50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (2024)

  • Outdoor Activities

Arts & History

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1. Go on a Historic Tour
Get out there and experience Austin's history. Head to the Austin Visitor Center and sign up for one of the guided Downtown Walking Tours of landmarks and local heroes. Or download the free Walk of the Town app (from the Google Play of the App Store), featuring three downtown audio tours narrated by local Austin experts. Free, self-guidedhistoric walking tours offeredbyPreservation Austinlead you to the stately Capitol building on Congress Avenue, iconic music venues, noteworthyAfrican American historical sites, and more. Join Six Square Historic Tours and experience one of Austin's fascinating Black cultural districts. Or delve into Austin's African American history on wheels with Black History Bike Ride.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (1)
Texas State Capitol
.Credit David Aguilar.

2. Tour the Texas State Capitol Building & Grounds
Take a free guided tour of the granite Texas State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark. Look up to spy the Texas star on the dome in the ornate rotunda. See courtrooms and chambers where state Senators and House members meet. And explore hidden spaces like the subterranean vault. Then, walk the grounds and read the inscriptions on notable monuments.

3. Visit the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden
Walk leafy trails that lead to outdoor artworks by Charles Umlaufat the. Spend a few hours exploring the picturesque Sculpture Garden andindoor gallery.

4. Discover the Tejano Walking Trail
Take off on the Tejano Walking Trail, a self-guided tour of more than 20 culturally significant Hispanic sites in the East Cesar Chavez and Holly neighborhoods.

5. See the Neill-Cochran House Museum
Visit the Neill-Cochran House Museumand take a self-guided tour through Austin'shistory. The museum showcases the city's cultural, economic, and architectural transformation from 1855 to the present day.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (2)Greetings from Austin Mural. Credit Monet Hambrick.

6. Go on a Mural Tour
Take a self-guided tour of Austin’s iconic murals, including Greetings from AustinatSouth Firstand Annie Streets; Hi, How Are YouatGuadalupe and21st Streets; andilove you so muchmural painted on the wall of Jo's Coffee on South Congress. Create your own itinerary and explore more murals with the help ofAustin's Best Murals blog and tour guide.

7. Visit Mexic-Arte Museum
The Mexic-Arte Museumhouses a collection of traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and cultural itemsin downtown Austin. Explore the galleries and be sure to check out the exterior mural along Fifth Street.

8. Explore the Bullock
Spend a day exploring Austin'sBullock Texas State History Museum, which features fascinating exhibitions, and films at the Bullock IMAX Theatre and Texas Spirit Theater, plus the Museum Store for great Texas-themed gifts to take home.

9. Take the Kids to Thinkery
Kids can paint, climb, and make a splash at ThinkeryAustin's interactive children's museum where little ones have fun while learning.

10. Watch an Art House Film Or ClassicFlick
AFS Cinemapresents classic, independent, and global films on its two big screens. Don’t miss the full bar, with beer on tap, as well as concessions that include snacks from local purveyors like Lick Honest Ice Creams. Head over to locally owned Violet Crown Cinema to see indie and documentary films shown on four screens. TheParamount Theatreis a century-old performance venue and movie theater in the heart of downtown Austin. Originally opened as a vaudeville house, its eclectic entertainment ranges from music to comedy shows.

11. Visit The Contemporary Austin
See exceptional artwork in beautiful spaces while enjoying deals offered by The Contemporary Austin. Admission is free on Thursdays to both the Jones Center and Laguna Gloria locations. On other days, buy a ticket to one venue, then visit the other for free within seven days.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (3)Visitors at the Blanton. Courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art.

12. Visit Austin's Cultural Campus
The University of Texas at Austin is home to an impressive collection of museums, including the Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center,LBJ Presidential Library,and the .

13. Tour the Governor's Mansion
Be regaled by the historic stories told during a tour of the Texas Governor’s Mansion, which has served as the governor's residence since 1856. Make a tour reservation at least a week in advance.

Music & Entertainment

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14. Hear Live Music Outdoors
Several of Austin’s most popular music venues feature live shows outdoors, including rock and alternative at Mohawk, dance at Cheer Up Charlies, and all genres at . Check out even more outdoor venues throughout Austin.

15. Tour Austin City Limits Live
For the ultimate Austin music tour, visitAustin City Limits (ACL) Live at The Moody Theater and get a behind-the-scenes look at where America’s longest-running television music series is taped.

16. Enjoy aPerformance in the Park
Enjoy a free show in a beautiful outdoor setting. The annualZilker Summer Musicaloffers live theater from mid-July through mid-August on an outdoor stage under the stars at the Zilker Hillside Theatre.

17. See a Live Show at Güero's Taco Bar
On Wednesday evenings, order a cold margarita and find a seat in the Oak Garden at Güero’s Taco Bar to see musicians performing as part of Sun Radio’s Texas Radio Live series.

18. Watch a Movie at the Drive-in
Motor over to the Blue Starlite Urban Drive-In to catch an indie film or cult classic at Austin's popular drive-in movie theater. Check out their location Downtown or in Mueller.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (4)Free Week. Credit Renee Dominguez.

19. Experience a Free Music Fest
Every January, venues on Red River join in Free Week, a showcase of mostly local music that has every bar packed and every stage rockin’. Besides catching popular acts, you’ll have the chance to sample scrumptious food from local eateries. In July, Red River music venues offer free admission for Hot Summer Nights, featuring four days of shows by over 120 local and national artists.

20. Search for Vintage Treasures in North Loop
​North Loop stores Room Service Vintage and Blue Velvet Vintage Clothing are fantastic vintage finds. Room Service has bigger items and kitsch, while Blue Velvet stocks mostly clothing and accessories. Stop into for retro tees and western wear.

21. Go Dancing at Broken Spoke
Do some two-stepping at Broken Spoke, an old-fashioned honky-tonk known for its chicken-fried steak and free dinner show, with live bands Tuesday through Saturdayevenings.

22. Enjoy a FreeSymphony
Classical music lovers won’t want to missAustin Symphony Orchestra's Hartman FoundationConcerts in the Park, held on the lawnat theLong Center. On Sunday evenings during the summer, bring a lawn chair or blanket and kick back under the stars, listening to classical music while soaking in city skyline views.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (5)South Congress Avenue. Credit Arts+Labor.

23. Shop South Congress
Take a shopping stroll along South Congress, known for its funky stores and chic boutiques. Check out the kicks at Allens Boots, affordable jewelry by local artists at Paper Work, and beautiful retro wares at FeathersVintage.

24. Listen to Live Gospel Music at Brunch
Make a reservation forSunday Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, an Austin music institution that serves up lip-smacking barbecue along with some of the best live bands around, all for one reasonable price.

25. Explore the Whole Foods Flagship
Stop at the original flagship Whole Foods Market, where you’ll find four restaurants, a beer and wine bar, a food truck, and rooftop events.

26. Browse an Iconic Record Store
With a soft spot for Texas musicians, Austin’s iconic Waterloo Recordspresents free in-store performances by emerging local musicians. Take time toflipthrough the shop’s extensive selection of vinyl. Check out more music and record stores in Austin.

Outdoor Activities

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27. Rent a Bike
Zip around town and do some sightseeing on your own on abike rentedfromMellow Johnny's Bike Shop.Bikes start at $40 forfull-day rentals. Or look for one of the 60+bike-share stations throughout downtown Austin and rent a BCycle 24 hours a day.

28. Visit Zilker Park
Stop and smell the roses atZilker Park, a 360-acre oasis in the heart of the city that’s home to the blooming Zilker Botanical Garden(reserve tickets online in advance) and Barton Springs Pool (reservations recommended). On the west side of Zilker Park, don't miss hands-on exhibits, programs, and activities for visitors of all ages at the .

29. Play a Round of Disc Golf
Enjoy a round of disc golf in scenic settings like theDisc Golf Course in Zilker Park, theRoy G. Guerrero Disc Golf Course in East Austin, and the Mary Moore Searight Disc Golf Course in South Austin.

30. Explore the Texas Hill Country
Drive out to theHill Countryfor spectacular hikes, state parks, and picnic spots. Spend the day atpicture-perfectparks likeEmma Long Metropolitan Park(prepaid passes required Friday through Sunday and holidays),Reimers Ranch Park(daily use fee payable in cash only),Lockhart State Park(online reservations recommended), and more.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (6)Butler Hike & Bike Trail. Credit to Jeff Djayasaputra.

31. Bike the Hike-and-Bike Trail
Rent a bicycle from Barton Springs Bike Rental & Toursand bike the 10-mileAnn and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trailthat skirts the glittering waters of Lady Bird Lake. Insider tip: Snap a selfie with the statue of Austin music legend Stevie Ray Vaughan stationed along the route.

32. Hike Mount Bonnell
Take a hike up the stone steps toMount Bonnelland get a panoramic view of the Austin area.This Lake Austin landmark has been a popular tourist destination since the 1850s.

33. Explore the Greenbelt
Hike or bike along theBarton Creek Greenbeltto reach Gus Fruh, a swimming hole known for its famed Urban Assault limestone rock wall that’s a favorite of climbers. Explore further to discover the hidden Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls areas.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (7)
Congress Avenue Bridge Bats. Credit BentoBox Photos.

34. See Austin's Famous Bats
Head tothe Congress Avenue Bridge to witness a staggering 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats fly into the sky from beneath the bridge nightly from spring through fall.

35. Swim in a Spring-fed Pool
Take a dip in one of Austin’s most popular spring-fed swimming holes, located in the heart of the city. Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park maintains a refreshing temperature of 68 degrees year-roundand has plenty of grassy areas for people-watching.

36. Take the Kids to Mueller Lake Park
Grab a healthy snackat the Texas Farmers Market on Sunday mornings, then explore Mueller Lake Park. The park features paved walking trails and a large playground that kids just can’t resist.

37. Explore St. Edward's Greenbelt
Experience a lush hidden escape within the city limits at the quiet, 80-acreSt. Edward's Greenbelt, with lots of easy trails and a swimming hole with an old-fashioned rope swing.

38. Dive into Deep Eddy Pool
The huge Deep Eddy Pool is the state’s oldest pool. Sunbathe on the grassy hill overlooking Lady Bird Lake in scenic West Austin, then stop by neighboring Pool Burger for burgers and tiki drinks after your swim.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (8)
Lady Bird Lake SUP. Credit Rachel Phillips.

39. PaddleLady Bird Lake
Get on the water at Lady Bird Lake, where you can rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes from Rowing Dock, AustinKayak Tours,Zilker Park Boat Rentals,and more.

40. See the Peaco*cks at Mayfield Park
Originally an early 1900s summer retreat for the family of prominent Austin politician Allison Mayfield, Mayfield Park is now a beautiful public green space known for its colorful strutting peaco*cks.

41. Shop Local at a Farmers Market
You won’t be able to resist the homemade treats and gourmet snacks at theSFC Farmer’s Market Downtown, held on Saturdays in historicRepublic Square. Be sure to check out other Austin farmer's markets.

Restaurants & Bars

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42. Sample Food Trucks at The Picnic
A food truck stop is a must. Post up atThe Picnic, offering plenty of picnic tables and a variety of food trucks, includingCoat & Thaiand King of Lobster. Order takeout or dine-inon the covered patio.

43. Sip a Pint on a Patio
Enjoy a craft beer and handmade pizzaon the spacious patio attheABGB.Last Stand Brewing's outdoor beer garden offers more than 10 house-brewed beers on tap. Or sit on the patio and sample Hold Out Brewing's array of house draft beers, including pale ales, lagers, and IPAS. Don't miss Hold Out's happy hour from 4p.m. to 7p.m. Monday through Friday for buy-one-get-one burgersand discounted appetizers, beers, and co*cktails.

44. Happy Hour at The Little Longhorn
TheLittle Longhorn Saloonis the center of Austin’s honky-tonk country music scene, and there’s never a cover charge. It’s also known for itshappy hour, with $2.50 Lone Star 12-ounce draft beers from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

45. Get aBurger to Go at Sandy's
Taste an Austin tradition at the roadside Sandy’s Hamburgers, open since 1946. Must-orders include the double cheeseburger with fries, frozen custard, and frosty root beer.

46. Dine at a Convenience Store
Make like an Austinite and stop in at Quickie Pickie, a neighborhood market, and eatery featuring breakfast tacos, locally roasted coffee, and27taps.

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (9)Mean Eyed Cat. Credit @meaneyedcatbar on Instagram.

47. Drink at aDive
Pair your margarita with sizzling fajitas at El Arroyo (famous for its hilarious marquee sign messages out front). Or,toast the man in black at the Mean Eyed Cat, a Johnny Cash-themed bar that has a happy hour Monday through Friday.

48. TryTacos from a Food Truck
Tacos are an inexpensive and delicious dining option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! There are loads of amazing places to try, including Veracruz All Natural, Pueblo Viejo, and El Primo.

49. Plan a Picnic at Auditorium Shores
Bring the kids and the dogs for a picnic at Auditorium Shores, along Lady Bird Lake. Fly a kite at the expansive, grassy park or ride a bike to catch a picturesque view of the downtown skyline.

50. Opt for an Affordable Upscale Happy Hour
Austin is packed with top-notchdining happy hour deals. Find some of the most popular deals atBarley Swine,Peché,andLa Condesa.

Need more insider advice? Call or stop by the Austin Visitor Center for local tips, and check out the online Gift Shop for unique, local items!

50 Cheap, Fun, & Free Things to Do in Austin | Visit Austin, TX (2024)
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