Free Activities to Try in Austin for a Great Time on a Budget
Even if you're on a budget, you can still enjoy the Live Music Capital of the World! Cultural activities and beautiful settings are waiting to be explored.
Austin has something for everyone, whether you love nature or the urban jungle, there is a setting for you. Swim in one of the natural creeks or in a pool. Hike around the city to discover panoramic views, or enjoy city views as you bike on one of the many scenic bike paths. You can also visit a variety of free art museums and music events that occur throughout the year.
The weather in Austin is perfect for taking a dive and enjoying a swim. There are 27 free pools in over 28 different neighborhoods. So you’re never too far from an oasis. Take some time to refresh after a long day of sightseeing, or start your day with a morning lap. Make sure to check out the schedules which are being updated on this site:
Austin Parks and Recreation operates and schedules seven municipal pools, including the world-renowned Barton Springs Pool, 27 neighborhood pools, six wading pools and 10 splash pads.
In the first two weekends of January you can watch a variety of free concerts, a tradition that started back in 2003. You can catch talented groups in the city’s greatest venues, it’s ike a mini SXSW, but with local bands and no corporate atmosphere. So party with the locals and get ready to have a memorable time. Because it’s free, you’ll have to RSVP so don’t forget! RSVP on the website:
Barton Creek Greenbelt
You don’t have to drive far, or trek miles of concrete to find peace, tranquility and fresh air. There are many wonderful parks and places in and around this city, perhaps the most recognized is the Greenbelt. Which provides amazing views, countless hiking, rock climbing, and even some swimming opportunities. There are three locations which offer a variety of activities, the Lower Greenbelt, Upper Greenbelt and the Barton Creek Wilderness Park. The park is opened from 5am to 10pm.
Every Thursday the Blanton Museum is free for you to explore. On the third Thursday of the month, the Blanton closes at 9pm, which is great because it’s one of the largest university art museums in the U.S., there are over 189,340 square feet, so you could use the extra time. The permanent collection has art from Europe dating from the Renaissance and art from the Americas.
Historic Walking Tour
A city full of history and charm, the best way to get to know it, is to take a historical walking tour. The Austin Visitor Center offers two free guided tours. Both tours begin at the south entrance of the Capitol building. Learn about the 19th century structures that blend in with the modern skyline, or see how the wealthy class lived. These tours are quite popular and require a reservation 48 hours in advance. Tours begin at 9am Tuesday, Thursday-Saturday and on Sundays at 11 a.m.
Traditional and contemporary Latin American Art can be found here in one of the few museums of its kind in the country. Mexic-Arte Museum is located at 419 Congress Avenue, in Austin’s lively downtown. Make your way over on Sunday to enjoy free admission.
Climbing up Mount Bonnell is the best way to view the city, luckily there are stairs so the hike won’t be so grueling, and it will be worth it. You’ll get a chance to see amazing views of Lake Austin, the downtown skyline and the surrounding hills. Bring a picnic and enjoy the panoramic views.
The Splash! Exhibit is an overlooked place that many who visit Zilker Park might have walked past it. But really it’s a hidden gem. This museum teaches visitors about water and is fun for all ages. This man made cave, offers interactive displays, such as the “Storm Water Simulator” and “Spectrophotometer”. Visitors will also learn about the endangered salamanders who live here and much more. Located on 2201 Barton Springs Road be sure to visit Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m.
Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail
A great place to relax and or exercise, there are 10 miles of trails that border Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. You can also enjoy the water and visit the rowing center for kayaking and areas where your four legged friend can swim. You’ll have a selection of loops for your fitness needs, you can choose from one-mile, three-mile, four-mile, five-mile, seven-mile, and ten-mile loops. Come just before sundown and watch the bats at nearby Congress Avenue Bridge.
Your visit to Austin wouldn’t be complete without seeing this historic landmark, which also serves as the seat of government for Texas. After the tour enjoy a picnic at the grounds. Guided tours start every 15 minutes. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to4:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday noon to 3:30 p.m
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