Things to Do in Houston this Summer

Picture perfect downtown Houston city park and skyline
Picture perfect downtown Houston city park and skyline | © Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Barbi Barbee
10 September 2020

Houston is a great place to spend a summer. It’s a city of wonderful outdoor activities, world-class museums and family-friendly entertainment. Here are the things to do in Houston this summer to keep you cool and entertained.

Catch a free show at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Park, Theater
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Theatre Under the Stars presents free performances of shows such as James and the Giant Peach and Million Dollar Quartet. Although the event is free, you have to pick up a ticket at the box office the day of the performance if you want to sit in the covered section. Visitors are also welcome to bring a blanket and watch the show from the hill.

Have a picnic at Waterwall Park

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Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, Houston, Texas, USA
© Andrew Duke / Alamy Stock Photo
This urban oasis is the perfect spot to keep cool during the hottest days of summer. If you want to have a picnic but don’t want to toast, sit under the refreshing mist of the Waterwall Fountain. This landmark is also one of the best photo ops in Houston.

Take Advantage Of Discounted Movies

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The summer blockbusters are coming, and you can watch them all without breaking the bank. Several movie theaters in Houston are showing free and discounted movies throughout the summer. A ticket to any movie at Alamo Drafthouse is only $8.50 before 2pm any day of the week. Regal Cinemas and Studio Movie Grill also have summer specials for adults and kids.

Enjoy Free Outdoor Movies

Park, Theater
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Spend a night under the stars watching Hollywood greats at a free outdoor movie screening. Discovery Green and Miller Outdoor Theatre are just some of the locations screening family-friendly hit movies throughout the summer. Some screenings have pre-show entertainment and snacks available for purchase. Many locations will allow you to bring a picnic.

Watch the sunset at Skyspace

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HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 24, 2017: James Turrell's Skyspace in Rice University, Houston, Texas
© Faina Gurevich / Alamy Stock Photo
It’s a well-known fact that Texas summer sunsets are beautiful sights to behold. They become a true work of art when viewed at James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace. Reservations are required for sunset light sequences, and spots go quickly, so be sure to book a spot well in advance.

Explore the Museum District on free Thursdays

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Free Museum Day is a good idea any time of the year. If you’re vacationing in Houston, this is the best way to explore Houston’s Museum District. Every Thursday, several museums offer free admission at different times of the day. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum and Children’s Museum of Houston are some locations that participate in the program.

Tour the Beer Can House

Architectural Landmark
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You may need your shades for this one. Beer Can House shines brilliantly in the summer sun because it’s made of, well, beer cans. Beer Can House was created by John Milkovisch who covered his entire house with an estimated 50,000 beer cans over an 18-year period. He didn’t intend for the project to be a work of art, but it is now a permanent exhibit of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. The house is open Saturday and Sunday, and admission is $5 per person.

Have a beach day on Galveston Island

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Galveston Island, Texas
© kanokwalee / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’re itching to get out of the city, Galveston is only a short drive away. Delicious seafood and a fresh ocean breeze will greet you when you arrive. Be sure to check out Galveston Island Pleasure Pier, Galveston Railroad Museum, Bryan Museum, and the Strand. If you want to spend the night, Hotel Galvez is beautiful and rumored to be haunted.

Ride a bike around Hermann Park

Park, Zoo
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Hermann Park is the center of several Houston attractions including museums, the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Japanese Garden and McGovern Centennial Gardens. Houston B-cycle bike rental program is a great way to get around the park and see everything the area has to offer. The bikes come with locks so you can secure your bike while exploring.

Step back in time at Bayou Bend Collection

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Spend a day strolling through the beautiful Bayou Bend Gardens. Begin at the house of philanthropist Ima Hogg for a trip back in time. The house features an impressive collection of antique furniture, ceramics and art that Hogg carefully curated over her lifetime. Then discover the statues, fountains and plants nestled away in the 14 acres (5.6ha) surrounding the house.

Jog around Memorial Park

Memorial, Park
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Houston TX skyline in the afternoon with Memorial Park in foreground
© Visions of America, LLC / Alamy Stock Photo
The Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail at Memorial Park is perfect for walking or jogging. The trail is a well-maintained, 3mi (4.8km) loop with exercise stations spread throughout. There isn’t a lot of shade on the trail, so consider visiting in the cooler late afternoon. Memorial Park also features a playground, 30mi (48km) of hiking trails, tennis courts, volleyball nets and sports fields.

Escape the bustle at the Arboretum

Botanical Garden
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April 2017, Houston, Texas: A woman enjoys the Mercer Arboretum Botanical Gardens in Houston, Texas.
© Stephanie Sellers / Alamy Stock Photo
Escape into nature without leaving the city. The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center features 155 acres (63ha) of plants and wildlife native to Texas. The Arboretum has several trails to explore, each focusing on different types of plants and trees. While traversing, visitors will find wooden pathways, bridges, ponds and benches. The center hosts several educational and fundraising events throughout the year geared towards adults and children.

Camp at Sam Houston National Forest

Forest, Market, Park
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For the outdoorsy folks, Sam Houston National Forest is a great spot for hiking and camping. The forest contains 163,037 acres (65,978ha) of land stretched between three counties. The park is located 50mi (80km) north of Houston, just south of Huntsville. The park has several trails varying in length from 9.2mi (14.8km) 128mi (206km). There are several designated campsites and primitive camping is allowed off the trail except during November and December.

Shop A Farmers Market

Farmers' Market, Vegetarian, American
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Houston has several year-round farmers markets offering fresh produce from local vendors. The markets happen throughout the week so that you can find one convenient to your schedule. City Hall Farmers Market happens every Wednesday. The Rice University Farmers Market is every Tuesday. Be sure to pick up some peaches, watermelons or tomatoes, as they are in season in Texas during the summer.
These recommendations were updated on September 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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