Houston, Texas is the largest city in the Lone Star State. Therefore H-Town has much to offer travelers, especially 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 13 budget-friendly things to do in Houston.
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Spending time exploring Discovery Green is absolutely free. 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. 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
Austin isn’t the only Texas city home to a bat colony. 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. 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
Coined the Garage Mahal by locals, the Art Car Museum offers free admission during operating hours Wednesday through Sunday. 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. The art cars were painted and craft from both local and international artists.
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
This 155-acre green space is free to the public every day of the week. Enjoy five miles of trails and peruse different gardens at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. 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
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. There are approximately 17,000 art pieces housed here, varying from paintings to sculptures. 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
On the weekends from March to October, head to the Miller Outdoor Theater for a free show. Shows vary from children’s plays to live music to theatrical dramas. Visitors typically sit on the lawn and admission is always free. 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
Your Instagram needs a shot of the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. This horseshoe-shaped water wall in Uptown is 64 feet high. Although this water wall is beautiful anytime of day, visit during the night when the wall is lit up. This unique structure has been a Houston staple since 1983.
Lawndale Art Center
View incredible contemporary art created by local artists at Lawndale Art Center. Lawndale is open to the public and is always free. Not only see incredible works of art but also catch live performances, pictures, movie screenings and various events at this downtown arts center.
Buffalo Bayou Park
Houston isn’t called the Bayou City for no reason. Experience Houston’s bayou at Buffalo Bayou Park. This a great place to take a stroll or even visit the dog park with your furry friend. 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.
Head below the surface to explore Houston’s underground tunnels. This six mile area that spans 95 blocks features both restaurants and shops that lie 20 feet underground. 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
The Beer Can House is an attraction that truly makes Houston unique. This H-town house is covered in approximately 50,000 flattened beer cans. 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. A tour of the grounds is $5.
If you’re looking for some solitude or a great place to meditate or prayer, visit the Rothko Chapel found in Houston’s Museum District. This public chapel features murals from the artist Mark Rothko. Rothko chapel is open every day of the year.
Sam Houston Boat Tour
Explore the Houston Ship Channel on a free 90-minute boat ride on the Sam Houston Boat Tour. This charter boat is 95 feet long and holds up to 100 passengers. Enjoy complimentary drinks while you stroll on the deck or enjoy the ride in the air-conditioned seating area.
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Get crafty at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. 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. Here you can make your own craft or simply browse the exhibits and gift shops.