Everything is bigger in Texas, including the fun you can have for free while staying in Austin. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make the most of your visit, that’s why we’ve put together our Top 17 list of the free things to do in Austin.
Considered one of the crown jewels of Austin is the 900-foot long pool. The ultimate swimming destination was created when the Austin dam was constructed with a natural bedrock and gravel pool floor. There are stairs and diving boards to enter the Barton Springs pool’s perfect 70-degree water. Open daily from 5 am to 10 pm (some hours are «swim at your own risk»), except for Thursdays when the park is closed from 9 am to 7 pm for cleaning.
Get a breathtaking view of Austin from the top of Mount Bonnell. Climb the stairs to the 775ft high viewing deck and pavilion where you can take in the views of downtown Austin, and even catch a glimpse of the 360 Bridge. This spot is perfect for photo ops, a picnic, or even just to explore with your four-legged friend –best yet, it’s FREE!
In downtown Austin, you will find the beautiful and serene Lady Bird Lake. Here many locals and visitors come to enjoy outdoor recreations like hiking, biking paddle boarding, kayaking, or just sunbathing in the park. It’s also a great spot for watching the Mexican free-tailed bats swarm just after sunset!
Take a historical and informational tour of Texas’ Capitol building while you’re visiting the capital of Texas! Tours are free and last roughly around 30 minutes, guiding you through the key areas of the Capitol where Texas history began. Tours operate Monday through Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Saturday from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm – 3:30 pm.
Prepare to be mesmerized by the performers of Zilker Hillside Theater! This outdoor theatre puts on free evening performances to the public in the spring, summer and fall months. This year they are running The Merchant of Venice Thursday through Sunday, starting May 9-26. We can’t think of a more perfect way to spend an evening in Austin.
Get your art fix at Austin City Hall with the People’s Gallery. Featuring all-new art in mediums like photography, sculpture, installations, and more from regional Austin artists. What’s even better, admission is free to the public Monday through Friday from 8 am – 5 pm.
The temperatures in Texas can get hot! So why not take advantage of one (or more) of the twelve free splash pads around the city. This family-friendly activity is sure to put a smile on your kid’s faces as they play and explore the different interactive fountains. Some of our favorites include Liz Carpenter Fountain at 1000 Barton Springs Rd, Rosewood Park at 1182 Pleasant Valley, and Ricky Guerrero Splash Pad at 1100 Brodie at 2006 South 6th Street.
Take a stroll through the gorgeous Mayfield Park property and catch a glimpse of a peacock or two. This park is home to peafowl, catch them roaming around the property or snoozing in a tree. With 30 gardens throughout the park, Mayfield is the perfect place for a leisurely walk or a picnic all while enjoying the natural beauty of Austin.
Near the center of downtown Austin, you can find the cutest little urban park in the city. Wooldridge is the perfect spot to grab some shade and sip on a cool drink in the spring or summer. There is even a giant chess board in the square for the public’s enjoyment.
Disc golf your way through Austin with over 25 disc golf courses for you and friends to enjoy. What is disc golf you may be wondering? It’s similar to golf, except instead of hitting a ball into a hole you’re ringing a Frisbee-like disc in a metal basket. Austin features many free disc golf courses from beginner to difficult all over the state.
With the nice weather upon us, there’s no better time to get outside and take a stroll on one of Austin’s historic walking tours. Get to know downtown Austin by exploring on foot. Choose from several guided tours, including a tour of the 10-block Congress Avenue, 9-block Sixth Street National Register Districts where you’ll see modern skyscrapers and 19th-century buildings, or other self-guided tours including the Texas State Cemetery. Hop on the #801 bus and be downtown in 40 minutes.
Yes, you read that correctly! While you’re downtown, be sure to take in this breathtaking sight and experience at the Congress Avenue Bridge – bat viewing! Watch the world’s largest urban bat colony (approximately one million or more bats) fly out from under the bridge at dusk. It’s a truly remarkable sight available only during certain months of the year (typically mid-March to May).
Take advantage of rising temperatures and get outside to enjoy free live music on the outdoor patio at the Central Market. Hop on the #801 bus and find yourself on the patio in just 30 minutes. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a drink and some good tunes on the patio! Check out the Market’s event calendar for more details.
Set out on foot and wander down to the Little Walnut Creek Public Library, just 10 minutes from InTown Suites. Home to many programs and services, a computer learning center, as well as many books and other excellent reading materials, the library is a great place to escape!
Check a few books out of the library and head up the road to the lovely Quail Creek Park. Just a 15-minute walk from InTown, Quail Creek is the perfect place to unwind in a little piece of heaven. Here you’ll find stunning hackberry trees, a playground, and picnic tables great for a snack and a read. You’ll also enjoy plenty of cooling shade – somewhat of a rarity in Austin!
Devoted to maintaining Austin history, the Austin History Centre is an excellent place to learn something new about this great city. Home to over a million items – ranging from maps, news clippings, photographs, manuscripts, and more – there is much to be discovered. From InTown, hop back on the #801 bus to downtown – the ride will take about 40 minutes.
Dubbed one of the world’s finest cultural archives, the Harry Ransom Center houses some noteworthy artifacts worthy of a visit – like a rare Gutenberg Bible, among 30 million literary manuscripts, the famous Watergate papers, the world’s very first photograph, and much more. Hop back on the #801 bus for a 30-minute ride to the Center.
Now that we’ve saved you some money with all the free things to do in Austin, you can easily plan your budget-friendly trip! Check out our InTown Suites extended stay properties in Austin, TX.