Free Activities in Houston: 8 Activities That Won’t Cost a Dime

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like a kid, you couldn’t wait to get older and have the freedom to do whatever you wanted. But chances are we haven’t fully understood what it feels like to be an adult…especially when it comes to finances. As soon as the money is deposited, the bills have to be paid, the groceries purchased, the gas tank filled and, in some cases, there is no surplus left allows for much-needed adventures. But who’s to say you have to spend money to do it?

H-Town is full of events that allow you to coincidently forget your wallet at home. If you’re looking for new free events to attend, we’ve got you covered.

Bring your comfiest lawn chairs to these free outdoor screenings, which take place twice a month in Market Square Park. Enjoy a mix of cult classic comedy films like Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America Where Perfector more recent family movies like Light year and Hotel Transylvania while you enjoy Greek dishes at Niko Niko’s, a stone’s throw from the park. Still looking to be profitable? Bring snacks from home, like your favorite accompaniment to a good movie, buttered popcorn, or something from that candy stash you used to be supposed to save for trick-or-treaters this year.

Join local fitness and wellness instructors during these weekly classes at Discovery Green. Sweat it out in the summer (er, fall) heat of Houston with vinyasa yoga classes on Tuesdays and Saturdays, or break out of your midweek slump with Pilates or HIIT on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Then, find your inner peace with a bit of Tai Chi on Saturday mornings courtesy of the Four Dragons Institute. The variety of exercises offered will keep your body, mind and spirit in better shape than ever, and it all takes place in nature.

No matter your niche, there’s something for everyone at Miller. Take your pick from upcoming and seasonal events like concerts by The Devon Allman Project or Frankie Avalon, performances by Houston Grand Operathe Annual Houston Shakespeare Festival, as well as jazz and Chicano music. Attend the screenings of The Mighty Ducks and Black Pantherand fully improvised, child-friendly musical productions by Express Children’s Theater. As a catch-all location for all things Houston, the theater also celebrates diverse international cultures with productions such as Asia in the worldHouston Pride (the Houston Young Artists Concert featuring local classical child musicians) and everything in between.

Want to walk on the wild side without straying from the forest path? Visit the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, home to 13 walking trails populated by a variety of birds, insects, squirrels, snakes, wildflowers and native trees. Both family-friendly and dog-friendly, these trails come with plenty of learning opportunities. The arboretum offers educational programs that are free for all, including a homeschooling program for ages 5-12, Arboretum After Dark and, for this season, classes that teach you how to make pumpkin planters or gingerbread birdhouses.

Houston’s first public skatepark is home to one of the largest cribs in the country. Occupying 30,000 square feet, there is plenty of space for novice and professional skaters. Whether you’re here to hop on a board yourself or just take in the gravity-defying wonders of Houstonians, the downtown skatepark is great for all ages. Parents can drop the kids off for free after-school skating lessons, or stroll through Skater Alley to check out all the graffiti art (and maybe create one). The park offers all the fun of skateboarding culture, with a Houston twist.

Book a ninety-minute boat tour and celebrate a slice of Houston history on the M/V Sam Houston, Port Houston’s sixty-four-year-old public tour boat whose maiden voyage has begun in 1958. Sip a free drink while touring nearby Texas’ largest port, and maybe wave a wave at passing international cargo ships on the Houston Ship Channel. Learn about the history and day-to-day operations of Port Houston as you relax in the ship’s lounge and admire the blue water. Plus, you never know when you might see a mermaid (or at least a really cool fish).

Want happiness? Need an artistic solution, too? Look no further than the Rothko Chapel. John and Dominique de Menil, co-founders of Houston’s beloved Menil Collection, founded the chapel over fifty years ago, and its presence has not diminished since. It is intended to be an all-inclusive, non-denominational space for visitors to sit and reflect while admiring the masterpieces of renowned abstract artist Mark Rothko. While you’re there, you can’t miss the massive sculpture dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. by world-renowned artist Barnett Newman just outside the building. Visit whenever you need a quiet afternoon or attend one of its special events, usually around issues of social justice, spirituality, art and music, and self-reflection.

When you have a day to yourself and nothing planned, explore the city and take some Instagram-worthy photos. The city is full of hidden gems that make the perfect backdrop for photos that are guaranteed to break the internet. Old industrial buildings are covered in murals of Houston legends such as Bun B, DJ Screw and the late Kobe Bryant.

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Richard V. Johnson