Fantastically Free Family Fun: Summer Adventures
“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.” -Abigail Van Buren
In the spirit of spending quality time together – with a price tag that will make everyone’s wallets cheer – here are some summer adventures and hidden gems the whole family can enjoy for free.
Find Waldo around Houston through July 31
Saturday, Aug. 3, 3 p.m. Finale Party
Waldo HQ - Brazos Bookstore
2421 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX 77005
The world-famous Waldo is in Houston until July 31 and hiding in 22 local businesses. Drop into any of the locations to pick up your Find Waldo Passport and get it stamped every time you find Waldo’s hiding place in a store. Collect 10 stamps and go to Brazos Bookstore for an “I Found Waldo!” button and a $1 off coupon for Where’s Waldo books. Attend the Find Waldo Local Finale Party on Aug. 3 to win great prizes donated by the Waldo locations. Must attend party to win.
Bingo at Tomfoolery Toys & Books
July 25, 1 p.m.
4844 Beechnut St., Houston, Texas 77096
Tomfoolery is one of the local places where you can find Waldo hiding. They also have free Summer Bingo July 25 at 1 p.m. Come play a few rounds of Bingo! There are prizes for winners and door prizes for participation. Adults are invited to play too!
Bellaire Parks and Rec’s Picnic in the Park
July 25, 5:30-7 p.m. Lafayette Park, 4337 Lafayette St., Bellaire, TX 77401
This month, Bellaire Parks & Rec celebrates Parks & Recs month. Pick up a punch card at the Bellaire Recreation Center and visit all of the locations listed on the card (Nature Discovery Center, Evelyn's Park, Bellaire Aquatic Center and Evergreen Pool) before July 25. Bring your completed card to the Picnic in the Park event, which includes hot dogs, games and music, on July 25, 5:30-7 p.m. at Lafayette Park to receive a prize.
Houston Police Mounted Horses Stables
Monday-Friday, 12-2 p.m.
5005 Little York Rd., Houston, TX 77016-2547
Visit and feed the police horses, fun for kids and adults. No appointment necessary during the week; call for weekend appointments (832-394-0399). Bring apples, carrots and peppermints to feed the horses. All ages welcome.
Fish Gallery Summer Reading Program
Thursdays 3:30-4:30 p.m. through Aug. 15
2909 Fountain View Dr., Houston, TX 77057
This summer reading program includes a book reading, craft time and discovering some cool stuff in the touch tank! See more on summer reading here.
Waugh Street Bridge Bats
Between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive
Watch the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony emerge every evening, all year round, 15-30 minutes before sunset.
Downtown Houston Tunnel System
Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Have an adventure 20 feet beneath downtown exploring air-conditioned tunnels with some stores and restaurants. Direct public entry only from Wells Fargo Plaza and McKinney Garage on Main. Note: This can include lots of walking so wear comfortable shoes and map route before your trip. See the map here.
Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park
Every day, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
2800 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056
Visit this sixty-four-foot fountain that cascades and re-circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute. It’s fun to cool off from its spray and breeze and offers agreat photo op.
Kids Meals Houston – Decorating Paper Lunch Bags for Children
Weekdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
330 Garden Oaks Blvd., Houston, TX 77018
Kids Meals packs and delivers 2,500-5,000 lunches a day. Adults and kids 8+ can volunteer to make sandwiches weekdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
All ages can help from home by decorating brown paper lunch bags and help put a smile on a child’s face. Contact: Kelsey@kidsmealhouston.org or 713-695-5437. See other volunteer opportunities for kids and teens here.
Free Movies and Performances
Levy Park Family Movie Night Featuring Trolls
July 26, 8 p.m.
3801 Eastside St, Houston, TX 77098
Enjoy this family-friendly movie at the park.
Miller Outdoor Theatre
See the full schedule of performances here.
6000 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030
Miller Outdoor Theatre offers family-friendly performances such as Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, an original hip-hop musical based on the classic One Thousand and One Nights, Weds., July 24., 11 a.m. and Let’s Make a Play Together, Thurs., July 25, 11 a.m. Taking suggestions from the audience, the Express Improv Players will create a spontaneous 45-minute children’s play. See the full schedule here.
Circus Night at the Lawn
Saturday, July 27, 7-8:30 p.m.
303 Memorial City Way, Houston, TX 77024
Cirque La Vie brings their amazing acrobatic performance to the Lawn at Memorial City.
Houston is home to lots of incredible museums. See a list of dates/times when museums are free here.
Murals and Signs around Town
There are tons of colorful murals to check out around town. See these lists compiled by Buzz interns last summer for a starting place: Murals in Montrose and Heights and Downtown.
We Heart Houston Sign
2305 Polk Street, Houston, 77003
If you’re wondering what happened to the 28-foot sign that used to be on I-10 near Yale Street, it’s been relocated east of downtown to a much safer place to take pictures. Great photo op for locals and visitors.
Parks and Splash Pads
Many local parks offer free, family-friendly activities and events. Check their websites to see what’s going on. Cool off in splash pads, such as the one at Discovery Green (open 9 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Levy Park (open 8 a.m.-8 p.m.). See more on splash pads here.
Nature & Trails
Easy Day Trips
Here are some ideas for quick field trips from Houston. (Note: Some may require parking fees).
Saturdays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. until Aug. 17
201 Seawall Blvd. Galveston, TX 77550
Galveston is hosting free, family-friendly events with pros sharing tips for creating spectacular sandcastles.
Galveston Ferry Landing
1000 Ferry Road North, Galveston, TX 77550
The Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry takes visitors on SH 87 between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. The ferry is about 15 minutes each way. You can drive your car on, but if you’re just going for the round-trip ferry ride, it’s probably a shorter wait if you park and walk on. Enjoy spotting dolphins. Bathroom and A/C sitting area.
Find ferry locations and schedule here.
Sea Center Texas
Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 1-4 p.m.
302 Medical Drive, Lake Jackson, Texas 77566
Visit this marine aquarium, fish hatchery and education center located on 75 acres in Lake Jackson, TX.
Junior Ranger at State or National Parks
When you visit a state or national park, pick up a free Junior Ranger Journal for your child. Complete activities to earn a Junior Ranger pin. See: Junior Ranger Youth Explorer Program and find Houston-area state park locations and Texas national parks locations.
Now after researching and doing all those free family activities, are you ready for a nap?! Happy summer.
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