Here are 20 free and cheap things to do this summer in the Greater Houston area

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From outdoor movies and children’s programs to live entertainment and free museums, there are many inexpensive options for family fun this summer in the Greater Houston area. Here are 20 low-cost ways to have family-friendly fun locally.

Outdoor movies

1. Summer Movie Nights in the Park
Harris County Precinct 4 hosts outdoor movies at Burroughs and Collins parks throughout June, July and August. The events feature a movie, snack and activity beginning at dusk. Guests should bring a blanket or lawn chair. Free (admission). www.hcp4.net/p4movies

“Tangled” will play in June, “The Polar Express” will play in July and “Coco” will play in August.

  • Bane Park (9600 W. Little York Road, Houston): July 17, Aug. 14
  • Burroughs Park (9738 Hufsmith Road, Tomball): June 21, July 19, Aug. 16
  • Collins Park (6727 Cypresswood Drive, Spring): June 22, July 20, Aug. 17
  • Matzke Park (13110 Jones Road, Houston): July 18, Aug. 15

2. Bank of America Screen on the Green
Discovery Green hosts outdoor movies at the Anheuser-Busch Stage. Guests can bring blankets and lawn chairs. Food, beer and wine are available for purchase. However, no glass containers or outside alcoholic beverages are permitted. Free (admission). Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston. www.discoverygreen.com

“Despicable Me 3,” June 23 at 8:30 p.m.

3. Second Saturday at The Depot
The city of Tomball presents a family-friendly event on the second Saturday of every month. The event features activities and a movie at dusk. 6 p.m. Free (admission). Tomball Historic Depot Plaza, 201 S. Elm St., Tomball. www.tomballtx.gov

July 14: “Arthur Christmas”
Aug. 11: “The Emoji Movie”
Sept. 8: “Peter Rabbit”

4. Movie under the Moon
Sugar Land Town Square hosts outdoor movies throughout the summer, sponsored by First Colony Church of Christ. 8:30-10 p.m. Free (admission). 2181 Hwy. 6, Sugar Land. www.sugarlandtownsquare.com

July 14: “Paddington 2”
Aug. 11: “Peter Rabbit”
Sept. 8: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

5. Pearland Town Center
Outdoor movies are scheduled throughout the summer at the Pearland Town Center Pavilion. Movie begins at dusk. Free (admission). Pearland Town Center, Hwy. 288 and FM 518, Pearland. www.pearlandtowncenter.com

June 30: “The Lion King”
July 14: “Coco”
July 28: “Cars 3”
Aug. 11: “Paddington 2”

6. Moonlight Movies
The summer movie series features a different family-friendly film on the second Wednesday of each month, June through August. The event features complimentary popcorn. No outside food or beverages are permitted. Movie begins at dusk. Free (admission). City Centre, 800 Town and Country Blvd., Houston. www.citycentrehouston.com

July 11: “The Sandlot”
Aug. 8: “La La Land”

Discounted movies

7. Premiere Cinemas Summer Kids Fest
Premiere Cinemas in Pearland and Tomball present a free children’s program this summer, offering free screenings of a different children’s film each week through Aug. 8. Free (admission). www.pccmovies.com

Tomball (28497 Business 249, Tomball): Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m.
Pearland (5050 Broadway St., Ste. 10, Pearland): Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

8. Kids Camp
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema presents a movie screening of “Trolls” at noon on June 21. Guests choose their ticket price of $1, $3 or $5, all of which is donated to local nonprofit organizations and schools. Ages 18 and up are permitted, and children ages 3 and up are allowed with a parent or guardian. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 531 Mason Road, Katy. www.drafthouse.com

9. Star Cinema Grill
The venue offers lower-priced admission to all movies—excluding premieres, special events or 3D films—on Tuesdays. Guests ages 3-5 are only admitted to select G and PG movies. Guests under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Children younger than 3 years of age are not allowed. www.starcinemagrill.net

  • $6 admission. Star Cinema Grill, 114 Vintage Park Blvd., Bldg. H, Ste. J, Houston. 713-715-4707
  • $6.50 admission. Star Cinema Grill, 4811 Hwy. 6, Missouri City. 832-539-2675
  • $7 admission. Star Cinema Grill, 2000 I-45, Conroe. 936-788-1956

10. Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse
Participating Houston-area Cinemark theater locations offer 10 films for children for 10 weeks this summer. All films are rated G or PG. $1 per show. Titles, dates and times vary by location. www.cinemark.com

  • Cinemark 19 and XD (1030 W. Grand Parkway N., Katy): Wed.-Thu. 9:00 a.m.
  • Cinemark Spring Klein (21440 Kuykendahl Road, Spring): Tue.-Thu. 10 a.m.
  • Cinemark 17 and XD (1600 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands): Wed.-Thu. 10 a.m.
  • Cinemark at Market Street (9595 Six Pines Drive, Ste. 8200, The Woodlands): Tue. 10 a.m.
  • Cinemark 12 and XD* (25720 Hwy. 290, Cypress): Tue.-Wed. 10 a.m.
  • Cinemark Memorial City* (310 Memorial City Mall, Houston): Mon, Wed.-Thu. 9:00 a.m
  • Cinemark at Pearland and XD (3311 Silverlake Village Drive, Pearland): Tue.-Wed. 9 a.m.
  • Cinemark Valley Ranch and XD (21750 Valley Ranch Parkway, New Caney): Wed.-Thu. 9:30 a.m.

11. Studio Movie Grill
Various locations of Studio Movie Grill present Children’s Summer Series, featuring $1 screenings of family-friendly films through Aug. 31. Titles and availability vary by location. www.studiomoviegrill.com

  • City Centre, 822 Town & Country Blvd., Houston
  • Copperfield, 8580 Hwy. 6, Houston
  • Pearland, 8440 South Sam Houston East, Houston

12. Summer Kid’s Club
ShowBiz Cinemas offers $0.50 movie screenings June 12-July 31. A different children’s movie will be shown at 9:30 a.m. each Tuesday. ShowBiz Cinemas, 350 Northpark Drive, Kingwood. www.showbizcinemas.com 

Live entertainment

13. Soundwaves at the Boardwalk
Local music artists perform an evening show at Towne Lake. The family-friendly event is held each Friday and Saturday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. in June. Free (admission). The Boardwalk at Towne Lake, 9945 Barker Cypress Road, Cypress. www.boardwalktl.com

14. Miller Outdoor Theatre
Various daytime performances of dramatic, dance and musical works are scheduled throughout the summer. Daytime performances are nonticketed events. Summer events at Miller Outdoor Theatre also include family-friendly concerts, children’s performances and the Houston Shakespeare Festival. Open seating is available on the hill for ticketed events. Free (admission). www.milleroutdoortheatre.com

Notable events:

  • ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights, 8:30 p.m., June 22-23, June 29-30, July 4*
  • Houston Young Artists Concert, 11 a.m., June 25-26
  • “All Shook Up”, 8:15 p.m., July 10-15*
  • Express Theatre’s Hilltop Festival for Children, 11 a.m., July 17-20
  • Houston Shakespeare Festival, 8:15 p.m., July 27-Aug. 5*

15. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
The venue offers live entertainment throughout the summer with free mezzanine and lawn seating available. 8 p.m. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands. www.woodlandscenter.org

Notable events:

  • June 22: Texas Music Festival Orchestra
  • July 3: Houston Symphony: Star-Spangled Salute
  • July 16: Houston Symphony: The Music of David Bowie
  • Aug. 30: Houston Symphony: Blue Suede Tunes
  • Sept. 4: Houston Symphony: Rebels, Raiders & Superman – A Tribute to John Williams

Museums

16. The Woodlands Children’s Museum
The interactive museum is open seven days a week in June, July and August. The museum will be closed on July 4. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat), noon-5 p.m. (Sun.). $6 (ages 1 and older). The Woodlands Children’s Museum, 4775 West Panther Creek Drive, Ste. 280, The Woodlands. 281-465-0955. www.woodlandschildrensmuseum.org

17. Houston Museum District
Several museums in downtown Houston offer free admission. www.houmuse.org

Museums offering free admission daily

Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston
Hours: Tue.-Fri. 11-6 p.m., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun., closed Mondays

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose Blvd., Houston
Hours: Tue.-Wed., Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Thu. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Mondays

DiverseWorks, 3400 Main St., Ste. 292, Houston
Hours: Wed.-Thu. noon-6 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon-8 p.m., closed Sun.-Tue.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main St., Houston
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m., closed Sundays beginning July 4 and Mondays

Houston Center for Photography, 1441 W. Alabama St., Houston
Hours: Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.

The Jung Center, 5200 Montrose Blvd., Houston
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sundays

Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main St., Houston
Hours: Wed., Fri. noon-6 p.m., Thu. noon-8 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-5 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.

The Menil Collection, 1533 Sul Ross St., Houston
Hours: Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.

Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon St., Houston
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Museums offering free admission times

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, 3816 Caroline St., Houston
Free admission: Thu. 1-5 p.m.

Children’s Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz St., Houston
Free admission: Thu. 5-8 p.m.

Czech Center Museum Houston, at 4920 San Jacinto St., Houston
Free admission: Noon-4 p.m. last Monday of the month

The Health Museum, 1515 Hermann Drive, Houston
Free admission: Thu. 2-7 p.m.

Holocaust Museum Houston, 9220 Kirby Drive, Ste. 100, Houston
Free admission: Sun. noon-5 p.m.

Houston Museum of African American Culture, 4807 Caroline St., Houston
Free admission: Thu. 6-8 p.m.

Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston
Free admission: Thu. 6-9 p.m.

The Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet St., Houston
Free admission: Thu. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Other

18. Kids Bowl Free
Various bowling venues throughout the Houston area are participating in the Kids Bowl Free program, offering children two free games of bowling each day of summer during select hours. Times and dates vary by location. Registration required. www.kidsbowlfree.com

  • Copperfield Bowl (15615 Glen Chase Drive, Houston): May 21-Aug. 19
  • Emerald Bowl (9307 Boone Road, Houston): May 26-Sept. 3
  • Max Bowl Humble (2390 Wilson Road, Humble): June 1-Sept. 1
  • Times Square Entertainment (402 W. Grand Parkway S., Ste. 110, Katy): April 1-Oct. 31
  • Tomball Bowl (14435 FM 2920, Tomball): May 1-Aug. 31

19. Young Writers Workshop
Discovery Green and Houston Public Library present a writing workshop for children conducted by Writers in the Schools. Each workshop is limited to 25 students, first-come, first-served. Free (admission). The event is held every Saturday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at HPL Express Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston. www.discoverygreen.com

20. Summer Reading activities
Houston Public Library presents various summer reading performances for children on Tuesdays throughout the summer from June 26-July 31. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Free. Anheuser-Busch Stage at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston. www.discovergreen.com

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Anna Lotz
Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in the Tomball and Magnolia communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.
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