free-for-all!

14 fun things to do in Houston this summer that are totally free

14 fun things to do in Houston this summer that are totally free

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents Rienzi Fall Lectures
Enjoy a picturesque picnic in the Rienzi Gardens. Photo courtesy of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

As the summer weather gets even hotter (believe it or not), Houstonians — especially parents whose kids are out of school and just wandering around the house, scrolling through Instagram, etc. — are looking for fun activities. We've rounded up some fun events that have some serious added value: they're all free. 

Park life
Discovery Green always has free things offerings, whether it's the monthly, Flea by Night market, various yoga/exercise classes, or special events like the Rainbow on the Green concert this Friday, June 22. Hours are 6 am to midnight daily.

Market Square Park, located in the center of downtown Houston's Historic District, also has free weekly events, including outdoor movie screenings and the monthly Backyard Jams concert series. Hours are 6 am to 11 pm daily.

A night at the museum
The Houston Museum District has a hub of museums (Contemporary Arts Museum, Diverseworks, The Menil Collection, Rice Gallery) that offer free admission times. But the other museums (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Children's Museum of Houston; Houston Museum of Natural Science) also have days where people can get in for free. 

The Art Car Museum is always free for those who want to see the various automobiles that have been creatively souped-up by brilliant artists. It's open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 am to 6 pm.

Kick out the jams
The Houston Symphony has several upcoming events at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion where free mezzanine and lawn seating are available: Star-Spangled Salute (July 3), The Music of David Bowie (July 16), and Blue Suede Tunes (August 30). All shows are at 8 pm. There will also be free symphony shows at Miller Outdoor Theatre — dubbed "Summer Symphony Nights" — on June 22-23, June 29-30, and July 4. All shows are 8:30 pm.

The Four Seasons Hotel has a monthly "Summer Music Festival," where local musicians and DJs entertain folks at the hotel's swanky pool deck. Look for $5 beers and poolside games. It's on the third Friday of every month, from 7 to 10 pm.

Cool camp for kids
Apple Camp is a great option if your kiddo is constantly on their phone. Kids aged eight to 12 can sharpen their skills 90 minutes a day, for three days, at a local Apple Store exploring coding and robotics, moviemaking, or musical storytelling.

At the movies
Premiere Cinemas is screening free kids' movies on certain days, as part of its "Summer Kids Fest." Premiere Renaissance Theater at Greenspoint Mall and Premiere Cinemas Tomball have free flicks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am, while Premiere Cinemas Pearland screens them on Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

Stay in your (bowling) lane
The nationwide Kids Bowl Free program involves bowling alleys all over the country offering two free games every day to registered kids. In Houston, kids can bowl for free at Copperfield Bowl and Emerald Bowl, while Katy kids can go to Times Square Entertainment.

Bounce, skate, roll
The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark has 40,000 square feet for skaters (but not BMX bikers — sorry!). It's near Eleanor Tinsley Park. Plus, you get a nice view of the Houston skyline from the Sabine Street bridge. It's open Mondays through Sundays, 9 am to 10 pm. 

North Houston Skate Park in Spring has 78,000 quare feet of space for people to skate to their hearts' content — and it's always free! It's open on Mondays, Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 am to 10 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 9 pm.

You’re on a boat
The Port Houston Boat Tour sends guests on a free, 90-minute tour of the Port of Houston. You’ll navigate around the seaport while massive ocean freighters and barges cruise by; keep an eye out for tanker surfers who ride the freighter crests. The tour is free but reservations are required.

Reading is fundamental
Houston Public Library is giving children (and adults) the gift of literacy this summer. Branches all over the city will offer free summer reading programs as well as weekly story times and activities. HPL has also partnered with Levy Park for family storytime that happens every Thursday at 10 am.

Rienzi at the MFAH has summer storytime tours, where children will learn about art and literature in an intimate house museum setting. Families can also have a picnic in the Rienzi Gardens following the tours. It's at 10 am on Wednesdays.