Arts / Entertainment

Summer Fun on a Student Budget

Six Houston Activities That Won’t Break the Bank

BY Alden Ceasar // 07.23.17

The summer internship is an inevitable right of passage for most students. While the venture offers invaluable, real-world experience, the 21-hour — and for some unpaid — work week can also be a burden.

In fact, many students are forced to make a series of lifestyle changes during internship season. As a current summer intern, I’ve done away with everything from impulsive Amazon purchases and eating out every day to suspending my daily Starbucks habit. (Let’s just say it’s no easy feat navigating early mornings sans those signature caffeine concoctions.)

While certain sacrifices are necessary, that doesn’t mean students have to forgo fun. As the fourth largest city in the nation (soon-to-be the third), Houston offers a plethora of budget-friendly activities. The possibilities are just about endless.

Here are six summer events and go-to outposts that are perfect for any student navigating the city on a tight budget.

1) Houston Shakespeare Festival at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Cost for a pair of tickets to a Shakespeare production at the Globe in London? Only five bucks. It’s a seemingly dispensable amount when you don’t factor in airfare, lodging, and meal expenses. However, there’s still a way to enjoy a quality Shakespeare production without leaving the country, or Houston.

The Houston Shakespeare Festival is an energetic and absolutely free series of Shakespeare productions performed at the Miller Outdoor Theater. The festival has entertained thousands of playgoers for the last 42 years.

Whether you choose to sit under the fanned pavilion with Houston’s cultured yuppies or sprawl out on the grassy knolls with the free-spirited, there’s no bad seat at this venue. Get ready for modernized performances that still possess an Elizabethan integrity.

This year, the festival puts on Richard III and Twelfth Night on Friday, July 28; Sunday, July 30; Tuesday, August 1; Thursday, August 3; and Saturday, August 5 at 8:15 pm.

Tariff: Gratis, however the festival does accept donations after each performance.

2) The Menil Collection

For most Houstonians who enjoy art, the Menil Collection is a no brainer. The collection consists of traveling and loaned exhibitions, but the primary attractions are the permanent pieces acquired by John and Dominique de Menil over the span of a half-century (1940-1990).

Just as impressive as the collections — which feature pieces from myriad time periods and destinations — is the fact that the public can access and enjoy the art free of charge.

As the museum’s website states, “The Menil is a place where each visitor’s very singularity is valued: you are not told how to look, you are invited to imagine the possibilities of vision and contemplation.”

Tariff: Gratis; The Menil does accept donations.

3)  Raven Summer Sessions

These completely free and live summer sessions at Raven Tower are the ultimate way to introduce yourself to quality, local musicians. The venue, which is stationed on the same grounds as White Oak Music Hall, offers its patrons a 3,000 square feet patio complete with a full bar.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy live performances in a variety of genres as well as a spectacular view of downtown Houston. Summer sessions take place every Wednesday at 7:30pm. It’s free, so we recommend arriving early.

Tariff: Gratis

4) Journey Through China VII: Presented by Dance of Asian America

This culturally significant event brings spectators to the Miller Outdoor Theater for an interactive experience that presents China’s layered history and society through dance.

Dance of Asian America has performed Journey Through China at the venue since 2011. Productions take place Monday and Tuesday, August 14 and 15 at 11am.

Tariff: Gratis

5) Conservatory

Despite the name, Conservatory is not where artists converge to hone their crafts. The outpost is actually a popular underground food hall and beer garden in downtown Houston.

Coined the city’s first food hall, Conservatory hosts six culinary vendors that showcase a diverse and affordable array of food. Featured restaurants include everything from crepes and poke to barbecue and gyros.

A beer selection of more than 60-plus brews is also at patrons fingertips.

Tariff: $11-30

6) Project Row Houses

Project Row Houses kicks off its Summer Studios Opening + Community Market, Saturday, August 12. The event will showcase seven emerging artists from local colleges and universities beginning their six-week residency at the venue.

The community-based art and culture non-profit has showcased local artists in Houston’s historic Third Ward neighborhood since 1993.

Tariff: Gratis; Project Row does accept donations.

Honorable Mentions
Check these places out at your leisure.

• Little Woodrow’s, Midtown: Drinks, games, and turtle races. This bar and grill practically screams college.

• Art Car Museum: We all dreamed of being on hit MTV show Pimp My Ride, and the Art Car Museum is the is light at the end of the exhaustion pipe. At this museum, you can check out several pimped-out rides, free of charge..

• Houston Museum of African-American Culture: This intriguing installment to the Houston’s museum scene offers its patrons several exhibits to peruse; all work by  artists of the Afro diaspora. Plus, it’s free!

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