Looking for things to do this 4th of July? We got you, boo! There’s a ton of stuff to do if you’re looking for an activity or just a place to watch fireworks. This year Independence Day falls on a Thursday, so there’s a great chance you’ll end up with a four day weekend. Score! Lucky for you, there will be plenty of things going on to keep you busy, and lots of them are free.
Freedom Over Texas
Eleanor Tinsley Park will host Houston’s 33rd annual Freedom Over Texas celebration from 4:00-10:00 on July 4th. The CITGO-sponsored event will feature live music from country singer Jake Owen, special guest Kellie Pickler (of American Idol fame), games, kids activities, a salute to the military, and of course, a spectacular fireworks display to close the evening. Dogs are not allowed, so plan to leave Fido at home. (Service dogs are an exception to this rule.) Tickets are $10 at the gate or $8 until midnight on July 3. Children under 5 get in free. Purchase tickets online here.
If you aren’t in the mood to deal with event traffic, Martin Hajovsky of Home in the Heights offers this helpful hint: you can actually see the fireworks from several places in the southern part of the Heights. For optimum crowd-free viewing, go south on Waverly Street until you cross the bike path and it terminates at West 6th Street. Turn right and you will see White Oak Bayou before you get to Shepherd. The grassy area between 6th and White Oak Bayou is the perfect spot for a late-night picnic while you watch the fireworks.
Independence Day at Bayou Bend
Bayou Bend will offer a free day of performances, crafts, games, activities, and refreshments, rain or shine. This event will feature a historic and artistic slant, naturally, but will not be just another day at the museum. The Declaration of Independence will be read aloud twice during the afternoon, and guests are invited to sign a giant replica of the Declaration before they go. Actress Constance O’Brien will be performing a one-woman she about the life of Betsy Ross and the creation of the American flag, and there will be live music and appearance by Storyteller David Allen, presenting stories of the people who shaped America. The festivities kick off at 12:00 noon and ends at 5:00. If you’ve never been to Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, look for it at 6003 Memorial Drive.
Summer Symphony Star-Spangled Salute
The Exxonmobil Summer Symphony Series will host a special Star-Spangled Salute at 8:30 pm on the 4th at Miller Outdoor Theatre. A brilliant fireworks display will close out the evening. As with all Miller Outdoor Theatre events, admission is free. Covered seats are ticketed and can be secured at the box office on the day of the show from 10:30 am-1:00 pm. Any remaining tickets will be distributed from the box office an hour before show time. Each adult over 16 may receive four tickets, first come, first served. As always, lawn seating is open and doesn’t require tickets.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
If you’re already booked for the 4th and don’t mind a short drive, you can also take in the symphony at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands on July 3 for a performance of the Star-Spangled Salute show. POPS conductor Steven Reineke will lead an evening of patriotic hits in the Woodlands. Gates open at 6:30 and the show starts at 8:00. Tickets are free, whether you opt for covered seats or a nab a stop on the lawn and make it a picnic.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Fireworks Show
Not a symphony buff? If water slides and pyrotechnics are more your speed, check out the massive fireworks show happening at the recently rebranded Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (previously known and loved as Splashtown) in Spring. The Six Flags event will feature live music, games, fireworks, and of course, lots and lots of water slides. The park opens at 10:00 and closes at 9:00 pm. Park entry is required for admission but there is no additional charge for the 4th of July festivities. (If you just want to watch the fireworks without paying for the park, there’s a shopping center right next door with a big parking lot where you’ll be able to see the show.)
Galveston Independence Day Extravaganza
Top off a day at the beach with a festive parade and fireworks display. Decorated military vehicles, floats, and performers will parade down Seawall Boulevard starting at 7:00 pm, and the fireworks will be set off around 9:15 at 37th and Seawall. It doesn’t get much more American than spending all day in the waves before watching tanks on parade and blowing stuff up over the ocean.
Grab some dinner and play a carnival game or two before the Kemay Boardwalk’s 9:30 pm fireworks show over the Gulf of Mexico.