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.


Port of Call

The Port of Houston offers free public boat tours of the Houston Ship Channel Wednesday-Sunday aboard the M/V Sam HoustonOn-line reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance, especially for the popular weekend tours. Boat tours run Wednesday through Saturday at 10 am and 2:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. {Currently, all tours are booked through last week of August! Check back occasionally online, since folks do cancel sometimes.} Be sure to review the rules before your voyage and arrive 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time.

Port of Houston boat tour

Trip Chandler Tip: If you get held up by a train at the gate entrance, don’t despair as it’s a common occurrence given that Houston is home to one of the world’s busiest ports. Take in some trainspotting and look for freight graffiti while you wait.

Freight Graffiti

Parking is provided at Sam Houston Pavilion, which also features mosaic-tiled murals and historical markers for the history buffs.

The M/V Sam Houston holds 90 passengers and has an air-conditioned lounge with a big screen TV view of the vessel’s bow.  Head out to the deck and crew members will be happy to snap a “Jack & Rose” inspired pose, especially the vessel crewman who also officiates and photographs weddings! The 90-minute round trip cruise features a narrated tour and views of international cargo vessels — some stacked high with containers and others with yachts and pleasure crafts hoisted on lifting belts. Houston’s “Petro Metro” title is on full display as the boat makes its way around the Turning Basin Terminal, which is 52 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Tugboats, barges, cranes, grain elevators, and wharfs provide the backdrop for this unique insider’s glimpse of the Houston Ship Channel.


Free soft drinks are served towards the end of the cruise. However, no outside food or beverages are allowed. Here are some options for post-disembarkment dining to complete your aquatic outing.

Drop Anchor

Nearby Monument Inn offers more maritime views and platters of seafood ideal for sharing.

port tour monument inn

Shore Excursions

Chart a course to Navigation Boulevard where sculptor Gary Sweeney’s giant anchor on the promenade serves as a reminder of the Second Ward’s ties to the Houston Ship Channel. Give your sea legs a a rest with a round of chips and queso at the original Ninfa’s or neighboring El Tiempo Cantina.

Port of Houston shore excursions

If your cruise falls on a Sunday, make time to visit the East End Street Market on the Esplanade at Navigation which opens at 10 am or enjoy breakfast tacos at Villa Arcos or Dona Maria Mexican Cafe.

Steer towards nearby Canal Street for icehouse-style dining featuring big burgers and wild game weiners at Moon Tower Inn. Veggie options available as well.

Bon Voyage!

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.