free and cheap things to do in houston this summer

Updated June 18, 2020

Summer is here, but things are a bit different this year. The concerts, festivals, sporting events, and other events that we’re all accustomed to are mostly on hold for the moment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun! There are still plenty of different things you can do in Houston all summer long while staying safe.

Here are our picks for the top cheap and free things to do in Houston this summer:

 

houston citypass review

See the City’s Best Attractions at a Discount with CityPASS

Check out 5 of Houston’s most popular attractions, including the Houston Zoo, Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Kemah Boardwalk, Museum of Fine Arts and others for nearly half off the regular price with Houston CityPASS. You can visit them at your own pace over a 30-day period.

galveston beaches reopen

Explore Galveston Island with Free Summer Activities

What better way to spend a summer day (or the entire weekend!) than on beautiful Galveston Island? From exploring the island’s numerous beaches to enjoying delicious food and drinks at all the great restaurants and bars to visiting the area’s best museums and attractions, there’s so much to do in Galveston this summer! Plus, they’re hosting a ton of free events all summer long, including free hands-on activities from the Galveston Children’s Museum on Stewart Beach every other Tuesday, sandcastle-building lessons on certain days, free fun at East End Lagoon Nature Preserve and Galveston Island State Park, self-guided tree sculpture tours, and more.

Houston Museum of Natural Science Exhibit Hall Tickets

Visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science on the Cheap

Explore ancient homo sapiens, pore over artifacts, go butterfly-spotting, and choose your favorite dinosaur! We have multiple money-saving deals to get you into the HMNS without paying full price all summer long. Get into the Exhibit Hall for half-price {regularly $25, now just $11.50}. Add on a show at the planetarium and pay just $19 for exhibits and the show. Frolicking with the butterflies is usually another $10- $12 per person. We have general admission to the museum, plus the Cockrell Butterfly Center for just $19 {regularly $37!}. You can take advantage of these deals throughout summer!

day trip houston

Take a Day Trip or Weekend Trip

Sometimes, you just need to get away for a bit. Summer is the perfect time to hit the road for a day trip or weekend getaway with the whole family. The options are limitless for road trips from Houston. You can visit everything from beaches to swimming holes to waterfalls and more. Lots of these day trip options include safe destinations for having fun without the crowds. You could even rent an RV for your road trip. RVShare is service that lets you rent an RV directly from owners so you can enjoy camping in comfort with your whole family without the expense of owning an RV.

showboat drive in deal

Catch a Movie at the Drive-In

Did you know Houston now has multiple drive-in theaters? They offer a safe way to get out and see a movie without dealing with crowds. Catch a drive-in movie at the Showboat Drive In or any of Houston’s new drive-in cinemas that have just opened this summer. Check Groupon for their current offers for the Showboat Drive-In, so you can catch a double feature of movies for just a few bucks.

childrens museum of houston coupons

Check Out Free Museum Days

Don’t forget to check out our list of Free Museum Days and 10 Always- Free Museums in Houston. You can go every week! Most museums have limited capacity and may require advanced reservations right now, so plan ahead. Plan it right and you could spend all day immersed in arts and culture.

rosenberg railroad museum

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo to the 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, $7.50; seniors, $6, and kids 2-14, $5. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Located at 1921 Avenue F in Rosenberg, 35 miles SW of Houston.

bcycle deal

Rent a Bike and See the City from a Different Point of View

Riding a bike is a safe way to get out and have some fun while also getting a little exercise. You can take a ride on Houston’s numerous bike trails and explore the city while practicing safe social distancing. Don’t have a bike? You can rent a BCycle (check out their Groupon offer!) at a number of stands around the city.

virtual family nature night

Sign On to Virtual Family Nature Night

The Nature Discovery Center hosts a family fun night at their beautiful garden every summer, but this year, the event is going online due to the pandemic. This year’s theme is Reptiles, and families who register will be able to join an interactive Zoom session with live animal guests and expert talks, instructions for a printable at-home reptile craft, and more. It’s just $5 per family. Click here to learn more and to register online.

jesse h jones park nature center

source: hcp4.net

Visit the Jesse H. Jones Nature Center for Free Outdoor Fun

This beautiful preserve offers 312 acres of plants, wildlife, swamps, and more, and it’s open daily to visitors with absolutely no charge to visit. It’s a great place to go to experience nature and outdoor fun in a safe, socially distant environment. Make sure to visit their website for the latest safety guidelines before visiting.

Check Out Any of Our Great Parks

Houston is so much more than your typical “concrete jungle.” The city has tens of thousands of acres of beautiful parks, including Memorial Park, Levy Park, Hermann Park, Discovery Green, and countless others. Going to the park is a great way to have fun outdoors this summer while staying safe. Check out our guide to the best parks in Houston for more info.

bats waugh bridge

See the Bats Fly at the Waugh Bridge

Did you know Houston has a significant bat population? Watch a huge colony of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge under the Waugh Bridge during the evening right around sunset. Meet on the platform at Waugh Drive and Allen Parkway. Free public parking at Spotts Park, 401 S. Heights Blvd at Memorial.

Houston Arboretrum Trail

Explore the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Free to explore 5 miles of trails in the 155-acre urban nature preserve. Last summer, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center opened up a new trail through a ravine that offers unique views and a pleasant, secluded hike. The new trail offers elevation changes not typically seen in this area and a pair of all-new bridges that span the deep ravine that was once part of Buffalo Bayou. Open 7 am – 7 pm. Located near Memorial Park and Loop 610

feed horses hpd

Feed the Horses

Note: This activity may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so make sure to check with HPD before visiting.

Visit the Houston Police Department stables and feed the horses. Visit Monday through Friday, noon – 2 pm, but make sure to check for current regulations due to the pandemic. Bring apples, carrots, and peppermints for the horses (limit 2 each). There are close to 40 horses and a couple donkeys! You can call 832-394-0394 for information on current guidelines and availability. Located at 5005 Little York Rd.

 

farmers markets in houston

Shop Our Local Farmers Markets

Houston has a number of excellent weekly farmers markets at locations all across the city. These outdoor markets let you shop a variety of foods and goods from local vendors, so you can support Houston businesses while also being outdoors and staying socially distant. Check out our guide to the best Houston farmers markets for more info.

strawberry picking in Houston

Pick berries and veggies at a local farm

One fun way to spend a morning is to visit a local farm to pick strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and/or vegetables of all types based on what’s in season at the time. Prices vary, but this activity is usually really affordable at most of our local farms. It’s an activity that’s fun for kids and adults alike!

Kemah Boardwalk

Play at the Kemah Boardwalk

The Kemah Boardwalk is now open for fun, and even the rides are back open to the public. Right now is a good time to visit for some outdoor fun near the water. They even have a special deal going on right now for a weekend pass to the Kemah Boardwalk, Downtown Aquarium, and Pleasure Pier for a single low price of $39.99.

bars reopening

Enjoy Craft Beers at a Local Brewery

The Houston area is crawling with a number of excellent craft breweries, and a lot of them have great outdoor beer gardens for some safe, socially distant fun. Must-visit spots include Saint Arnold Brewing, Buffalo Bayou,  and 8th Wonder Brewing.

Go Down Below to Tour the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Head underground to tour the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern featuring an immersive art installation by Carlos Cruz-Diez. Face masks are currently required and other safety measures are in place. Tours are $7 per person.

houston bike trails

Make New Friends on a Social Group Bike Ride

Join a social group bike ride, like Karbach’s Brews Cruise, Critical Mass, SW HTX Bike Club, and others that take place on a weekly or monthly basis. Visit BikeHouston.org for a schedule of weekly and monthly rides in the area.

 

Any other things to do in Houston this summer that you know about? Share them by commenting below: