A Budget Traveler's Guide to Houston

Sarath Kuchi
Sarath Kuchi | Flickr
Lauren Rogers

The draw of immigrants to Houston is a defining characteristic of the city. You may not be traveling to Houston to find a permanent home, but the affordability of the city will likewise attract your sensibilities and your wallet. Between the bachelorette parties and the music festivals and the baseball games, there are plenty of reasons why a trip to Houston may be in your future. Here are some ways to enjoy the city while you’re there without surrendering your carefully stowed-away emergency fund.

Alamo Drafthouse

In a bustling city, catching a movie can be incredibly comforting. Alamo Drafthouse has a few locations in Texas, including one in Austin. Whether you want to catch the latest indie flick, a throwback title or the big-budget blockbuster, this theater has a variety of viewing options. Also beer.

Brazos Bookstore

Open from 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Brazos Bookstore is a great way to browse some great titles while enjoying the AC. The knowledgeable staff is also around to give great suggestions and answer questions. They also have free events and readings to check out.

Walk along the Bayou

Open from dawn to dusk, Buffalo Bayou Park offers bike and boat rentals to explore the city in a new way. Covering 160 acres, the park has spots to see the bat colonies, play areas and dog parks. Pack a picnic and head to Eleanor Tinsley Park.

19th Street in the Heights

Local restaurants, boutiques, vintage shops and the legendary Heights Theater reside on 19th street in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. Whether you’re craving Tex-Mex chain Torchy’s food, homemade pasta from Alice Blue or high-quality coffee from Boomtown, the options seem endless.

Shop Heights 19th Street

Museum of Fine Arts

Free on Thursdays and if you’re a visitor to the library, shop or café, the Museum of Fine Arts currently features art from Italy, India and Kuwait, to name a few. It has 65,000 works of art that cover a variety of genres and countries.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Located in Memorial Park at 4501 Woodway Drive, Houston, Texas, this center is open daily and free. With many different trails to choose from, this nature haven offers a respite from strolling downtown.


Do some serious research to find the restaurants you want to check out before you arrive. Because once you arrive in the city, the choices can be deliciously overwhelming. And feel free to search with only $ or $$, since great food in this city is often very affordable. If you’re wondering where to start, check out the Tacos Tierra Caliente at Alabama Ice House.

Tacos Tierra Caliente

Houston Zoo

Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Houston Zoo is an exciting and affordable way to spend the day. $15 for kids and $19 for adults, the zoo is also free on the first Tuesday of every month. Your child even has the chance to feed a giraffe! From elephants to lions, there’s no shortage of animals to check out.

Houston Zoo
landscape with balloons floating in the air


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