Looking for the best free and cheap summer activities in Houston in 2018? In a city this large, there’s no shortage of things to do in Houston this summer. From free outdoor concerts to story times for kids to theater performances and more, there’s ample summer fun for the whole family! Our summer guide is brought to you courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters, coming to the Berry Center in Cypress July 15 for a show that’s sure to excite fans of all ages.
Here are our picks for the top cheap and free things to do in Houston this summer.
July 15, 3:00 pm
The world famous Harlem Globetrotters are bringing their family friendly, exciting brand of basketball to the Berry Center in Cypress, and you don’t want to miss it! The Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans across the globe, and now, you can see their one-of-a-kind basketball artistry live in person. The dribbling, the dunking, the shooting (even 4-point shots!), and the hilarious hi-jinks will be on full display. It’s great family entertainment for all ages, and there’s no other show like it. And now, Houston On The Cheap readers can save 25% on tickets with code: SAVE25–Tickets for just $14!
Looking to catch a little live music this summer? Check out these free and cheap summer concerts across the city:
Prelude Family Concert at Levy Park
May 28 @ 11 am. Free performance featuring professional local musicians. Located at 3801 Eastside.
Throwdown Texas Burger & Music Festival
June 9, 11 am
The 3rd Annual Throwdown Texas Burger & Music Festival at Town Green Park in The Woodlands features a ton of great food, live music, a kids zone, burger contest, and tons more. The best part? You can get free tickets if you use this link.
Free Neighborhood Concert Series, Houston Symphony
June 5, 7:30 pm @ Lilly Grove Missionary Baptist Church
June 6, 7:30 pm @ Spring High School (Spring)
June 8, 7:30 pm @ Dobie High School (Pasadena)
June 9, 7:30 pm @ Cinco Ranch High School
June 10, 7:30 pm @ Atascocita High School
Houston Symphony at the Pavilion
Free mezzanine and lawn seating at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.
May 31, 8 pm, The Wizard of Oz: Film with Live Orchestra
June 7, 8 pm, Jaws-In Concert
July 3, 8 pm, Star-Spangled Salute
July 16, 8 pm, The Music of David Bowie
August 30, 8 pm, Blue Suede Tunes
September 4, 8 pm, Rebels, Raiders & Superman: A Tribute to John Williams
October 12, 8 pm, Hocus Pocus Pops
ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights at Miller Outdoor Theatre, Houston Symphony
Enjoy classical music outdoors free at Miller Outdoor Theatre. All showtimes start at 8:30 pm on the following dates:
June: 22, 23, 39, 30
June 21, All day. Free.
Sun salutations ( a series of yoga poses) start at 6:20 am on the grounds of the chapel. It offers a pathway to prayer and meditation. The solstice celebration ends at sunset, 8:25 pm, with Japanese drumming ensemble, Kaminari Taiko. Located at 3900 Yupon.
Texas Music Festival Orchestra
June 22, 8 pm. Free. 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 at Rothko Chapel
All shows are pay what you can with a $10 suggested donation.
July 12, 7 pm, Arazeel
July 26, 7 pm, Mariachi Imperial de America
July 28, 4:00 pm, House of Blues
Love beer? Love music? This event is perfect for you! The annual creaft beer and music fest at House of Blues features a great lineup of musical acts, including Fat Tony, The Contagious, The New Offenders, Black Water Roll, Turnaways, Peace and the Chaos, Sugar Joiko, Bayou City Funk and Howard and the Nosebleeds. Plus beer tasting wristbands and food tickets are available separately. For a limited time, our readers can get FREE tickets (regularly $15) for admission!
Thursday Concerts at Discovery Green
On every Thursday from 7-9 pm throughout May and June, UHD has partnered with Discovery Green to host free concerts in the park, featuring top acts from the region.
May 17: Slim Thug with DJ Baby Roo
May 24: Marcia Ball with Mighty Orq
May 31: Terry Allen with Libby Koch
June 7: Rosie Flores with The Octanes
June 14: John Doe with VODI
June 21: Ruthie Foster with The Peterson Brothers
June 28: Dale Watson with Celine Lee
Hall & Oates w/ Train
See the legends Daryl Hall and John Oates live at Toyota Center with discounted tickets from Goldstar.
There are free story time events all across the city all summer long. Here are some of our favorites that make our list for Houston summer activities for kids.
Summer Storytime Tours at Rienzi
Wednesdays in June and July, 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
Houston Public Library Family Storytime at Levy Park
Visit the park each Thursday for family storytime at 10 am with the Houston Public Library. Located at 3801 Eastside.
Read with Pawsitive Pups at Levy Park
Kids can practice reading to trained therapy dogs the 2nd Sunday each month at 1 pm: June 10, July 8, August 12.
Summer Reading Program at The Fish Gallery
Thursdays 3:30 pm– 4:30 pm in July and August with story time, fish feeding, touch tanks, crafts, games, and prizes. The last week is a Summer Reading Party, 2909 Fountain View. (Watch the Fish Gallery Facebook page for exact dates since they haven’t been announced for 2018.)
Nature Story Time at Nature Discovery Center
Wednesdays, 4 pm. Free story time for kids with a 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. Free story time. Located at The Woodlands Mall and Highland Village.
Story Time and Activities at Houston Public Library Locations
Check out Houston library locations throughout the city this summer for weekly story times and fun activities for kids. Full calendar online.
Free Summer Reading Programs
Young Writers Workshop at Discovery Green
Saturdays, 10:30 am, at Discovery Green through end of August. 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. Limited to first 25 children, first-come, first-serve.
Story time and more at Blue Willow Bookshop
Head to this independent bookshop in West Houston this summer for a variety of summer programs plus the regular 10 am Thursday Story Time! Located at 14532 Memorial.
From family-friendly live performances to date night showings, the theater scene is as hot as a Houston summer day! Here are some shows you won’t want to miss.
All throughout the summer, you can head down to Miller Outdoor Theatre for free outdoor theater performances. The venue is a staple on any list of free things to do in Houston this summer. Now in its 95th season, Miller Outdoor Theatre hosts everything from plays to musicals to children’s festivals. Entry is always free, but if you want to sit in the covered seating area you need to grab your free tickets at the box office the morning of the performance. Otherwise, you can bring a lawn chair or blanket for hillside seating.
The Sound of Music at Jones Hall
You don’t want to miss this brand new production of The Sound of Music at Jones Hall from June 1 -3. Get ticket for nearly 40% off when you use this link.
Shakespeare in Vegas at Studio 101
May 24 – June 9
The popular comedy is making its premiere in Houston at Studio 101. This is a funny, unique story sure to entertain. Get discounted tickets (free to some showings!) here.
Guys and Dolls at The Hobby Center
The greatest of all American musicals is coming to Houston for a two-week run this June. See the show everyone has been talking about for years with discounted tickets.
Beauty and the Beast at Stageworks Theatre
July 20 – August 12
See the live rendition of Disney’s classic hit Beauty and the Beast. The stage version includes all of your favorite songs from the movie, plus new songs, and a great cast. Get 50% off tickets here!
Into the Woods at Playhouse 1960
July 20 – August 5
This modern twist on the Brothers Grimm weaves together several fairy tales, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and more into a spectacular performance. Get tickets 50% off for just $9 here.
Free and cheap movies for kids and families are a staple for things to do in Houston this summer. Here are a few of our picks for the best deals.
Free & Cheap Summer Movie Series:
- Cinemark: Movies are just $1 weekday mornings. Or get 10 movies for only $5 paid in advance. Show days are usually Tuesday, Wednesday or both beginning week of June 5.
- Studio Movie Grill: Tickets are just $1 at Studio Movie Grill’s Children’s Summer Series. Catch the 10 am show Monday through Friday at Copperfield, CityCentre and Pearland locations.
- Regal: $1 movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 am beginning June 5 for nine weeks. Both movies play BOTH days. Participating location is Edwards West Oaks Mall Stadium 14.
- Alamo Drafthouse Katy: Catch a cheap movie 7 days a week all summer. Choose your own ticket price ($1 $3, $5) and purchase online to reserve your spot. 100% of the ticket sales benefit Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana (Houston chapter). This is for Alamo Drafthouse Katy @ Mason Park.
- Premiere Cinemas: Enjoy free movies at Premiere Renaissance Theater at Greenspoint Mall Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 10 am. June 5 – August 8. Premiere Cinemas Pearland Wednesdays, 10 am. Free movies at Premiere Cinemas Tomball Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well.
- Showbiz Cinemas: Enjoy 50¢ movies at ShowBiz Cinemas Tuesday mornings, 9:30 am in Kingwood. Follow their Facebook page for dates for 2018 as they haven’t been announced yet.
Free Outdoor Movies at Miller Outdoor Theatre
Every summer during the month of August, Miller Outdoor Theatre typically hosts free outdoor movies for families on various nights. Follow their calendar for details as dates approach.
Free Outdoor Movies at Discovery Green
The Dark Knight (May 25, 8:30 pm), Despicable Me 3 (June 23, 8:30 pm), and other movies will play throughout the summer at Discovery Green. Located at 1500 McKinney.
Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow at Market Square Park
Batman (May 24, 8:30 pm), Pretty in Pink (June 28, 8:30 pm), Stand by Me (July 26, 8:30 pm), Field of Dreams (August 24, 8:30 pm) are some of the free movies that will be playing on the lawn at the park. Located at 301 Milam.
Moonlight Movies for Kids, CityCentre:
Alice in Wonderland (June 13), The Sandlot (July 11), La La Land(August 8). 8 pm fun & 9 pm movie. Located at 800 Town and Country Blvd.
Free Movie Nights, WFDD Central Green Park
Catch free movies this summer at Central Green Park 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
Little Giants (June 9), Paddington 2 (July 14), Peter Rabbit (August 11) — start times vary.
2nd Saturday at The Depot Movies in Tomball
Catch a free family movie the second Saturday of every month in Tomball. Get all the info here.
Free Outdoor Movies, Deer Park
Leap (June 2), Deep (July 7), Wonder Woman (August 4), Wrinkle in Time (September 1). Get more info here.
Free Movie Nights, Pearland Town Square
Every summer, Pearland Town Square hosts a free outdoor movie series that’s fun the the whole family. Details haven’t been announced yet for this year’s movies, but check their calendar for current info. Movies usually begin at dusk
The Showboat Drive-In Theater
Enjoy a double feature outdoors under the stars. Adults are $8 and kids $6. Located in Hockley off 2920.
The Houston area is home to some of the world’s finest museums and art exhibits. Make sure you take advantage of these this summer.
Free Museum Days in Houston Museum District
- Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – Thursday 1 pm – 5 pm
- Houston Museum of Natural Science – Thursday 2 pm – 5 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 – 7 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.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Take advantage of a discount to Houston Museum of Natural Science with $10 admission ($25 value), thanks to Goldstar. This admission allows you to explore many permanent exhibits including the McGovern Hall of the Americas, Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, Wiess Energy Hall and the Hall of Paleontology. Check out the great deals below:
- Exhibit Hall Admission — $10 (regularly $25)
- Butterfly Habitat & Exhibit Hall — 50% off
- Exhibit Hall & Planetarium Show — 50% off
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 for a great summer with weekly themes, action-packed activities, performances, character appearances, and extraordinary events. Admission is $12 for adults and children (age 1+), $11 seniors. Kids under 1 are free. Don’t forget — you can get discounted access to the Children’s Museum and four other top Houston attractions for nearly half off with Houston CityPass.
Detective Days at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
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 6-12 years.
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 Saturday and 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.
The sun is shining and that means there’s plenty of summer fun in Houston for people of all ages. Here are some outdoor activities to enjoy.
Family Nature Nights at Nature Discovery Center
Family-friendly talks, nature walks, live animals, crafts & snacks. Russ Pittman Park in Bellaire, 7112 Newcastle in Bellaire. $10/family.
Katy Prairie Conservancy
Throughout the summer, Katy Prairie Conservancy will host various outdoor events that are fun, engaging, and educational for the whole family. Check their calendar for upcoming events. Located in Waller at Indiangrass Preserve, 31950 Hebert Rd., Waller.
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 dragonflies, flags of Texas, junior canoe training, and more. Check out the full calendar. Some require advance registration.
Kidtastic on The Square at Memorial City
Don’t miss free fun each Wednesday in June from 10 am – 11:30 am. New theme each week such as Mad Science, Jurassic Extreme walking dinosaurs, Dino Discovery with Houston Museum of Natural Science and Gymboree Play & Music. This free weekly event is one of our favorite Houston summer activities.
Latin Beats at Downtown Aquarium
Enjoy free salsa dance lessons every Friday night June 8 through August 17, 7 pm – 11 pm. Lessons are taught by professional salsa dancers. A live band will perform the last Friday each month. Located at 410 Bagby at Memorial.
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 8 am – 10 pm all summer Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 10 am – 9 pm Sunday. Closed Tuesdays.
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 pool celebrates 22 years this summer. Noah’s Ark Pool is an amazing destination! The area also includes a full-size swimming pool with two slides and two diving boards. Open May 26 – August 25, Monday-Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm. $7.50 each (under age 1 free). Twilight Tuesday swim night is $5 admission from 6:30 pm – 9 pm. Noah’s Ark pool only August 28-September 1 (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 Wednesday, Friday and 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. Spots are full until August. Reserve a tour spot online or call 713-670-2416. Located at 7300 Clinton Drive.
Free Houston Splashpads by Houston Parks and Recreation Department
More than 20 free splashpads throughout the city.
First and Third Sundays at Armand Bayou Nature Center
Noon – 5 pm. Sundays in Nature. Admission is free. Last entrance will be 4 pm. Hike trails with naturalist interpreter, view live reptiles, relive 1895 history. 8500 Bay Area Blvd., Pasadena. Each month has a different theme.
Take a day trip to Galveston and enjoy walking along the Seawall, building sandcastles, playing in the water, or shopping on the Strand. Parking is $8/day or $1/hour along the Seawall if you can find it! Or head to Stewart Beach ($10-$12 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. Take a free ride on the Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry, with up to 5 ferries operating in the summer.
Lone Star Flight Museum
Enjoy over 130,000 square feet of aviation history and activities. With more than 40 vintage planes on premises and cool activities like virtual flights, it’s fun for the whole family. And now, you can get tickets 50% off!
HPD Mounted Patrol Barn
Visit the Houston Police Department stables and feed the horses. Visit Monday – Friday, noon – 2 pm for unscheduled visits. Bring apples, carrots, and peppermints for the horses (limit 2 each). There are close to 40 horses and a couple donkeys! Saturdays and Sundays, visits must be scheduled ahead of time by calling 832-394-0394. Located at 5005 Little York Rd.
Houston World Series of Dog Shows
Get free admission and free parking the first day of this annual Houston favorite, Wednesday, July 18, 9 am – 3 pm. Or save $5 all day Thursday with $10 admission with kids 12 and under free. Located at NRG. The dog show runs July 18-22.
2 for Tuesday returns this summer at Downtown Aquarium. Buy One All-Day Adventure Pass for $20.99 and get one free. About $11 per person. This is valid June through August with the coupon. A new coupon will be published each month. Get the coupon here. You can also visit the Downtown Aquarium on the cheap with CityPass. CityPass gives you access to five of Houston’s top attractions at 49% off.
Free LEGO Mini Model Build at LEGO Stores
First Tuesday and Wednesday each month, 3 pm – 7 pm with reservations required. Available at LEGO stores (Galleria, The Woodlands Mall, and Baybrook Mall). Register online here. Sign up at the store or sign up online as a VIP member — free registration.
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.
Free Bowling for Kids
At Copperfield Bowl, Emerald Bowl, and Max Bowl Humble. Kids can bowl two free games every day all summer.
Any other things to do in Houston this summer that you know about? Share them by commenting below.