Texas culture is a huge part of my life. It is crazy to imagine how much this state has impacted me throughout the different stages of my life. My growth has shaped my appreciation about everything this city offers to the community. Despite the fact that "everything is bigger in Texas," it doesn't mean you have to spend big bucks to have a good time. In collaboration with Katrina from katrinalavie.com, I am sharing 10 things you can do in Houston for free- with the assumption that you have enough gas to drive yourself there. Not only are these activities free, but this fun list also shares with you many of the activities I enjoy doing while I'm in the Houston area. So whether you're on a tight budget or you are interested in what I enjoy, I hope you learned a lot more about my home city! Let's begin:
1. Watch the sunrise at Buffalo Bayou Park.
This park is a popular spot in Houston, mainly because it's in the heart of the city! The Buffalo Bayou Park is popularly known for having the best skyline view in Houston. Personally, it's best to see the Houston skyline early in the morning. If you visit the park around 6:30 AM, be sure to find a spot in the park to view the sunrise. With the sunrise, it's an absolute beauty to see Houston with a beautiful glow from the behind the skyscrapers. Sometimes, I would jog early in the morning and take in the view of the sunrise at the different areas of the park. To find the park, it is located along Shepherd Drive and Sabine Street, which is between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive. Click here to learn more about the park.
2. Visit a free local art museum/Menil Collection.
Some of the best perks about Houston is that there are museums that have free admission- 24/7! It is so fortunate to live in a city that has a community that really appreciate the arts. Personally, I have always enjoyed visiting the Menil Collection because of the great range and styles of art showcased there seasonally. In fact, the Menil Collection also showcases many popular artists, such as Andy Warhol. When I last visited, I was surprised to see a few of his pieces inside the gallery. The Menil Collection is one of the few museums that leaves me inspired after a visit. To see the full range of Houston museums with free admission, click here.
3. Go mural hunting.
I'm sure you're not surprised for this to be in my list, but it's true. Every other weekend, I enjoy going to Houston for the sake of discovering new murals and street art. It's like a fun, mini scavenger hunt for me that feels so thrilling once I find it. This particular mural was discovered when I drove past it across Baldwin Park in Midtown. Murals are a great way to familiarize the city, especially if you are visiting for the first time. You can always find plenty of hidden art around the downtown area as well. To read more, I shared some of my favorite murals here.
4. See a ghost at The Rice.
Now, The Rice is a hot spot for the cosmopolitan life in Houston. However, it was formerly known as the Rice Hotel, and it is one of the most historic buildings in Houston. The famous hotel was a popular spot for many celebrities and famous figures, and one of them was John F. Kennedy. Because JFK stayed in the Rice Hotel days before he was assassinated, people believed that they have seen his ghost around the area. Throughout the years, there were police reports about eerie noises, flickering lights, random door openings, and mysterious white hazy figures roaming inside the building. The Rice does give me chills whenever I walk past it because of the spooky charm of the place and it's history. However, it's worth a trip to see for yourself. To pay a visit, The Rice is located at 909 Texas Ave.
5. Visit the Galveston Sea Wall.
If you want to escape the urban life of Houston, take a day trip to Galveston. I understand that Galveston is further away from the central side of the city, but I would highly suggest it if you enjoy going to the beach. Visiting the sea wall is a great place to take a look at the Gulf of Mexico and enjoy the fresh air (away from the humidity in the city). What I particularly love about the sea wall is that it is such a massive, wide view of the ocean, and it's a great area to appreciate nature and the Texas waters. The Galveston sea wall is located at Seawall Blvd in Galveston, TX.
6. Reach the top of the dome at McGovern Centennial Gardens.
McGovern Centennial Gardens is a newly built garden park within Houston's Hermann Park. I adore everything about this place! It's the perfect spot in the city for photo shoots because of the beautiful variety in flower and plant areas. During my first visit, I noticed there was a winding walkway up to the dome. After I took outfit photos, I decided to figure out what was at the top of the dome. Sure enough, when I reached it, I was amazed at the beautiful view of Hermann Park! I also appreciated the sweet quote that was engraved on the rocks up there, but I'll leave it up to you to see it when you visit! The garden park is located at 1500 Hermann Drive.
7. Play Pokemon Go at Discovery Green.
If you're not into Pokemon Go, you are seriously missing out on some rare Pokemon in Houston! Believe it or not, I usually spend my free time catching Dratinis and/or having lunch breaks at Discovery Green. This area is the best spot to catch rare Pokemon, and it always amazes me by the amount of people who would drive across Houston just to catch 'em all. Plus, there are so many poke stops around the whole park, you'll be able to not only catch 'em, but evolve them too. If you want to visit this park, it is located right in front of the George R Brown Convention Center.
8. Window shop at the Galleria Mall.
Although you may be tempted to spend money, one way I don't spend it is by window shopping at the high-end stores at the mall. I like to look through the new arrivals, maybe try on some of their expensive clothes, and leave the store with inspiration for my own wardrobe style. The Galleria Mall has some of the most expensive stores in the Houston area. Surprisingly, it a great way to experiment with clothing items and most of the people who work won't mind you looking around. Plus, it's a harmless way to enjoy fashion without losing your earnings. The Galleria Mall is located at the corner of Westheimer Road.
9. Have an outdoor picnic at Hermann Park's highest hill.
Hermann Park is filled with great shaded areas for picnicking! i personally enjoy setting a picnic on top of the Hermann hill. The hill is at the left side of the conservatory and faces the Miller Outdoor Theatre. Once you reach the point, lay a blanket and enjoy your dinner and view. Enjoying nature while bringing a packed meal is so satisfying, especially when there is live music and entertainment provided at the theater. I would suggest picnicking during the spring and fall seasons. Hermann Park is located at 1700 Hermann Drive.
10. Have a music jam along Main Street.
Main street is the heart of downtown Houston, and it is considered the most populated street in the city! The street is filled with shops, cafes, and people waiting at the metro train stations. Main street also has bright colored murals and features many art installations. Sometimes, I would bring my guitar and jam out around the streets just to see people's reactions. My favorite part about live performing is when strangers sing and clap along with me. It's such a great way to meet new people and cheer a person's day. I find that this activity is what really makes me feel united with my city most.
I really hope you enjoyed my list of free things to do in Houston! Please leave me a comment on what you would like to see from my post. Be sure to check out Katrina's list in SF here- you really have to see it! Also, follow her on Instagram at @katrinalavie to see more of her travel adventures! Until then, I'll see you on my next trip. -Ressa