If you are looking for free things to do in Houston, TX, then you are in the right place.
I’m here to tell you that Houston, Texas is loaded with activities. As the fourth largest city in America, you can find just about everything in Houston.
I mean, it is one of the best places to visit in Texas!
We are talking hundred of miles of hiking and biking trails, a world-class museum district, professional sports teams, and, of course, the NASA Space Center.
Honestly, there are so many things to do in Houston, TX that you could stay busy for months!
While many of these attractions come at a price, your pocketbook will be happy to know that a visit to Houston doesn’t have to break the bank.
That’s where we come in. Let’s dive into all of the free attractions in Houston!
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Free Outdoor Attractions in Houston
1. Hermann Park
A popular park in Houston, Texas, located near the Texas Medical Center and the Museum District, is Hermann Park.
This fabulous outdoor recreation area boasts a Japanese garden, outdoor theatre, children’s playground, and exercise trails.
This is a perfect place to bring a picnic and spend the afternoon lounging in the Texas sun.
In you become a Conservancy member, then you can receive free tickets for the Hermann Park Railroad pedal boat tours that take place on the second Saturday of every month.
2. McGovern Centennial Gardens
You will find McGovern Centennial Gardens located inside of Hermann Park.
The gardens allow visitors to enjoy several garden areas, a woodland area, and an educational garden that produces seasonal fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
Not only is admission to the gardens free, but there is also free parking and free storytelling on Fridays at 10 am.
3. Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center
For some time out in nature, head to the Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center. Here, you have free access to over 300-acres.
The park and nature center offers free guided tours to learn about the history and local Native American tribes that once called this area home.
There are also nature trails, a playground, picnic tables, and more for you to enjoy during your time at this park.
The best part is that the park is also handicap accessible, so everyone can enjoy it!
You can fine the Jesse H. Jones Park located at 20634 Kenswick Dr.
4. Miller Outdoor Theatre
Miller Outdoor Theatre is also located in Hermann Park and is open from March until November.
The Miller Outdoor Theatre is the perfect place to catch a free performance while visiting Houston. Performance vary from dance to live music, making this a great place for nature lovers to pack a picnic and enjoy a day outside.
While all shows are free, you can get reserved tickets under the covered section at their box office.
You can view the performance schedule on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website.
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5. Memorial Park
As the largest urban park in Texas, Memorial Park is the perfect place to enjoy some outdoor activities.
Encompassing over 1400-acres, this is the perfect place to enjoy the walking trails, play some tennis, or just lounge under a shade tree with a book!
It is important to note that some of the activities offered at Memorial Park do charge a fee, so be sure to check on that before committing yourself.
Memorial Park is located at 6501 Memorial Dr. You can get more information on their website.
6. Sam Houston Park
A visit to Sam Houston Park allows you to get up close and personal with some of Houston’s history thanks to the work of the Heritage Society.
You can tour restored building that span Houston’s history.
These building contain furnishing and other period pieces that have been donated to the Heritage Society.
Don’t miss the 1891 St. John Church during your visit to the park.
In addition to the historical building, the Heritage Society also offers free admission to the onsite museum and hosts several free events throughout the year.
You will find the park and the Heritage Society located near downtown Houston at 1100 Bagby Street. Please visit their website for more information.
7. Urban Harvest Farmers Market
Is there anything better than visiting a local farmers market? I don’t think so.
If you find yourself in Houston, TX on a Saturday, then head to the St. John’s School parking lot located at 2752 Buffalo Speedway to enjoy the Urban Harvest Farmers Market.
The vendors at the market are all located close to Houston, so you can rest assured that you are shopping local during your visit.
8. Sam Houston Boat Tour
Another of the free things to do in Houston is to explore the Houston port and Houston ship channel thanks to the Sam Houston Boat Tour.
This 90-minute boat tour not only teaches visitors about the Houston port, but also offers free air conditioning and free drinks.
Does it get any better than that? I don’t think so!
For current schedules, please visit the boat tour’s website.
9. Buffalo Bayou Park
A visit to Buffalo Bayou Park is a treat indeed.
In addition to the public art that you will find throughout the park, Buffalo Bayou also offer you the opportunity to see the bats take flight!
Yes, you read that correctly, there are bats that call Buffalo Bayou home.
Located less than two miles from downtown Houston, you will find the Waugh Drive Bridge, which is home to an estimated 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats.
Peak season to see the bats take their nightly flight from Waugh Drive Bridge is summer and early fall.
While you are at the park, don’t miss your opportunity to see the rotating art exhibit on the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern.
The park also offers free tours of the cisterns so that you can learn more about this historic piece of Houston, TX.
Now, that is one of the best free things to do in Houston for sure!
10. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
Believe it or not, the the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center also offers free admission to their exhibits.
With walking and nature trails to enjoy, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is the perfect place to bring your four-legged friend for a day out of the house.
During your walk, you can observe the beautiful native plants that surround you.
Of course, they also host numerous events throughout the year.
You can view their complete calendar of event and get more information here.
11. Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark
If you are into skateboarding, then grab your board and head to the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark in Houston.
This park is a state-of-the-art facility that skaters love to test their skills at!
12. Discovery Green
Downtown Houston, TX is also home to another popular hangout, Discovery Green.
Located across the street from the Brown Convention Center, one visit to Discovery Green and you quickly understand why.
Not only does Discovery Green have a great dog park, but they also have great walking trails and host events throughout the year.
You can enjoy listening to free concerts, seeing local artists, listening to some live music, and even catch free movie screenings here.
I find it so cool that this park offers so much free access to the fine arts.
Way to go Discovery Green!
For more information, visit their website.
13. First Saturday Arts Market
If you love supporting local musicians and artists, then you need to head to the First Saturday Arts Market.
The First Saturday Arts Market showcases handmade art from artists right here in Houston, TX.
In addition, there are always free concerts taking place during the market.
Shopping and listening to music, that’s a win-win for me!
Find more information on the market here.
14. Eleanor Tinsley Park
If you are a lover of free events, then Eleanor Tinsley Park is the place for you.
Eleanor Tinsley Park is home to numerous free concerts throughout the year.
Other free events held at the park include the Fourth of July fireworks show and occasionally free walking tours.
15. Kemah Boardwalk
Head out to the Kemah Boardwalk to stroll around the fun carnival lake atmosphere during your time in Houston.
While strolling and visiting the playground next to the boardwalk are both free activities, it does cost to play the games and ride the rides at the Kemah Boardwalk.
If that is something that you are interested in, you might want to consider buying the Three Parks – One Pass.
This pass allows you unlimited rides on the Kemah Boardwalk, Galveston Island Pier, and the Downtown Houston Aquarium.
If you plan the pass for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you can really save some money.
16. Houston Zoo
Visit the Houston Zoo the first Tuesday of each month during the daytime when they offer free admission to save some serious dough.
The zoo is home to more than 800 species of animals all calling the 55-acre complex home.
During your visit to the Houston, TX zoo, you can see everything from snakes to tigers.
Honestly, the free entry ticket to the zoo is such a great perk, so make sure you are in Houston the first Tuesday of the month to take advantage of this.
Please note, this does require advance reservations. Please click here to learn more and make your reservation.
17. Water Wall
Head to Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park to see 11,000-gallons of water per minute flow over the inner and outer wall of the structure here.
The water wall is truly spectacular and something well worth your time.
Rest assured that they aren’t wasting water though. The water is recycled and filtered while looping through the system.
This is the perfect place to come and take a fabulous Houston, TX selfie.
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18. Sesquicentennail Park
Head to the banks of the Buffalo Bayou near Houston’s theatre district to find this 22-acre urban park.
Here you can enjoy taking in the artwork as you wander the park.
The Preston Street Bridge, a historic footbridge that allows you to cross over Buffalo Bayou, also calls this park home.
There is also a 250-foot boat dock that provides boat access to Buffalo Bayou.
This is one of the free things to do in Houston that allows you to enjoy art and nature at the same time.
19. Rice University
During your time in Houston, Texas, why not check out an institute of higher learning.
The perfect place to do that is at the historic Rice University.
Do a self-guided walking tour to enjoy all of the fabulous architecture that surrounds the college.
During your walking tour you will pass beautiful homes shaded by old oak trees.
Touring the Rice University campus is one of the free things that is quick and easy to add into your Houston, Texas itinerary.
20. The Armand Bayou Paddling Trail
Head to Bay Area Park and launch your kayak to take part in a self-guided paddling trail.
The Armand Bayou Paddling Trail gives visitors a glimpse into the native wildlife and plant species that are located around Houston, Texas.
While paddling the trail you will pass through several different ecosystems, making the journey fun and interesting.
Of course, if you want to try your hand at fishing while on the trail, you can do that as well.
This area is known to have bass, trout, redfish, and drum.
21. Galveston Island
Ok, so this is technically in the town of Houston, but it is too close to not visit!
Galveston Island is one of the beaches in Texas that we love.
You can go to Stewart Beach and play in the sand and surf before heading out onto the historic Galveston Island pier for some carnival style games.
Galveston also has a great shopping and historic area called The Strand.
Free Museums & Cultural Centers in Houston
22. Art Car Museum
If you love quirky and fun art installations, the you have to visit the Art Car Museum, also called the “Garage Mahal.”
The art cars here are truly so much fun.
You can see a Derby racer art car that is bejeweled from top to bottom and a car covered in fish and lobsters.
Really, these cars are so unique, you have to see them for yourself.
The best part is that the Art Car Museum offers free admission.
Visit their website to learn more about the exhibit space and operating hours.
23. Houston Police Museum
Another of the free things to do in Houston is to visit the Houston Police Museum.
Here you will find information and historical artifacts related to the Houston, Texas Police Department.
These artifacts include badges, uniforms, and even a full-size police car.
You will find the Houston Police Museum at the entrance to the Houston Police Department Headquarters in downtown Houston.
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24. Tomball Railroad Depot
Head to the Tomball Railroad Depot during the week from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., or on the weekend from noon until 5 p.m. to experience a free tour of the 1907 Depot Museum.
The Tomball Railroad Depot also contains memorabilia, art work, and antiques related to the railroad.
Don’t miss visiting the second Saturday of the month when the Depot comes alive with live music, arts, and an outdoor movie for guests to enjoy.
Please visit their website for more information.
25. Asia Society Texas Center
Located in Houston’s museum district, the Asia Society Texas Center prides itself on focusing on the diverse beauty of all people.
Adding this to your list of free things to do in Houston, TX means that you can enjoy access to their exhibits, events, and education programs.
This Houston museum displays art of all kinds, including modern art, fine art, and contemporary art, this Houston museum is well worth checking out.
Please visit their website for current events, hours, and exhibits.
26. Blaffer Art Museum
Head to the University of Houston campus to visit the Blaffer Art Museum.
This contemporary arts museum prides themselves on showcasing artists and scholars.
Of course, the museum showcases artwork from both local and national artists.
Free admission to this contemporary arts museum is available Wednesday through Sunday.
27. Rothko Chapel
For a unique modern art experience, head to the Houston museum district and visit the Rothko Chapel.
Rothko Chapel is one of the free things to do in Houston that draws thousands of visitors a year to its non-denominational chapel and exhibit center.
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28. Houston Center For Contemporary Craft
The Houston Center for Contemporary craft showcases the artwork of national and local artists and offers free admissions.
Here you can see art is many mediums including metal, glass, clay, and wood.
29. Menil Collection
Head to the Menil Collection as one of your free things to do in Houston and see over 17,000 works of art from cultures around the world!
The Menil Collection showcases the collection of art from John and Dominique de Menil.
When you see the collection , you might find it hard to believe that this is one of the free things in Houston, but it is!
The Menil Collection also offers free parking at their adjacent parking lot.
30. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a traditional Hindu temple that is a true architectural masterpiece and well worth your time while in Houston, Texas.
The soaring towers and the lovely Turkish limestone are marvelous.
While visiting the temple is one of the free things you can do while in Houston, please be aware that the temple has certain guidelines.
31. The Jung Center
The Jung Center is a cultural and philosophical center in Houston, Texas.
The center is dedicated to the teaching of psychiatrist Carl Jung.
Today it is home to free workshops, a rotating art exhibit, and a bookstore.
The art exhibits include works from both local and international artists, and the workshops range from meditation classes to teachings on ethics.
This truly is a little hidden gem in Houston, Texas.
Food and Drinks in Houston, TX
32. Southern Star Brewing Company
If you are a beer lover, then don’t miss the opportunity to visit Southern Star Brewing Company.
Brewing up craft beers and ales, Southern Star is definitely one of the free things to add to your list as they offer up free tastings and tours every Saturday from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.
33. Houston Wine Merchant
Another of the free things in Houston is a free wine tasting thanks to Houston Wine Merchant.
Take note that they only offer this free tasting one weekend per month, so visit their website to ensure you make it at the right time!
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34. Railean Distillery
Make a reservation at Railean Distillery to enjoy a free rum tasting and some free rum cake!
Get all the details here!
Things You Will Only Find In Houston
35. Beer Can House
Yes, you read that correctly, a beer can house!
Head to 222 Malone Street to drive by a house that is made from beer cans!
36. Houston Murals
There are unique and fun murals located all over the city, so grab a map and your camera and head out mural hunting!
37. Project Row Houses
Take time to explore the 22 row houses that call Houston home. Inside the houses you will find different art and photography to pique your interests.
38. Downtown Houston Tunnels
Did you know that there is a whole world underneath the streets in downtown Houston?
It’s true, and you can access the downtown tunnels for free during your time in the city.
Spend time exploring the 95 city blocks of tunnels!
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39. Houston Police Department Horse Barn
Pay a visit to the Houston Police Department Horse Barn and spend a day getting to know the four-legged officers.
40. Houston Greeters
Did you know that you can get a free private tour of the city? It’s true! Thanks to Houston Greeters.
Visit their website to be connected to a local guide.
41. The Bayou Burp
So, this is a little weird, but try it out and see what you think.
Head to 515 Preston Street and press the red bell.
This is supposed to form a big bubble in the bayou. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, kids seem to find it very entertaining.
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About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.