Free Things to Do in Houston, with Kids! (2019 Edition)
Looking for some free fun in Houston? This list of well over 50 free things to do, should help get you started!
Scroll to the bottom for a map. And tell us your favorite FREE things to do around Houston!
Free All Over Houston:
- Check out all the Parks in Houston. There are hundreds to explore!
- Find a FREE Indoor Playground! There are a dozen of completely free, and air conditioned spots to play!
- Visit the 20+ City Splashpads.
- Find a free Pool. The pools are open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- Participate in Houston Library Programs. There are free events all year and a great Summer Reading Program.
- Take a self guided Mini Mural tour!
- Take a self guided Mural tour!
- Visit a Houston Fire Station.
- Find a Farmer’s Market.
Free in Downtown:
- Explore the miles of Tunnels under the city.
- Find the Big Bubble in Buffalo Bayou. ( (12/30/19 Update: The bubble hasn’t been working every day, but there are plenty of other fun things to do!)
- Tour the Julia Ideson Library. (Rumor is that it’s haunted.)
- Visit the Houston Police Museum
- Visit Discovery Green and Avenida Houston. Be sure to check the calendar for tons of free events and bring a swim suit for the splashpad.
- Visit Market Square Park.
- Visit Sam Houston Park.
- Visit Sisters of Charity Park. This park does not have a playground… but it’s the most surprising thing you’ll find in Downtown Houston. Lush gardens, winding paths, tunnels, water and the coolest table you ever saw.
- Walk, bike or run along Buffalo Bayou.
- Find another Downtown Park
- Ride METRORail (FREE for kids under 5, cheap for everyone else)
Good to know in Downtown:
- The Downtown Aquarium frequently has buy one get one free coupons for Tuesdays in the summer and Saturdays in September. Look at their website and Facebook page before you go. (See our past posts with tips HERE.)
- The Theater District has an annual free open house, just as school is starting in the fall. Open House features free behind-the-scenes experiences, performance previews and interactive activitieand special ticket and subscription, offers.
- Look on affiliate Groupon and Goldstar for discounted theater tickets all year.
- Become an Astros Buddy for For $30 and get a backpack, baseball cap, socks, lanyard and tickets to select Astros home games. Members of the Buddies Club also have the opportunity to be selected for exclusive opportunities throughout the season.
- Metered street parking is free on Sundays and each night after 6:00pm.
Free in the Museum District:
- Visit Hermann Park and walk/bike the trails, play at the playgrounds and splash in the water. Be sure to stop by the Centennial Gardens and Japanese Gardens.
- Uncover secrets at Rice University. There is art and hidden messages everywhere!
- Watch a show at Miller Outdoor Theater. There are daytime and evening shows… and all are free. In the evening, seats usually require a free ticket (available early in the day).
- Ride METRORail (FREE for kids under 5, cheap for everyone else)
- Visit the Houston Zoo – FREE first Tuesday of every month (except summer time)
- Visit the Asia Society Texas Center.
- Visit the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
- Visit the Holocaust Museum Houston during free hours (on Sundays in temporary locations). Students are free everyday.
- Visit Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Also look for the free Hands-On Houston event the first Saturday of each month!
- Visit the Houston Museum of African American Culture.
- Visit the Lawndale Art Center.
- Visit the The Jung Center of Houston.
- Visit the Children’s Museum of Houston – FREE Thursday afternoons.
- Visit The Health Museum – FREE Thursday afternoons.
- Visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science – FREE Thursday afternoons.
- Visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – FREE general admission Thursday all day. Kids under 12 are always free.
Good to know in the Museum District:
- Parking is free in several spots by Hermann Park. Look by the Houston Zoo, Centennial Gardens and by the traffic circle. Paid parking is available at the Children’s Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science.
- If you check out a free Flip Kit from the Houston Public Library and complete the parent survey, you can get 4 free tickets to the Children’s Museum of Houston!
- If you have a membership to many of the museums or zoos, you can get free or discounted admission to museums all around the world. And if you have a membership to museums/zoos in other cities, they will work in Houston too. Get the details HERE!
- Look on affiliate Groupon and Goldstar for discounted museum tickets all year.
Free in Montrose/Midtown:
- Visit The Menil Collection & Campus. You can tour several buildings and run at the park.
- Stop by Rothko Chapel.
- Visit Houston Center for Photography.
- Go to the University of St. Thomas. Strollers can be seen frequently on this small campus. Find the labyrinth by the church and let the kids wander through.
- Go to the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony dusk. Hundreds of thousands of bats emerge at dusk!
- Explore Buffalo Bayou Park. Walk, run or bike through the trails, play at the nature playscape and skate at the skatepark.
- Tour Bethel Church Park. Just look at this old church!
- Play at Midtown Park. There is room to run, a playground and a splashpad.
Free in Heights/Washington Ave:
- Visit Donovan Park. This wooden fortress is a favorite!
- Visit the Art Car Museum.
- Visit Travis Spark Park and climb on dinosaur bones!
Free in Greenway/ Upper Kirby/
- Go to Levy Park! There is a great playground, splashpad and lots of room to play. Look at the calendar for lots of free events!
- Visit Waterwall Park! See the 64-foot semi-circular fountain that re-circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute.
Free in River Oaks:
- Visit River Oaks Park. This pumpkin carriage park is a favorite!
Good to know in River Oaks:
- The Rienzi Museums is not free… but on family days you can tour the gardens and participate in the activities for free!
Free in Memorial/Rice Military:
- Check out the Beer Can House! It’s free to look from the street. A self guided tour is $5 (and kids are free).
- Visit the Houston Arboretum. Walk the trails and play at the Discovery Room!
- Visit Memorial Park. Run or bike on the smooth trails or hike the more difficult trails. Stay to play at the playground!
Good to know in Memorial/Rice Military:
- The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is not free… but on family days you can tour the gardens and participate in the activities for free!
Free in Bellaire/West University/ Southside:
- Visit the Nature Discovery Center. Walk the trails, play at the playground or enjoy the nature discovery rooms.
- Visit Fire Truck Park. It’s a favorite!
Free in East End/Third Ward/UH:
- Visit Smither Park. Enjoy the mosaics all over the park. The Orange Show is next door… and is $5 to tour (and free for kids).
- Tour the Port of Houston. Make a reservation to tour one of the busiest ship channels in the world!
Good to Know in East End/Third Ward/UH:
- The Maritime Museum is not always free, but it is free on Family Days!
Free in North Houston:
- Feed Mounted Patrol Police Horses . This is one of the coolest things to do, for free, around Houston, Bring your own carrots and apples and feed 40 horses. Just check the latest hours before you go.
Free to the South(ish) of Houston:
(South is pretty broad… Southeast, Southwest and South!)
- Visit the Ninja Warrior Course in Pearland! Play at the
Tom Bass Park, Section 3, Challenge Course!
- Visit BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Stafford. The Mandir is the first traditional Hindu Mandir of its kind in North America and is made from 33,000 pieces of Italian marble and Turkish limestone… and it is open to visitors, for free, 9:00am-8:00pm daily
- Visit Sylvan Beach. Play at the playground, dig in the sand and splash in the water.
- Visit Clear Lake Park. This huge park is right on the water and has four big playgrounds (with amazing equipment), a splashpad, picnic pavilions, sports fields, a museum and more!
- Visit Surfside. Play at the beach!
- Visit Galveston. Play at lots of beaches, for free, in Galveston.
Free to the North(ish) of Houston:
- Visit the Tomball Railroad Depot. Splash at the splashpad, tour the depot and climb on the caboose.
- Visit the Water Works Museum! Schedule a tour for your group.
Good to Know in Houston:
- There are free events happening everyday in Houston. Find the full event list HERE (which includes many free things to do)!
- For ideas on what to do in Houston each week, sign up for this FREE NEWSLETTER!