It’s hard to do things around the city if your bank account is screaming for you to stay inside. Lucky for you, we gathered a list of great (and free) Houston hot spots that all Houstonians and tourists are sure to enjoy. Whether you want to do something outdoors or are looking for something to do inside to avoid the Houston heat, one (or all) of these free spots will get that local wanderlust fulfilled.
So if you’re looking for something to do around Houston on a budget, check out one or all of these wallet-friendly activities. Bring a friend and appreciate the city more than you already do. You don't have to spend the big bucks to have fun.
The Menil Collection
Where: 1533 Sul Ross Street
This internationally renowned museum consists of over 15,000 works of art dating from the Paleolithic era. Tucked away on a residential culdesac, The Menial Collection exhibits a variety of art in several buildings. From art pieces ranging from Matisse to Picasso to Warhol, be prepared to spend a full day here. Also, Beyonce and Jay-Z cosigned this place with many photos. So it just screams cool, are we right?
Where: 1500 McKinney Street
Located right in downtown Houston is this 12-acre public park. Whether you want to walk the trails, attend a free exercise class, attend their weekly farmers’ market, admire the public art pieces or just lay out and have a picnic, Discovery Green is the perfect place to do as much or as little as you want. There’s also free WiFi so you can even catch up on the latest episode of your current Netflix binge while basking in the sun.
JP Morgan Chase Tower
Where: 600 Travis Street
Get the perfect view of Houston from 879 feet in the sky. Go 60 stories up the JPMorgan Chase Building, the tallest building in Houston, to get a 360 view of H-town.
Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
Where: 2800 Post Oak Blvd
This extravagant water wall is Houston’s most photographed site. This substantial 64-foot fountain has water rushing down inside and outside its walls. It pumps more than 78,000 gallons of recycled water every three hours.
It’s a perfect place to take photos for any event and it's also the ideal place to just relax and find your inner peace. Woosah all those worries away.
The Contemporary Arts Museum
Where: 5216 Montrose Blvd
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents the best and most exciting art from around the world. Check every now and then on their calendar on what to expect as their exhibits and lectures change often. They also have a shop filled with unique books and gifts.
Art Car Museum
Where: 140 Heights Blvd
This one-of-a-kind car museum is dedicated to contemporary art. Known as the “Garage Mahal,” you will see a variety of unique and expressive art cars you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll find Fords and Cadillacs like you’ve never seen before.
The place is filled with vehicles that have been transformed into things like a Christmas rocket, a giant Easter bunny, and a ride decked out in a full-blown floral pattern, you won’t be disappointed.
Blaffer Art Museum
Where: 4173 Elgin Street
Blaffer Art Museum is a space for the University of Houston’s visual arts and contemporary culture works. It provides a space for emerging, and underrepresented artists. If you appreciate art in all its forms, including underrated pieces, you’d appreciate this place. It's free to roam and they also offer free tours for groups of 10 or more.
Eleanor Tinsley Park
Where: 500 Allen Parkway
If you’re looking for a relaxing day, Eleanor Tinsley Park is the perfect place to be. You can set up a picnic under one of the shade-giving trees while appreciating the Houston skyline, or take a stroll through one of its many trails. One thing is for sure, there’s nothing more beautiful than the stunning view of downtown Houston from this park.
James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace
Where: 6100 Main Street
The Twilight Epiphany is a grass-covered pyramid that is covered by a 72 square foot roof. It’s a beautiful sight, with illuminated LED lights acting as a frame to the ceiling.
The lights change colors with the natural light, making a reflective interaction with the natural world. Stop by during one of their light shows or come when the sun is about to set or rise for an even more special treat.
Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark
Where: 103 Sabine Street
This is for all the skaters out there who love to shred (or people looking to watch others do the shredding). The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is filled with different quarter pipes, handrails, and even has a kidney pool to conquer, all while having the perfect view of the Houston skyline.
It was designed by premier skatepark firm Gridline and is the first world-class, in-ground skatepark in the whole region. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner, the park has something all skaters will enjoy. Don’t forget your helmet!
Miller Outdoor Theatre
Where: 6000 Hermann Park Drive
Miller Outdoor Theatre offers the most diverse entertainment of any Houston performance venue. Whether you are into classical music, jazz, ballets, Shakespeare, or classic films, they will have it. Bring a blanket, a few snacks and relax under the covered seating area. Just make sure you don’t bring any glass containers or bottles.
Project Row Houses
Where: 2521 Holman Street
Project Row Houses is exactly what it sounds like, a row of houses. Except these houses are more than just houses. They’re on a street consisting of 22 renovated shotgun-style homes.
Ten of the 22 houses showcase art, photography and literary projects dedicated to the history and cultural issues of Houston's African-American community. The other houses are dedicated to art for young mothers. Each house brings a vision of an artist that will leave you in awe.
Waugh Drive Bridge
One of the city’s best-kept secrets lies underneath the Waugh Drive Bridge. While you may think a bunch of bats flying out under a bridge doesn’t seem exciting, wait until you actually see it. A colony of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge nightly and creates a view unlike any other.
Tip: Don’t bring a flashlight or use flash when taking photos. Remember, bats prefer the dark.
Where: 4501 Woodway Drive
Located in Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum is the perfect solution to escaping the hustle and bustle of big city life. Walk the scenic trails, check out the interactive exhibits, and appreciate the outdoors and all the plants that go along with it. The best part about the Houston Arboretum is that the more times you go, the more you will discover.
Houston’s Version of Chicago’s Bean
Where: The Museum of Fine Arts
We all know Chicago has that metallic bean that everyone and their mother has a picture of. Did you know that Houston has one too? Designed and made by the same artist, Houston's version of Chicago's famous Bean is similar except for the fact that it's standing tall.
Named the "Cloud Column," it looks less like a bean and more like an elongated egg. Still equally (or even more) cool. It may not be as popular as Chicago's statue, but in its defense, it is a recent addition to the Museum of Fine Arts' domain.
The Rothko Chapel
Where: 3900 Yupon Street
If you need a space for inspiration, Rothko Chapel is your place. Through art and contemplation, you’ll immediately feel at peace once stepping foot in this intimate sanctuary.
No matter what faith or place you come from, Rothko Chapel will feel like home. The chapel has become a known place for peace, freedom and social justice. The best part about it? It’s 100% free.
An outdoor theater, a butterfly exhibit, a museum, and many many picnic spaces. Hermann Park seems to have it all. Home to the zoo, beautiful gardens, and one of the first desegregated public golf courses in the United States. There’s something for everyone.
In terms of looking for something free to do, Hermann Park has plenty to offer. From beautiful lakes to walking scenic trails, you are bound to find something fun to do within its 445 acres.
Beer Can House
Where: 222 Malone Street
The Beer Can House is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a house made of beer cans. Hanging from the roof edges or dangling from the ceiling, a man by the name of John Milkovisch decided to cover his house with empty beer cans. The house and landscape consist of every type of beer that John himself drank. Ripley’s Believe It or Not estimates that over 50,000 cans make up this unique monument. It's no cost to explore so why wouldn't you want to check it out?
The Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern
Where: 105 Sabine Street
A vast concrete cistern that once held 15 million gallons of drinking water is now free for you to explore and find quiet refuge for relaxation and reflection. The city was preparing to demolish the space when they decided to keep it as another unique Houston hot spot. While they did add an entrance tunnel, the cistern remains unchanged.
If going underground into an enclosed space isn’t really your cup of tea, the Cistern gives you the option to view the space from above like an interactive art installation. With added lights and sounds, space actually turns out to be a great photo opp.
Sam Houston Boat Tour
Where: 7300 Clinton Drive
Educational AND free. What more can you ask for? Cruising along the Houston Ship Channel, the Sam Houston boat tour is 90 minutes of pure educational fun. If you’re into sightseeing and views of international cargo vessels, this will be heaven on earth for you. The tour offers air-conditioned lounge seating and an additional standing room on the boat’s rear deck.