shore Senior High School
July 1, 7:30 pm @ Dulles High School (Sugar Land)
July 2, 7:30 pm @ Chinese Community Center
July 7, 7:30 pm @ Dobie High School

Disney in Concert with Houston Symphony: June 12, 8 pm. Free mezzanine and lawn seating courtesy of Huntsman and Woodforest National Bank. Pre-concert activities begin at 6:30 pm. Located at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Summer Saturday Morning Kids’ Variety Show: June 13 (sold out), July 11, August 8, 9 am. Free. This new summer series for kids features live music, magic, crafts, creative writing, coloring, drawing and cookie decorating! Local children’s musician AndyRoo will entertain the audience (geared to kids age 4 and up) plus local magician David Rangel! The show is free, but you must make a reservation online to attend. RSVP online here . Located at Phoenicia Specialty Foods + MKT Bar.

Texas Music Festival Orchestra: June 19, 8 pm. Free. More than 100 musicians from around the world are showcased in this free performance as part of the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival. Located at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Summer Sounds on the Plaza: Rothko Chapel — The 2015 Summer Sounds series is dedicated to the music and people of Louisiana, in honor of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Suggested donation: $10. Located at 5216 Montrose.

June 11, 7 pm: Hustlers Brass Band
July 16, 7 pm: Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws
August 13, 7 pm: Ed Poullard

3rd Annual Day of Music: July 12, noon – 10 pm. Free day-long celebration of Houston’s musical diversity (jazz, rock, classical, blues, ethnic genre and more). Located at Jones Hall.

Schoolhouse Rock Live!: Discount tickets are available to the Friday, June 26, 8 pm, performance. $6 each + $3.25 fee ($12 value). Located at Lambert Hall in the Heights. Get discount tickets while they last.

Michael Cavanaugh with Houston Symphony: Free! Old Time Rock and Roll, July 30, 8 pm. Free mezzanine and lawn seats courtesy of Insperity and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Located at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Summer Concert Series with American Festival for the Arts (AFA): Students in the AFA Summer Music Conservatory perform throughout the summer in their free Summer Concert Series. These include the Middle School Festival Day (June 20), Symphony Orchestra Concert (July 1), Choral Celebration (June 27) and more. Find the complete calendar here.

BOOKS 

Summer Storytime Tours at Rienzi: Wednesdays June 3 – July 22, 10 am. Introduce kids to magic of art and literature through fun and interactive activities for ages 3+. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the garden after the event. Rienzi is the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston home, 1406 Kirby; free

Summer Reading Program at The Fish Gallery: July 9 – August 20, Each Thursday 3:30 pm– 4:30 pm with story time, fish feeding, touch tanks, crafts, games, and prizes. August 20 is a Summer Reading Party (2909 Fountain View).

Summer Middle Grade Book Club at Katy Budget Books: June 25 – August 13. 10 am. Kids will read the book before the Thursday book club, discuss the book, do an activity and have a snack. Located at 2450 Fry Road.

Pre-School Wig Wag Learning series at Rosenberg Railroad: Fridays, June 19, June 26, and Wednesdays in July (July 1, July 8, July 15, July 22) 10:30 am – 11;30 am.  Enjoy a one-hour program with story, craft and fun activities. Also includes a museum tour. Bring a bagged lunch and play on the wooden train play structure. $7/participating child and adult + $3/additional child. Located at 1921 Avenue F in Rosenberg.

Nature Story Time at Nature Discovery Center: Wednesdays, 4 pm. Free story time for preschoolers with variety of fun: live animals, puppets, short nature walks, crafts or songs and nature stories. Located at 7112 Newcastle.

Story time at Pottery Barn Kids: Tuesdays, 11 am, The Woodlands Mall and Highland Village

Story time at Houston Public Library locations throughout the city this summer.

Free Summer Reading Programs: Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library, Montgomery County LibraryFort Bend County Libraries, Brazoria County Library

Young Writers Workshop: Saturdays, 10:30 am, at Discovery Green. Houston Arts Alliance, HPL Express,  and Writers in the Schools help kids learn to write at this weekly session, funded in part by a grant from the City of Houston.

Gamemeisters at Blue Willow Bookshop: Head to this independent bookshop Thursdays this summer to play and learn new games. This free event is geared to kids ages 5-10. Thursdays, June 11 – July 30. Parents are welcome to stay. Located at 14532 Memorial.

THEATER

Free Musical: Hairspray Jr.: June 10-12, 11 am and Hairspray, June 12-13, 8:15 pm. Presented by TUTS’ Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. Located at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Free Children’s Hilltop Festival: July 21, Our Feet Can Tell A Story; July 22, Frida’s Fiesta; July 23, My BFF The Dragon; July 24, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Located at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 11 am.

Free TUTS’ Summer Musical: July 14-19, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, 8 pm. Located at Miller Outdoor Theater.

Houston Shakespeare Festival: Free Shakespeare in the park! August 1, 5, 7, 9, The Merchant of Venice; July 31, August 2, 4, 6, 8, Macbeth. Performance begin at 8:30 pm at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Arrive early for a 7:45 pm talk each evening.

Summer Children’s Theater @ Lone Star College-Cy Fair: June 29 (10 am and 7 pm), June 30 (10 am), July 1 (10 am and 1 pm).  Lone Star College Cy-Fair presents A Mugwump, Some Flim-Flams, and A Dumb Cluck. Located at 9191 Barker Cypress Road. Purchase tickets online for $7 each.

MOVIES

Free & Cheap Summer Movie Series:

  • Cinemark: $1 weekly or 10 for $5, starts June 8 (Tuesdays or Wednesdays or both depending on location)
  • Studio Movie Grill $3, Monday – Friday, 11 am. Starts June 1 for 12 weeks. Copperfield and CityCentre.
  • Santikos: Free Tuesdays & Wednesdays, starts July 7, 10 am, for 7 weeks. Located at Silverado Tomball & Palladium in Sugar Land.
  • Regal: $1 movies begin June 9 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through August 8
  • Carmike Cinemas: Thursdays at 10am beginning June 18 for 10 weeks. $4 includes admission, small popcorn and small drink.
  • Alamo Drafthouse: Catch a cheap movie Monday – Thursday all summer with start times between 10 am – 12:30 pm. Choose your own ticket price ($1-$3) and purchase online to reserve your spot. 100% of the ticket sales benefit local nonprofits. Located at Mason Park and Vintage Park & Louetta. Times vary by location each week.
  • Showbiz Cinemas: Enjoy 50¢ movies at ShowBiz Cinemas Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 10 am. The 10-week series kicks off June 18. Located in Kingwood.
  • Premiere Cinemas: Free and $1 movies Wednesdays. Times vary by location in Tomball, Pearland, and Baytown.

Free Outdoor Movies at Miller Outdoor Theatre: The Wizard of Oz (July 3), 8:30 pm. Located at 6000 Hermann Park Drive

Free Outdoor Movies at Discovery Green: Jaws (June 20), 8:30 pm. Located at 1500 McKinney.

Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow at Market Square Park: The Philadelphia Story (June 19), Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (July 3), The Blade Runner (July 17) at 8:30 pm. Located at 301 Milam.

Moonlight Movies for Kids, CityCentre: Big Hero 6 (June 10), Cinderella {classic} (July 8), Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day (August 12). 8:30 pm fun & 9 pm movie. Located at 800 Town and Country Blvd.

Friday Night Flicks, GreenStreet: Despicable Me 2 (June 26), Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (July 24), and Hotel Transylvania (August 28). Located at 1201 Fannin downtown.

Free Movie Nights, WFDD Central Green: 10 free movies this summer at Central Green in Katy! Get the schedule here. Blankets and lawn chairs welcome. South end of LaCenterra, 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.

Movies Under the Moon, Sugar Land Town Square:  Cinderella (June 13),  Muppets Most Wanted (July 11), Annie (August 8), 7 pm – 9 pm.

Free Indoor/Outdoor Movies, Messiah Lutheran Church: Remember the Titans (July 3), Frozen Sing-a-Long (July 10), Saving Mr. Banks (July 17), The Avengers (July 24), Friday nights in July Cypress-based Messiah Lutheran Church will host free movies, with a screening indoors and one outdoors at the same time. The movie themes will be discussed during Sunday sermons with movie clips.

2nd Saturday at The Depot Movies, Tomball: Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (June 13), Elf Christmas in July (July 11), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (August 8), 6:30 pm

Free Outdoor Movies, Deer Park: Paddington (August 1)

Free Movie Nights, Pearland Town Square: Two movies each month June – August. Maleficent (June 13), Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day (June 27), The BoxTrolls (July 11), Tinkerbell (July 25), Paddington (August 8) with shows at 7:30 pm. Located at Pearland Town Square.

Grease Sing-A-Long, August 15, 8 pm. $5 lawn seats or $10 reserved. Pre-concert activities begin at 6:30 pm. Located at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

40+ Free Outdoor Movies in Houston — same outdoor movies as above but listed by date

$3 Movies, Studio Movie Grill: Girls Night Out (2nd Wednesday), Family Rewind (3rd Wednesday and Sunday), TOONS (Friday – Sunday every week). Located at Copperfield and CityCentre.

AMC Summer Throwbacks: $4.99 movies with weekly titles ranging from Paddington to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. This is available June 12 – August 13. Check out the movie titles and schedule online.

The Showboat Drive-In Theater: Enjoy a double feature outdoors under the stars. Adults are $7 and kids $5. Located in Hockley off 2920.

ART/CULTURE

Free Museum Days in Houston Museum District:

  • Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – Thursday 1 pm – 5 pm
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science – Thursday 3 pm – 6 pm
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — Thursday 10 am – 9 pm — Kids 12 & under free every day
  • Children’s Museum of Houston — Thursday 5 pm – 8 pm
  • The Health Museum — Thursday 2 pm – 5 pm
  • Holocaust Museum Houston Thursday 2 pm – 5 pm
  • Houston Museum of African-American Culture — Thursday 6 pm – 8 pm
  • Czech Center Museum Houston – Last Monday each month, noon -4 pm

10 Museums are Always Free: Don’t miss these great cultural experiences and learning opportunities in Houston’s Museum District that are “always-free”: Asia Society Texas, Houston Center for Photography, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Rothko Chapel, Lawndale Art Center and more.

Children’s Museum of Houston: Who could be more focused on kid fun this summer than this museum? Children’s Museum is open seven days a week this summer with weekly themes, action-packed activities, performances, character appearances, and extraordinary events like Superman’s Birthday, Minecraft Mania, Shrinky Dink fun, National Ice Cream Day, July 4th celebrations and more. Admission is $10 adults, $9 seniors. Kids under 1 are free. Free Family Night is Thursday, 5 pm – 8 pm.

Free Art Classes with City ArtWorks @ IKEA Houston: June 9, Father’s Day Theme; July 14, Summer Theme; August 11, Back to School Theme. Classes are limited to 15 kids ages 5-12. Located at IKEA, 7810 Katy Freeway.

Free Kids’ Craft Workshops by Pop Shop Houston: Various public libraries around the city will be hosting these 2-hour Pop Shop workshops for kids. Crafts range from Shrinky Dinks to concrete vases and more. Times vary according to the date. You need to register online.

Detective Days at Bayou Bend Collection and GardensJune 9 – August 30. Kids 6 and up can explore mysteries at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Kids will learn about horticulture, art, design, and American history as they solve seasonal riddles. Each detective receives a clipboard and magnifying glass. Hunts in the garden: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm, Sundays 1 pm – 4 pm. Hunts in the house: 1 pm – 4 pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Kids 18 and under free. Adults, $10. Recommend 6-12yrs.

Celebrate the quirky: The Beer Can House and Art Car Museum are some fun cultural institutions with a twist! Beer Can House is $5 for adults and free for kids 12 and under. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday, noon – 5 pm. Art Car Museum has 3-4 art cars that rotate quarterly along with new art in the gallery. Admission is free. It’s open Wednesday – Sunday, 11 am – 6 pm.

Katy Contemporary Arts Museum is just two years old, but a great resource on Houston’s west side. Free admission. Hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm and Sunday, noon – 6 pm. Located at 805 Avenue B in Katy.

OUTDOORS

Outdoor Adventure Play Day at Nature Discovery Center: June 20, 10 am – noon. Free activities for ages 2-4 and ages 5-10. The preschoolers will enjoy the Earth’s elements: sand and water. A Girl Scout group will lead the older kids in a lesson about healthy eating and play outdoors for exercise. Located at 7112 Newcastle in Bellaire.

Bees You Never Hear About at Nature Discovery Center: June 27, 10 am. This free talk focuses on local solitary bee species that most don’t hear about. It’s an indoor talk followed by a bee hike in the park. Located at 7112 Newcastle in Bellaire.

Family Nature Nights at Nature Discovery Center: July 8, Owls and Other Urban Birds; August 5, Slithery Snakes; 6:30 pm with talk beginning at 7 pm. Family-friendly talks, nature walks, live animals, crafts & snacks. Russ Pittman Park in Bellaire, 7112 Newcastle in Bellaire. $10/family.

Summer Science Night: Saving Monarchs at Katy Prairie Conservancy: July 16, 6 pm – 8 pm. $7 per child. Geared to children age 5-8. Register online for this event. All other dates this summer are sold out. Located in Waller at Indiangrass Preserve.

Unplugged Adventure Range Ride at Warren Ranch: July 18, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. $5 per person. Enjoy an evening bike ride on historic Warren Ranch. Register your spot online.

Unplugged Adventure: Summer Snakes at Katy Prairie Conservancy: August 7, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. $5 per person. Meet at their Houston office on Richmond to learn about snakes in Houston and Katy Prairie. 3015 Richmond Ave. Register your spot online.

Fun and learning at Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center: There are so many activities and events planned at this park in Humble. From learning about owls, hummingbirds, animal tracks and more. Check out the full calendar. Some require advance registration.

Texas Bound (One-Day Camp) at Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center: July 1, 9 am – 2 pm for kids 7-12. Kids will create a homestead and see if they have what it takes to survive their journey to Texas — through props, games and hands-on activities. Registration begins Wednesday, June 24. Free.

Reptile Open House at Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center: August 1-2, 1 pm – 4 pm. The Reptile Center is filled with live reptiles and amphibians from around the world. Learn about them and their natural history. Located at 20634 Kenswick in Humble.

Free Sugar Land Skeeters Tickets: Free tickets +$3.50 fee are available to Sugar Land Skeeters games through August 23 ($8 value), thanks to Goldstar. Purchase online.

Houston Family Magazine Summer Fun Fest: Free admission to this 4th annual event July 25, noon – 4 pm featuring live performances, rock wall, inflatables, fun activities, face painting and more! Located at LaCenterra, 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd in Katy.

North Houston Skate Park in Spring: It’s the largest Skate Park in North America at 78,000 sq. ft. Admission is free! The skate park is open daily 8 am – 10 pm all summer. Closed Tuesdays.

Free Skateboarding Classes at Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark: Beginning Skateboarding Classes begin July 8, 9:15 am – 10:15 am. Registration begins June 16. Helmets are required for folks who use the skatepark. Register online.

Bat Chats on 1st and 3rd Fridays year round: Arrive 30 minutes before sunset to hear a brief presentation on Waugh Bridge Bat Colony. Watch bats emerge under the Waugh Bridge. Meet on the platform at Waugh Drive and Allen Parkway. Free public parking at Spotts Park, 401 S. Heights Blvd at Memorial.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center: Free to explore 5 miles of trails in the 155-acre urban nature preserve. Open 7 am – 7 pm. Enjoy interactive exhibits and activities in the Discovery Room. Located near Memorial Park and Loop 610.

Noah’s Ark Pool at First United Methodist Church’s Quillian Center in Westchase: The area also includes a full-size swimming pool with two slides and two diving boards. Open June 1 – August 21, Monday-Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm; $7 each (under age 1 free), Noah’s Ark pool only August 24-September 4 (10 am – 2 pm). 10570 Westpark. Playground and basketball pavilion also on site.

Sam Houston Boat Tour by Port of Houston Authority: Enjoy a free 90-minute cruise along the Houston Ship Channel. Tours are available Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am and 2:30 pm run time plus 2:30 pm Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. The M/V Sam Houston has been operating as a public vessel since 1958. Reservations are first-come, first-served and must be at least 24 hours in advance.  Reserve a tour spot online or call 713-670-2416, Tuesdays through Saturdays between 8 am – 5 pm. Located at 7300 Clinton Drive.

Free Houston Splashpads by Houston Parks and Recreation Department: More than 20 free splashpads throughout the city.

Free Public Run Days at Zube Park: June 20, July 18, August 15 from 9 am – 1 pm. The Houston Area Live Steamers offer free rides to the public on the Zube Park Track on the 3rd Saturday March – November. Located in Hockley at 17802 Roberts Road.

Galveston Beach: Take a day trip to Galveston to enjoy walking along the Seawall, building sandcastles, and playing in the water. Parking is $8/day or $1/hour along the Seawall if you can find it! Or head to Stewart Beach ($8 per vehicle), which is known as Galveston’s family beach. Plenty to do with the pavilion, beach volleyball courts, concessions, and the beach! Lifeguards are on site at Stewart Beach. Located at 201 Seawall Blvd.

Kayak Camp at Discovery Green: Attend a kayak class for kids 5-16. First Sunday each month, July 5 and August 2 at 11 am. $5/person.  Kids learn safety and instruction and supervised paddling. Parents will not ride with their children in the camp. Kids can ride solo or tandem with a friend. Located at 1500 McKinney downtown.

Kayak Boat Rides at Discovery Green: $5. June 1-August 31. These rides are available daily, 11 am – 5 pm or till 9 pm Saturdays. Located at 1500 McKinney downtown.

Kayak Class at Discovery Green: Folks age 18+ can attend a free Kayak Class Wednesday evenings, June – August, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Located at 1500 McKinney downtown.

Stand up Paddleboarding at Discovery Green: Visitors can give paddle boarding a try — now open daily June 1 – August 31. $10 for a 20-minute session. Located at 1500 McKinney downtown.

Third Sundays at Armand Bayou Nature Center: June 14, July 19, August 16, noon – 4 pm. Admission is free, thanks to Dow Chemical Co. Hike trails with naturalist interpreter, view live reptiles, relive 1895 history. 8500 Bay Area Blvd., Pasadena

Back to School Splash Bash at Sugar Land Town Square: August 1, noon – 4 pm. Free water slides, hula hoop contest, fun activities, live music with DJ. Bring backpack and school supplies to benefit Fort Bend Rainbow Room.

OTHER

JP Morgan Chase Tower Sky Lobby: Get a view of Houston from the 60th floor of this downtown building, the tallest in Houston and Texas at 75 floors. Take the Sky Lobby elevator straight up to the 60th floor for the express trip. The view is towards Galleria and West Houston — for 180° view. Available Monday – Friday during business hours. The other side is not accessible. The building also connects to the Houston Downtown Tunnel System if you want to grab some food or drinks. Located at 600 Travis Street.

Houston World Series of Dog Shows: Get free admission and free parking the first day of this annual Houston favorite, Wednesday, July 15, 9 am – 3 pm. Located at NRG.

Downtown AquariumTwo-for-Tuesday returns this summer at Downtown Aquarium. Buy One All-Day Adventure Pass for $18.99 and get one free. Less than $10 per person. This is valid June through August with the coupon. A new coupon will be published each month. Get the coupon here.

Summer Play Days at Disney Store: Get a free lanyard and new button each week! Attend activities every day June 6-August 23 with Art of Animation, Storytime, Trivia Time and Showtime.

Free LEGO Mini Model Build at LEGO Stores: NEW dates and times: First Tuesday and Wednesday each month,  3 pm – 7 pm with online reservations required. July 7-8, August 4-5 at LEGO stores (Galleria, The Woodlands Mall, and Baybrook Mall). Register online here.

Rosenberg Railroad Museum: This museum in Rosenberg offers tours for all ages. Learn everything about trains from the science, safety to the history of the railroad. Adults, $5; seniors, $4, and kids 2-14, $3. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Located at 1921 Avenue F in Rosenberg, 35 miles SW of Houston.

Free bowling every day at Copperfield Bowl, Emerald Bowl, The Bowl on Bellaire, Times Square Entertainment (Katy), 300 Bowl (Conroe), and Tomball Bowl. Kids can bowl two free games every day all summer. Get more info online.

Pottery Fridays at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens: Free pottery classes August 7, August 14 and August 21, 1 pm – 3 pm. The two-hour class is for children and their caregivers with free activities and art-making, pottery demonstrations, scavenger hunts, and take-home  activities. Located at 6003 Memorial. Reservations strongly recommended since space is limited. Call 713.639.7750 or email [email protected]  to secure your spot.

Free Apple Camp: 3-day workshop on iMovie for kids 8-12. Summer 2015 dates have not been announced online. Registration begins online at apple.com once announced.

Kegg’s Candies Factory Tours: See the entire chocolate-making process from raw ingredients to cooking, packaging and gift shop in a 30 minute tour at Kegg’s Candies. Reservations required seven days in advance. Small groups or individuals can view as a self-guided tour with no fee 10 am – 3 pm. $8.50 for age 3+ with $5 credit in retail store. Earlier is better! Located at 8168 Westpark. Kegg’s Candies is a tradition since 1946.

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photo courtesy Houston Symphony

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