14 Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Houston

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Houston, Texas is the largest city in the Lone Star State with a long list of top attractions. But H-Town also has much to offer travelers for those on a budget. Explore the great parks found in the city, go on a free boat ride or hit up the awesome museums found here. You don’t have to spend much money to have a great time in Houston. Make the best out of your tight budget and your time in the Bayou City by experiencing these budget-friendly things to do in Houston.

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Discovery Green
Discovery Green

Discovery Green

What Is It? Spending time exploring Discovery Green is absolutely free.

Why Do It? This 12-acre urban park in downtown Houston has two acres of lawn space, making it a perfect picnic spot. Kids will enjoy the playground and the splash pad here too. 

Good to Know: During the summer, also find free yoga classes held here along with free live music and outdoor movies.

Bat Colony at the Waugh Drive Bridge
Bat Colony at the Waugh Drive Bridge

Bat Colony at the Waugh Drive Bridge

What Is It? Austin isn’t the only Texas city home to a bat colony. 

Why Do It? During the summertime, head to the Waugh Drive Bridge at dusk to catch nearly 250,000 bats fly out for their nightly feast on bugs. 

Good to Know: The Mexican free-tailed bats actually reside here all year long, versus other Texas bat colonies that migrate south during the winter months.

Art Car Museum
Art Car Museum

Art Car Museum

What Is It? Coined the Garage Mahal by locals, the Art Car Museum offers free admission during operating hours Wednesday through Sunday. 

Why Do It? Perfect for both car and art lovers, the Art Car Museum features elaborate art cars, cars made from unique objects, and exhibits featuring paintings, sculptures and other works of art. 

Good to Know: The art cars were painted and craft by both local and international artists.

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

What Is It? This 155-acre green space is free to the public every day of the week. 

Why Do It? Enjoy five miles of trails and peruse different gardens at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. 

Good to Know: No matter if you visit here for a jog or picnic, don’t miss out on the Discovery Room, which has hands-on activities and regularly hosts classes and programs.

The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection

The Menil Collection

What Is It? Art lovers on a budget should head to The Menil Collection, which is home to one of the largest private art exhibits in the nation. 

Why Do It? There are approximately 17,000 art pieces housed here, varying from paintings to sculptures. 

Good to Know: Many hours can be spent exploring the galleries at The Menil Collection, which feature both permanent exhibits and rotating, temporary ones too.

Miller Outdoor Theater
Miller Outdoor Theater

Miller Outdoor Theater

What Is It? On the weekends from March to October, head to the Miller Outdoor Theater for a free show. 

Why Do It? Shows vary from children’s plays to live music to theatrical dramas. Visitors typically sit on the lawn and admission is always free. 

Good to Know: Bring a blanket and snacks while you enjoy a live show in the middle of downtown Houston in Hermann Park.

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park

What Is It? Your Instagram needs a shot of the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. 

Why Do It? This horseshoe-shaped water wall in Uptown is 64 feet high. Although this water wall is beautiful any time of day, visit during the night when the wall is lit up. 

Good to Know: This unique structure has been a Houston staple since 1983.

Lawndale Art Center
Lawndale Art Center

Lawndale Art Center

What Is It? View incredible contemporary art created by local artists at Lawndale Art Center. 

Why Do It? Not only see incredible works of art but also catch live performances, pictures, movie screenings and various events at this downtown arts center.

Good to Know: Lawndale is open to the public and is always free.

Buffalo Bayou Park
Brazos river and Houston Downtown at Buffalo Bayou park

Buffalo Bayou Park

What Is It? Houston isn’t called the Bayou City for no reason. Experience Houston’s bayou at Buffalo Bayou Park. 

Why Do It? This a great place to take a stroll or even visit the dog park with your furry friend. 

Good to Know: A unique feature of the park is that visitors can make the bayou “burp.” Known as the “The Big Bubble,” push the red button on a brick pillar near the bridge on Preston Street.

Downtown Tunnels
Downtown Houston Tunnel System

Downtown Tunnels

What Is It? Head below the surface to explore Houston’s underground tunnels. 

Why Do It? This six-mile area that spans 95 blocks features both restaurants and shops that lie 20 feet underground. 

Good to Know: You’re gonna need some cash if you’d like to go shopping. But simply window shopping this unique underground mall is absolutely free.

Beer Can House
Beer Can House

Beer Can House

What Is It? The Beer Can House is an attraction that truly makes Houston unique. 

Why Do It? This H-town house is covered in approximately 50,000 flattened beer cans. 

Good to Know: The owner of the house started covering his home with beer cans in 1968. Now the house is considered a prominent folk art attraction in Houston.

Rothko Chapel
Rothko Chapel

Rothko Chapel

What Is It? If you’re looking for some solitude or a great place to meditate or prayer, visit the Rothko Chapel.

Why Do It? This public chapel features murals from the artist Mark Rothko.

Good to Know: Found in Houston’s Museum District, teh Rothko Chapel is open every day of the year.

Sam Houston Boat Tour
Sam Houston Boat Tour

Sam Houston Boat Tour

What Is It? Explore the Houston Ship Channel on a free 90-minute boat ride on the Sam Houston Boat Tour. 

Why Do It? Enjoy complimentary drinks while you stroll on the deck or enjoy the ride in the air-conditioned seating area. This charter boat is 95 feet long and holds up to 100 passengers. 

Good to Know: This charter boat is 95 feet long and holds up to 100 passengers. 

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

What Is It? Get crafty at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Why Do It? This institution features art made with craft materials like wood, fibers, clay, and glass. The next best thing besides the crafty artwork here is the free admission. 

Good to Know: Here you can make your own craft or simply browse the exhibits and gift shops.