Got plans this weekend?
If you live in or near Houston, the response “I’m broke” isn’t acceptable. The country’s fourth largest city has tons of activities to keep you entertained over the weekend, and the best part — many of them won’t cost you a dime.
If you need a break from studying for finals, here’s our list of 9 free things to check out this weekend in the Bayou City.
Visit the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony.
Did you know Houston is home to one of the largest bat populations in the country? Every night around dusk near Buffalo Bayou, you can see for yourself at the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony, home to over 250,000 bats. If you stand at the bat observation deck in the park around sunset, you can witness the bats in action as they fly downtown for supper.
Go Mural Hopping Around the City.
Graffiti is no longer seen as an eyesore. The city has embraced the work of street artists, and there are over 50 Instagram-worthy walls around town. Spend a day scouting out Houston’s most iconic murals (check out this guide for a full list) and nailing the perfect social media shot. It’s the perfect excuse to explore the city we call home without burning a hole in your wallet.
Get Cultured at Discovery Green.
Downtown, it’s hard to miss Discovery Green, a 12-acre urban park nestled near the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Toyota Center. No matter when you visit, you’re likely to find a free activity, and some of our favorites are their culturally themed festivals. The free (except for the cost of food) gatherings are great opportunities to learn more about the many different heritages represented in and around Houston. This weekend, you can explore the SpringWorld International Festival.
Stop and Smell the Roses at a Public Garden.
Houston’s more than a concrete jungle. There are plenty of beautiful nature areas around the city, including peaceful gardens like the Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble and the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park. Both gardens feature a variety of flowers, plant species and a few ponds and are free to enter. It’s the perfect spot to spend a relaxing weekend afternoon forgetting your worries and relaxing in nature.
Catch a Show at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
You could spend hundreds on expensive Broadway tickets, or you could pack some snacks and catch a free show at Hermann Park just a few minutes from campus. Miller Outdoor Theatre puts on plays, musicals and cultural performances every week from March to November. All you have to do is pick up your free tickets in the morning, then show up and enjoy the show! Upcoming productions include Houston’s Got Bollywood on April 15.
Dolphin Watch on the Gulf.
Did you know you can view dolphins in their natural habitat only an hour from campus? Drive down to Galveston on a clear day and take the free ferry down to Crystal Beach. Visitors often spot dolphins during the 3-mile boat ride along with other impressive views and wildlife. If you want to see more of the aquatic mammals, you can also sign up for a $10 dolphin tour when you get to Crystal Beach.
Tour Port Houston.
If you’re in the mood for a little history lesson, the Sam Houston Boat Tour is a great option for a free weekend activity. Port Houston offers 90-minute tours on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Along with the scenic (and air-conditioned) boat ride, you’ll learn more about the port’s history and current operations. While tours are free, reservations are required at least 24 hours beforehand.
Sign Up for a Free Cooking Class.
If one of your resolutions for 2017 included finally learning how to cook, here’s the perfect opportunity to get your started. Williams Sonoma stores in Houston offer free one-hour classes on Sunday mornings to anyone interested in learning how to master the art of cooking. Simply show up at your nearest store and get ready to work (plus try some delicious samples)! If you’re interested in shopping for kitchenware, you’ll also get a 10% discount for attending the class.
Spot Wildlife at Brazos Bend State Park.
Another great weekend option less than an hour’s drive from Houston is Brazos Bend State Park, home to hundreds of birds, critters and even alligators. Wear your most comfortable shoes and bring a camera as you hike the park’s many trails — just watch out for gators and snakes on the way!
By Priscilla Aceves