48 Things to Do in Houston This Summer (Free/Cheap)

Houston summer fun 2014Get ready for lots of free and cheap fun with this list of 48 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Houston this Summer. Everything ranges from free – $10.

MOVIES

Free & Cheap Summer Movie Series:

Little Mermaid with TUTS: June 9, 7 pm at Sundance Cinemas. TUTS shares a free screening of Little Mermaid to kick off its theater production in June at Hobby Center. Free parking in Theatre District Garage with validation. Located at 510 Texas Avenue.

Free Outdoor Movies at Miller Outdoor: Thor: The Dark World (July 3), Frozen Sing-a-Long (July 5) 7:45 pm games & 8:30 pm movie. Located at 6000 Hermann Park Drive

Free Outdoor Movies at Discovery Green: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (May 30), Bernie – Houston Public Media Silent Film Series (June 6), Ghostbusters (June 14). Located at 1500 McKinney.

Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow, Market Square Park: Ghostbusters (June 13), Bridget Jones’s Diary (June 25), Princess Bride (July 11), Citizen Kane (July 30) at 8:30 pm. Located at 301 Milam.

Moonlight Movies for Kids, CityCentre: Frozen (June 11), Monsters University (July 9), Despicable Me 2 (August 13). $1 popcorn. 8:30 pm fun & 9 pm movie. Located at 805 Town and Country Blvd.

Free Movie Nights, Central Green: Troop Beverly Hills (June 14), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (June 15), The Rocketeer (June 28). The Houston Astronomical Society will have three telescopes onsite June 28 beginning at 7 pm. Blankets and lawn chairs welcome. South end of LaCenterra, 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.

Movies Under the Moon, Sugar Land Town Square: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (June 20), Hook (July 19), The Nut Job (August 16). 7 pm – 9 pm.

Free Movie Nights, Pearland Town Square: Frozen (June 21), The LEGO Movie (July 19), Despicable Me 2 (August 16) with shows at 8 pm. Located at Pearland Town Square.

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

$2 Movies, Studio Movie Grill: Brews-n-Views (1st Wednesday), Girls Night Out (2nd Wednesday), Family Rewind (3rd Wednesday), TOONS (Friday – Sunday every week). Located at Copperfield and CityCentre.

MUSIC

Free Summer Symphony Nights, Houston Symphony: Miller Outdoor — June 20, June 21, June 27, June 28, July 4 @ 8:30 pm

Free Neighborhood Concert Series Houston Symphony:

June 3, 7:30 pm @ The Centrum
June 4, 7:30 pm @ MacArthur High School
June 7, 7:30 pm @ Chinese Community Center
June 8, 6:00 pm @ Windsor Village United Methodist Church
June 11, 11:00 am @ Booker T. Washington High School
June 11, 7:30 pm @ Cinco Ranch High School
June 12, 7:30 pm @ Rayburn High School, Pasadena
June 13, 10:00 am @ The Ripley House Neighborhood Center
June 13, 7:30 pm @ Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church
June 24, 11:00 am @ Miller Outdoor Theatre

2nd 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) concluding with the Free Houston Symphony Chronicle Concert. The day features salsa dance lessons, food trucks, instrument petting zoo, harmonica clinics, activities for kids and music lovers of all ages. Located at Jones Hall.

BOOKS 

Story Time Tours at Rienzi: Wednesdays June 4 – July 23, 10 am. Introduce kids to magic of art and literature through fun and interactive activities for ages 3+. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston home, 1406 Kirby; free

Summer Reading Program at The Fish Gallery: July 10 – August 21, Each Thursday 3:30 pm– 4:30 pm with story time, fish feeding, touch tanks, crafts, games, and prizes. August 21 is a Summer Reading Party (2909 Fountain View).

Page to Stage Bookclub at Blue Willow Bookshop: June 14, 10 am. It’s a great partnership between Blue Willow and Main Street Theatre. This month, kids will learn more about the book Pippi Longstocking that is on stage at Main Street Theatre, enjoy a snack, meet characters, have refreshments and more. Located at Blue Willow, 14532 Memorial at Dairy Ashford.

Camp Blue Willow at Blue Willow Bookshop: Wednesdays, beginning June 11 through July 30, 4 pm, 1st-5th gr.; Blue Willow Bookshop (Memorial) featuring story, activity and snacks.

Pre-School “Beat the Heat” series at Rosenberg Railroad: Wednesdays in June, July and August (June 11, June 25, July 9, July 23, August 13) at 10 am. Enjoy a one-hour program with story, craft and fun activities. $5/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. Public animal feeding at 4:45pm. Located at 7112 Newcastle.

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

HPL Summer Reading Program at HPL Express at Discovery Green: Story and activities at Discovery Green Saturdays, 12:30 pm, June 7 – July 25. This is sponsored by the Houston Public Library, 1500 McKinney, R2.

Storytime and playgroups at Houston Public Library.

Biggest Storytime of the Summer: Half Price Books is kicking off its Feed Your Brain Summer Reading program with this nationwide event. June 8, 2 pm. Celebrate reading and family literacy. Nine stores in the Houston area.

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

THEATER

Free Disney Musical: Big! The Musical, Miller Outdoor Theater, June 11-13, 11 am and June 13-14, 8:15 pm. Presented by TUTS’ Humphrey School

Free Children’s Hilltop Festival at Miller Outdoor, 11 am: Mulan: The Warrior Princess (7/22), Jack & the Beanstalk (7/23), Three Little Pigs (7/24), Little Red (7/25)

Free TUTS’ Summer Musical: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Miller Outdoor Theater, July 15-20, 8:15 pm, TUTS

Free Shakespeare in the Park, Miller Outdoor: Two Gentlemen of Verona, August 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and Henry IV Part 1 August 2, 4, 6, 8 at 8:30 pm

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 (summer
  • 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
  • John C. Freeman Weather Museum — Thursday 12 pm – 4 pm
  • Czech Center Museum Houston – Last Monday each month, noon -4 pm

Detective Days at Bayou Bend – Kids 6 and up can explore mysteries at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, June 1 – August 31. Each detective receives an Investigator’s kit and water bottle to keep cool. Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm, Sundays 1 pm – 4 pm. Kids 18 and under free. Adults, $10. Recommend 6-12yrs.

OUTDOORS

Family Nature Nights at Nature Discovery Center: June 4 (Birds of the Bayou City), July 9 (Terrific Texas Turtles), 6:30 pm with talk beginning at 7 pm. Family-friendly talks, nature walks, live animals, crafts & snacks. Russ Pittman Park in Bellaire, 7112 Bellaire. Suggested donation: $5/family.

Free Skateboarding Classes at Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark: Beginning Skateboarding Classes June 10, June 12, June 17, June 19, June 24. 9:15 am – 10:15 am for ages 6-17. Register online.

Meet the Animals at Nature Discovery Center: August 23 (Frogs and Salamanders), 10 am. Enjoy hands-on exposure to live animals, informal discussion and Q&A. $5/person. Russ Pittman Park in Bellaire, 7112 Newcastle.

Family Bat Nights on 1st and 3rd Fridays year round: Watch bats emerge under the Waugh Bridge. Arrive 30 minutes before sunset to hear a brief presentation on Waugh Bridge Bat Colony. 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: Open May 30 – August 22, Monday-Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm; $7 each (under age 1 free), 10570 Westpark. Noah’s Ark pool only August 25-29 (10 am – 2 pm). New playground!

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 Tueday. 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. 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 21, July 19, August 16 from 9 am – 1 pm. The Houston Area Live Steamers offer free rides to the public on the Zube Park Track on 3rd Saturday March – November. Located in Hockley at 17802 Roberts Road.

Kayak Camp at Discovery Green: Attend a kayak class for kids 5-16. First Saturday of each month — July 6 and August 3 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.

Kayak Boat Rides at Discovery Green: Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am – 4 pm, $5. May 31-August 31

Third Sundays at Armand Bayou Nature Center: June 15, July 20, August 17, 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

OTHER

Summer Play Days at Disney Store: The kick-off event is June 2 at 2 pm. Get a free lanyard and button! Attend additional activities every day June 3-September 1 with Art of Animation, Storytime, Trivia Time and Showtime.

Free LEGO Mini Model Build at LEGO Stores: 5 pm, first Tuesday each month: June 3, July 1, August 5 at LEGO stores (Galleria, The Woodlands Mall, and Baybrook Mall).

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 1-14, $3. Located at 1921 Avenue F in Rosenberg, 35 miles SW of Houston.

Free bowling every day at AMF Lanes Summer Unplugged and 2014 Kids Bowl Free locations.

Pottery Fridays at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens: Free pottery classes August 1, August 8 and August 15, 1 pm – 3 pm. The two-hour class is for children and their caregivers with free activities and art-making, scavenger hunts, and take-home  activities. Located at 6003 Memorial. Reservations required. Call 713.639.7750 or email bayoubend@mfah.org  to secure your spot.

Free Apple Camp, 3-day workshop on iMovie for kids 8-12. Summer 2014 dates not announced. 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. $5 for age 3+ with $5 credit in retail store. Reservations reqd 7 days in advance. Small groups or individuals can view as a self-guided tour with no fee 10 am – 3 pm. Earlier is better! Located at 8168 Westpark.

photo: D Sharon Pruitt

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