Free Things to Do in Houston

Free Things to Do in Houston

From out-of-this-world museums to peaceful nature trails, this bustling city has something FREE for everyone to enjoy! This list includes checking out the Miller Outdoor Theatre, joining the Sam Houston Boat Tour, appreciating art at The Menil Collection, and visiting the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.

For free concerts from local musicians, I recommend heading to Miller Outdoor Theater. Another favorite place my family loves is the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. I recommend checking out the upcoming events, there’s usually something for everyone in my family. 

So, save your cash and still enjoy these local activities and free events in Houston! Whether you’re looking for ways to relax, learn new skills, or have fun with family and friends, there are plenty of fun things to do in Houston for free.

Below is a list of the many stuff to do in Houston for free — check them all out!

Editor’s Note: Our staff works hard to bring you the latest information. However, all information mentioned in this article is subject to change. As always, please confirm before heading out.

Also, check out our articles on Things to do in El Paso, Texas20 Things to do in Lake Conroe near Houston20 Things to do in Kemah, Texas, and 12 Things to do in Pearland, TX.

Quick Hit Summary

Whether you are a history buff or a nature lover, whether you are looking for an adrenaline rush or want to enjoy a day with the family, we have all the right options for you!

  • Families: Hermann Park, Buffalo Bayou Park, Discovery Green, Waugh Drive Bridge, Armand Bayou Trail
  • Art lovers: The Menil Collection, Art Car Museum, Smither Park, James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace
  • History buffs: The Downtown Tunnels, Sam Houston Park, Glenwood Cemetery, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
  • Nature lovers: Hermann Park, Buffalo Bayou Park, The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, Armand Bayou Trail
  • Thrill seekers: Lee & Joe Jamail Skatepark

Check out the details for each activity in the list below! 

Free Things To Do For Families

Hermann Park

free things to do in houston

Free Things to Do in Houston TX | Image Credit: Hermann Park Conservancy

Looking for free stuff to do in Houston and have a fun day? Hermann Park is like a playground in the heart of the city! You can go for a run, have a picnic, bike around, or check out the Japanese Garden that’s guaranteed to give you zen. While entry to the park is free, you do have to pay for a ride on the Hermann Park Railroad and rent out the pedal boats.

Where: 1700 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004
Operating Hours: Daily 6:00 am – 11:00 pm

Urban Harvest Farmers Market

cheap things to do in houston

Cheap Things to Do in Houston | Image Credit: Urban Harvest

The Urban Harvest Farmers Market happens only on Saturdays where you can explore samples of savory dips and local berries or meet the growers who show up week after week. After browsing, you can simply enjoy the week’s scheduled artist, there’s one every single week!

The entrance and the activities are free, but if you are going to buy something, bring cash or head over to the ATM next to Grizzafi Coffee.

Where: 2752 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX 77027
Operating Hours: Saturday 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Buffalo Bayou Park

Another great park that offers free adventures for everyone is Buffalo Bayou Park. Spend the afternoon at the Tapley Tributary which features the work of Charles Tapley: a miniature wetland of waterfalls, pools, and granite stepping stones. If you’re there on a hot day, pass by Wortham Foundation Grove which sprays tired joggers and cyclists as well when they need to cool off!

Where: Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street between Allen Parkway and, Memorial Dr, Houston, TX
Operating Hours: Daily 6:00 am – 11:00 pm

Discovery Green

free things to do houston

Free Things to Do in Houston | Image Credit: Discovery Green

Imagine sprawling lawns begging for frisbee throws and picnic dates, a serene pond whispering secrets to ancient oak trees, and a splash-tastic fountain that’ll have your kids giggling.

Plus, there’s an amphitheater rocking with free concerts, an art gallery hiding amongst the greenery, and enough delicious food trucks to fuel a small army. Top it all off with free yoga in the mornings, movie nights under the stars, and festivals that explode with music and laughter, and you’ve got a recipe for the perfect Houston daycation only at Discovery Green!

Where: 1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010
Operating Hours: Daily 6:00 am – 11:00 pm

Waugh Drive Bridge

Aside from being part of the Buffalo Bayou Park where you can picnic or go out for a bike ride, the Waugh Drive Bridge is one of the best bat-watching sites in the state! The Mexican free-tailed bats call this bridge home and you can see them emerge on the viewing platform next to the bridge!

Where: Houston, TX 77019
Operating Hours: Daily 27/4

Armand Bayou Trail

The Armand Bayou Trail is a favorite because of its accessibility and versatility which welcomes hikers and sightseers alike! If you’ve got an hour or two, check out the Discover Loop which takes you through the Environmental Learning Center and gives you a glimpse of the Forest! For those with a little more time, there are more than 5 miles of trails that have been well-maintained for you to enjoy the marsh and natural habitats for free!

Where: 7202 Fairmont Pkwy, Pasadena, TX 77505
Operating Hours: Daily 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

The Galleria

While you may be tempted to spend a dollar or two, enjoying a day at The Galleria can be absolutely free of charge! Go window shopping at your favorite stores or look for inspiration for the next season. You can also choose to look for a spot around the mall to admire the architecture or people-watch.

Where: 5085 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056

Operating Hours: Monday – Thursday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm | Friday – Saturday 10:00 am – 9:00 pm | Sunday 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Free Art & History Related Activities

Miller Outdoor Theatre

things to do in houston for free

Free Things to Do in Houston | Image Credit: Miller Outdoor Theatre

On a regular day, you might choose to sit down and read at the Miller Outdoor Theatre but on other days, you might catch a concert! All performances are free at the Miller Outdoor Theater but with the different seating areas available, covered seating requires a ticket (still free!). Don’t worry, you can get your tickets for evening events online the day before a performance or at the box office an hour before a show.

Where: 6000 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030
Operating Hours: Varies

The Menil Collection

The Menil Collection is one of the free places to go in Houston, giving visitors the chance to immerse themselves in collections and installations from around the world! You can choose to walk in or reserve a timed entry if you have other places to be and things to do in the city. 

Where: 1533 Sul Ross St, Houston, TX 77006
Operating Hours: Monday – Tuesday CLOSED | Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Art Car Museum

Unlike any other museum you’ll likely visit, the Art Car Museum celebrates art in the language of vehicles. You’d be surprised by how artistic the installations of cars, trucks, and bikes are! The Art Car movement made some traction with the rotating collection of art cars and regular exhibitions, the museum offers something new to discover every visit.

Where: 140 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007
Operating Hours: Monday – Tuesday CLOSED | Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Smither Park

Rain or shine, Smither Park’s open for all to enjoy the art installation here! On Saturdays, when the weather permits, you can see artists work on their mosaic art pieces and you can even help them out if they ask.

It is recommended to visit the park on the weekend and especially on Smither Park Sundays happening every first Sunday of the month. It has free activities for everyone and a display of select artisan vendors.

Where: 2441 Munger St, Houston, TX 77023
Operating Hours: Daily 7:00 am – 7:00 pm

James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

The Twilight Epiphany Skyspace isn’t just a sculpture – it’s a dynamic artwork that plays with light and color. This piece by James Turrell is one of his largest and most accessible works so make sure to put it on your list of things to do for free in Houston!

The skyspace is on the Rice University Campus. When you get to the campus, just aim for entrances 8 or 18, and park in West Lot 2. If you’re taking public transit, buses 26, 27, 34, 73, & 87 or the MetroRAIL Red Line will drop you off close by – just a short walk away. Need a visual? Check out Google Maps for a better idea!

Where: Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion, Houston, TX 77005
Operating Hours: Daily 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

Downtown Tunnels

The Downtown Tunnels are free and open on weekdays for anyone curious about how the city’s connected for about 95 blocks. We recommend starting at McKinney Garage on Main Street or Wells Fargo Plaza because all other tunnel entry points don’t offer direct street access to the “underground” tunnels.

Where: 909 Fannin St #1650, Houston, TX 77010
Operating Hours: Saturday – Sunday CLOSED | Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sam Houston Park

Unlike many museums or historical sites, Sam Houston Park is completely free to enter and explore. Picnic under the shade of the trees, lose yourself in a quiet corner with a book or play on the spacious lawns here. Remember to bring your camera! The art in Sam Houston Park features the Armillary Sphere and Neuhaur Fountain Coyotes.

Where: 1000 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002
Operating Hours: Daily 7:00 am – 9:00 pm

Glenwood Cemetery

free stuff to do in houston

Free Things to Do in Houston | Image Credit: Glenwood Cemetery

While a cemetery may not scream “fun day out” at first glance, the Glenwood Cemetery is something else! This place isn’t just a home for those who have passed but a fascinating place with granite art, rolling hills, and stonework!

And, if you are into visiting famous gravesites, then there are some you can find here, including the likes of George Hermann, Charlotte Baldwin Allen, Howard Hughes, and many more Houstonian legends!

Where: 2525 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007
Operating Hours: Daily 7:00 am – 5:30 pm

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

The mandir offers free informational tours and exhibits and sometimes visitors can observe traditional prayers and Hindu rituals by priests. A day at the mandir is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the Hindu faith, culture, and architecture. This is a place to learn, reflect, and appreciate the diversity of our city.

Where: 1150 Brand Ln, Stafford, TX 77477
Operating Hours: Daily 9:00 am – 12:00 pm & 6:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Free Outdoor Activities 

Sam Houston Boat Tour

This tour of the city doubles as a sightseeing cruise and educational experience. Yes, you’re seeing Houston from a completely different perspective but you’re learning about the history of the Houston Ship Channel for about 90 minutes for free!

If you’re looking to hop on the Sam Houston Boat Tour, just a heads up – you’ll need to book a spot in advance. You can easily do this online. The bookings open up at the beginning of each month and stay available for the next 30 days. So, make sure to grab your spot early!

Where: 7300 Clinton Dr, Houston, TX 77020

Market Square Park

This historic park took more than 3 decades to become a tourist and local favorite and there are so many cool things to see here! A spot that never disappoints is Lauren’s Garden, filled to the brim with seasonal flowers and sculptures that honor those who we lost on the 9/11 United Flight 93.

With your friends and family, you can have fun playing “spot the sculpture” as there are plenty of art installations around!

Where: 301 Milam St, Houston, TX 77002
Operating Hours: Daily 6:00 am – 11:00 pm

Lee & Joe Jamail Skatepark

This state-of-the-art park is perfect for beginners and pros to practice their skills or get into skating for the first time. Helmets are required and only skateboards and roller skates are allowed here. Those simply at the park to watch skaters do their thing can enjoy the sunset free of charge.

Where: 103 Sabine St, Houston, TX 77007
Operating Hours: Daily 9:00 am – 10:00 pm

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

stuff to do in houston for free

Free Things to Do Houston | Image Credit: Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is one of the best ways to connect with the natural world. Take a walk along the trails here or explore the interactive exhibits that teach you about the Arboretum’s ecosystems, wildlife, and conservation efforts at the Discovery Room.

Entry is free and parking is free on Thursdays!

Where: 4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024
Operating Hours: Daily 7:00 am – 6:00 pm 

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Home to the iconic Waterwall, Gerald D. Hones Waterwall Park is also a great place to hang out on the lawn under the oak trees or to jog on the sidewalk. The highlight and centerpiece is, of course, the Waterwall, which is made out of black obsidian, the perfect background for a picture, and right behind the Scaenae Frons!

Where: 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056
Operating Hours: Daily 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

Memorial Park

Take a free fitness and wellness class or hang out near the Vale-Asche Foundation Playground. Memorial Park has more than 30 miles of trails perfect for biking, running, walking, or hiking. Check out Memorial Park’s socials to stay updated with free programs like yoga classes or guided hikes around the area!

Where: 6501 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77007
Operating Hours: Daily 5:00 am – 11:00 pm

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