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

Tomball Bowl is one of several Greater Houston-area bowling venues to offer a Kids Bowl Free program this summer.

Tomball Bowl is one of several Greater Houston-area bowling venues to offer a Kids Bowl Free program this summer.

From outdoor movies and children's programs to live entertainment and free museum days, 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 several Precinct 4 parks throughout June, July and August. Movie titles include "101 Dalmatians" in June, "Frozen" in July and "Lilo & Stitch" in August, according to Precinct 4 information. The events feature a movie, crafts, popcorn and drinks. Guests should bring a blanket or lawn chair. 7 p.m. (activities), movie begins at dusk. Free (admission).

Bane Park (9600 W. Little York Road, Houston): June 18, July 16, Aug. 13
Burroughs Park (9738 Hufsmith Road, Tomball): June 20, July 18, Aug. 15
Collins Park (6727 Cypresswood Drive, Spring): June 21, July 19, Aug. 16
Doss Park (2500 Frick Road, Houston): July 12
Lindsay/Lyons Park (2310 Atascocita Road, Humble): June 3
Matzke Park (13110 Jones Road, Houston): June 19, July 17, Aug. 14
Pundt Park (4129 Spring Creek Drive, Spring): Aug. 5

2. Bank of America Screen on the Green
Discovery Green hosts outdoor movies at the Fondren Performance Space. Guests can bring blankets and lawn chairs, and leashed pets are welcome. 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.

June 29: “Mean Girls,” 9-10:30 p.m.

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

June 8: “Ralph Breaks the Internet"
July 13: “The Grinch"
Aug. 10: “Incredibles 2"
Sept. 14: "Mary Poppins Returns"

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

June 15: “Smallfoot"
July 13: “The Lego Movie 2"
Aug. 10: “Christopher Robin"

5. Movies at Miller
Miller Outdoor Theatre presents free movie nights throughout the summer beginning at 8:30 p.m.

June 14: “Crazy Rich Asians"

6. Movie under the Stars
Market Square Park hosts free outdoor screenings in June and July. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs. 8:30 p.m. Free (admission). Market Square Park, 301 Milam St., Houston.

June 5: "Little Shop of Horrors"
July 3: "Spaceballs"

7. Movies on The Lawn
The Lawn at Baybrook Mall hosts free outdoor movies this summer for the family to enjoy. Movies are held on the first and third Tuesday of each month. 7 p.m. 500 Baybrook Mall, Friendswood.

June 4: "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
June 18: "The Lego Movie"
July 2: "Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse"
July 16: "Incredibles 2"
Aug. 6: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"
Aug. 20: "Zootopia"
Sept. 3: "Dumbo"
Sept. 17: "Wonder Park"

8. Family Movie Night
The Texas Children's Hospital sponsors a family movie night on the last Friday of each month at Levy Park in Houston. Blankets and lawn chairs may be used. 8-10 p.m. Free (admission). 3801 Eastside St., Houston.

May 31: "Home"
June 28"Lilo & Stitch"
July 26: "Trolls"
Aug. 30: "Solo: A Star Wars Story"

9. Katy Summer Nights
The city of Katy hosts a family-friendly event series this summer featuring a movie screening in the park with complimentary popcorn. Guests may bring blankets, chairs, food and drinks. Dates include June 14, July 12 and Aug. 8. 8 p.m. Free (admission). VFW Park, 6202 George Bush Drive, Katy.

Discounted movies

10. Premiere Cinemas Summer '19 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 Tuesday and Wednesday through Aug. 7. 10 a.m. Free (admission).

Tomball, 28497 Business 249, Tomball
Pearland, 5050 Broadway St., Ste. 10, Pearland

June 4-5: "Secret Life of Pets"
June 11-12: "The Grinch"
June 18-19: "Trolls"
June 25-26: "Paddington"
July 2-3: "Sgt. Stubby"
July 9-10: "Wonder Park"
July 16-17: "The Lego Movie"
July 23-24: "Smallfoot"
July 30-31: "Lorax"
Aug. 6-7: "How to Train Your Dragon 3"

11. Kids Camp
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema presents movie screenings each Monday through Thursday at noon. The movie series runs from May 27-July 25. Guests can choose their ticket price of $1, $3 or $5, all of which is donated to local nonprofit organizations. Children age 3 and older are allowed with a parent or guardian. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema LaCenterra, 2707 Commercial Center Blvd., Ste. K-100, Katy.

12. Star Cinema Grill
The venue offers lower-priced admission to all movies—excluding holiday periods, 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 age 3 are not allowed. $7.

Star Cinema Grill, 8920 Fry Road, Cypress. 832-497-5140
Star Cinema Grill, 4811 Hwy. 6, Missouri City. 832-539-2675
Star Cinema Grill, 2000 I-45 N., Conroe. 936-539-6088
Star Cinema Grill, 702 Baybrook Mall, Friendswood. 281-557-9300
Star Cinema Grill, 114 Vintage Park Blvd., Bldg. H, Ste. J, Houston. 713-715-4707
District Theatres (Wednesday specials), 1020 W. NASA Parkway, Ste. 152, Webster. 281-724-8173

13. Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse
Participating Houston-area Cinemark theater locations offer 10 films for children for 10 weeks this summer from May 27-Sept. 8. All films are rated PG. $1 per show, $5 for all 10 shows. Titles, dates and times vary by location.

Cinemark 19 and XD (1030 W. Grand Parkway N., Katy): Wed.-Thu. 9 a.m.
Cinemark Valley Ranch & XD (21750 Valley Ranch Parkway, New Caney): Wed.-Thu. 9:30 a.m.
Cinemark Pearland & XD (3311 Silverlake Village Drive, Pearland): Wed.-Thu. 9:30 a.m.
Cinemark Rosenberg (3420 Vista Drive, Rosenberg): 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.-Thu. 10 a.m.
Cinemark at Market Street 5 (9595 Six Pines Drive, Ste. 8200, The Woodlands): Mon., Wed.-Thu. 10 a.m.
Cinemark 12 and XD (25720 Hwy. 290, Cypress): Mon.-Thu. 9:30 a.m.
Cinemark Memorial City Mall 16 (310 Memorial City Way, Houston): Wed.-Thu. 9:30 a.m.
Cinemark 18 & XD (201915 Gulf Freeway, Webster): Tue.-Wed. 9:30 a.m.

14. Studio Movie Grill
Various locations of Studio Movie Grill present the Children’s Summer Series, featuring $1 screenings of family-friendly films from May 27-Aug. 30. Titles and availability vary by location and are according to each school district's summer vacation schedule.

City Centre, 822 Town & Country Blvd., Houston. 346-299-6456
Copperfield, 8580 Hwy. 6, Houston. 346-299-6455
Pearland, 8440 S. Sam Houston Parkway E., Houston. 346-299-6453

15. Summer Kids Club
ShowBiz Cinemas offers $1 movie screenings this summer. A different children's movie will be shown each week. 

June 6-Aug. 8: 9:30 a.m. Thursdays, ShowBiz Cinemas, 4811 Canyon Lakes Trace Drive, Humble. 281-441-1612
June 4-Aug. 6: 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays, ShowBiz Cinemas, 350 Northpark Drive, Kingwood. 281-358-9134

Live entertainment

16. Town Square Tribute
Sugar Land Town Square hosts live music throughout the summer featuring various artists. 7:30 p.m. Free (admission). 2181 Hwy. 6, Sugar Land.

June 8: The Fab 5 (a Beatles tribute band)
July 5:
Nightbird (a Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac cover band)
Aug. 30:
Baroness: A Queen Tribute

17. Unplugged at Discovery Green
Enjoy an evening of acoustic music from Houston-area performers. Blankets, lawn chairs and leashed pets are welcome. Food, beer and wine are available for purchase. No glass containers or outside alcoholic beverages are allowed. 5-10 p.m. Free (admission). Anheuser-Busch Stage, Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston.

June 16: Los Guerreros de la Musica

18. Thursday concerts
Various performers showcase the best music of the Gulf Coast with family-friendly concerts each Thursday night at the Fondren Performance Space. 7-9:30 p.m. Free (admission). Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston.

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 non-ticketed events, and seating is available on a first come, first served basis. 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).

Notable events:
June 13-14:
"Junie B.'s Essential Survival Guide to School," 11 a.m.
Aug. 2-11: Houston Shakespeare Festival, 8:15 p.m.
June 21-22, July 4: ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights, 8:30 p.m.
July 16-21: "Seussical the Musical," 8:15 p.m.

20. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
The venue offers live entertainment throughout the summer with free mezzanine and lawn seating available. Times vary. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands.

Events with free seating available:
May 30:
Houston Symphony: "How to Train Your Dragon" in concert, 8 p.m.
June 8: 
Houston Symphony: An Evening with Frank Sinatra & Ella Fitzgerald, 8 p.m.
July 4: Houston Symphony: Star-Spangled Salute, 8 p.m.
July 25: The United States Army Field Band and Soldier's Chorus, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29: Houston Symphony: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in concert, 8 p.m.

21. Summer Neighborhood Concert series
The Houston Symphony presents its free summer concert series at various venues throughout the Greater Houston area. Concert selections feature space-themed pieces in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first visit to the moon. An instrument petting zoo begins 45 minutes before the start of the concert. Times vary. Free (admission).

June 4: Lily Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 7034 Tierwester St., Houston. 7:30 p.m.
June 5: Morton Ranch High School, 21000 Franz Road, Katy. 8 p.m.
June 6: Dulles High School, 550 Dulles Ave., Sugar Land. 7:30 p.m.
June 7: North Shore Senior High School, 353 N. Castlegory Drive, Houston. 7:30 p.m.


22. The Woodlands Children’s Museum
The interactive museum is open seven days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The museum will be closed July 4. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Tue.-Sat.), noon-5 p.m. (Sun.), closed Mon. $7 (age 1 and older). The Woodlands Children’s Museum, 4775 W. Panther Creek Drive, Ste. 280, The Woodlands. 281-465-0955.

23. Houston Museum District

Several museums in downtown Houston offer free admission.

Museums offering free admission daily: 

Asia Society Texas Center (free admission to the building and Grand Hall exhibition), 1370 Southmore Blvd., Houston
Hours: Tue.-Fri. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Mon.

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. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun. noon-6 p.m.; closed Mon.

DiverseWorks, 3400 Main St., Ste. 292, Houston
Hours: Thu.-Sat. noon-8 p.m.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main St., Houston
Hours: Wed.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.

Houston Center for Photography, 1441 W. Alabama St., Houston
Hours: Wed.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.

Houston Museum of African American Culture, 4807 Caroline St., Houston
Hours: Wed., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thu. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; closed Sun.-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 Sun.

Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main St., Houston
Hours: Wed.-Fri. noon-6 p.m., Sat. noon-5 p.m., Sun. noon-3 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.

Museums offering free admission times: 

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

Czech Center Museum Houston, 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, Houston
Free admission: Sun. noon-5 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.-9 p.m.


24. 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 the summer during select hours. Times and dates vary by location. Registration required.

Time to Spare Entertainment (13027 Hwy. 105 E., Conroe): May 15-Aug. 15
Copperfield Bowl (15615 Glen Chase Drive, Houston): May 20-Aug. 10
Emerald Bowl
(9307 Boone Road, Houston): May 25-Sept. 1
Max Bowl Humble
(2390 Wilson Road, Humble): June 3-Sept. 2
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

25. Young Writers Workshop
Writers in the Schools hosts free writing and performance poetry workshops for ages 13-19. Free (admission). The event is held every Saturday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at HPL Express Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St., Houston.
By Anna Lotz

Editor, Tomball | Magnolia & Conroe | Montgomery

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 for the Tomball|Magnolia edition. She began covering the communities of Conroe and Montgomery as well in 2020. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these 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.


The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Spearheaded by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, the new court, if established, would expand the capacity of the county's criminal court system in hopes of reducing its backlog, which stood at 70,951 total cases pending before criminal district courts in Harris County as of April 8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County supports creation of new criminal district court to tackle case backlog

If the efforts are successful, this would be Harris County's first new criminal district court since 1984 when the 351st District Court was created.

A traffic and pedestrian safety-focused project on Hillcroft Avenue in Gulfton has officially broken ground. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Construction underway for Gulfton street safety project

Contractors will redesign the section of Hillcroft Avenue from Bellaire Boulevard to High Star Drive.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Armored Sports camps feature basketball, flag football and more. (Courtesy Pexels)
Armored Sports camps to launch in venues across Greater Houston

A new Christian sports camp for youth is launching this summer in churches across the Greater Houston area.

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

The Montrose-area Woodrow Wilson Montessori, which opened in the 1920s, will now be a namesake of civil rights advocate Ella J. Baker.  (Courtesy Houston ISD)
Houston ISD renames Montrose-area school to honor civil rights leader Ella J. Baker

A century after Woodrow Wilson's presidency ended, his name will be removed from this Houston ISD school.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Plant It Forward’s urban farms offer jobs, training and housing to refugees. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Nonprofit Plant it Forward recovering from freeze as it marks 10 years

The nonprofit's urban farms lost about 75% of their crops in the freeze.

Houston ISD has approved its 2021-2022 school year calendar. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston ISD trustees approve 2021-2022 calendar

The extra days are in place to help some students catch up because of the COVID-19 learning slide.

Miller Outdoor Theatre is kicking off its 98th season May 1. (Courtesy Miller Outdoor Theatre)
In-person performances will return to Miller Outdoor Theatre on May 1

To provide an extra measure of safety and to improve the ticketing process, theatergoers will be able to secure tickets in advance online.