free and cheap things to do in houston this summer

You want to get out of the house this summer but cover charges and ticket fees are holding you back. Don’t go broke just trying to beat the heat, Houston has free concerts, kids theater, and special events galore!

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

 

ALL SUMMER LONG

These great deals are available all summer long to some of Houston’s top family-friendly attractions!

Houston Museum of Natural Science– Explore ancient homo sapiens, pour 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!

Dave & Busters– We’re not saying you should play video games all day. We’re saying you should do it at D&B! An All Day Gaming Package will usually run you $70. For a limited time, Dave & Busters is offering a full day of gaming for just $25!

Lone Star Flight Museum– Spend a day touring some of the best aerial feats in the history of flight. This 130,000 square foot museum has 40 restored vintage and historically significant aircraft ready for tours. You can also explore the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, interact with hands-on exhibits, and even enjoy flights for an added fee. General admission is $20 per person but this summer, you can get in for half-price! That’s just $10 per person.

Kids Bowl Free– At Copperfield Bowl, Emerald Bowl, and Max Bowl Humble, kids can bowl two free games every day all summer.

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

Mark these on your calendar- events will be sold out before you know it!

Circo Hermanos VazquezThroughout the month of June, Circo Hermanos Vazquez will be performing live near the North Freeway. Enjoy their high-flying jumps, daring feats of strength, crazy clowns, and more. Tickets usually run $15- $40 but for a limited time, kids can get in totally free! Admission is FREE for kids under 11 and just $25 for everyone else!

Local Brews, Local Grooves– The annual craft beer and music festival at House of Blues is back on June 15! This year’s event features Fat Tony, The Contagious, The New Offenders, Bayou City Funk, and more. The one-day event will cost you $10 per person but we have a limited amount COMPLIMENTARY TICKETS!

Woodland’s Margarita Festival– Schedule the day off on June 29, you’re busy! Running rain or shine for the 4th year in a row, this festival is great for tequila lovers or anyone who likes to party. Your ticket includes more than 15 flavors to sample, live bands, vendors, and your own souvenir cup. Admission is $23 per person but we have them for $13.60 {that’s almost 50% off!}

 

LIVE MUSIC

Looking to catch a little live music this summer? Check out these free and cheap summer concerts across the city:

Thursday Concerts at Discovery GreenEvery Thursday evening, drag your picnic blankets and lawn chairs down to the Fondren Performance Space for live music on the lawn. There will be Gulf Coast favorites taking the stage, totally free and open to the public. Check their calendar for updates.

Live Music in the Plaza– City Centre hosts free live music every weekend. Shows are going on most Friday, Saturday, and Sundays from 7- 10 pm. — weekends throughout the summer

Music at Levy Park– You can enjoy a variety of free live music at Levy Park several times throughout summer. Get together for a drum jam on the second Sunday of every month. This summer, you can also enjoy a free Father’s Day concert, the Texas Summer Block Party on July 7, the Island Summer Block Party on August 4, and Public Piano Play every Friday! — select dates throughout the summer

The Houston Symphony– Enjoy the sounds of the Houston Symphony Orchestra at two different events. You can try to hit up one of their free summer neighborhood concerts OR head to Miller Outdoor Theatre for their Summer Symphony Nights. There are over a dozen free concerts to choose from! — select dates throughout the summer

Free Concerts in the Woodlands– Events at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion are usually ticketed but they have a few free concerts going on this summer! Enjoy free live music on Independence Eve {3rd of July} and catch a show by the United States Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus. — select dates throughout the summer

Music on the Plaza– Head to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston for a monthly evening of summer sounds. The event is free to the public with food vendors and a cash bar. There are only select dates for this summer so stay tuned for shows. — select dates throughout the summer

The Square Live– Memorial City Mall hosts frequent live events for the public on their patio garden. Enjoy live music, movies, arts and craft, and more. — select dates throughout the summer

Cactus Music– For listening parties, album releases, live shows, meet & greets, and more music events, check out Cactus Music. They host a variety of free events where you can jam out and then go shopping! — select dates throughout the summer

Sugar Land Town Square– There are dozens of musical events going on in Town Square this summer. Check their calendar for upcoming dates. — select dates throughout the summer

 

BOOKS

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:

Levy Park– Family Story Time is for kids and kids-at-heart. Bring the whole family every Thursday at 10 am.

Young Writer’s Workshop– Aspiring artists and kids who need to work on writing should head down to Discovery Green every Saturday. The workshop begins at 10:30 am and is limited to the first 25 participants.

Nature Story Time– The Nature Discovery Center near Pecan Grove is free and open to the public for story time in the beautiful outdoors. This event is free and includes fun activities after the story like arts and crafts or singing. Drop in every Wednesday at 4 pm.

Stories & Shopping– Enjoy a free story hour at Pottery Barn Kids every Tuesday at 11 am! There will be readings and other fun activities, plus the chance to earn coupons.

Blue Willow Book Shop– Each Thursday, head to Houston’s favorite bookshop for an intriguing and entertaining story time. There will also be fun activities like coloring and singing songs. Each week has it’s own, unique theme! Be there Thursdays at 10 am.

Public Libraries– The public libraries across Houston all host their own story hours, crafting sessions, computer lessons, teen clubs, and much more. Kids and adults can also sign up for the Summer Reading Program with the chance to win prizes! Participating library systems include Houston, Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and more. — select dates throughout the summer

 

THEATER & MOVIES

There are a few opportunities for free movies and free plays this summer. Be sure to check out these events:

Miller Outdoor Theatre– You can catch live music, outdoor movies, plays, and more at Miller Outdoor. Most events are totally free, you can even bring a cooler! Some events may be ticketed or require reserved seating. Check their calendar for upcoming movies and plays. — select dates throughout the summer

Screen on the Green– Watch Mean Girls at Discovery Green for free! The outdoor showing is scheduled for June 29. Other movies will likely be shown througout the summer as well. Bring your picnic blanket and bug spray, the show starts at 9. — select dates throughout the summer

Friday Family Movies– Head to Memorial City Mall at the Square for a showing of The Lego Movie Part 2. Bring your picnic blankets and lawn chairs, it will get crowded. Movie starts at 7 on June 14. Stay tuned for other screenings throughout the summer. — select dates throughout the summer

Movie Night at Bagby Park– Enjoy a free movie under the stars on July 6. Dirty Dancing will come on at 7 pm.

Historic Market Square Park– Market Square Park is the perfect place for an outdoor movie. Enjoy films scheduled for June 19, July 3, August 7, and September 4.

Katy Summer Nights– Watch live movies in the park at Katy’s VFW. Movies are played on Friday nights, June 14 and July 12 starting at 8 pm. Bring your own blankets, lawn chairs, bug spray, and more.

Movie Night at Axelrad– This awesome bar and beer garden hosts a free outdoor movie on their expansive patio. The movie plays every Monday at 8:30. Families are welcome to stay but when the movie is over, the entire place becomes 21+ only.

Pearland Town Center– On the third Thursday of each month, Pearland Town Center will host a free outdoor movie screening. Bring your picnic blankets, bug spray, and lawn chairs. Kids might want to bring their bathing suit and play on the splash pad. Movie starts at 6 pm.

Sugar Land Town Square– Once a month, Sugar Land puts a movie on the big screen in the great outdoors. June 15th is Smallfoot at 8:30 pm. The Lego Movie 2 is playing on July 13. Christopher Robin will show August 10. — select dates throughout the summer

 

ARTS & CULTURE

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– Don’t forget to check out our list of Free Museum Days and 10 Always- Free Museums in Houston. You can go every week! Plan it right and you could spend all day immersed in arts and culture.

The Orange Show– On the East side of Houston lies an art-mecca that many outside of the area know very little about. They have multiple attractions you can visit for free or cheap:

  • Smither Park– This eccentric and ecclectic public park has been adorned with tiles and art installations of all kind. Make sure your camera is charged. Visit on a Saturday to see the artists at work. You’re encouraged to bring a picnic!
  • The Orange Show Monument– This monument is maze-like, with an amphitheater, a museum, upper decks, a gift shop, and more. Everything is hand made. Admission is $5 per person for kids and adults aged 13 and up. They are only open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon- 5 pm.

Beer Can House– Over 50,000 used beer cans were repurposed to create this amazing piece of art. Admission is $5 for kids and adults aged 13 and over {kids 12 and under are free}. They’re only open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon- 5 pm.

Art Car Museum– The Art Car Museum is always free! They’re open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

Young Audiences of Houston– This poetry and prose event at Levy Park is for our youth. Bring the kids and teens for their chance to read their work aloud, network with other writers, and learn from professionals.

Poetry Night on the Veranda– Head to La Centerra in Katy for a free poetry reading night on their beautiful terrace. Thursday, June 20, the readings start at 6 pm by Public Poetry, a non profit. There will also be free samples from No Label! The event is free but you’ll need to RSVP.

Rosenburg 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.

 

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

There are plenty of ways to spend time outside and get in a good workout in Houston this summer. See if you can make it to any of these free events:

Family Nature Night– The Nature Discovery Center hosts a family fun night at their beautuful garden. There are three events coming up with admission at $8 per person. You must register online. Dates are June 12, July 10, and August 14 from 6:30- 8 pm. Don’t miss their free Mud Day Celebration June 29 from 10:30 am- 12:30 pm

Jesse H. Jones Nature Center– This beautiful preserve hosts frequent events throughout the year and summer is no exception! Check out Second Saturday Settlers to learn about woodworking, Tai Chi on Wednesdays at 9 am, Evening Bug Walks, survival training, and much more. All of their programs are free and open to the public but some require reservations. — select dates throughout the summer

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. — select dates throughout the summer

Latin Beats at Aquarium– Enjoy free dance lessons each week at the Downtown Aquarium. Salsa lessons are every Friday with a live DJ. There will be a live band on the last Friday of each month. Lessons are from 7- 11 pm.

Bat Chats at Waugh Bridge1st 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. — all summer long

Noah’s Ark Pool– One of Houston’s best kept secrets, the area includes a full-size swimming pool with two slides, two diving boards, and an awesome play-area for toddlers. They are open through the end of August with varying hours. Check their website for openings and closures. Admission is $8 per person, $5 for seniors and active military, and free for kids under 1.

The Lawn at Memorial City– For a truly magical summer, check out the acrobats from Cirque La Vie. The show goes on each summer. This year, catch them June 22 and 7 pm. You can also catch trivia nights, live music, free yoga, Video Game Night, and live Astros game in the square every week. — select dates throughout the summer

Discovery Green– Each week, Discovery Green hosts free work outs, writing workshops, live performances, and more. Don’t miss Sundays in the park for games and picnics. — all summer long

Levy Park– One of the coolest and best parks in the nation, Levy Park has outstanding play structures, a splash pad, and great programming. Catch Zumba and yoga multiple times per week, plus a free solar powered piano on Fridays, Children’s Bingo on Wednesdays, family story time, Bollywood dance lessons, and much more. — all summer long

Midtown Park– Find Zumba classes, Samba classes, HIIT, and Capoeria at Midtown Park. In Midtown, you also want to catch their weekly farmers market on Saturdays. — all summer long

Sam Houston Boat Tours– 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.

Feed the Horses– Visit the Houston Police Department stables and feed the horses. Visit Monday through 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.

Don’t forget to check out all of the amazing, free splash pads around town!

 

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