Freedom Over Texas
For the city’s largest, 29-year-old festivity, swing by Eleanor Tinsley Park west of downtown. From 4 p.m.–10 p.m. Freedom Over Texas will be all the rage with live music from Clint Black and double-platinum singer Josh Turner, because nothing quite celebrates the spirit of America like a blazing pyrotechnic country concert.
50,000 attendees are anticipated at this event, so don’t expect just to waltz up and grab a spot next to Mayor Annise Parker. Parking is available in the theater district parking garages and at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts as well as on the surrounding streets and lots, available for a fee. Avoid closures on Sabine, Silver, Bagby, Crosby, Gillete and Heiner streets around the park, and dodge event set-up on Allen Parkway the entire week before.
The Houston Symphony will present Star-Spangled Salute! with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with booming cannons and fireworks following at Miller Outdoor Theatre at 8:30 p.m. Come early to get free tickets between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., then spend the day at the zoo’s new Gorilla exhibit or spread a picnic over the lawn at the McGovern Centennial Gardens.
Instead of driving around for half an hour, carpool, plan to splurge a little and walk over from the garages at the Children’s Museum or Park Plaza Hospital. They cost just $8 and $9, respectively. Or, as the Miller staff recommends, use the Fannin South METRO Park and Ride to skip the parking fiasco altogether.
4th of July at Bayou Bend
If the fireworks are too loud or mainstream for your kid, take a stroll around the Bayou Bend Collection instead. From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Museum of Fine Arts Houston is hosting a patriotic event at the house-turned-museum at Memorial and Westcott that’s a little more historically grounded. Family- and child-friendly, the MFAH celebrates freedom with music, art, demonstrations and a mock signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Red, Hot and Blue Festival
The festival returns to The Woodlands with a night of live music, street performers and games from 6 p.m.–10 p.m., ending with 23 minutes of blasting rockets in the sky. Try the parking garage at The Woodlands Pavilion or the Market Street Parking Garage—but you didn’t hear that from us. There’s an open lot cattycorner to the pavilion that might not get as congested at the end of the night. Or park in the waterway garages, located on Waterway Avenue and Lake Robbins. Watch from the Great Lawn of Town Green Park. There will be no getting away from the fireworks—they’re shot from two locations—but head into the restaurants in Market Street or along the Waterway for a muffled and more kid-friendly experience.