There is something for everyone in beautiful Houston, which is America’s fourth largest city! If you’ve never visited Houston you may not realize that it is home to a large community of cultural institutions, exhibits, performing arts, outdoor activities and more. In addition, the city has played an important and historical role as the main center of activity for NASA, giving Houston the official nickname of “Space City.”
The best thing about spending time in Houston—in addition to its beautiful climate and friendly people—is the fact there is an abundance of activities to take part in which are inexpensive or free. Here are eight that might pique your interest:
1. The Children’s Museum
A massive playground for both children and adults, this 90,000 square feet, five-star rated museum is filled with interactive and innovative exhibits for kids up to twelve years of age. The construction of the museum is whimsical in fashion and designed by Robert Venturi. Popular exhibits include Kidtropolis, a city for kids, run by kids; the Building Zone, where kids explore the science of structure and a hands-on construction area; TotSpot, a world of discovery for children up to 35 months old; and Inventors’ Workshop, where creativity flows and inventors are created! The museum offers Thursday Free Family Nights from 5–8 p.m. and Bank of America discounts, where admission is free for cardholders on the first weekend of the month with a valid Bank of America card. Regular admission is $9 for adults and children, $8 for seniors and military with ID, and free for children under one. Visit their website for days and parking information.
2. The Health Museum
This modern museum, which is the most visited health museum in the nation, features three-dimensional anatomy models, interactive exhibits for both adults and children and Houston’s first 4D movie theater. The museum is open Tuesday–Sunday, and tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and children ages 3–12, and free for children under two. The Health Museum has Free Family Thursday from 2–5 p.m. There is a small fee to park. Visit their website for specific hours and parking info.
3. The Houston Museum of Natural Science
In additional to a wide variety of natural science permanent and special exhibits, this museum also houses an IMAX Theater, the Burke Baker Planetarium, and Cockrell Butterfly Center. Museum tickets are a bit steep, ranging from $15–20 per person, so your best bet is to stick with Free Thursdays, from 2–5 p.m. Visit their website for more information about current exhibits.
4. Houston Center for Photography
Always free and open to the public, this nonprofit organization offers year-round exhibitions, lectures, workshops and classes, and is home to an incredible library offering thousands of books on photography. There is also a high-tech digital darkroom housed here. The gallery is open Wednesday–Sunday, and donations are appreciated.
5. The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony
Want to see 250,000 bats at once? Well now you can, thanks to this enormous population of bats who live within the crevices of Waugh Drive Bridge. Every night, these Mexican free-tailed bats emerge to spread their wings and feed. To learn more about the best locations and times to view bat emergence, and also learn about proper bat etiquette, visit this website.
6. Discovery Green
This twelve-acre park located in downtown Houston literally has something for everyone! With gardens, playgrounds, a lake, walking paths, a dog park, outdoor stage, splash fountains and more, there is always something to do. Upcoming events include outdoor yoga, kayaking classes, dog costume contests and athletic competitions, nighttime flea markets, film series and more. Free to visit with an extra fee for classes.
7. The Kemah Boardwalk
Adults and children will delight in the endless exciting activities located on the boardwalk. Just 20 miles from downtown, here you will find a variety of waterfront restaurants, rides, games and amusements, quaint stores, festivals, fairs and daily seaside shows. Visiting and walking around the boardwalk are free, but amusement rides have a daily fare of $17.99 and up.
8. Miller Outdoor Theatre
This standout theater is famous for their culturally diverse performing art shows which take place eight months of the year, are family friendly, and are all free of charge! From classical music, jazz, children’s theater, Shakespeare, classic films, ethnic dance and music, ballet and more, enjoy a seat in their covered area or relax with some delicious fare on the hillside. The Miller Outdoor Theater is located on 7.5 acres of Hermann Park, which also happens to be the site of the Houston Zoo, Museum of Natural Science and the Garden Center. There is enough seating for 1,700 people, 20 wheelchair spaces, and lawn space that can accommodate up to 4,500 blankets or chairs.
Whether you are looking for arts and culture, family events, golfing, great food, historic encounters, outdoor day trips, rodeos, music, sports or shopping, Houston offers all of these great activities and more. To plan your trip, visit the official Texas tourist site.