Jennifer Patrick’s enthusiasm for life is contagious. When she’s in a room, people are drawn to her bubbly personality, wildly hilarious sense of humor, and kind and charming nature. She’s another of the amazing bloggers I’ve met through the SeaWorld Wildside blog ambassador program and she happens to have a handle on family fun in Houston (and beyond as she loves to travel). In today’s guest post, Jennifer shares five of her favorite free things for families and kids to do in Houston:
1. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center – One of the largest urban parks in the country, this 155-acre nature sanctuary is a Houston treasure, offering more than five miles of absolutely gorgeous walking trails where kids can enjoy forest, pond, wetland, and meadow habitats. Inside the nature center there is also a discovery room with great hands-on exhibits including microscopes and touch screens so kids can learn more about the plants and wildlife they encountered during their walk.
Tip: You cannot bring food with you to the Arboretum, but it’s located inside the 610 Loop close to Memorial Park (where you can picnic) and just minutes from the Galleria (with a lot of restaurant options). The Arboretum is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to dusk (gates close at 6:30 p.m.). 4501 Woodway Drive. 713-681-8433
2. Miller Outdoor Theatre – In the heart of the museum district in Hermann Park, Miller Outdoor Theatre offers free, outdoor performances including movies, musical entertainment, and plays. They have covered theatre seating available on a first-come, first-served basis as well as hillside seating where you can bring a blanket or lawn chair with you. Children’s performances this summer, held weekdays at 11:00 a.m., include Mulan: The Warrior Princess, Jack and The Beanstalk, and The Three Little Pigs.
Tip: It gets HOT on the hill during summer performances during the day. Be sure to bring drinks and snacks, wear a hat and a lot of sunscreen! 6000 Hermann Park Drive. 281-FREE-FUN
3. Sea Center Texas – Located about 40 minutes south of Houston, in Lake Jackson, Sea Center Texas is a really cool marine aquarium, fish hatchery, and education center. The self-guided tour includes several aquarium exhibits as well as a 20-foot pool where kids can touch marine animals such as blue crabs, hermit crabs, stone crabs, snails and anemones.
Tip: the hatchery produces juvenile red drum and spotted sea trout. You can tour the hatchery (which is really cool!) for free as well, but a reservation is required and only available at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday – Friday and 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Closed Mondays, Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. 300 Medical Drive in Lake Jackson, Texas 979-292-0100
4. Hana and Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center – Play and picnic outside at the four-acre Russ Pitman Park (open daily from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.), then head inside to visit the two Discovery Rooms to experience hands-on, interactive exhibits (that change monthly), books, and crafts.
Tip: Ask to see their Discovery Boxes in the small Discovery Room. Boxes contain items such as shells, seeds and animal coverings, all very neat! Also, there is a rabbit hutch and a bob white quail cage near the Henshaw House, and an aviary with doves and pigeons near the fountain the kids will love. The Discovery Rooms are open from noon to 5:30 p.m Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday. 7112 Newcastle, Bellaire, TX 713.667.6550
5. Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens – Enjoy 300-acres of native and cultivated plants along Cypress Creek. Kids will love the playground, gardens, and trails. There are picnic areas and a pavilion, a tea house, and canoe launch. This is a great place for bird and butterfly watching.
Tip: Be sure to download the botanical scavenger hunt form and check out the free summer children’s program: Grow a Green Thumb. Open to kids ages six to 10 on Tuesdays from July 8 to July 29, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, junior botanists will learn about plants during these one-day classes. Open 8:00 a.m. to dusk during the summer. 22306 Aldine Westfield Rd. 281-443-8731
Jennifer Patrick is a freelance writer who lives in Houston with her husband, two kids, and two dogs. She loves DIY and craft projects, reading, running and traveling. You can read about her adventures on her blog, Still Living The Dream, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
For more free Texas fun for kids and families, check out:
Five free things to do with kids in Austin, by Heidi with Free Fun in Austin
Five free things to do with kids in Dallas / Ft. Worth, by Courtney Solstad with My Crazy Savings
Follow Colleen Pence and San Antonio Mom Blogs:
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