Find free & cheap summer activities for kids

free summer activities for kids in houston 2013 discovery green fountains

School is out and the kids are already getting restless. Houston has great free summer activities to help pass the long summer days. Discover our free summer activities for kids in Houston, along with a few almost-free extras.

UPDATE (September 9, 2013): Find free and cheap fall activities for kids in Houston.

Learn Something

Most museums have designated free admission days. It’s a perfect opportunity to explore the acclaimed Houston Museum District. Here are some great options for families.

  • Health Museum – Get an inside look at our bodies when you stand inside a gigantic rib cage at the Health Museum. This museum is rich with hands on exhibits and houses the McGovern 4D theater. Free Thursdays 2pm to 5pm
  • The Children’s Museum of Houston – Find an activity for all ages. Children are in charge at Kidtropolis, where they can choose to be a veterinarian, a postal worker, or master the stock exchange. The younger ones can run amuck at the Tot Spot and enjoy a world made at their eye level. Free Thursdays 5pm to 8pm.
  • Houston Museum of Fine Arts – Stop by the front desk and grab a family pack to guide you through the museum. It will help spark conversation about the art you see. Free Thursday 10am to 9pm and kids with a public library card are free on weekends.
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science – Roar with the dinosaurs in the new Paleontology Hall at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  The African safari exhibit is fierce and the gems sparkle. It’s free on Thursday from 3pm to 6pm.
  • The Art Car Museum – For the creative kids or the car enthusiast, this is the place for contemporary art and, of course, art cars. Admission is free but check their site for changing summer hours.

Get Outside

Slap sunscreen on the kids and enjoy these free outdoor summer activities in Houston.

  • Buffalo Bayou – Teach your kids the finer points of disc throwing at the Buffalo Bayou disc golf course. The Bayou has over 50 miles of waterways and you can catch a boat tour if everyone in your family is over four years old. It’s $7 for adults and $5 for kids ages 4 to 12.
  • Trader’s Village – Dance to the music of the free concerts at Traders Village. Houston’s largest flea market has 100 acres of booths. They host music and festivals each weekend and have rides, food, and a fun atmosphere.
  • Heritage Society – Get back to your roots with the Heritage Society. Some of the oldest buildings in Houston have been relocated to this site. It’s quite the experience to view these historic structures in the shadows of the shiny new skyscrapers of today. Open Tuesday to Sunday and always free. Guided tours available for $15 for adults, $6 for kids 6 to 18, and 5 and under are free.
  • Waugh Bridge Bat Colony – Watch the Mexican free-tailed bats take flight. During the summer season 250,000 bats exit the bridge en mass to search for insects. Turn it into an educational outing with facts and information about the little creatures. You can find facts at the bottom of official website.
  • Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark – Have your kids show off their skills while they skate on, in, and above  the 30,000 square foot park. Free admission with various summer hours. Helmets required.
  • Discovery Green (pictured above) – There’s always something happening on the Green. Night time summer movie series, select days designated as Toddler Time throughout the summer, kayak on Kinder Lake, or Flea by Night. Whether it’s fun in the water or on land, Houston’s favorite downtown family destination park has it all.
  • The Splash Pad at Ervan Chew Park – In addition to the dog park, playscapes for toddlers and for big kids, ball fields, and a basketball court, Ervan Chew offers up a splash pad, a large ground level fountain that kids can run through and wear themselves out while parents watch from a close but dry distance. Think of it as a Texas-sized take on the sprinkler in the yard.

Relax in Air-Conditioning

Escape the heat and humidity with these fun and free (or cheap) activities for the kiddos.

  • Summer Children’s Series at Studio Movie Grill – Take in a kid’s flick with your family and enjoy deep discounts.  Shows are weekdays at 11am and tickets are just $2 for adults and $1 for kids.
  • Kids Bowl Free at Bowling Lanes across Greater Houston – Take part in this national campaign by signing your kids up for two free games every day this summer at local bowling centers around Houston and neighboring cities.
  • Sam Houston Boat Tour of the Port of Houston – Cruise around the port in air-conditioned style while you sit back, relax, and watch the buzz of the port from the water. The boat ride is free but requires reservations.
  • Houston Public Library – It’s easy overlook the public libraries in a city with so many attractions, but don’t forget these little gems. Each neighborhood library has special summer programs for kids of all ages that are free or very low cost. Some events include petting zoos, live crocodile and lizard visits, and gymboree.
  • Apple Camp – Learn how to use your Apple gadget at Apple Camp. Kids ages 8 to 12 can learn everything about iMovie for free over a  three-day camp at the Apple Stores.

Did we miss your favorite free summer activities for kids in Houston? Comment below and we’ll add it to our growing list!

Summer Activities for Kids in Houston 2013 photo credit: Mitchell Chuoke Plumbing

7 COMMENTS

    • Hi Sarah, we just checked with the park and they’ve just switched Toddler Time from being a regularly scheduled event to happening only on select days. There will be more coming up, but they are not announced yet. We’ll keep our eyes on it and post here with any updates. In the meantime, we’d still encourage you to take your toddler to the park to run around the Mist Tree on a weekday morning.

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