6 Things to Do Around Houston on a Tight Budget

One of the awesome things about living in or around the great city of Houston is that there are always things going on for people looking for fun stuff to do with their spare time. Of course, a lot of activities can be expensive to indulge in, but fortunately, Houston also has a lot of fun things to do for people on a budget.

6. Try Your Hand at Urban Fishing A lot of people in Houston forget how close they are to a variety of water sources that contain robust populations of fish. There are ponds and lakes all around the area, and also the bayous that weave their way throughout the city. Yes, the bayous are indeed fishable, as are many other urban water sources that many people might not think of that are easily accessible to many Houstonians.

While I wouldn't advise eating anything caught in a bayou, fishing them can still be fun, and there's a surprising variety of fish swimming in those urban waterways -- perch, bass, gar, sunfish, catfish, pleco catfish, carp and tilapia are all in our bayous, and I've even spotted what I'm pretty sure were cichlids of some sort from time to time. Find a good spot, and fishing can make for a very inexpensive and fun way to spend an afternoon.

Texas Parks and Wildlife also stocks several lakes and ponds around the area with fish, and interested parties can consult the agency's website for a list.

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5. Houston Roller Derby

Houston has a lively Roller Derby scene, with events that can be a blast to attend and are surprisingly affordable. Individual tickets to the bouts start at $15, with VIP tickets available for $25, as well as group rates and season ticket packages.

The sport began in the early 1920s as a form of female flat track roller-skate racing, and transformed into a team contact sport by the 1930s. Roller Derby remained popular until fizzling out in the 1970s, but has re-emerged in recent years, with an edgy punk rock sensibility and an emphasis on athletic ability. To put it short, Roller Derby rocks, and the bouts are a lot of fun to watch.  

A cool old hearse at the Funeral Museum.
A cool old hearse at the Funeral Museum.

4. The Funeral Museum Located in Houston's north side, the National Museum of Funeral History makes for an interesting place for a person on a budget to spend some time. Houston is home to a large number of impressive museums of many types, but this one might be the strangest in town, and it's worthy of a visit for a person on a tight entertainment budget. Adult admission is only $10, and with more than 35,500 feet of exhibition space, there's plenty of interesting funeral history to explore. The museum has many rare funeral cars and hearses on display, as well as caskets and other objects that tell the history behind the development of many of our funerary customs. There are lots of exhibits covering topics like the history of embalming, the funeral customs for Popes, 19th-century mourning rituals, the Day of the Dead and many others. Whenever I've entertained visitors who've never been to Houston and who want to go someplace "unique," I take them to the Funeral Museum. I've never had one complain yet.

3. Visit the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center While some of us in Houston forget about the bayous and other water sources in town, it's also easy to forget that there are other nature areas within the city, and they can make for a very inexpensive and fun way to spend a day in the great outdoors.

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is located just inside the 610 Loop along the western edge of Memorial Park, and offers 155 acres of natural beauty right in the center of Houston, and also is home to many native species of wildlife that visitors might catch a glimpse of. The Arboretum is open from 7 a.m. to dusk, offers more than five miles of nature trails that cover meadow, forest, pond and wetland habitats, and there is a "Discovery Room" with interactive activities and exhibits that's open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. There are several different nature trails to explore, including one designed specifically for visually impaired visitors, and another that encircles the Arboretum and allows for a two-mile hike. The area is near Memorial Park, which has sections for picnics. The Arboretum is free (they're a nonprofit and do accept donations), which makes visiting a treat for those of us on a budget who enjoy a break from the concrete jungle every once in a while. 

2. Go on a Goat Farm Tour Christian and Lisa Seger of Blue Heron Farm sell artisanal goat cheese at area farmers' markets and stores such as Revival Market. They are passionate about their craft and about the goats they raise on their farm, located about 40 miles northwest of Houston, and offer tours beginning in mid-February and running through spring for $5. I asked Christian what one could expect to experience on a goat farm tour:

"The tour is about 90 minutes, there's lots of kissing baby goats, hugging and petting on the larger ones, a demo on how to milk one and a cheese tasting. For the Easter tour, we offer an Easter egg hunt for the little kids. Oh yeah, Easter tour is BYOB."

Goats are pretty interesting animals, but besides an abundance of goaty fun, a tour like this is great for educating people on just what goes into bringing food to their table. Tour schedules will be posted on the farm's website.

1. Get Caffeinated at One of the Local Independent Coffee Shops. It seems like nearly everyone I know loves coffee, and Houston has a lively variety of cool independent coffee shops for those who like to kill some time without breaking the bank or setting foot into a chain. For the cost of a cup of Joe, folks can enjoy climbing the scarily steep staircase of Agora to people-watch, spend a couple of hours at nearby Cafe Brazil or wander into Inversion off Montrose or Antidote in the Heights. There are quite a few interesting coffee shops, each with its own character, and any of them can be a fun way to spend time without spending a ton of money.


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