Free Houston-area activities and ideas to keep kids entertained

July 23, 2013 3:02:56 PM PDT
We are helping you save money while keeping you children occupied. We've hit that long-stretch of summer where it can be tough to keep them entertained. But, we have some things you can do that won't cost a whole lot of cash.

The dog days of summer are upon us and if you have run out of ideas of what to do with the kids, we can help! We turned to a couple of area moms keeping the kids busy for free.

It sometimes can be a struggle to find the perfect summer day activities for kids.

"I have three kids so I don't have a lot of time to research things on my own," mom Jennifer Willerton said.

But most importantly, some moms say it's hard to find fun activities that don't cost a lot.

"There's lots of free things to do in Houston," mother-of-three Jill Jarvis said.

Jarvis launched a website called bigkidssmallcity.com, a site devoted to finding kid friendly free and inexpensive things to do in Houston and the surrounding areas.

"It's really to motivate myself to get out of the house but to also encourage other parents to do the same," Jarvis said.

And the ideas are not the usual things. Take for example the JP Morgan Chase building located in downtown Houston at 600 Travis. The building is 75 stories tall, making it the tallest building in Houston and one of the top 10 tallest buildings in the United States. What you might not know is that you can visit the observation deck on the 60th floor, and it's free.

"They love it. First, the elevator goes up really fast up to the 60th floor, which is fun, and then you get to see the city from very high up," Jarvis said.

Next on Jarvis' list is exploring Houston's tunnel system, an interconnected series of restaurants and shops. Jarvis says kids love exploring new places.

"It's air conditioned, and it's free, and it's an adventure," she said.

Jarvis's next stop is a quick one at the Preston Street Bridge at Smith in downtown.

"There is a button there, and it's not marked, it's very small. And first, you have to find the button, which is an adventure, and then when you find it, you have to decide to push it or not," Jarvis said.

And Jarvis says that's part of the adventure. One you push the button, bubbles appear in the water leaving it up to the kids to decide what it might be.

This last adventure can be batty. That's because more than 300,000 bats come out at dusk at the Waugh Bridge bat colony near Allen Parkway. You can view the bats from either the north bank or south bank of Buffalo Bayou. Jarvis says if you arrive 20 to 30 minutes before sunset, you may even catch a bat presentation given by a volunteer from Texas Parks & Wildlife.

Find Patricia on Facebook at ABC13PatriciaLopez or on Twitter at @patricialopez13


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