Saving Cents: Cheap summer fun

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by By Sherry Williams / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 9 at 3:12 PM

HOUSTON-Houston is the nation's fourth largest city with lots of activities for families to enjoy that won't break the bank. Below are 10 fun, free-or cheap-activities you and your children can enjoy.

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11 News video
June 4, 2009

These activities are ranked in no particular order.

ASTROS at Minute Maid Park -- 501 Crawford at Texas in downtown Houston

The Astros have "Price Matters Days." On selected game days you get a ticket for a seat on the third level, as well as a hot dog, soda and chips - all for for $10. By the way, normal Astros cheap seats go for $7 for adults and just $1 for children.

DIRECTIONS: From the south: take 59 north, exit Hamilton St, turn right on Capitol, turn right on Crawford

From the north: take I-45 south, to I-10 east toward Beaumont, follow signs to Milam St and exit Milam turning right, to Franklin Street turn left, to La Branch turn right, to Texas turn left, to Crawford turn left.

ART CAR MUSEUM -- 140 Heights Blvd in Houston

You've seen their parade, check out the Art Car Museum for free.

"Kids will like to run and touch everything. It's wonderful," said Veronica Nielsen of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

DIRECTIONS: From the east: I-10 West exit Studemont, stay on service road to Heights and turn left.

From the west: I-10 East to Studemont exit turn right on Studemont, to Washington turn right to Heights turn right

BATTLESHIP TEXAS AND SAN JACINTO MONUMENT -- 3523 Highway 134 in La Porte

"Battleship Texas is the only one of its kind left in the world, served in two world wars. It was re-fitted after the first world war into the second world war. You can't see it anywhere else. It belongs to Houston," said Nielsen.

Ship tours cost $10 for adults and children 13 and older. Children under 12 get in free. You can also ride the elevator to the observation floor of the San Jacinto Monument for $4 for adults and $3 for children 11 and younger.

DIRECTIONS: From the north - Take I45 south or 59 south to Beltway 8, Sam Houston Tollway, or continue south to Highway 610. Take Beltway 8 or Loop 610 east, and then south, crossing the Houston Ship Channel. Exit Highway 225 east, Texas Independence Highway, to La Porte. Exit Battleground Road and turn left. When the road divides into two roads, remain in the left lane, continue through the tall stone park gates, and turn right into the park.

From the south - Take I45 north to Beltway 8, Sam Houston Tollway. Take Beltway 8 east, and then north. Exit Highway 225 east, Texas Independence Highway, to La Porte. Exit Battleground Road and turn left. When the road divides into two roads, remain in the left lane, continue through the tall stone park gates, and turn right into the park.

From the East - Take I10 west to Crosby-Lynchburg Road, exit south, crossing the Houston Ship Channel by the Lynchburg Ferry to Battleground Road. Turn left into the park for the monument, or you can take I10 west to Highway 146 south, crossing the Houston Ship Channel by the Fred Hartman Bridge. Exit Highway 225 west, Texas Independence Highway. Exit Battleground Road and turn right. When the road divides into two roads, remain in the left lane, continue through the tall stone park gates, and turn right into the park.

From the West - Take I10 east to Highway 610, east loop, or continue east to Beltway 8, east loop, Sam Houston Tollway. Take Loop 610 or Beltway 8 south, crossing the Houston Ship Channel. Exit Highway 225 east, Texas Independence Highway, to La Porte. Exit Battleground Road and turn left. When the road divides into two roads, remain in the left lane, continue through the tall stone park gates, and turn right into the park.

KEMAH BOARDWALK in Kemah

Yes, the restaurants, arcade games and carnival rides can take your wallet for a ride, but it costs nothing to stroll on the boardwalk and watch the boats while enjoying a cool drink or snack.

DIRECTIONS: From the north: I-45 south, exit E. Nasa Road 1 heading east or left, to Hwy 146, turn right

GALVESTON BEACHin Galveston

There's no place like the beach. Bring a picnic and make a day of it, all for free.

DIRECTIONS: Take I-45 South until you hit water!

DOWNTOWN SKYSCRAPER VIEWS in Houston

Two of downtown Houston's shining towers, the Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase buildings, have observation decks. You and the kids can ride to the top for free for a great view of the city.

DIRECTIONS: WELL FARGO TOWER, 1000 Louisiana at McKinney

JP MORGAN CHASE, 600 Travis Street at Texas

DISCOVERY GREEN PARK -- 1500 McKinney in downtown Houston

"Over 12 acres, everything is free. They have the amphitheater. They have water coming up out of the ground, the children can run through it," said Veronica Nielsen of Houston's newest park.

It's located on the eastern side of downtown Houston, across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center.

LEE AND JOE JAMAIL SKATEPARK in Houston

You and your group can make an afternoon of it just watching the skateboarders. Pack your own refreshments and enjoy.

Summer Hours of Operation (June 2 - September 1, 2008)

Monday - Saturday: 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 1:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

DIRECTIONS: From Memorial Drive headed east toward downtown, exit Sabine. Parking available at Fonde Recreation Center, City lot C or City lot H.

For up-to-the-minute information, call the skatepark directly at 713-222-5500.

HERMANN PARK in Houston

Houston's Hermann Park is the granddaddy of all the low-cost things to do in the Bayou City.

"Central Park in New York fits inside of it, that's how big it is," Nielsen said of Houston's Hermann Park.

There are paddle boats that cost $8 for 30 minutes, and the miniature train costs $2.75 per person. Hermann Park is open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m.

DIRECTIONS: From the north on 59, exit Fannin. Continue straight into Hermann Park.

From the Southwest on 59, exit east on Richmond.Turn right at the second light onto Fannin. From the north on 288, exit MacGregor and turn right onto North MacGregor. Hermann Park begins once you cross Almeda, at the first traffic light. Continue on North MacGregor, turning right at the next light onto MacGregor, and then right again onto Golf Course Dr., to reach the central parking lot and Zoo entrance. From the South on 288, exit MacGregor, turn left onto North MacGregor. Hermann Park begins once you cross Almeda, at the first traffic light. Continue on North MacGregor, turning right at the next light onto MacGregor, and then right again onto Golf Course Dr., to reach the central parking lot and Zoo entrance.

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