Things to do

25 Free Things To Do In Austin

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Although Austin, Texas, is not cheap, you can discover this city's affordable side. If you are into music, festivals, museum exhibits, concerts, guided tours, kid-friendly attractions, or parks, enjoy these all for free in this city.

From outdoor adventures to free live music, explore the best of Austin without breaking the bank. Relish the city without putting a serious dent in your wallet while exploring these 25 free things to do in Austin.

1. Hike Mount Bonnell

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Climb the stone steps to the top of Mount Bonnell for breathtaking panoramic views of Austin. Despite its short length, the hike offers stunning perspectives of the city and the surrounding area.

A historic destination since the 1850s, this Lake Austin landmark is a favorite among tourists. Enjoy the reward of this quick but fulfilling hike as you take in the picturesque vistas from the summit. It's a must-visit spot for those seeking a memorable and visually captivating experience in Austin for free.

2. Explore Zilker Park

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Enjoy the beauty of Austin by taking a leisurely stroll through Zilker Park, a vast oasis in the city center. Have some outdoor fun by renting kayaks or paddleboards on Lady Bird Lake. Attend a free Zilker Summer Symphony concert or unwind under the iconic moonlight towers.

Don't forget to explore the stunning Zilker Botanical Garden. On Free Days, admission is free, and though not mandatory, donations are appreciated. It's a way to connect with nature and admire Austin's natural and cultural attractions.

3. Walk/Bike The Barton Creek Greenbelt

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You can explore the Barton Creek Greenbelt by walking or biking to uncover its hidden gems. Enjoy refreshing pools and discover hidden waterfalls along this picturesque greenway. You can head to Gus Fruh, a swimming hole with a popular limestone rock wall for climbers.

Keep going to find the secluded Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls areas, offering more natural beauty. It's a scenic adventure where you can soak up the sun and enjoy the outdoors in Austin.

4. Catch The Congress Avenue Bats

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Witness over a million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk (March-October). You can experience this mesmerizing sight at the Austin American-Statesman's Bat Observation Area on the southeast side of Congress Avenue.

Alternatively, stand on the bridge itself or head to the bat viewing area on the southeast corner of Congress Bridge and Lady Bird Lake. It's an Austin free stuff to do and an unforgettable way to enjoy nature's wonders.

5. Visit The Blanton Museum of Art

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You can experience art for free at the Blanton Museum in Austin every Thursday evening, showcasing American and European masterpieces. Thanks to the Moody Family Free Day Endowment, enjoy free admission every Tuesday.

Their updated grounds have three-story-tall "petals" forming a canopy over gardens and entry points. Explore diverse exhibits, engaging with artifacts from the Maya civilization to modern photography. In here, Austin free stuff to do includes enjoying art, culture, and history.

6. Admire The Murals

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Take a self-guided tour of Austin's vibrant murals, like the iconic "Greetings from Austin." Also, capture "Hi, How Are You" at South First, Annie, Guadalupe, and 21st streets. Admire the famous "I love you so much" mural on Jo's coffee wall at the South Congress.

You can discover more murals using Austin's Best Murals blog and tour guide.You can also enjoy the city's artistic side and create memorable moments.

7. Window-shop In South Congress

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Explore Austin's unique charm with a cost-free shopping spree along the South Congress. Meander through quirky shops, vintage treasures, and local art galleries on this bustling street. Explore the iconic Allens Boots for distinctive footwear and find affordable jewelry crafted by local artists at Paper Work.

In addition, you can find beautiful retro items at Feathers Vintage. While shopping itself may involve spending, the experience of wandering and window-shopping along the South Congress.

8. Explore The Bullock

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Discover Texas history at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Explore captivating exhibitions and catch films at the Bullock IMAX Theatre and Texas Spirit Theater. You can also find Texas-themed gifts at the Museum Store.

Dive into history for free on the first Sunday of every month with H-E-B Free First Sunday. Additionally, enjoy free exhibition admission every second Sunday in July, commemorating Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock's birthday.

9. Listen To Live Music Outdoors

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Enjoy Austin's vibrant music scene with free outdoor shows at popular venues like Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlies, and The Far Out Lounge & Stage. Explore numerous other outdoor venues across Austin for more musical experiences.

Feel the city's musical energy at bars offering free shows, making it a budget-friendly way to enjoy the diverse sounds that define Austin's legendary music culture.

10. Catch A Show At The Long Center City Terrace

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Don't miss the Austin Symphony Orchestra's free Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park on Long Center's lawn. Sunday evenings in the summer offer a chance to relax under the stars with a lawn chair or blanket, enjoying classical music and the city skyline.

They host diverse free outdoor concerts most weekends, providing a unique opportunity to witness 162 artists and performers in one day. It's a delightful way for classical music lovers and everyone else to enjoy Austin's cultural offerings.

11. Attend A Free Festival

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Enjoy the lively spirit of Austin with countless free festivals happening all year round. Celebrate diverse themes like food, music, film, and culture.

Downtown Austin comes alive with the sounds of hundreds of local bands playing free live music across various venues. It's a fantastic opportunity to engage in the city's vibrant atmosphere and experience the rich cultural tapestry.

12. Enjoy Picnic At Auditorium Shores

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Bring your kids and dogs and enjoy a picnic at the Auditorium Shores along Lady Bird Lake. Fly kites in a spacious grassy park or bike for a scenic view of the downtown skyline. It's a dog-friendly spot, allowing your furry friends to roam free.

Let your dogs socialize against the backdrop of Lady Bird Lake and the beautiful skyline. It's a must-visit for families and pet lovers looking for a picturesque and pet-friendly park in Austin.

13. Visit Austin Farmers Market

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Stroll through the SFC Farmer's Market Downtown in Republic Square every Saturday. Take a leisurely walk, savoring the tempting homemade treats and gourmet snacks.

Explore other Austin farmers' markets for a variety of fresh, seasonal delights. From urban farms to pick-your-own orchards, Austin offers several markets each week. It's an excellent way to support local farms and always have access to the freshest produce.

14. Happy Hour Deals

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Enjoy Austin's dining scene with fantastic happy hour deals. Many bars and restaurants offer discounted drinks and eat during happy hour. Check out popular spots like Barley Swine, Peché, and La Condesa for discounted drinks and appetizers during this magical time of day.

Dive into small bites, sip on classic margaritas, and snag deals on beer and wine. Happy hour is the perfect opportunity to enjoy top-notch dining without breaking the bank.

15. Take A Free Class

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Explore free activities Austin by checking out local libraries and community centers. They often host complimentary classes on diverse topics, from arts and crafts to language and technology.

Seize the chance to join these classes before they fill up. Whether you're a longtime resident, a newcomer, or just passing through, there's something for everyone. Don't miss the opportunity to learn, connect, and enjoy enriching experiences without spending a dime.

16. People-watch At Barton Springs Pool

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Dive into free fun at Barton Springs Pool, a historic spring-fed oasis in Austin, Texas. Enjoy the natural beauty of Zilker Park, as this outdoor pool is filled with water from nearby springs.

Experience the refreshing waters during the "Swim at your own risk" hours from 5 AM to 8 AM daily without needing a pass. For later, entry passes are required on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays after 8 AM. 

17. Wander Through The University Of Texas Campus

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Enjoy free cultural gems at the University of Texas at Austin. Roam the picturesque campus and relish the college vibe while exploring impressive museums like the Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, and the LBJ Presidential Library.

Admire the architecture, stroll through beautiful grounds, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Immerse yourself in art, history, and the unique energy of the university. It's a budget-friendly way to experience Austin's cultural and educational offerings.

18. Go On A Historic Tour

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Step into Austin's past with free historical experiences. Grab a map from Preservation Austin for a self-guided walking tour. Then, discover the Capitol, music venues, and African-American landmarks. Sign up for free guided Downtown Walking Tours at the Austin Visitor Center.

Dive into black cultural districts with Six Square Historic Tours or pedal through history with the Black History Bike Ride. Uncover Austin's rich history, whether on foot or on wheels, and immerse yourself in the city's diverse and fascinating stories.

19. Take A Tour Of The Texas Hill Country

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Explore Texas Hill Country with free outdoor experiences near Austin. Some free stuff to do in Austin, TX includes stunning hikes, state parks, and picturesque picnic spots.

Enjoy Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Reimers Ranch Park, and Lockhart State Park. Engage yourself in the Hill Country charm with wildflowers, waterfalls, wine tastings, and Western dancing. You can relish a day of natural wonders.

20. Visit Cathedral Of Junk

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Experience the eccentric side of Austin with a visit to the Cathedral of Junk. While it's in someone's backyard, you can arrange a free private tour by calling their number.

Although they don't take fees, donations, about $5 per person, are appreciated. This weird and wonderful attraction requires a call ahead to verify its opening status, ensuring unique and cost-free activities in Austin Texas.

21. Stop By The Thinkery

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Discover the joy of learning through play at Thinkery, offering 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor STEAM-focused activities for kids and families. Enjoy free admission on Tuesdays (3 pm – 7 pm) and Sundays (3 pm – 5 pm), welcoming families from across Central Texas.

Donations are appreciated to support this engaging experience. Don't miss the sea monster outside, adding an extra dose of fun to your visit.

22. Take A Tour Of Tejano Walking Trial

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Embark on a journey through Hispanic history with the Tejano Walking Trail. The self-guided trail showcases 24 culturally rich sites in the East Cesar Chavez and Holly neighborhoods, covering 4.9 miles and about 2.5 hours.

Experience this historical adventure for free things to do in Austin TX by joining the Tejano Trails every third Saturday of the month. Engage yourself in the vibrant heritage of the area through this engaging and cost-free walking tour.

23. Explore Mueller Lake Park

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Savor Sunday mornings at Texas Farmers Market, then head to Mueller Lake Park for free family fun. Stroll the paved trails and let kids delight in the playground's slides and jungle gyms.

The park offers a dog-friendly atmosphere and a dedicated peninsula for sun-soaked picnics. Don't miss the enchanting Nessy the Lakeness Dragon art installation, open to the public for a completely free and whimsical experience in one of Austin's larger public parks.

24. Dive Into Deep Eddy Pool

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Dive into history at Deep Eddy Pool, Austin's oldest swimming pool. It offers free admission for the public. The historic gem boasts a scenic location by Lady Bird Lake in West Austin.

Soak up the sun on the grassy hill and make a splash in the enormous pool. After your swim, treat yourself to burgers and tiki drinks at the Pool Burger nearby.

25. Visit Mexic-Arte Museum

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Discover Austin's cultural richness with a visit to the Mexican-Arte Museum downtown. Enjoy Sundays for free. If you're planning a weekday visit, it's just $2.40 per hour. 

Engage yourself in a vibrant collection showcasing traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art. Take a guided tour for a special cultural experience. Don't miss the captivating exterior mural on Fifth Street.