Budget-friendly Activities for Groups with Kids in Houston

August 6, 2020

Houston offers tons of fun places to take kids, from Splashway Waterpark to Space Center Houston. But if you’re traveling with a large sports team, after-school club, or youth group, tickets to these attractions can quickly blow your budget.

Longhorn Charter Bus can help. Renting a charter bus is often less expensive than buying plane tickets or booking rideshares for everyone, and we’ve compiled a list of budget-friendly places your bus can take you. Just give Longhorn a call at 713-344-0553 to reserve your transportation, and keep reading to discover all of the budget-friendly activities your group of kids can do in Houston.

Preteens hanging out

Play in Parks

Houston has several free city parks where your kids can run around playgrounds, see flowers, and even skateboard. Make sure you stash bag lunches in your charter bus’s storage space before you leave so you can have a picnic in the park.

Discovery Green

Located near the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Toyota Center, Discovery Green offers a nature-filled oasis in one of Houston’s busiest areas. You can nearly always find art on display, and the park sometimes invites musicians to play free concerts. Kids will love the playgrounds, and in summer they can escape the Houston heat by splashing through child-friendly play fountains.

Address: 1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010

Charter bus parking: Although buses probably won’t fit in the parking garages for the Convention Center or Toyota Center, both locations have many paid public lots around them where your driver can park.

Discovery Green fountains

Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark

If you have skaters or aspiring skaters in your group, you won’t want to miss this in-ground skatepark with free admission. Kids or teens who have their own boards and helmets can bring them, while kids who don’t can rent equipment on-site for a small fee. And since helmets are required, your group will be a little safer while they take on the bowls, ramps, and rails.

Address: 103 Sabine St, Houston, TX 77007

Charter bus parking: Like Discovery Green, this park lies a few minutes from several paid public lots. Your charter bus can drop you off outside the skatepark before heading to one of those lots.

Skateboarder doing trick

The Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park

Hermann Park is a huge greenspace in Houston’s Museum District that’s home to several attractions on this list, including the Miller Outdoor Theatre and the Houston Zoo. But it’s also home to the Japanese Gardens, one of the most peaceful places you can visit in the city.

Admission to the gardens is free, and once you enter your group will be greeted by cherry trees, bamboo, and Japanese maples. Follow the stone paths and bridges past waterfalls and the historic teahouse before sitting underneath an azalea or dogwood tree. The garden was designed by Ken Nakajima, a world-famous landscape artist, and is meant to evoke feelings of serenity.

Address: 6000 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030

Charter bus parking: Free parking is available near the Sam Houston Monument (Lot A), in the parking lots in front of the Houston Zoo (Lots G and F), across the street from the garden (Lot H), near the Miller Outdoor Theatre (Lots E and D), and beside the McGovern Centennial Gardens (Lot C). These lots may have space for buses, though you’ll want to arrive early on the weekends as they can fill up.

Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park

Explore the Arts

Houston boasts several free museums and theaters where you can take your group of kids. Whether you’re planning a trip for a drama club or eager to give your sports team a taste of the arts, consider adding these attractions to your itinerary.

Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park

If your group visits Hermann Park during spring, summer or fall, you can stick around until evening for a free musical or concert at the Miller Outdoor Theatre. Just walk into the amphitheater with your kids and claim a few seats. Then watch Theatre Under the Stars perform a popular musical like The Little Mermaid or Sister Act, or treat your group to classical music from the Mercury Chamber Orchestra.

Address: 6000 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030

Charter bus parking: Free parking is available near the Sam Houston Monument (Lot A), in the parking lots in front of the Houston Zoo (Lots G and F), across the street from the garden (Lot H), near the Miller Outdoor Theatre (Lots E and D), and beside the McGovern Centennial Gardens (Lot C). These lots may have space for buses, though you’ll want to arrive early on the weekends as they can fill up.

Group of kids on bench

Art Car Museum

One of Houston’s most distinctive attractions, the Art Car Museum features old cars transformed into works of art with paint, found objects, and attached sculptures. You’ll usually discover about 3 or 4 cars on display at a time, and the cars constantly rotate so there are new ones to see even if you’ve visited the museum before.

Admission to the museum is free. Touring it probably won’t take very long, but luckily, it’s located in downtown Houston, so you can easily visit the Aquarium, Memorial Park, or a variety of restaurants after you finish touring. Your charter bus driver can park and then return to pick you up and take you straight to your next destination.

Address: 140 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007

Charter bus parking: The Museum has very limited parking, so your bus driver will probably need to park in one of downtown Houston’s paid public lots.

Car at Art Car Museum

Image Credit: Ross Harmes, Flickr

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

This free museum showcases the crafts and folk art of artists working right now. If you want to introduce your kids to what art today can look like without paying a ton of money, this is the place for you. The Center also has a beautiful Craft Garden filled with sculptures and offers workshops for kids and adults who aren’t professional artists, though the workshops aren’t always free.

Address: 4848 Main St, Houston, TX 77002

Charter bus parking: The Center has a free parking lot behind the building where buses can fit. The lot is off Rosedale and Travis Streets and next to the Craft Garden.

Teens walking together

Learn about Science and Nature

Whether you’re officially traveling for school or not, you probably want your kids (and your adult chaperones!) to learn something along the way. Houston has you covered there, too. Popular attractions like the Zoo and the Children’s Museum sometimes offer free days, and the Houston Arboretum is always free.

Children’s Museum of Houston

The Children’s Museum of Houston boasts more than a dozen hands-on science and art activities for kids. Let your little ones learn about (and play with!) water at FlowWorks or build their own experimental creations at the Inventors’ Workshop. Got kids who crave adventure? They can become international spies and defeat villains using their problem-solving skills during SECRET Spy Game.

Although the Children’s Museum requires reservations for 15+ students, you can bring your smaller group in for free after 5 p.m. every Thursday. If you do plan to bring in a group for free, make sure you prioritize what you’d like to do, as you may not have time to see everything. But getting to do even a few exhibits is worth the trip.

Address: 1500 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004

Charter bus parking: The Children’s Museum has its own parking garage, but while it may have room for minibuses, it probably won’t have room for charter buses. However, on-street metered parking is available, and on Sundays metered parking is free.

KId spinning wheel at Children's Museum

Image Credit: Andre C, Flickr

Houston Zoo in Hermann Park

In the same park that houses the Miller Outdoor Theatre and the Japanese Gardens, you’ll find the Houston Zoo. Kids can explore exhibits like the African Forest, the Texas Wetlands, and the Sea Lion Habitat before visiting the petting zoo or watching a giraffe feeding.

Although the zoo usually charges admission, you can get in for free on the first Tuesday of each month from September through May. Free hours begin at noon and last until closing, so your group will have plenty of time to explore.

Address: 6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030

Charter bus parking: Charter buses can park in Lots C, D, E, F, G, and H on the Hermann Park map.

Cheetah at the Houston Zoo

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

When you’re longing for a quiet escape, the Houston Arboretum is the place for you. The Arboretum & Nature Center spans 155 acres and is filled with trees, plants, and wildlife, especially birds. Your group of kids can go hiking or biking along the nature center’s many trails or sit down and do some bird-watching without setting foot outside the city. As a bonus, entrance to the Arboretum is always free, so you never have to worry about the cost of stopping there on your Houston trip.

Address: 4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024

Charter bus parking: Buses can park on the 610 Parking Loop for $5. On Thursdays, parking is free.

Houston Arboreteum

Visit Houston with Kids Without Blowing Your Budget

Traveling with a large group of kids can be fun, hilarious, and rewarding, but it can also be chaotic and expensive. With a little advance planning, though, you can find plenty of free or budget-friendly activities to do in Houston with kids or teens. And Longhorn Charter Bus will be there to provide affordable group transportation. Just give us a call at 713-344-0553, and we’ll find the right buses for your next trip.