One would find a multitude of free museums in the city of Houston, all of them focusing on different areas, but suitable for all age groups. There are many art museums that focus on old and contemporary artworks such as paintings, sculptures, and sketches made by popular artists like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock. The permanent and revolving exhibitions are a highlight of these museums, alongside guest lectures, educational programs, and events. The art of photography is the focus of some museums, while others seek to create awareness about social issues, the black community, or other cultures (like Czech or African). On the other hand, there are museums that display collections featuring jewelry, pottery, war or military memorabilia, cars, dinosaur skeletons, taxidermied organisms and a lot more. Museums meant for children offer several educational activities such as conducting science experiments, learning about different cultures, or learning about laws of physics.
Market Square Park in downtown Houston is a public park surrounded by Milam, Congress, Preston, and Travis streets. It is a popular site for numerous events, movie screenings, and sports activities, along with being popular as a recreational park. The history walk which runs along the walkway is famous for remnants from demolished downtown buildings and Lauren’s Garden pays tribute to a passenger who was aboard United Flight 93. There are several statues, sculptures, fountains, and a memorial at the park which add to its appeal and Niko Niko’s is a popular fast food joint.
Address: 301 Milam St, Houston, TX 77002, United States
Timings: 6:00 am to 11:00 pm
Location: Downtown Houston
Events: Bayou Bikers, The Campaign, The Night Before, Holiday in the Park, A Night at Market Square etc.
Attractions: Buster, dog runs, Gargoyles sculpture, Niko Niko’s, mosaic fountain, Points of View, plaza etc.
Restrictions: Littering, bringing alcohol into the park, feeding birds, skateboarding, picking flowers etc.
One of the best things to do while in Houston is to explore the different parks and gardens it has to offer. These green spaces amidst the busy city offer an opportunity to go on a stroll, hike, bike, picnic simply sits around and read. Many of the parks include trails that are ideal for an adventurous day out, and lakes, ponds or creeks add to the scenic beauty. Many of the parks allow dogs to be brought it or have designated areas for them, and also provide amenities such as water fountains, restrooms, parking, and more. Furthermore, many parks are suitable for children as there is playing equipment along with designated sports terrains. Houston is also home to parks which are known for their historical significance and contain sculptures, statues, fountains, memorials, and more.
Situated within Hermann Park, the Miller Outdoor Theater is a performing arts theatre that features classical music, musical theatre, ballet, jazz, classical films, Shakespeare, and much more. Between the months of March and November, attending performances at this 7.5-acre is absolutely free. When it comes to the seating arrangement, there are covered areas as well as an amphitheater-styled pre-performance area which is also perfect for picnics. The performances are suitable for both adults as well as children and include artists from all over the country, showcasing their talent. The venue hosts different festivals, and the Stories in Sound performance is especially for children. Visitors have the option of grabbing a bite to eat at the concession stand (opens 2 hours before a night show and 1 hour before a daytime show) or get the Miller Wine Basket, though they cost money.
Address: 6000 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, United States
Location: Hermann Park
Area: 7.5 acres
Architectural Style: Corinthian order
Art Forms: Jazz, Classical Music, Shakespeare, ballet, classical films, musical theatre etc.
Performances: Stories in Sound, Love Can Move the World, Annual Festival Chicano, Houston Jazz Festival etc.
When it comes to Hindu worship, Houston is home to a large number of temples worshipping different Gods and Goddesses such as Lord Krishna, Goddess Durga, Lord Rama, Lord Ganesha, Lord Narayan Dev, and others. Not only do these temples offer several architectural elements to be admired, they regularly engage in rituals like pujas, bathing deities, offering them food, arti singing sermons or hymns, and bhog. Moreover, they are the site of celebrations and special religious rituals during the many festivals. Many temples, in order to preach the religion and its scriptures, organize programs for adults and children which include spiritual classes, music or dance classes, Vedic classes, and more. An impressive initiative by certain temples is feeding or helping those in need, while also setting up hospital/ blood donation camps. Worshippers have the option of performing various pujas at the temples themselves or having priests come over to their residences.
An excellent choice for something looking to take pictures, the Houston Water Wall, officially known as the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, is essentially a multi-story sculptural fountain in the Uptown District (close to the Houston Galleria). The fountain, which is a U-shaped structure standing tall at 64 feet, pumps large amounts of water every three hours. It is a perfect location for a relaxing day out, especially during the hot summer months since it keeps spraying water. The lawns around are ideal for setting up a picnic, running around, taking a stroll, playing with a frisbee or just sitting and reading. There are a large number of oak trees all around the property which adds to the overall greenery.
Address: 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056, United States
Location: The Galleria
Timings: 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
Designed By: John Burgee Architects and Philip Johnson
Full Name: Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
Height: 64 feet
An extremely interesting activity to engage in, while in Houston, is to witness the Waugh Drive Bat Colony. Eleanor Tinsley Park is home to the Waugh Drive Bridge, which is in turn home to thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats. While other Texan bat colonies may migrate to other places during the winters, these stay here throughout, thus offering the possibility of watching them emerge from underneath the bridge. It is ideal to get to the bridge around sunset as that is when the bats come out; it is important to maintain a certain distance from the bridge and to not stand directly underneath it. There are other rules to adhere to such as not shining light towards the bats, not making loud noises, keeping away from grounded bats, and not throwing objects at flying bats.
Address: Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77002, United States
Timings: Open 24 hours
Suitable Time to Visit: Sunset
Type of Bats: Mexican free-tailed bats
Location: Eleanor Tinsley Park
Flash Photography and Torches: Not allowed
The city of Houston organizes a multitude of events and festivals throughout the year which are completely free of cost. These events focus on art, music, food, national holidays (such as Easter, Christmas, Halloween, etc.), theatre, dance, history and so much more. An interesting aspect of these events is that they focus not only on festivities but also on education since there are several academics, career, or job-related events or fairs. A fun experience for adults and children alike, these festivals and events provide a chance to engage in various fun activities, meet people, celebrate, eat, and even shop. The Houston Art Car Parade is a fun mix of cars and contemporary art. It must be kept in mind that while there is no admission fee charged to participate in the many events and festivals, any purchase made while there will most probably cost money.
Both locals and tourists would find that there is no shortage of places to shop at when it comes to Houston. Granted, shopping requires spending money, but these stores offer a chance to simply window shop! The city is home to many shopping malls or centers, independent stores, boutiques, galleries, bookstores and libraries, restaurants, and cafes. These stores sell items which are both reasonably priced (high street stores/ thrift shops) as well as expensive (luxury stores), and these include clothes, shoes, accessories, home or office décor, books, art supplies, artworks, sports goods, and of course, food and drinks. People are most likely to find a plethora of brands at these stores, can take a look at the items, and even try them out to be bought later. Many restaurants, bakeries or cafes allow visitors to taste samples as well.
Although the Houston Zoo does charge an admission fee, Tuesdays are completely free! Those who wish to avail of this opportunity must make an appointment the week before and would have access to most of what it has to offer. The zoo is situated within Hermann Park and the 55-acre piece of land is home to thousands of animals such as snakes, toads, eagles, fish, cheetah, and others, all belonging to different parts of the world. The various exhibits are the highlight of the establishment, and visitors have the chance to ride the carousel, feed giraffes, go on a two-hour safari as well, although they do not come with free admission. There several cafes, restaurants, and stores to be checked out here.
Address : 6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, United States
Open hours (subject to change) : Every day 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last entry 4:00 PM)
Timings : 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Just about an hour away from the city of Houston, Galveston Island is an excellent option for a fun day out since it offers recreational activities along with cultural experiences. The Galveston Downtown Cultural Arts District is known for creative and performing arts such as exhibits, film screenings, theatre, musical performances, and more. Many events and festivals are organized here which focus on historical aspects, Halloween, art, photography, nature, and others. Moody Gardens, Pleasure Pier, West Market, and Grand Beach are some of the main attractions here, while visitors also have the option of going surfing, swimming, fishing, biking, and kayaking. Furthermore, the numerous shops, boutiques, museums and galleries, and restaurants provide an opportunity to go shopping (or window shopping), and to grab a bite to eat. The beaches as well as the guided/self-guided tours of the island are great for outdoor excursions.
Distance from Houston: 56 miles (about 1 hour away)
Cultural Attractions: The Grand 1894 Opera House, Symphony Orchestra, Island ETC, Fossil Galaxy Gallery, G. Lee Art Gallery etc.
Tours: Dash Beardsley’s Ghost Tours of Galveston, Storm on the Strand Ghost Tour, Galveston Red Light District Tours, Galveston Harbor Tours etc.
If you found this list of free things to do in Houston interesting, let us know in the comments down below.
This post was published by Arushi Bhowmick