Enjoy Free Arts Performances All Summer at Miller Outdoor Theatre

I’ve always said Houston is Texas’ best kept secret; the culture, the food, the people, the stuff to do, the arts…the list goes on. But one of the absolute gems, something this native Houstonian has enjoyed since a very young age, nestled right near the center of the 610 loop between Hermann Park, The Museum of Science, and the Houston Zoo is Miller Outdoor Theatre.

family enjoys a performance at Miller Outdoor TheatreI’ve seen plays, operas, dances, symphonies, ballets, concerts, acrobatic circuses, and bands there. I watched plays with my parents there as a grade schooler. In high school we’d show up with a blanket and box of pizza, right after school to get a good spot. I’ve danced wildly, barefoot in the grass, on the side of the hill with my then 6 year old daughter to a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody. She fell asleep at 2 years old, in footed pajamas, passed smooth out on the side of the hill after a ballet performance.

We’ve seen everything from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to a Queen cover band, to Earth Harp {google it, it’s worth it}, Heart, America, The Houston Ballet, totally for free. Yes. Free. 100% free.

100 years ago, in 1921 Houston City Council authorized the construction of the Miller Memorial Theatre, calling it a “permanent bandstand”. It looked a little different back then but the theatre has been providing Houstonians with free arts performances ever since.

Native Houstonians {or those here long enough to be adopted by the city} know how to do Miller Outdoor Theatre the right way. So here’s a little inside scoop from a native.

Check the Schedule

girl watching performance on hill at nightMiller Outdoor Theatre has a seasonal schedule, running from mid-March through mid-November. They have daytime performances for kiddos too. As soon as the schedule is released for the year, we go ahead and add the performances we’re interested in to our family calendar.

Arrive Early

Get there early to get a good seat {more on where to sit to come}. Sometimes we arrive hours before the performance. The kids can play while you set up chairs or blankets. The back side of the hill is perfect for rolling and I believe, a roll down that hill is an absolute right of passage for any Houstonian child. We bring bubbles and games and food and make a whole evening out of it.


There is free parking at the large central parking lot in front of the Houston Zoo, at the McGovern Centennial Gardens and at the golf course clubhouse. Again, get there early to get a good parking spot. It is a little walk from the parking lot to the theatre so consider bringing a wagon to haul your gear.

Know Where You Want to Sit

family on the hill at Miller Outdoor Theatre You can sit on the hill or in the covered seating, it’s all free.

Covered Seating

You do need a ticket for covered seating. You reserve your free tickets for covered seating online one day before each performance starting at 10:00 a.m. through noon the day of the performance. 5 minutes after the show starts, unclaimed seats are released to anyone who wants to sit there. So if you choose covered seating, remember to arrive a little early. I’ve only sat in the covered seating once, I much prefer the hill.

Sitting on the Hill

You do not need a ticket for the hill. If you plan to sit on the hill decide ahead of time: lawn chairs or blanket. If you’re looking at the stage, lawn chairs are always on the left, blankets on the right. Look for the sculpture at the top of the hill to see the dividing line. We’ve brought our daughter to performances since she was teeny. Mom tip, the chair side works better for little ones because they can walk back and forth in front of your chairs without disturbing anyone else.

Do Miller Right, Picnic It Up

Get your rolling cooler ready, a picnic and a show is what Miller is all about. There are concessions at Miller, but you are also welcome to bring your own refreshments. We usually bring charcuterie and drinks of choice {alcohol is allowed}.

We’re known to do it up, I’ve even brought a crock pot of hot spinach dip and signature cocktails. Just remember no glass, no pets and no smoking. And as always, please clean up after yourself {we always bring a small trash bag with us}.

The Arts & Children

woman holds a sleeping baby on hillMy best recommendation is to keep an open mind and check out all different kinds of performances. Bring the kids to Miller Outdoor Theatre. Art is essential to culture. Exposing kids to different kinds of art helps with imagination, creativity, and logical thinking. Seeing different kinds of performances helps them understand different cultures and the world around them. I’m pretty sure it has the same effect on adults too. Miller Outdoor Theatre is my favorite way to experience the performing arts in Houston, and it has the best price tag in town, free.

Handy Miller Outdoor Theatre Packing List

supplies for Miller Outdoor TheatreBlanket {even if you are in the chair section, this is handy for kids}
Folding Chairs
Folding Table
Paper Towels
Trash Bag
Bug Spray
Card Games/Bubbles {for entertainment if you show up early}

Have you been to performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre? What other tips would you share? 


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Christina Sizemore
Christina {Chris} is a Houston native. She grew up just north of the Heights and after a short stent in Oklahoma to obtain an advertising degree, she now resides in Spring with her husband, daughter {2013} and black lab {2016}. In 2017, just before Hurricane Harvey, their lives were devastated by a house fire. They lost their home, belongings, dog and her husband almost lost his life. Chris had two options, succumb to PTSD, guilt and depression, or live. She chose to live life brazenly. Today she is a marketing consultant, writer, artist, and adventurer; working from home or from the woods with her family in their renovated camper. Together they have a goal of visiting every state park in Texas {there are 89 total}, stand up paddle board in tow. Chris is currently writing a book about their home fire journey. She has a passion for mental health, exploration and encouraging others to see the world, follow their dreams, and live life brazenly. You can find more of her writing and art at @strongerthanfire.com, or follow her on Instagram @strongerthanfire, where she shares her family’s adventures, encouragement and weird humor like the backyard telenovela and reviews of made-for-TV Christmas movies.



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