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Exploring Houston on a Budget

Grace Goddard
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Evelyn Stafford, Grace Goddard,

Evelyn Stafford (left) and Grace Goddard (right) enjoy the Skyspace exhibit on a nice evening. (Photo: Olivia Piercy) 

Even though Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, we often find ourselves feeling like there’s nothing to do, especially now that summer is in full swing. Here are some fun and free things that will remind you just how much our city has to offer.  

Miller Outdoor Theatre hosts a wide variety of completely free performances: classical music, ballet, films and more. You can also bring a picnic, lawn chairs or even your pet to help you enjoy the show. Gloria Gardner, West U resident and incoming freshman at Savannah College of Art and Design says, "I have seen everything from Footloose to The Addams Family and enjoyed it all!"

Discovery Green also offers free live music and free events. Located in downtown Houston, this 12-acre park is filled with a variety of attractions. Enjoy movies and live music, break a sweat in an early morning yoga class or go for a casual stroll. 

Buffalo Bayou is the perfect destination for someone who wants to take in the city on foot. Whether hiking, biking, running or walking is your speed, these trails offer great views of the city. Located just less than a mile west of Memorial Park, Houston Arboretum and Nature Center offers 155 acres of nature sanctuary. Explore the five miles of serene trails and watch out for turtles and fish as you make your way through the shallow wetland. 

Every night at dusk under Waugh Dr. Bridge (over Buffalo Bayou, between Allen Parkway and Memorial Dr.), 250,000 bats emerge. This phenomenon speaks for itself and is best experienced first-hand. 

If you head to Rice University’s campus at sunrise or sunset, you can see James Turrell’s Skyspace art exhibit. Watch as this grass-covered pyramid structure changes colors as the natural light reflects off of it.

When it was first announced, the Cloud Column art piece was criticized by many Chicagoans for being a copy of their famous “bean” sculpture. Controversy aside, this bean-looking sculpture, located outside of the Glassell School, is an intriguing and interesting piece of art. (See more on the Cloud controversy here.)

Grace Goddard

Grace Goddard enjoying a picnic outside The Menil Collection after perusing the art. 

If you would prefer an indoor activity, head to The Menil Collection or Lawndale Art Center. The Menil Collection is an art collection located in Montrose. Whether you prefer new or old art, with more than 16,000 works dating from the Paleolithic era to present day, The Menil Collection will have something you like. Olivia Yee, West U resident and rising sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin says, “The Menil was such a culturing experience. My favorite exhibit was the Rene Magritte paintings.” The Lawndale Art Center is an art museum located in the Museum District that focuses on work done by Houston-area artists; it showcases contemporary art in all media forms. 

Lastly, if you are interested in learning about Houston’s history, go to The Heritage Society. This interactive, outdoor museum offers a glimpse at what Houston was like in its beginning days. With nine historic structures, including homes dating back to the 1820s and the 1891 St. John Church, there is so much to explore. My mom, Lynne Goddard, says that this location offers “great information about the founders of Houston.”

Many museums also have free entry days and times, such as The Children’s Museum (5-8 p.m. on Thursdays), Holocaust Museum Houston (2-5 p.m. on Thursdays) and Houston Museuem of Natural Science (2-5 p.m. on Thursdays). 

Editor’s Note: To find upcoming events, see our events calendar

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