How to enjoy downtown Houston on a budget

Eufemia Didonato

It might seem challenging to get out and see our beautiful city on a budget, but if you’re looking to explore downtown Houston on the cheap, have no fear: There are a myriad of affordable activities available in and around downtown.

From multiple museums and green spaces like Discovery Green to drive-in movie theaters and popular eateries, downtown is overflowing with affordable possibilities.

MORE THINGS TO DO: What you should do in Houston this weekend

The following are a few places offering great deals, day-of-week discounts or free activities. Keep reading for a guide to downtown’s best attractions under $25.

Central Police University cadet Benson Lu is in awe of the ancient horse fossil during a field trip visit Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston.

Central Police University cadet Benson Lu is in awe of the ancient horse fossil during a field trip visit Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston.

Yi-Chin Lee/Staff Photographer

Every Thursday, the Houston Museum of Natural Science offers free admission to its permanent exhibit halls from 2 to 5 p.m. If you can’t make it out on Thursday, you can still take advantage of a good deal by paying $25 to see the museum’s permanent exhibits. College students, military, seniors over 62 and members can take advantage of even deeper discounts.

The Houston Zoo's jaguar walks around his habitat in the Pantanal exhibit.

The Houston Zoo’s jaguar walks around his habitat in the Pantanal exhibit.

Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Another fun outdoor attraction near downtown is the Houston Zoo, where online reservations are currently required for all guests. Tickets are not sold on-site. You can enjoy a day at the zoo for $22.95 for adults. Children and seniors’ tickets are $17.95.

Hot tip: you can plan a trip to see some of the zoo’s newest residents, such as a howler monkey named Marlie, for free on certain Tuesdays. Free Tuesdays happen once a month, with the next opportunity on Feb. 2.

Discovery Green hosts a Tai Chi class as part of their Fitness in the Park series.

Discovery Green hosts a Tai Chi class as part of their Fitness in the Park series.

Courtesy of Discovery Green

If there’s one place in downtown Houston with a huge deal of activities all for less than $25 or free, it’s Discovery Green. From state-of-the-art installations such as “Monuments” by Craig Walsh, to stunning, eye-catching art displays and murals from local artists, Discovery Green has something for everyone. You can even come out to enjoy free yoga and Tai Chi classes on the big lawn. There’s ice-skating underneath the stars with the lights of downtown as your backdrop until Jan. 31 for $15. Check out its website for weekday and weekend activities you and your family can enjoy.

A sawfish at the Downtown Aquarium.

A sawfish at the Downtown Aquarium.

James Nielsen, Staff / Houston Chronicle

Houston’s Downtown Aquarium is another wonderful place to enjoy a variety of exhibits. An all-day adventure pass is $22.99 for adults and $21.99 for children. “A 500-gallon aquatic wonderland” awaits you, according to the aquarium’s Facebook page. The location offers everything from catching a glimpse of divers in an Underground Rig to a Discovery Zone where you can get up close and personal with exotic animals and have the opportunity to touch and feed an actual Stingray. It even hosts Super Saturdays where you buy one pass and get one free with a coupon. 

Champ Burgers are some of the best in Houston.

Champ Burgers are some of the best in Houston.

Yelp/John L.

If you’re looking to try one of the best burgers not just around downtown but across the city, hit up Champ Burger after your day of exploration. Champ Burger is not only a long-standing family-owned joint reminiscent of the 1950s, it’s a rite of passage in the East End. An original Champ Burger is just $5.29, and it’s worth every bite. When I’m in the area, I always try to stop by and pick up a Champ Burger with cheese for $5.69 to go with a medium chocolate shake that costs $3.49. They joint is home to the original “Texas Size Steak Sandwich,” according to its website, which costs $5.79. Located between Harrisburg and Canal at 304 Sampson St., Champ Burger has been serving mouthwatering burgers at the same location for over 50 years.

The chunky guacamole is a favorite at Irma's Original.

The chunky guacamole is a favorite at Irma’s Original.

Carla Buerkle

If there’s one restaurant in downtown Houston that makes you feel right at home, it’s Irma’s Original. Houston Chef Irma Galvan has been feeding Houstonians authentic homemade meals for decades. This 2008 James Beard award winner serves up some of the finest Latin cuisine for under $25. It has everything you can imagine from enchiladas, fajitas, sopa de fideo (which I highly recommend) and a variety of other dishes and desserts. You could just load up on their famous fresh guacamole and strawberry lemonade and walk out content. Located at 22 N. Chenevert St. is your next favorite Mexican restaurant. Don’t be surprised if Irma stops by your table for a quick chat to get to know you a bit.


Next time you’re in downtown, take a second to explore your surroundings. You might be surprised by the deals you find.

Source Article

Next Post

Democrats make federal election standards a top priority

FILE – In this Nov. 2, 2020, file photo, Lisa Carrera, a former Los Angeles Unified School history teacher from La Puente, Calif., holds the hand of her grandson Maverick, 2, after casting her ballot in-person at the Top of the Park at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Democrats plan […]