Every city has its perks and quirks, but there is one that really stands out, with its weirdness and with all of its free activities: Austin! Located in the heart of Texas, this capital city is home to the Texas Longhorns, to notable shopping centers like The Domain and South Congress, and to numerous restaurants and food trucks that serve everything from barbecue and queso to tacos and tex-mex food.
While there is so much to do here, we wanted to point out some of the fun that can be had when spending no money at all. Whether someone wants to enjoy the great outdoors, see iconic sites or beat the heat with an indoor event, these are the best things to do in ATX, for free!
10 Explore The Greenbelt
The Barton Creek Greenbelt is part of the City of Austin's Park and Recreation Department, and it provides over seven miles of fun. With its limestone cliffs, trails and bodies of water, this is where tons of people flock, all in order to rock climb, hike, swim, cliff dive, tube and just hang out with friends (and dogs… always so many dogs!). There are multiple entry points to this area, and it can be neat to explore different sections, depending on if someone is wanting more of a trek or, say, a straight shot to cooling water holes.
9 Head To The Park
There are numerous parks in Austin, and two that are definitely worth mentioning are Mayfield Park and Zilker Metropolitan Park. At Mayfield, there are peacocks roaming around, so some may find that interesting! But Zilker is in the center of the city, offering a variety of activities. There is the 10-mile-long Lady Bird Hike and Bike Trail. There is Barton Springs Pool, which does cost a couple of dollars to enter and is fed by underground springs. And while the annual Austin City Limits music festival does cost money, Zilker puts on Blues On The Green each year - a free summer concert series.
8 Take Pics At Famous Murals
Another outdoor adventure to consider is taking pictures in front of all the cool murals in town. The most-seen one is a green wall that says “I Love You So Much”. One that is often seen on social media has a frog-like creature, with the words “How You Doin?”. And many couples turn to these pieces of art for engagement photos, since ones like the “You’re My Butter Half” mural offer up creative and colorful backdrops. A person could spend an entire day taking some really awesome selfies in front of all of these spots.
7 See The Bats
Here is a fun fact: There are Mexican Free-Tailed Bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge in ATX! And from the beginning of spring through the beginning of fall, they can be seen at night, as they fly out from under this bridge around sundown.
This is the largest urban bat population in North America, and it is another free thing to do around town. Tons of spectators gather around to see tons of these winged creatures swarm into the sky, which is pretty spectacular. A group could also take in the sight on the water, since the bats fly out over Lady Bird Lake.
6 Go To A Festival
There is always something going on in this area, and on many weekends, there are festivals of all types to take in and attend. Big ones like the ATX Television Festival, the Austin Film Festival, and SXSW do require tickets and badges to actually attend, but they bring in tons of celebrities, pop-ups, and excitement that can be enjoyed for free. There are also happenings like the Pecan Street Festival, the ABC Kite Fest, and Eeyore's Birthday, which are filled with vendors, music, food, and fun (meaning one may just pay for shopping and eating or not spend a dime at all).
5 Visit The Capitol
Since Austin is the state capital of Texas, the Capitol building can be seen here, with its red granite. There are guided, self-guided, group and specialty tours through this space, where visitors can see rooms like the Senate and the House of Representatives Chambers, the Texas Supreme Courtroom and the Secretary of State's Office. In the middle of it all is a rotunda, which gives a really cool view into the dome of this building. History buffs, people interested in politics or government and those who are into architecture should consider visiting - especially since it can be done for free!
4 Learn At The Bullock Texas State History Museum
On a similar note, there is the Bullock Texas State History Museum, which is free every first Sunday of the month. A great deal of exhibits can be seen here, all detailing the history of the Lone Star State.
One of the most notable pieces in here is the original Goddess of Liberty, who was on top of the Capitol building from 1888 to 1985 - and she is huge! She had to be, so that her features could be seen from so far away. There is also an IMAX theater in this museum, which isn’t free, but is entertaining.
3 Check Out UT
There is one more famous locale that everyone should go to in Austin, and that is the University of Texas. People are free to walk around this impressive college campus, with its unique architecture, its sprawling lawns, its iconic tower, its large football stadium, and its turtle pond! There are also museums here like the Blanton Museum of Art and the Memorial Stadium; these are free to UT students/faculty members, the Blanton is free on Thursdays, and the admission prices to both are fairly low. Even without going into any of the buildings, though, this is a neat excursion.
2 Bike On The Veloway
If anyone is in town and into biking, we suggest The Veloway. This unique spot has been around since the '90s and was the first of its kind in the country. What is it? Well, it is 23’ wide. It is 3.1 miles long. It is used by people from all over the area every single day. And it is a bicycle track that is paved yet that is surrounded by nature, for some great scenery. Bikers at all levels are welcome to use this path, and it definitely provides some nice physical activity, without having to cycle around the Austin traffic.
1 Take In The View At Mount Bonnell
There are famous restaurants, live music and indoor places like the ones mentioned on this list to take in when visiting Austin. However, many of the freebies in ATX offer outdoor adventures - like Mount Bonnell. By hiking up this point, everyone can get a breathtaking view of Austin, Lake Austin and the Hill Country in general. This is a very popular tourist attraction, it is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark/on the list of the National Register of Historic Places, and it another site that is highly recommended for those planning a trip to this city.