Hello, Houston! In the largest city in Texas (and fourth largest in the United States), you bet your bonnet there’s a ton to do and see with the kids. Enjoy the sunshine at a gorgeous park, dip into the cool A/C of a museum, or hop on board a boat tour around the area. Fun free activities for kids are endless when you visit Houston.
Vacationing with family can certainly add up, which is why we’re here to help. Check out our guide to the top free things to do in Houston with kids. Everything is bigger in Texas—including savings, if you’re doing it right.
There are so many free museums in Houston, which makes it easy and affordable to experience arts and culture up close. We don’t have enough ink to write about them all. But if we had to point you to a few kid-friendly favorites, these are some top picks:
- The Houston Museum of African Culture features art and think pieces around the African American experience. Admission is free, but note that they’re closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Sundays.
- The Houston Center for Photography is another eye-grabbing attraction, featuring free admission.
- Don’t miss the Children’s Museum Houston. This interactive science museum offers free family night every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.
- Looking for a museum that will wow and excite your whole family? Roll on over to the Art Car Museum, a contemporary art venue that challenges your ideas about what art is supposed to look like. Plus, it’s fun!
Go to one museum, or see them all! When they’re all free, it’s easier to explore.
2. Waugh Bridge Bat Colony
Do you have a little Wednesday Addams on your hands? She’s going to love the bat colony under Waugh Drive Bridge! These Mexican free-tailed bats come out at night to feed on the buzzing insects around the area. Perch the family on the bat observation deck in Buffalo Bayou Park for the best viewing location. Friendly tip: Loud voices can alter the bats’ behavior. Remind the kiddos to keep the noise down as much as possible.
3. Water Wall
Need a good spot for a new family picture? Making a stop at the Water Wall is one of the top free Houston activities. The 64-foot U-shaped fountain is absolutely stunning and one of the most popular spaces for photography. Stand in the middle to feel a refreshing mist surrounded by a stunning cascade of recycled water. Plus, there’s a 3-acre park close by, where you can picnic with the kids or take a break under the shady trees.
4. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
When you want to get in touch with nature, head to one of the best free attractions in Houston: the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. The center includes several winding trails and green spaces, including the Carol Tatkon Sensory Garden, where you can touch and smell the plants around you. Admission is always free, but check the arboretum calendar for nighttime family events, where you can enjoy evening hikes and up-close encounters with animals like owls.
5. Sam Houston Boat Tour
Houston isn’t often thought of as a boating kind of town, but it’s actually a really important port city in the country. Learn some fast facts about the port’s history when you board the free Sam Houston Boat Tour that lasts 90 minutes and takes you around the channel.
6. Discovery Green
Discovery Green is the hot spot for fun free things to do in Houston with kids. The enormous park includes trails, playgrounds, restaurants, spaces for live music, and tall fountains to run through when the weather’s hot. You never know what you might see when you walk through the Green—including fitness classes. Join a free community fitness class for the whole family. You’ll have to get everyone out of bed pretty early, but yoga, Zumba, and hoop dancing are a fun way to start the day.
7. Miller Outdoor Theatre
Check the calendar when you’re in town, because Miller Outdoor Theatre has a revolving door of top-rated performances. In fact, the theater often puts on some of the best free events in Houston. On any given day, you might catch jazz concerts, Shakespeare productions, ballet shows, classic films, and more.
8. Buffalo Bayou Park
Enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery at Buffalo Bayou Park, located near downtown Houston. This long green space surrounds the rushing water of Buffalo Bayou with bike trails, wheelchair-accessible paths, and peaceful places to read a book or play games with the family.
9. First (and Second) Saturday Arts Markets
Locals know all about the best free activities for kids, and you can’t get more local than arts markets. Houston creatives fill the city with color and flavor twice a month! That means you and the youngsters are pretty likely to happen upon local shopping and free sips and bites if you’re in Magnolia City. Every first Saturday, the event takes place in the Houston Heights, and the second Saturday market takes over Sawyer Yards.
10. Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark
When your family needs to burn off some vacation energy and feel adventurous, you don’t have to look far to find free activities for kids in Houston. Located in Eleanor Tinsley Park, Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is a world-class skating venue and entirely free to the public. Pack your skates or skateboard and get ready to rock and roll.
Looking for more ways to save on your trip? Check out these nifty budget-friendly tips for more things to do in Houston.
- The cheapest time to visit Houston is between June and September. Just remember to pack sunscreen and stay hydrated.
- If you’re staying in town awhile, pick up a Houston CityPASS for a bundle of discounts on attractions.
- This is a huge city, so you may enjoy a Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour to get a feel for the sights and cherry-pick your favorites to explore.
- For getting around the city, look into METRO Day passes, which provide unlimited local bus and METRORail rides for a flat fee.
Get to know this exciting city in Texas. From bat colonies to water fountains, you and the kids will find everything you need to have a blast without breaking your budget. And with these tips and our helpful Houston budget travel guide, you won’t have to go broke while traveling.
Header image via f11photo/Shutterstock.com