A girl poses in front of the Houston skyline. Right: A view of the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern.

A girl poses in front of the Houston skyline. Right: A view of the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern.

There aren't a lot of free things to do in Houston, but as a lifelong Houstonian, I've probably done them all.

I went to the University of St. Thomas in Montrose and lived quite literally in the middle of the city, so as a college student I, of course, needed to find ways to spend my time for as little money as possible.

Each Thursday, I would take advantage of free admission into one of Houston's many museums. I’ve sat at the Waugh Drive Bridge just waiting to view the infamous bats with no avail, and I've been to nearly every pop-up market at Discovery Green. The list could go on, and on, but what do I think is actually worth it?

Here's a full-proof list of seven Houston-area things to do that a real local thinks are worth your time.

Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Address: 105 Sabine Street, Houston, TX 77007

Why You Need To Go: This old reservoir is quickly becoming an iconic monument in the Bayou City, however it's not so mainstream just yet, so visit before there are too many tourists to enjoy. The Cistern is free to the public on the first Thursdays of every month, and still require a reservation.

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Shangri La Gardens

Address: 601 Green Ave. Orange, TX 77630

Why You Need To Go: Like its namesake, Shangri La is a short escape from inner-loop life. There are so many cool photo opportunities, and things to explore. My favorite are the Hanging Gardens overflowing with flowers cascading over pots and stone terraces, and the crystal blue water at the Pond of the Blue Moon.

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The Menil Collection

Address: 1533 Sul Ross St. Houston, TX 77006

Why You Need To Go: There's free art on view Wednesday - Sunday. The star-studded cast of exhibits is ever-changing. I recommend checking out the Meret Oppenheim: My Exhibition on display until September 25.

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Glenwood Cemetary

Address: 2525 Washington Ave., Houston, Texas 77007

Why You Need To Go: 88 acres of peaceful greenspace, smack dab in the middle of Houston. The only caveat? There might be some spirits lurking around.

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Second Saturday at Sawyer Yards

Address: 2101 Winter St, Houston, TX 77007

Why You Need To Go: Every second Saturday of each month Sawyer Yards opens its artist studios to the public. There's literally so much to do. Peruse local Houston art in the studios, find some artisan goods at The Market, or grab a beer at the nearby breweries.

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The Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park

Address: 6000 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030

Why You Need To Go: These are some of the best kept gardens in the city. So. many. flowers. Cherry blossoms, azaleas, and crepe myrtles, to be exact. It's one of the most peaceful spots in HTX.

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Downtown Houston's Underground Tunnels

Address: Multiple locations.

Why You Need To Go: It doesn't get more eerily liminal than these halls 20 feet below downtown. There's really no other place like these 95 blocks of tunnels to explore in Houston. Oh, and did we mention there's some restaurants and shops along the way?

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