25 Free Things to do in Houston, TX:
The following free things are located in Hermann Park, near the Museum District.
Insiders Tip: Free parking is available at the large central parking lot in front of the Houston Zoo. Free parking is also available at the golf course clubhouse located at the corner of Almeda and MacGregor and at the Bayou Parkland Pavilion. Get there early, parking fills up fast. There are plenty of paid lots and garage
1. McGovern Centennial Gardens: Max was begging to climb the “big hill” as soon as he saw it from the car window. The grounds are beautiful and perfect for a picnic, and it’s free! The big hill or “mound” as it is called spirals to the top and offers awesome views of the surrounding area. There are multiple gardens including an arid garden, a rose garden, a woodland garden.
2. Miller Outdoor Theatre: While this outdoor theater is great for free hill rolling any day of the week, its hill is better known for enjoying free shows. There is a small section of covered seats that can be purchased, but the hill is the best seat in the house for families. You can pack a picnic and some blankets and come enjoy the show on the lawn. They even allow alcohol, but no glass. They have plays, and concerts and the Houston Symphony plays here too. Check out the calendar to see what shows are coming up!
3. Hermann Park Train: The train takes a two-mile, 18 minute journey around Hermann Park. It departs from Kinder Station every 25 – 30 minutes, and makes 3 stops around the park. The train costs $3.50 per person and 1 and under is free. If you don’t mind splitting up, you can board the train for free at one of the 3 stops and take a ride back to Kinder Station. Everyone must depart at Kinder Station.
Insiders Tip: Pinewood cafe is next door to the train station and has lots of healthy, kid friendly food options including a build your own grilled cheese! Perfect spot for a picnic after a train ride.
The following museums are always free for everyone:
9. Jung Center
12. Rice Gallery
13. Rothko Chapel
The following museums are free on certain days and times. For each museum, I also noted what age gets in for free. If you are a student, teacher or in military there is likely a discounted or even free ticket option.
14. Children’s Museum of Houston – FREE Thursday 5-8 pm | 1 & under always free. When we visited, the museum sold fresh made popcorn in the backyard for $1 a bag. This museum plus the popcorn treat was a big hit for my 3 year old! We could have spent hours here.
15. Houston Museum of Natural Science – FREE Thursdays 2-5 pm | 2 & under always free. Complete with fossils, insects, and gems galore. We love the Butterfly Center where hundreds of butterflies fly around a 50 foot waterfall. If you’re lucky, one will land on your head!
16. Holocaust Museum Houston – FREE Thursday 2-5 pm | 18 & under always free. It is neat to note that all of the docents are decedents of Holocaust victims. They have beautifully moving permanent exhibits and a theater to watch a short film in daily.
17. Houston Museum of African American Culture – FREE Thursday 6-8 pm
18. Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – FREE Thursday 1-5 pm | 5 & under always free
19. Czech Center Museum Houston – FREE last Monday of the month noon-4 pm
20. The Health Museum – FREE Thursday 2-7 pm | 2 & under always free. We did not get a chance to visit this one, but it’s a must do on our next trip! Exhibits feature buttons to push, wheels to turn, items to sort and is incredibly educational about all things body. We guarantee the grown ups will learn something new, too. Plus who doesn’t love the chance to walk inside a giant eyeball?
21. Houston Museum of Natural Science – Permanent Exhibit Halls FREE Thursday 2-5 pm | 2 & under always free
22. The Houston Zoo – FREE admission to guests on the first Tuesday of each month, Sept. through May, from noon until closing. June, July, and August do not have Free Tuesday Afternoons. Also, you still need a ticket for free afternoons. You can get one at the gate or get zoo tickets ahead of time here. | 1 & under always free
23. The Museum of Fine Arts – FREE all day on Thursday | 12 & under always free
24. Houston Bicycle Museum – FREE Thursday 3-6pm | 10 & under always free
Insiders Tip: The Houston Bicycle museum also offers $5 parking all day long. So, if you don’t get a free spot, this is a great deal and very close to the Children’s Museum.
These last 2 are not within walking distance on Hermann Park.
25. Police Museum: It’s free, but only open Monday through Friday. There is an old police car, a police motorcycle, and even a few weapons. Bonus: It’s located inside the police station downtown.
26. Smither Park: A fanciful, functional play land with interactive features including swings, a covered stage, and a marble tower. The park is a mosaic masterpiece made out of materials like broken ceramic, bottle caps, tiles, and sea shells. My favorite part? Every Saturday, you can watch artists create! The park is part of The Orange Show and is open Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day until Labor Day and only weekends after that. It is $5 per person, kids 12 & under are free. The admission also allows entrance to the other Orange Show attractions including the Beer Can House!
Have you ever been to Houston, TX? If you need more fun, family friendly ideas here are 14 more free things to do in Houston, TX.