For years I’ve been an advocate of “bleisure” travel, or the idea of adding fun to a business trip. It’s not always easy to find free time when you’re traveling all over the place representing your company, but business travelers should carve out time to enjoy themselves whenever possible. Whether you’re traveling to a new destination directly from a business trip, or spending a few extra days or hours in the city where you’re working, bleisure travel can be a fun reward for your hard work.
National Car Rental also believes in rewards for hard work. They have kicked off their One Two Free promotion, which offers registered Emerald Club members a free rental day for every two qualifying rentals. Where will you choose to redeem your free days?
How about lovely Houston? Vicki Powers from Houston on the Cheap has come up with some amazing free activities that any business traveler could enjoy. I was actually born in Houston, and it’s still one of my favorite places. It’s a true Texas city, with amazing food and a ton of fun, free things to do. Even if you’ve only got a few hours to spend after your meetings wrap up, you can take advantage of the culture, outdoor space and music this beautiful town has to offer. Read on for Vicki’s top picks for free and low-cost fun in Houston, business traveler style.
- Discovery Green
Discovery Green is a 12-acre park in downtown Houston directly across from the George R. Brown Convention Center. It’s an outdoor mecca for many of Houston’s best free events including outdoor movies, concerts, festivals and kid-friendly fun.
Its Thursday Concert Series, for example, showcases local and Texas-based musicians at the downtown park. The concert series usually runs September-October. The park also is home to a number of free outdoor fitness classes including yoga, parkour, Zumba and Circus Arts.
Visitors also can try their hand at kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and sailing a model boat for a small rental fee. These are available seasonally.
- Beer Can House
This quirky, eclectic home between Memorial Drive and Washington Avenue is a tribute to creativity, beer and patience! Owner John Milkovisch started his hodge-podge decorating in 1968 using thousands of rocks, marbles and metal pieces inlaid in concrete to avoid having to mow the yard.
Over the course of the next 18 years, he embellished the outside of the house with aluminum beer can siding. Beer cans hang from the roof edges to create a wind-chime effect on breezy days. Today, there are more than 50,000 beer cans used on the property!
The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art acquired the home after the owners passed away. Visitors can walk on the grounds of the Beer Can House for $5, which also includes the museum exhibit and a film inside the house. Tours are Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Houston Museum District
Houston‘s amazing Museum District is filled with 19 different museums in walkable zones. Several museums are free every day, such as The Menil Collection, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Lawndale Art Center, Rothko Chapel and Asia Society Texas.
Another seven museums are free on Thursdays at specific times. One of the best options for the business traveler is The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which is free every Thursday from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. During the afternoon/evening, take advantage of the free admission at the MFAH, hit the food truck at the Happy Hour, take a walk through the Centennial Gardens, and check Miller Outdoor Theatre’s calendar to see if there is a free show in the evening.
For the quirky-minded, check out the Art Car Museum, which features a small art car gallery and rotating museum exhibits. This is located on Heights Boulevard outside of Houston’s Museum District. This free museum is open from11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.
- Architecture Center of Houston Walking Tours
If you’re a fan of architecture, enjoy a two-hour walking tour thanks to Architecture Center of Houston. These tours are just $10 and feature a specific area of Houston. Recent tours have explored Rice University, the Montrose neighborhood, the University of Houston, Houston Heights and downtown Houston. Reservations are encouraged but not required.
Tours are available September through May at 6 p.m. Thursdays or at 10 a.m. Saturdays.
- Brewery Tours
Houston is home to several unique craft breweries. If you have time to squeeze it in your schedule, take a tour and taste what Houston has to offer beer lovers.
2032 Karbach near 290/610
This German-style brewery was named the second fastest growing brewery in the nation by The New York Times. It already underwent a $15 million expansion of its brewery that includes a beer garden, restaurant and patio, tasting room and private event space.
Tours are available at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday tours run every hour from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday tours run hourly from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are limited to the first 25 people. No reservations. The tour is free, and for $9 you receive a 9-oz. glass and four tokens for the Biergarten.
- Enjoy a Houston trail
Tackle your morning workout with the locals. Head to the 3-mile running/walking trail at Memorial Park in the Inner Loop. Or enjoy Buffalo Bayou Park’s popular greenbelt with the beautiful Houston skyline as a backdrop.
Buffalo Bayou Park is celebrating its one-year anniversary in Fall 2016 after a major $58 million renovation. The new area includes a dog park, hiking and biking trails, bicycle and kayak/canoe rentals, The Cistern tours, and more.
- Snap a selfie at a Houston mural
3601 White Oak (corner of Harvard and White Oak) in the Heights
2011 Leland (at St. Emanuel) downtown
Travis & Preston near Market Square Park downtown
Houston is full of fun and creative street murals. One of the coolest murals is in the Heights on the side of an Italian gelato shop, Gelazzi. A “Greetings from Houston” selfie is a great pic to share with your co-workers or friends back home!
Another local favorite was created by Gonzo247, a local artist with 25 years’ experience beautifying Houston’s walls. He founded and produced Houston’s first Houston Urban Experience (HUE) Festival in 2015 as well as the new Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas. Gonzo247 also is the artist who partnered with The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau to design and paint the popular “Houston Is…” mural in 2013.
There are so many amazing, free or low-cost places to explore in Houston. What better way to use your free rental day from National than to enjoy some bleisure time exploring this city?
If you’re not already a member of the Emerald Club, there are so many reasons for busy road warriors to join. In addition to great promotions like One Two Free, members can bypass the counter, choose any car in the Emerald Aisle and go. Click here to sign up for the Emerald Club, and don’t forget to register for One Two Free.
National Car Rental compensated Road Warriorette for this post. All opinions expressed are her own.
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