Fun and Free Things to do in Houston With Kids

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by Christina Whitworth

Houston is a big city, and even though I’ve lived in the area my whole life–moving here and there on the North, West, and now East side–I still feel like I haven’t seen all there is to offer in this town! There are so many things to do with kids. As a parent, the first thing that I think of when I want to know about activities for kids is, “What’s free?” My favorite fun and free activity with my family in Houston is definitely the Miller Outdoor Theatre. The Miller Outdoor Theatre has fantastic productions designed for kids scheduled on weekdays and on Saturdays March through the month of October.  It amazes me when people say that they don’t know about this entertainment venue—it’s one of the best free activities for kids in Houston! We have enjoyed many picnics on the green, while unbeknownst to our children, they were being introduced to culture.

Afterwards or sometimes even during the performance, we would do cartwheels or roll down the hill that faces the museum on the other side. The Houston Zoo is right behind the theatre, which while pricey also offers a free day. Every Tuesday afternoon they offer free admission to the zoo September through May from noon until closing time. My family has also invested in a yearly zoo pass a few times, and we’ve really enjoyed that flexibility. There are so many activities at the zoo that we can never do it all.  Just in the Children’s Zoo area they have live animal shows, a petting zoo, a playground, a bat cave, a bug house, and a swap shop.  My kids love taking part in their nature swap program. They can bring in cool things they find in nature like rocks, shells, fossils, etc. and trade them in for other items at the Naturally Wild Swap Shop. In my office I actually have a snake skin my son recently found awaiting our next visit!

The Houston Museum of Natural Sciences across the street also offers free days during holiday and summer hours.  Every Thursday from 2 until closing time admission to the permanent exhibits.  Right now they have exhibits on amber from the Dinosaur Age, Gemstone Carvings, Life on the Amazon River, La Virgen de Guadalupe, and Touraline Treasures.  The planetarium and butterfly center there are magical for the kids.

Another fun activity is  Hermann Park.  My kids love the train that takes you all over the park and you can visit  each avenue.  You can buy tickets for $3.50 or buy an all day pass for $7. It is on our bucket list to do the paddle boats one day in the future. We are waiting till we don’t have one in a stroller.  There are also some fun fountains at The Pioneer Memorial that your children can play in for free!   I can’t wait till next year because I just discovered that they have a free Japanese festival right around the reflection pool!  Every year in the spring there is a huge celebration at Hermann Park highlighting various food and activities that are part of Japanese culture.  We missed it this year, but it will be on my calendar next year!

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What fun and free activities have you discovered in Houston?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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