30 Free Things To Do Indoors in Houston with Kids

For a unique free thing to do with kids, check out the inside the Buffalo Bayou Cistern. Photo courtesy Page Southerland Page
For a unique free thing to do with kids, check out the inside the Buffalo Bayou Cistern. Photo courtesy Page Southerland Page

Whether you're a stay at home parent just trying to find something to do during the day or a working mom wanting to spice things up on the weekend - but without spending a bunch of cash - this post is for you. Especially when the weather isn't exactly welcoming, free things to do indoors in Houston are the way to go.

These businesses and playscapes around Houston are always free and remember to check our calendar because it is always packed with free things to do every day. For more ideas, check out our Indoor Fun Guide for Houston Families.

Now, read on for 30 free things to do indoors with kids in Houston.

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Just as a reminder, with the ever-changing nature of Covid, it's best to call each location ahead of time to ensure that they are open. We do our best to keep these articles as up-to-date as possible! 

Awesome Indoor Tours and Museums in Houston

1. Learn something new at one of Houston's many free museums, including the Houston Museum of African American Culture, The Menil Collection, and Lawndale Art Center. (The amazing 1940 Air Terminal Museum at Hobby Airport is just $5 for adults and $2 for children.)

2. Better yet, check out one of the city's bigger museums for free by checking out our guide to days and times where admissions are waived.

3. For South Houston families with little ones: Visit the Galveston Railroad Museum where kids ages 2 and under play for free! Kids ages 3-12 are $6.

4. Participate in a free craft at the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts during Hands-On Houston, which is held on the first Saturday of every month. The events are led by a teaching artist and relate to the current exhibition. Families and children of all ages are welcome to attend. 

5. Admire the amazingly weird "cars" at the Art Car Museum. There are pieces and displays from local, national, and international artists.

6. Visit the Houston Police Department's downtown headquarters to see the Houston Police Museum. You'll find old and new uniforms, memorabilia, and a memorial wall. Admission is always free.

7. Tour the mysterious and magical underground Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Tours are free on Thursdays and require a reservation. Kids must be 9-years-old and up because the tour takes you downstairs to a dimly lit underground area, but it's amazing. Learn the history of this historical water system and see the various art displays installed throughout the year.

8. See World War II-era aircraft, memorabilia, and more at the Commemorative Air Force Houston Wing Museum and Hangar. It is open to the public the first and third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for FREE.

9. Every Saturday you can head to the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston for a free drop-in experience. These experiences are family-friendly and include activities that help you interact with the current exhibitions from a distance in a unique way. Feel like staying home? Each drop-in experience is also released online!

Indoor Places to Play

10. Both the Richmond/Rosenberg and Sugar Land locations of Sugar Creek Baptist Church are home to a massive, colorful, and free play spaces for kids ages 10 and under.

11. Visit the Discovery Room at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center to learn all about the different habitats at the Arboretum and the plants and animals that call them home. The Discovery Room is full of many exhibits and live animals, and after kids can hit the trails for even more exploration. Be sure to stop by the Nature Playscape while you're there! 

RELATED: 34 Free Places to Play in Houston This Fall

Playing at Frolic's Castle./Photo by Carrie Taylor

12. Let the little ones explore Frolic's Castle inside Memorial City Mall (this is free pending you're able to resist any shopping urges).

13. Watch the skaters at The Galleria and let the kids play in The Little Galleria. If you're a longtime Houstonian like me and have never heard of this, don't feel bad. But don't let any more time go by without visiting! It's a 2,000-square-foot miniature mall made of foam slides and lots of climbing structures. Park in the Yellow garage for easiest access.

14. Gallery Furniture isn't just for shopping: There is an indoor playground, a giant sizes mattress that kids can jump on, and exotic birds around the store. Honestly, sometimes it's just fun to look at furniture and plan your dream home!

15. Christ the King Presbyterian Church has a free indoor and outdoor playscape with a two-story slide and climbable area. It's located just northwest of Memorial Park (home to the Houston Arboretum and Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens), so it's a great area to head to if you're looking for things to do.

16. The play area at First Colony Mall in Sugar Land is the perfect spot for the little ones to get out some wiggles while shopping. 

RELATED: Top Indoor Play Spaces in Houston

The massive indoor play structure at The Woodlands Church. Photo courtesy The Woodlands Church

17. There is no shortage of free indoor fun when you visit the play area at The Woodlands Church. Toddlers can play in their very own section where big kids won’t trample on them, and kids ages 5-12 can explore a multi-level structure with a 22-foot corkscrew slide! In total, this play structure boasts seven slides and is perfect for hours of entertainment.

18. The play area at The Woodlands Mall in front of JC Penney boasts a forest-themed wonderland for kids under 42 inches to explore. The play area is a great for small children to take a break from shopping and get some of the wiggles out.

19. Kids ages 2-10 years can play for free at the Memorial Drive United Methodist Church West Campus indoor playground. The playground is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-12pm. 

20. Kingwood area families can play on the awesome indoor playground at Kingwood First Baptist Church during the week for free. Hours vary, so be sure to check their website or call ahead for exact opening times. 

21. A multi-level indoor play area awaits preschool and elementary-aged children at Memorial Church of Christ. There is even a small area with padded obstacles for babies to explore. To enter the play area, ring the doorbell under the covered doorway near the largest parking lot. Be sure to check the calendar ahead of time to see when the playground is open. 

22. Second Baptist Church Woodway campus has a play place called Second City for children under 48" tall. It is a really cool play area with plenty to keep your kiddos entertained. 

23. Kids ages 3-9 can run and play at animal-themed indoor playground at The Woodlands Methodist Church fondly called Safari Stop. Safari Stop is located at the north end of the main building.

24. Shopping at Katy Mills Mall? Be sure to take a shopping break at the Disney Junior Play Zone! Kids 10 and under will find all of their favorite Disney Junior characters in interactive displays, games, activities, and play sets. Plus, there is a comfortable lounge area for parents or caregivers to relax at while the kids play. 

25. Little ones can run off some steam at the indoor playground at Kingwood United Methodist Church, where kids ages six and under can play for free. The playground is open Monday- Friday each week for open play, though exact hours change due to the preschool and Mother's Day Out programs. Make sure you call before you head out to play! 

26. Children ages 2-10 are welcome to enjoy the playland and game room at First Baptist Church. You will find the church off of the Katy Freeway. Just contact them before you head there if the weather is bad because First Baptist Academy utilizes the facility on those days. 

Share the Fun of Reading with Your Little One

Photo courtesy of the Houston Public Library, Facebook

27. Head to your local library for storytime, to play with the puzzles, or browse the books.

28. See what Brazos Bookstore has going on; there are regularly kid-friendly readings (right now events are primarily virtual!) and releases, they have great book recommendations for kids of all ages, and they sell educational toys and gifts. Blue Willow Bookshop on Memorial is also a great place to stop in and they offer weekly online storytimes for kids. 

Indoor Volunteer Opportunities for Houston Families

29. Spend some quality time serving the community at the Houston Food Bank's Portwall Warehouse. Kids ages 6 and up are able to volunteer and help distribute and sort food.

30. Little Lights Houston works with a dozen local organizations to set up volunteer opportunities for families with young children. Check with them for activities in which you can participate. 

This post originally published in December 2017.

Zoo Boo at the Houston Zoo
The Houston Zoo - 9:00 AM Pick
Detective Days at Bayou Bend
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens - various times
NMFH Annual Haunted House
National Museum of Funeral History - various times
Haunted Mayfield Manor
Haunted Mayfield Manor - various times
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides