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Spent all your money on football tickets? Houston, we have a problem—or maybe we don’t. If you’re traveling to Texas for Super Bowl LI (or anytime for that matter), check out these Houston attractions with free admission.

RELATED: 7 new hotels that will make you never want to leave the Lone Star State again

If you have a limited idea of what counts as art, then the Art Car Museum will bring you out of your shell. Credit Bryce Womeldurf/Flickr.

The Art Car Museum will bring you out of your shell. | Credit: Bryce Womeldurf/Flickr.

Art Car Museum: At this contemporary art museum, cars are the canvas. You’ll find automobiles, bikes and motorcycles that have been painted, bejeweled and even wrapped in Christmas lights. No wonder they call it the Garage Mahal.

A visit to Discovery Green won't cost you any green. Credit sandrafdzh/Flickr.

A visit to Discovery Green won’t cost you any green. | Photo: sandrafdzh/Flickr.

Discovery Green: There’s always something fun—and often free—going on at this popular outdoor gathering place, including concerts, yoga and Screen on the Green movie nights. If you have kids in tow, let them burn energy on the playground and splash pad.

Selfie, anyone? Ed Schipul/Flickr.

Go ahead and figure out the panoramic setting on your phone’s camera. We’ll wait. | Photo: Ed Schipul/Flickr.

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park: It’s not quite Niagara Falls, but this 64-foot-tall fountain is still pretty impressive. The park is located in Uptown Houston, a district full of shops, restaurants and businesses, so swing by for a selfie while you’re out and about.

St. John Church was built in 1891. Credit Luz/Flickr.

St. John Church was built in 1891. | Photo: Luz/Flickr.

Heritage Society: Learn the story behind the city when you explore this cluster of authentically restored buildings. Through furniture, storytelling and family-friendly activities, you’ll get a feel for life in Houston from the city’s early days through the oil boom of the early 1900s.

After a heart-stopping football game, nature is the perfect place to catch your breath. Credit Roy Luck/Flickr.

After a heart-stopping football game, nature is the perfect place to catch your breath. | Photo: Roy Luck/Flickr.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center: This haven is less than a 10-mile drive from NGR Stadium, but it feels a world away. Trade the roar of the big city for a stroll along the nature trails, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.

The face you make when you find out zoo admission is free. Credit Becker1999/Flickr.

The face you make when you find out zoo admission is free on Tuesday afternoons. Photo: Becker1999/Flickr.

Houston Zoo: If you’re in town early, or staying late, take advantage of free Tuesday afternoon admission. That’s a savings of $18 for adults and $14 for kids.

RELATED: Enjoy savings bigger than Texas when you sign up for Orbitz Rewards!

Explore Houston like a local when you link up with a Greeter. Credit Katie Haugland Bowen/Flickr.

Explore Houston like a local when you link up with a Greeter. | Photo: Katie Haugland Bowen/Flickr.

Houston Greeters: Skip the standard city tour and opt for this organization that matches visitors with locals according to their schedule and interest. Take a bike tour, check out the craft brewery scene, hit up a blues club and more. It’s like online dating, but without the anxiety.

Glenwood Cemetery is drop-dead gorgeous. Credit urban.houstonian/Flickr.

Glenwood Cemetery is drop-dead gorgeous. | Photo: urban.houstonian/Flickr.

Glenwood Cemetery: Just a mile west of downtown, this 19th-century garden is the perfect place to find peace as you meander through the lush green spaces and stunning statues. Among the buried are the last president of the Republic of Texas, four governors, more than 20 Houston mayors and billionaire aviator Howard Hughes.

Credit Roy Luck/Flickr.

For a different view of the city, get on a boat. | Photo: Roy Luck/Flickr.

Sam Houston Boat Tour: Get a different view of the city when you embark on a tour of the Port Authority’s cargo area. The 90-minute, round trip excursions are offered Wednesday through Sunday; they’re free, but reservations are required.


Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Sports

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The Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most high profile gigs in music. You get only 12 minutes, maybe less, if you’re sharing the stage. For some, it’s a blur of glory. For others it feels like an eternity set to fireworks. In it’s 50 years, the Super Bowl halftime show has certainly seen its share of both triumphs and catastrophes. With Lady Gaga set to take the stage in Houston in 2017, here’s our list of the Super Bowl’s most historic halftime performances.

RELATED: Get your Super Bowl LI tickets from CheapTickets!

Flickr CC: Larry Darling

Flickr CC: Larry Darling

8. Katy Perry, Missy Elliot and Lenny Kravitz (2005)

There’s no doubt Katy Perry knows how to put on a good show. Who can forget the sight of Katy in her flame-print dress riding that gigantic metal lion? She did look a little stiff singing “Roar” atop her gigantic stead. Nevertheless, it was definitely one of the most memorable openings to any halftime show. Lenny Kravitz joined her for a particularly rocking version of “I Kissed A Girl.” As the first bars of “Get Your Freak On” start pounding out for the return of the fantastic Missy Elliot, the performance kicks into full gear. Yes, Katy gets slightly upstaged by her boisterous backup, Left Shark, and Missy, a supremely confident stage stealer, but ultimately this performance represents all the beautiful insanity that is a Super Bowl halftime show—turned up to 11.

Flickr CC: kyleburning

Flickr CC: kyleburning

7. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, and Nelly (2004)

Hands down the most famous Super Bowl halftime show in history, just for all the wrong reasons. One second of breast and Janet Jackson’s career was over. As nearly was Justin’s. The FCC fined CBS and it wasn’t until 2011 that a court finally quashed the penalties. The NFL even kicked ex-‘N Sync member JC Chasez off that year’s Pro Bowl halftime show for fear he would be too sexually suggestive. They opted instead for Hawaiian dancers. CBS forced Janet Jackson to apologize in a recorded statement. Oh, and the performances were pretty good, too.

Flickr CC: Teresa Sedo

Flickr CC: Teresa Sedo

6. Pete Fountain, Irma Thomas, and Doug Kershaw (1990)

The mashup is an NFL halftime tradition, but they can’t all be winners. While the Super Bowl has seen its fair share of insane combinations of talent over the years (the absolutely bizarre, yet oddly enthralling combo of ‘N Sync, Aerosmith, Nelly, Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears jumps to mind) this one takes the cake for insane pairings. A dual celebration of Mardi Gras and the 40 year anniversary of the Peanuts cartoon, it’s ridiculous and not even in a fun way. The show opens with Charlie Brown and company dancing along to a marching band and ends with Snoopy riding a Louisiana riverboat to “When The Saints Go Marching In” which segues into “Happy Birthday Charlie Brown.” Not one bit of it makes any sense.

5. Michael Jackson (1993)

For a long time the NFL treated the halftime show as a throwaway. Between 1967 and 1989, halftime shows were cheesy affairs. 1992’s halftime show featured Gloria Estefan performing with a group of Olympic figure skaters. It was better, but nobody watched it because “In Living Color” aired a comedy special at the exact same time. The very next year, the NFL brought in the king of pop for what turned out to be the last of Michael Jackson’s many great televised performances.

Right from the beginning, the star power was on in full effect. Jackson stood statue still for a full minute and a half, just letting the crowd go wild, before bursting into “Billy Jean.” The ending was cheesy, with a chorus of children joining in on “Heal The World,” but this was the beginning of the star studded halftime show lineups we’ve come to expect—and the NFL never looked back.

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Flickr CC: Steffane Lui

Flickr CC: Steffane Lui

4. Diana Ross (1996)

If Michael Jackson was the beginning of the Super Bowl halftime show’s celebrity power, Diana Ross paved the way for ridiculous spectacles like Katy Perry’s metal lion. The cinematography was a mess. But the performance was great, culminating in Diana’s big exit. A helicopter lands on the stage and she’s airlifted out of the stadium as the words “A true diva knows how to make a grand entrance and an even grander exit” flash onto the screen. And with that, the halftime show’s history of over-the-top pageantry was firmly cemented.

Flickr CC: PeterTea

Flickr CC: PeterTea

3. Prince (2007)

Just Prince doing his thing in the middle of a thunderstorm. The man absolutely brought it with fantastic covers of “We Will Rock You,” “Proud Mary” and “All Along The Watchtower,” as well as a few of his personal best. Only a few years after “nipplegate,” this was a daring choice for the NFL. Prince’s performance was undoubtedly sexy, but managed to stay cable network friendly. The finale of “Purple Rain” was one of the best any performer can hope to offer, and Prince’s guitar solo made it clear; if you weren’t going to actually play an instrument, you better at least have a metal lion or something.

Flickr CC: U2start

Flickr CC: U2start

2. U2 (2002)

More than a great show, this was a true historic moment. Bono and company started things out with a full rendition of “Beautiful Day.” Then the words “September 11th, 2001” flash onto a giant screen behind the band. You can actually hear a reverent hush fall over the cheering crowd as Bono begins “MLK,” then transitions into “Where The Streets Have No Name” as the names of survivors begin to scroll on the screen behind him. So much could have gone wrong and not just because a subpar performance would have been a disaster. U2 played it perfectly, from the song choices to the staging. As Bono shouts “America!” and an ocean of glow sticks wave pridefully back at him, you can still feel the intensity of the moment watching it years later. Powerful and unifying. It wasn’t a “wardrobe malfunction,” but it got America’s attention.

Flickr CC: Arnie Papp

Flickr CC: Arnie Papp

1. Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and Mark Ronson (Let’s be honest, we’re talking about Bey’s part) (2016)

Beyoncé’s first Super Bowl performance in 2013 was undoubtedly a better show. She got top billing and reunited with Destiny’s Child. Easily one of the best halftime shows, it’s no surprise the NFL wanted her back just three years later. Coldplay opened with “Viva La Vida,” a perfect opening number, and Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson brought it to us with “Uptown Funk.” But it was Bey’s performance that made history.

She didn’t even need a stage, launching into “Formation” right on the field in front of a wall of fire. The song, and it’s accompanying music video is a clear indictment of racial inequality and police brutality. Beyoncé and her backup dancers dressed in outfits that evoked the Black Panthers. Just like U2’s performance, this was a show that became part of the American narrative. Not all historical events are unifying. Neither are all Super Bowl halftime shows. This was an amazing artist, using one of the biggest stages in show business to address a pressing social problem in American culture. Whether or not you feel it was appropriate, we will be talking about Beyoncé’s performance—especially people’s reaction to it—for years to come.   


Tagged: City, Sports

Jesse Betend

Jesse Betend

Jesse is a writer and radio producer in Chicago. He is the Executive Producer for the embarrassing storytelling podcast "We Still Like You" and writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.