It's easy to enjoy budget-friendly sights that make cents.
Spend your day exploring Houston’s hotspots, while saving big with a well-edited list of the city’s most-loved free things to do. Fortunately, for locals and visitors alike, several of Houston’s most memorable attractions won’t break the bank, in fact they won’t even cost a dime. In Houston, it’s easy to enjoy budget-friendly sights that make cents.
|Miller Outdoor Theatre |
Miller Outdoor Theatre might be one of the best reasons to visit (and live in!) Houston. Open from March through November, the venue hosts a range of performances including classical music, ballet, dance, film, Shakespeare and more. The theater, set inside Hermann Park, also allows patrons to BYOB (no glass containers, please!), so pack a picnic and settle in for the show.
Downtown's new 12-acre Discovery Green park has something going on all the time. In the spring and fall, spend happy hour listening to local musicians perform in the amphitheater, pick up fresh produce at the Green Market on Sundays and, in the winter, enjoy ice skating on Kinder Lake (for a small fee).
The Menil Collection - a local treasure, global destination and one of the top free attractions in Houston - opened to the public in June 1987 to house the art collection of philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil. Widely considered one of the greatest of the twentieth century, the collection consists of more than 16,000 works dating from the Paleolithic era to the present day. Although historically vast, it uniquely resists the conventional museum model of the encyclopedia. Instead, within the four areas that largely define the collection - Antiquity, Byzantine and Medieval, Tribal, and Twentieth-Century Art (with a concentration in Surrealism) - one finds a selective - and even wonderfully eccentric - approach to collecting and displaying art.
|The Art Car Museum |
Dubbed the Garage Mahal, the Art Car Museum is unlike anything you've ever imagined. It's the only place you'll find the antennae and wing-cloaked Roachster or the Honda motorcycle that has been transformed into a shiny red rolling stiletto art car.
The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is the creme de la creme of the grinding and boarding world. The $2.2 million, state-of-the-art facility - thought to contain the largest cradle in the world - is located close to downtown, near Eleanor Tinsley Park.
Tucked on the west side of Memorial park is the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, a 155-acre nature sanctuary that educates visitors on how to protect native plants and animals in the city. Walk the center's five miles of trails and visit the sanctuary's interactive exhibits free of charge. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
Designed by architect Philip Johnson more than 20 years ago, the Galleria-area Water Wall offers a refreshing respite for visitors seeking a mid-afternoon break. The 64-foot-tall fountain - built to look like a "horseshoe of running water" - sits among 1,118 oak trees at the base of the 64-story Williams Tower.
Set sail on a free, 90-minute boat tour of the Port of Houston. While on board the 90-passenger boat, you'll learn about the history of the seaport and be able to watch ocean freighters and barges navigate the 50-mile channel. The tour is free, but reservations are required.
Houston's Contemporary Arts Museum focuses on showing new work from national and international artists. In addition to hosting exhibits, the CAMH also offers lectures, special programs and a stellar shop chock-full of unique books and gifts.
|Holocaust Museum Houston |
Dedicated to remembering victims of the Holocaust and honoring the survivors, the Holocaust Museum Houston works to educate future generations about the dangers of hate and prejudice. Check out the education center and the permanent exhibit, Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers, which focuses on stories of Holocaust survivors living in the Houston area.
See the work of local and national artists who focus on using materials like fiber, metal, glass, clay and wood at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Located next door to Lawndale Art Center, the HCCC has innovative exhibits and unique gifts in the Asher Gallery. Admission is always free.
Located in the Museum District, the Lawndale Art Center is a staple of Houston's art scene. Four galleries are contained in the art deco structure, which serves as a backdrop for annually changing exhibits and events like Dia de los Muertos and The Big Show.
Situated inside downtown's Sam Houston Park, the Heritage Society Museum is the city's only interactive, outdoor museum. The site features structures dating back to the 1820s, including a 4th-ward cottage and a Greek revival house build for Rice University founder William Marsh Rice. The museum itself is free, but guided tours are $10.
Set in Houston's Third Ward, Project Row Houses is a nonprofit art initiative aimed at creating a positive place for local artists to work. Some of the shotgun-style houses are dedicated to art and photography, while others are devoted to the literary and performing arts.
|The Galleria-area Water Wall |
Rothko Chapel is a serene place to meditate in the middle of Houston's Museum District. Founded by John and Dominque de Menil (of Menil Collection fame), Rothko is a non-denominational chapel and exhibit space for modern art that draws thousands of visitors each year.
Tour the city with the help of a personal Houston Greeter. The program, made up of local volunteers, provides two-to-four hour hosts that are able to show newcomers or visitors local attractions that might be of interest to them. The service is free, and METRORail provides free passes for visitors and greeters. www.houstongreeters.org
Museum/Attraction Free Days