Free Love

10 Fun (and Totally Free) Date Ideas in Houston

From a free bout tour to a show under the stars, here's our list of the top free date ideas in Houston.

By Stephanie Bartels

The old saying goes: The best things in life are free. While this may be true, in our experience, free things plus your favorite person are even better. Fortunately, there's a fun variety of free things to do around Houston. From boat tours to art viewings and open-air performances, treat your date to a rom-com-style day of fun (cheesy video montage is optional). After all, love doesn't cost a thing—especially when the dates are gratis.

1. Stroll the Japanese Gardens at Hermann Park.

Visit the 445-acre Hermann Park and stroll through the Japanese Gardens. Then, set up a one-on-one photo shoot along the waterfalls, bridges, and stone paths sprinkled throughout the serene hideaway to spark some major Instagram couple envy. The gardens are open from March thru October from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. and November thru February from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Image: Visit Houston

2. Watch a show under the stars at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

End your daytime stroll at the Japanese Gardens with a free show at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Plan ahead so you can grab covered-seating tickets for a show, but if it's a spur-of-the-moment plan, you can always sit hillside where tickets aren't required. Check out the website for the monthly show schedule, which always includes a variety of musical performances and dance productions. 

3. Secure your undying love at the Love Lock Bridge.

If you thought you needed a pricey trip to Paris to profess your love on the Pont des Arts bridge, cancel that credit card application because you can do that right here in Houston—for free. Houston's Love Lock Bridge is steps away from Buffalo Bayou/Eleanor Tinsley Park. Padlocks are locked onto a chain-link fence along the bridge above Allen Parkway, offering the best view of the city's skyline. The bridge is free to access, but you will need to bring your own lock. If you saved your old high school locker padlock, your hoarder tendencies are about to pay off. 

4. Embark on an audio tour of Buffalo Bayou Park.

Sync up your AirPods and cue up the Buffalo Bayou Revealed audio tour by Houston Public Media. The tour gives interesting facts about the areas along the park, including birds, plants, and water features. The best part? You'll take in all the sights and facts together since you synced up to the same audio. The tour is about 20 minutes long and is also available in Spanish. 

5. Sail away on a free boat tour of the Houston Ship Channel.

Amp up the romance with an afternoon boat ride. You can tour one of the busiest ports in Houston with a free 90-minute boat tour of the Houston Ship Channel. Check the website on the first of the month to reserve tickets that can be used anytime during a 30-day period.  

6. Visit the "Garage Mahal".

Stop by the Art Car Museum to view the funky cars decked out in colorful art. Nicknamed the "Garage Mahal" for the imaginative and elaborate art cars, including low riders and various mobile contraptions varying in size and shape. After talking each other out of decking out your own cars, visit Smither Park for more photo-ops along the mosaic walls and displays. 

7. Take a free workout class at Levy Park.

Visit Levy Park for a free fitness class hosted on various days throughout the month. Your date won't be the only reason your heart is racing, thanks to a variety of themed classes, including Bollywood and Bhangra dance, Tai Chi, slow flow yoga, and high-energy dance.

8. Create your own art tour.

Visit the always free Contemporary Arts Museum and then stop by nearby free galleries, the Lawndale Art Center, the Anya Tish Gallery, and the Gremillion & Co Fine Art exhibit for a free Houston tour de Art. Bonus: Pack a lunch for a picnic midway through your tour—being hangry is never romantic. 

9. Have a mad tea party at Evelyn's Park.

Things are curiouser and curiouser than they seem at Evelyn's Park, which features a large whimsical and interactive Alice in Wonderland sculpture in the form of a ten-foot table with eight-foot bronze characters. Make sure to pack a picnic to join the fanciful feast, as the table has room for six to eight additional guests. Challenge your date and see who can find all 150 hidden elements throughout the sculpture. 

10. Grab some free samples at Costco.

We've all heard of the fantastic food halls in Houston, but there's one incredibly underrated food hall in the city: Costco. Though not officially a food hall, you can score some delicious small bites for free. Visit on a Saturday or Sunday to fill up on an ultimate variety of samplings or what we like to call a fine assortment of tapas. While there are several Costco locations sprinkled around Houston, check out the Galleria area location on Richmond Ave.; it's closest to Hermann Park and the Japanese Gardens. 

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