Here are 25 free and cheap things to do this summer in the Greater Houston area

The Boardwalk at Towne Lake is one of several venues to host an event this weekend.

The Boardwalk at Towne Lake is one of several venues to host an event this weekend.

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 25 low-cost ways to have 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

Burroughs Park (9738 Hufsmith Road, Tomball): June 15, July 20, Aug. 17
Collins Park (6727 Cypresswood Drive, Spring): June 16, July 21, Aug. 18


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

“Secret Life of Pets,” June 3 at 8:45 p.m.
“Trolls,” July 8 at 8:30 p.m.
“Finding Dory,” Aug. 12 at 8:30 p.m.


3. Twilight Movies on the Green
The Boardwalk at Towne Lake presents “Sing” at 8:30 p.m. on June 20. Free (admission). The Boardwalk, 9945 Barker Cypress Road, Cypress. www.boardwalktl.com

4. 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

June 10: “The Wild Life”
July 8: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
Aug. 12: “The Good Dinosaur”


5. 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

June 10: “Moana”
July 8: “Pete’s Dragon”
Aug. 12: “The Lego Batman Movie”


6. Movies at Miller
Miller Outdoor Theatre presents movie nights throughout the summer, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Free (admission). www.milleroutdoortheatre.com

Aug. 8: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone"
Aug. 9: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"
Aug. 15: “Singin’ in the Rain"
Aug. 16: “La La Land"


7. Pearland Town Center
Outdoor movies are scheduled throughout the summer under the Memorial Hermann Pavilion at Pearland Town Center. 6 p.m., movie begins at dusk. Free (admission). Pearland Town Center, Hwy. 288 and FM 518, Pearland. www.pearlandtowncenter.com

June 3: “Moana”
June 17: “The Secret Life of Pets”
July 1: “Kubo and the Two Strings”
July 15: “The Lego Batman Movie”
July 29: “Finding Dory”
Aug. 12: “The Jungle Book”


8. Moonlight Movies for Kids
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. 6 p.m., movie begins at dusk. Free (admission). City Centre, 800 Town and Country Blvd., Houston. www.citycentrehouston.com

June 14: “Cars”
July 12: “Tangled”
Aug. 9: “Sing”


9. Movie night
Central Green Park hosts family-friendly outdoor movie nights. The event begins at dusk. Free (admission). Central Green Park, 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Katy. www.willowforkdrainage.com/central-green

June 10: "Mrs. Doubtfire"
June 17: "The Secret Life of Pets"
June 24: "Minions
July 8: "Hidden Figures"
July 15: "Tangled"
July 22: "Lilo & Stitch"
July 28: "The Good Dinosaur"
July 29: "Monsters Inc."
Aug. 12: "Moana"
Aug. 19: "Thor"
Aug. 26: "Ant-Man"
Sept. 9: "Zootopia"



Discounted movies


10. 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. 9. Free (admission). www.pccmovies.com

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


11. Kids Camp
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema presents movie screenings each weekday at 11:30 a.m. The movie series runs Mondays through Fridays from June 5-July 5. 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

12. Star Cinema Grill
The venue offers lower-priced admission to all movies—excluding premieres, special events or 3D films—on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 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


13. 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. 9:30 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. 10 a.m.
Cinemark at Market Street* (9595 Six Pines Drive, Ste. 8200, The Woodlands): Tue., Thu. 10 a.m.
Cinemark 12 and XD* (25720 Hwy. 290, Cypress): Tue.-Wed. 10 a.m.
Cinemark Tinseltown 290 (12920 Hwy. 290, Houston): Tue.-Wed. 10 a.m.
Cinemark Memorial City* (303 Memorial City Way, Houston): Tue.-Thu. 9:30 a.m.
*Also offer discount admission on Tuesdays


14. Studio Movie Grill
Various locations of Studio Movie Grill present Children’s Summer Series, featuring $1 screenings of family-friendly films through Sept. 1. 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


15. Summer Kid's Club
ShowBiz Cinemas offers $0.50 movie screenings June 13-Aug. 1. 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


16. 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

17. Circo Avenida
Cirque la vie performs at Avenida Plaza in Discovery Green each Friday evening in June from 7-9 p.m. Free (admission). Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston. www.discoverygreen.com

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

Notable events:
Houston Shakespeare Festival, 8:15 p.m., July 28-Aug. 6*
ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights, 8:30 p.m., June 23-24, June 30, July 1, July 4*
Express Theatre’s Hilltop Festival for Children, 11 a.m., July 18-21
Splendid China XII, 11 a.m., Aug. 14-15
*ticketed event


19. 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 9
: “Matilda” with live orchestra
June 23: Texas Music Festival Orchestra
July 8: Houston Symphony: Symphonic Sights & Sounds
July 19: Houston Symphony: The Composer is Dead
Sept. 6: Houston Symphony: The Best of John Williams


20. Community Concert Series
The Houston Symphony presents its free summer concert series at various venues throughout the Greater Houston area. An instrument petting zoo begins 45 minutes before the start of the concert. 7:30 p.m. Free (admission). www.houstonsymphony.org

June 6: Lily Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 7034 Tierwester St., Houston
June 7: North Shore Senior High School, 353 N. Castlegory Road, Houston
June 8: Spring High School, 19428 I-45, Spring
June 10: Dobie High School, 10220 Blackhawk Blvd., Houston
June 13: Cypress Ridge High School, 7900 North Eldridge Parkway, Houston



Museums


21. 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. (Tuesdays-Saturdays), noon-5 p.m. (Sundays). $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

22. 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, 5401 Caroline St., Houston
Free admission: Thu. 2-5 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. 2-5 p.m.


The Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet St., Houston
Free admission: Thu. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.



Other


23. 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

300 Bowl (902 Wilson Road, Conroe): June 1-Aug. 21
Copperfield Bowl (15615 Glen Chase Drive, Houston): May 22-Aug. 20
Emerald Bowl (9307 Boone Road, Houston): May 29-Sept. 4
Tomball Bowl (14435 FM 2920, Tomball): May 1-Aug. 31
Times Square Entertainment (402 W. Grand Parkway S., Ste. 110, Katy): April 1-Oct. 31


24. 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

25. STEM Saturdays
Presented by Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Girlstart hosts STEM Saturdays in June from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at Discovery Green. The event features hands-on science, technology, engineering and math activities for children. The program is limited to 60 children. All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Free (admission). Hess Patio Deck at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston. www.discoverygreen.com
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By 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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