Are there any free things to do in Houston, Texas?
Being the 4th largest city in the United States, Houston is home to some of the best attractions and entertainment in all of Texas.
There is simply so many things for you to see and do.
However a lot of these things cost money to enjoy.
But what if you don’t want to spend any money? Are there still things you can go see and do without going broke?
Of course! You just have to know where to look.
Houston is in fact home to all sorts of fun attractions where you don’t even have to pay a dime.
From beautiful museums to spacious green parks, there is an abundance of things for you to see and do.
Here is a list of the top 30 things you can see and do for free in the Houston area.
- Free Things To See And Do In Houston, Texas
- Discovery Green
- Hermann Park
- Memorial Park
- Buffalo Bayou Park
- Market Square Park
- Miller Outdoor Theater
- The Menil Collection
- Hines Waterfall Park
- Rothko Chapel
- Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
- Houston Museum of Natural Science And Other Museums
- Art Car Museum
- Houston Police Museum
- The Contemporary Arts Museum
- BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
- Waugh Drive Bridge
- The Heritage Society
- Armand Bayou Paddling Trail
- Rice University Art Gallery
- Asia Society Texas Center
- Houston Zoo
- Houston Public Library
- Window Shop At Houston’s Malls
- Galveston Island
- Houston Center For Photography
- Houston Greeter
- Flea By Night
- Sam Houston Boat Tours
Free Things To See And Do In Houston, Texas
Here is a list of the top things you can do in the city of Houston for FREE!
Located in the center of Downtown Houston you can find Discovery Green, which is one of the city’s best public parks. It is a spacious park that spans near 12 acres wide and is full of amazing things for you to see and do.
For instance, the park is home to the Anheuser-Busch State Performance Venue which features many free concerts and films all throughout the year. Plus alongside the venue you’ll be able to find a one-acre lake where people can ride some paddle boats and row around. Not only that but there are also many nice restaurants surrounding the area for you to eat at.
The park also features many free public events all throughout the year like the performing arts, exercise events as well as weekly urban markets where people can buy things.
It is a great park where people can definitely enjoy their day, relax and also have some fun.
Hermann Park is a beautiful park that spans about 445 acres large and consists of a bountiful assortment of entertainment: a golf course, an outdoor theater, a jogging track, a beautiful rose garden, picnic spaces, a butterfly exhibit, and even a museum.
It is a fantastic place for anybody looking to have some outdoor fun. From picnics to exercising to even playing around, there is definitely something for everybody here in this park.
One of the largest urban parks you can find in the entire country is here in Houston. Memorial park which opened up back in 1924 was the site of the former United States Army training base Camp Logan. It is a 1,466 acre public park that is located in the Memorial neighborhood and is dedicated to the memory of the fallen American soldiers.
Known for its beautiful trails where people can go for a leisurely stroll, there are also softball fields, sand volleyball, tennis, and croquet courts, free space for pick-up flag football and soccer games, a driving range and 18-hole Memorial Park Golf Course, swimming lanes at the Memorial Park Fitness Center, and onsite burger joint, Becks Prime. Plus, they are still improving upon the park which means the future version of it will look even better than ever!
Buffalo Bayou Park
Buffalo Bayou Park is a lovely 160 acre park located on the edge of downtown Houston. Opened in 2015, the park was designed to facilitate flood control of the city.
In the park, you can find a huge variety of things to see and do. For instance, there are a few restaurants located around the park, public art that is showcased all throughout the park, and a number of luscious green space just waiting for you to enjoy. Visitors are able to bike around, paddlecraft, hike, picnic or do whatever they want here at the park while enjoying the nice scenery.
Market Square Park
Located in downtown Houston, the historic Market Square Park is the perfect place for you to relax and enjoy your day. Many visitors come here to simply stroll around the park or walk their pets around. There are also bikes you can rent here where you can ride around downtown.
Not only that but the park is also known for offering a variety of different live entertainment, open art, as well as special events all throughout the year. Plus the best part about it is that this park is surrounded by many different restaurants all around.
A perfect place to spend your day.
Miller Outdoor Theater
Located inside the spacious Hermann Park area, Miller Outdoor Theater is an outdoor performing arts venue that offers free public performances all year long. Some of the things you can expect are shows ranging from children’s productions and a yearly Shakespeare Festival to performances from the Houston Ballet and popular concert artists.
The only downside about this area is that there isn’t that many chairs here, but they do have a wide spacious grassy area for you to site and enjoy. So bring a blanket or a fold-able chair and enjoy the show.
There aren’t really many chairs here so instead, you should bring a blanket or fold-able chair to enjoy the day.
The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection is a free-admission museum that showcases the huge collections of art by John and Dominique de Menil. In this museum you can find over 17,000 works of art from cultures all around the world. Some of which date back as far as the ancient era and goes all the way through present day.
It is a very neat place that showcases art of the finest quality.
Hines Waterfall Park
One of the most beautiful places in Houston is the iconic Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. It is located around the Galleria area and was constructed around 1983 as part of the development of the Transco Tower complex.
This iconic waterwall has been featured in many Hollywood movies and TV series and is one of the most photographed attraction here in the Houston area.
Aside from the waterwall in general, the fountain serves as a popular place for many people to have picnics, concerts, or a place to just hang out.
The Rothko Chapel is not just an ordinary chapel. In fact it is also a work of modern art. Inside the chapel you can find 14 artistic panel paintings by famed American abstract expressionist Mark Rothko who helped build this chapel. It serves as a major center for international social justice issues since 1973. Not only that but many public forums, services and special events are also hosted at this chapel all year long.
Visitors who come here are allowed to view the unique modern architecture and public works of art which includes the Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk sculpture.
Let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure everybody in the world loves visiting Ikea. They have so many things for you to browse around that it can literally take you hours to finish seeing the entire building. Plus, the best part about going to Ikea isn’t the browsing aspect, but the planning aspect. You can go to Ikea and start planning your dream layout for your future house. It is so fun to do that I find myself going to Ikea almost every month just to browse around.
Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
One of the most unique and interesting attractions you can find in Houston is the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. It was originally constructed as a drinking water reservoir back in 1926, but has since been preserved as a civic and artistic structure.
Here you can find the space playing host to a rotating bunch of art installations. Public history and art tours of the Cistern are also offered for free all throughout the day on Thursdays.
There are some paid events from time to time, but most of the time you can find this place hosting a variety of free events for you to enjoy.
Houston Museum of Natural Science And Other Museums
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the best museums in Texas. It has a huge collection of fossils, planetarium, gemstone collection, as well as many other antiques and interesting stuff that will keep you on your toes for hours on end.
They also constantly invite special guests who do special exhibitions for people to see.
One of my personal favorites is the butterfly dome where you can walk around and see all kinds of beautiful butterflies flying around the dome.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is usually a paid experience. However on certain Thursdays throughout the year, it will be free to experience. Only the permanent exhibit halls will be open for Free Thursdays. So make sure to check the calendar to see which Thursdays are free so you can enjoy the experience.
Also, there are other museums that offer free entrance on Thursdays as well. The museums that take part in the free day include: the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Children’s Museum of Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, The Health Museum, the Houston Museum of African American Culture, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum and the Holocaust Museum of Houston. Be sure to check their website for the hours they offer free admission.
Art Car Museum
The Art Car Museum which is also known as “Garage Mahal” is a museum celebrating the unique crafts of creating art cars. It showcases a rotating collection of remodeled and redecorated stock cars and mobile apparatuses. Aside from that, there are also other types of unique and interesting artwork that is periodically showcases which includes photography exhibitions.
Do know that the museum is pretty small in size, so visitors coming in alrge groups should definitely call in advance to make sure they are able to come in and view the museum.
Houston Police Museum
Might be a strange place to see this, but in the lobby of the Houston Police Headquarters you will find a unique and interesting museum called the Houston Police Museum.
Inside the museum, you’ll be able to find all sorts of memorabilia collected over many decades. From things like a helicopter suspended from the ceiling, a vintage auto shot through with bullet holes and antique highway patrol motorcycles.
They even have a wall that is specially dedicated to the fallen officers of Houston.
Definitely something unique and special that might peak your interest.
The Contemporary Arts Museum
The Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston is a nonprofit museum that documents the role of art in modern life. Inside you can find unique and interesting works from all around the world. They have rotating temporary exhibitions by regional and international contemporary and modern artists.
Some of the past exhibitions that they have included art works by Dalé Gas, Ida Applebroog, Juan Muñoz, and William Kentridge, with a focus on exhibits presenting innovative multimedia works and pop culture and political themes.
Aside from the art exhibitions, they also host artist talks, film screenings, and family-friendly art workshops all year long.
The museum is free and open to the public between the days of Tuesdays through Sundays during the afternoon and evening hours, except for major national holidays.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a really unique and interesting place to visit. It is the first traditional Hindu Mandir facility built in the United States. The building was constructed according to the regulations set out in scared Hindu texts of more than 5,000 yeares ago.
This beautiful building was built with more than 34,000 pieces of hand-carved marble and limestone and is the largest facility of its kind in the entire state of Texas.
Here at this building, you can find traditional weekly congregational services being held at the cultural center as well as several annual events hosted at this place all throughout the year.
This building is open to the public daily for exploration and worship, and allows visitors to learn about the cultural practices and rights of Hinduism
Waugh Drive Bridge
One of the best sites in all of Texas for bat colony viewing is at Waugh Drive Bridge. This area is home to a population of more than 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats all throughout the year.
Visitors are able to come here during dusk and view all the amazing bats flying around the sky. An ADA accessible bat viewing platform is also offered at the southeastern end of the bayou bank near the bridge along Allen Parkway.
The Heritage Society
The Heritage Society is Houston’s best outdoor interactive historical society and park. IT showcases nine preserved historic structures within a 10 acre radius of Sam Houston Park that was constructed during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Although some of its tours and exhibits cost money to do, visitors are able to explore the historic structures free of charge using the Society’s cell phone tour program. You can learn how to go about the tours by seeing the posts in front of each historic building.
Armand Bayou Paddling Trail
Armand Bayou Paddling Trail is a trail that starts at the confluence of Clear Lake and Armand Bayou. Visitors who come are able to travel upstream in a paddle boat past the Armand Bayou Nature Center to nearby Horsepen Bayou.
While you are paddling, you might be lucky enough to see some of the 220 species of birds that live here along with alligators and other wildlife as well.
Fishing is also permitted here along the trail where you can catch a variety of fish like bass, redfish, trout and drum populations accessible for anglers.
Rice University Art Gallery
Rice University might be a big and beautiful campus for all to explore, however inside the campus you’ll find an art gallery that is so unique and fascinating that will have you in awe.
The art gallery here at Rice is the only university gallery that is solely dedicated to site-specific installation art.
Visitors are able to enter and explore all the art pieces and collections that the gallery holds. Plus there are also free guided tours as well.
Asia Society Texas Center
Asia Society Texas Center is the headquarters of the Texas Asia Society, one of 12 international organization branches whose goal is to strengthen the relationship between Asian and Western cultures and governments through public exhibitions and programming.
This free admission center is host to many temporary rotating exhibits of works by Asian artists with a focus on art forms and topics related to Asian culture and society. Not only that but there is also free programming that is offered at the Center which includes monthly Night Markets, Family Days events, student tours, and business forums.
DiverseWorks is a nationally recognized contemporary arts center that showcases a variety of cutting-edge performing, visual, and literary art works. They have a focus on works centered on topics that usually have no other cultural outlet withing the Houston area.
This organization was founded to help raise community awareness for the arts and serve as a forum for artists to engage the public with new ideas and creations.
Here you’ll be able to find a free rotating gallery exhibitions showcasing the visual and multimedia artworks of emerging artists. Not only that but they also have public special event programming with some events that are open to the public for free.
The Houston Zoo is a 55-acre zoological park located within Hermann Park in Houston, Texas, United States. The zoo houses over 6,000 animals from 900 species. It receives 2.1 million visitors each year and is the second most visited zoo in the United States.
If you are ever wanting a place to see some cool and amazing animals and learn about them, then this is definitely the place for you. Although I would avoid coming in the summer as that is when the weather get its hottest. But other than that, it is a fantastic place that anybody and everybody would enjoy.
During most of the year, the zoo will be free to the public on the first Tuesday of the month for most months. Not all months will have the free admission rates so do check the calendar on the website to find out.
Houston Public Library
What better thing to do on a boring day than to read a book. There are many libraries all around Houston and you are able to simply go in their and grab a book to read. From fiction to non fiction to dictionaries, there are books for people of all ages. You will never get bored from reading a book.
Window Shop At Houston’s Malls
One of the best things you are able to do is to head to the mall and go window browsing!
And the best place to go window browsing at is the Galleria. It is the largest mall in the state of Texas as well as being the 7th largest mall in the United States. It is currently home to over 400 high end stores with delicious restaurants and food outlets like the Cheesecake factory, Chilis, and much more located inside this building. There is even a full sized ice ring that lets people of all ages come and have some fun skating.
From Gucci to Prada to Louis Vuitton to Victoria Secret and much more, there is definitely something for everybody to enjoy.
Located about 40 minutes from Houston, Galveston Island is a 30 mile long island located on the southeast side of Houston. The island features many things for visitors to see and do.
From fishing, to water skiing, to boating or swimming, there are an abundant amount of activities here waiting for you to enjoy. Not only that, but there is also an amusement park here called Pleasure Pier that stretches out into the gulf on a large pier. Plus, alongside the Seawall Boulevard, you can find all sorts of neat hotels, restaurants and other attractions all waiting to be explored.
It is an island full of history and culture in which everybody will be able to enjoy.
Houston Center For Photography
The Houston Center for Photography is one of the best places in the city to look at some beautiful pictures.
Inside you can see rotating temporary exhibitions of works by regional and national artists which are showcased for free here. Not only that but the center also offers a full Digital Darkroom facility, a 4,000-volume research library, and educational workshop programming for area students.
It is open to the public most days of the week from Wednesdays through Sundays around the afternoon and evening hours.
Houston Greeter is definitely an interesting and unique service in which it connects local informal tour guides with Houston area tourists for a custom tailored tour experience of the city.
This service was made to help give Houston tourists an insider look at the city and to learn about the culture and history the city has to offer.
Visitors are welcome to browse the Houston Greeter website to see if any greeter tours are available. The tours typically lasts around one to three hours with many of the tours being conducted on foot or public transit.
Definitely a great way to learn about the city from a locals point of view.
Flea By Night
Flea By Night is an amazing monthly night market that is hosted at Houston’s Discovery Green park. Modeled after the Brooklyn Flea market and other similar markets around America, this monthly even is held from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm on certain nights.
Here you can find vendors selling all kinds of unique things which includes midcentury modern-style furniture, vintage home goods and clothing, repurposed and upcycled items, and much more!
The event is free to visit and browse around, but if you want to buy anything then you’ll have to spend some money.
Sam Houston Boat Tours
Sam Houston Boat Tours is a great way to explore the Houston Ship Channel. It is a 90 minute ride where you can see views of passing international cargo vessels and learn about the port and maritime industry.
The tours are operated twice daily from Tuesdays through Saturdays with a third limited availability tour being offered on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Although the tours are free, visitors will need to register a day in advance to secure their tour spots and must present a valid government issued photo ID to board.
As you can see, there are an abundance of things for you to see and do all for free in the city of Houston.
So hopefully this list was able to give you some ideas as for things to do in the city of Houston for free..
Also if you are going to be stopping by Houston anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other posts:
- 22 Best Restaurants You Need To Try In Houston
- 15 Most Popular Instagram Spots In Houston
- 30 Free Things To Do In Houston
Or for a list of more Houston posts, you can click here.
Let me know how it goes!