101 Free Things To Do In Austin (2024!)

Austin, Texas isn't cheap, but there are still plenty of free things to do in Austin if you know where to look!

So if you love hunting for a deal and scoping out budget-friendly travel ideas, this post is for you. From music to festivals, to museum exhibits, concerts, free zoo events, guided tours, kid-friendly attractions, and parks…we’re loading up this guide with tons of FREE stuff!

Austin Texas

Here Are 5 Quick FREE Things To Do In Austin

1. Barton Springs Swimming Pool is 100% FREE if you enter between the hours of 5-8 am! So as long as you sneak in there by 7:55 am, you can enjoy a few hours of swimming in one of Austin's most popular swimming holes...totally free.

2. If you're in Austin with kids, go to the Nature and Science Center. They have a giant sand pit where kids can dig for "dinosaur bones," a pond with nets for catching minnows, and other fun interactive activities. Totally FREE every day!

3. Hike Mount Bonnell. The view is insane, and since it's a public park, it's always free.

4. Visit The Blanton Museum. Did you know this famous Austin art museum is always free on Tuesdays? Here's the website.

5. Take a Guided Tour at the Texas State Capitol Building. Yep, tours are always FREE! I might be biased, but I think this building is exceptionally beautiful. Here's how to plan your tour.

Those were 5 ideas to get your started. If you want to see all 101 free things to do in Austin, keep on reading! And feel free to use the map below to find some free activites near you. 

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101 Free Things To Do In Austin

1. See The Austin Bats!

Austin bats

If you’re visiting in the summer, stop by the Congress Avenue Bridge and watch the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge for their nightly feeding.

It happens just before sunset, and you can view the Austin bats for free from the top of the Congress Ave bridge or below the bridge at the observation deck.

Parking can be a bit tricky, so check out this guide to the Austin bats before you go to get all the details. It includes insider tips like the best places to eat near the bat bridge. 

2. Go hiking! Here are 15 of the best hiking trails in Austin.

HIKING IN AUSTIN - 101 free things to do in ATX!

While Austin definitely doesn't have mountains (despite having a really famous spot called "Mount Bonnell"), Austin is on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, so here are some beautiful hikes that offer views for days.

Pro tip: autumn is the very best time to go hiking in Austin. If you can manage to get out on a weekday morning when the most popular trails aren't quite so packed, you're golden!

3. Visit the shops in South Congress.

shops at South Congress

Even if you don’t want to spend any money, there’s some really great window shopping on this street.

SOCO is also home to tons of famous murals (like the iconic "I Love You So Much" mural on the side of Jo's Coffee and the "Willie For President" mural on the side of STAG clothing), so be sure to do some mural photo shoots, too. Bonus: it's another FREE thing to do in Austin, Texas!

4. If you’re in Austin in the summer months, you have to check out Blues On The Green!

It’s a FREE concert series in Austin that happens every summer at Zilker Park.

Blues On The Green typically hosts concerts in June and July. Check out the ACL Radio website to see this year's BOTG schedule.

5. If you own a paddleboard, head out on the lake!

Lady Bird Lake

It’s completely FREE FUN in Austin. You don't have to pay any sort of fees to use Lady Bird Lake, and there's even free parking in nearby streets and lots (depending on the day.)

6. Visit Austin Nature and Science Center with your kids

Austin nature and science center

The Nature and Science Center is an 80-acre park that has hands-on nature exhibits and experiences for kids and adults of all ages. It's one of my very favorite things to do with kids in Austin!

7. Wander a farmers market

Farmers Market Austin

The Texas Farmers Market in Mueller is absolute magic. It pops up every Sunday from 10 am - 2 pm, and I always find something fun to buy and cook with later in the week!  

8. If you love art museums, you can visit the Blanton Museum of Art every Tuesday for FREE!

BLANTON MUSEUM OF ART - 101 free things to do in ATX!

The Blanton is a seriously impressive art Museum at the University of Texas at Austin. At nearly 190,000 square feet dedicated to art galleries and exhibitions, the Blanton is one of the largest art museums at a university in the entire country.

By the way, here are some other fun museums in Austin, many of which have free days as well.

9. Visit Zilker Park

It’s a 350-acre park in the middle of Austin, Texas, with a beautiful view of the downtown Austin skyline. It’s totally free to visit!

Bring a soccer ball or a frisbee, a picnic lunch, or maybe a hammock for a nap, and enjoy this free Austin activity.

10. Hike to the top of Mount Bonnell and watch the sunset

Mount Bonnell

It’s one of the most beautiful places to watch the sunset in Austin, it’s very romantic, and it’s completely free (including free parking.)

11. Visit The Thinkery.

The Thinkery

The Thinkery is an amazing kids' museum in Mueller.

Although there's typically a cost associated with admission, The Thinkery offers FREE community nights from 3-5 pm on Sundays. 

12. Check out the splash pad at Pease Park.

They recently did a massive renovation to this super cool central Austin park, and it’s a beautiful place to bring the family. 

13. Go take a  picture by the I Love You So Much mural on South Congress. 

I LOVE YOU SO MUCH MURAL - 101 free things to do in ATX!

Visit the South Congress, grab your ice cream, and take a good picture of the "I love you so much" mural.

14. Cool down and splash at the Liz Carpenter Fountain.

Liz Carpenter Splash Pad Austin

The Liz Carpenter fountain is located near the Alliance Children's Garden. You can let the little ones run around at the playground before heading to the splash pad.

Best part? It all has a gorgeous view of downtown Austin!

15. Wander through the flagship Whole Foods Market in downtown Austin

ATX sign at Whole Foods

You can walk through it for free, and you might score some free samples.

Regardless of the samples, it’s the original Whole Foods, and it’s pretty fun to see. Be sure to take a picture at the ATX sign outside. 

16. Visit Austin's iconic Waterloo Records

Visit Austin's iconic Waterloo Records to catch free in-store performances by local musicians.

The performances typically start at 5 pm but check out Waterloo Records’ events page to check the schedule. 

17. Swim at Barton Springs in the early hours for FREE!

BARTON SPRINGS POOL - 101 free things to do in ATX!

Did you know that if you enter between 5-8 am, you don’t have to buy a pass?

This gorgeous spring-fed swimming pool in Austin is about 68 degrees year-round, so lots of athletes enjoy swimming for fitness in the early hours of the day before tourists overtake it in the afternoon.

BTW, here are 15 best swimming holes in Austin!

18. Go on a bike ride

Relax and unwind as you ride your bike around the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail in Downtown Austin.

The bike trail goes around the lake and offers an amazing view of the city skyline.

There are 10+ miles of trails, but you can completely customize your bike ride based on which bridge you choose to cross.

Don't have a bike? There are a bunch of great bike rental companies in Austin that have reasonable rates if you'd like to rent a bike for a few hours.

19. Visit the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

It’s a 227-acre nature preserve that was founded by 7 women in 1974 as Austin’s first nature preserve.

You can enjoy hiking, views, and even a small waterfall after the rainy season! (Don't expect to see too much water if you're visiting at the end of the summer...just FYI.)

20. Say hi to the beautiful peacocks at Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

Peacocks in Austin

This beautiful park in central/west Austin is an oasis.

It's typically fairly quiet because it's just far enough away from downtown to not be in a touristy zone.

Mayfield Park has walking trails, a view of the lake, and, of course, a close-up view of the peacocks!

21. Enjoy a free live theater show from July to August at the Zilker Hillside Theatre

It was founded in 1959 and offers a different FREE musical to the public every single summer. Check out the schedule here

22. See a real Gutenberg Bible at the Harry Ransom Center

Located at the University of Texas, this awesome museum, library, and archive have all sorts of cool artifacts you can see. Admission is completely free.

23. The Texas Military Forces Museum

See old tanks, planes, and other war transportation in the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry.

24. Take a tour of the Texas State Capitol building

Texas Capitol Building

Tours are free, and you’ll learn a little bit of Texas history trivia knowledge. This is a very popular field trip activity for schools around Texas, so if you go on a weekday morning, you can expect to be joined by a few school buses full of kids. 

More info about tours here!

25. Take a group pic at the "Greetings from Austin" Mural

GREETINGS FROM AUSTIN - 101 free things to do in ATX!

It’s located on South First Street, not too far from South Congress Ave. 

Afterward, walk across the street to Dolce Neve for the best gelato in Austin!

26. Go trail running in the amazing Barton Creek Greenbelt

It’s a beautiful green space that runs through the middle of the city. Here's an in-depth article about the best places to park and hike along the greenbelt. 

27. Kids 3 & under eat FREE at Salt Lick BBQ

Kids 3 & under eat FREE at Salt Lick BBQ with the purchase of an adult family meal.

While Salt Lick isn't necessarily one of the very best bbq spots in Austin, it is pretty iconic and has a fun ambiance. And free bbq is free bbq, you know?

28. If you’re in Austin in July, be sure to go to the epic downtown Austin 4th of July party.

4th Of July Fireworks Austin

The Austin Symphony performs a free concert on the Long Center lawn, and fireworks explode over the lake. 

It happens every single 4th of July. Plan on arriving early (parking is madness), and be sure to bring earplugs for any sensitive ears!

29. Tour the Governor's Mansion

It’s about a 20-minute tour that you have to reserve a week in advance, but it’s totally FREE. See more details here

30. Bring the kids to play at the $6 million Alliance Children's Garden.

Alliance Childrens Garden

It’s a 2-acre park with a hill country garden, rock climbing wall, giant sand pit, cement slides, and more! (Psst: it’s right next to the Liz Carpenter Fountain if you need to cool off afterward.

31. Free Music at Saxon Pub

Saxon Pub is one of the coolest little hole-in-the-wall music venues in south Austin, and they offer a lot of free (non-ticketed) concerts.

Of course, you'll probably want to buy a beer or a soda, but you won't have to pay for a ticket! Check out their even schedule here. 

32. Do a free self-guided walking tour from Preservation Austin

Explore various parts of Austin like the South Congress, historic Austin churches, and east Austin landmarks.

Click here to download your free map and tour guide. 

33. Get your flow on!

WATERLOO GREENWAY - 101 free things to do in ATX!

Waterloo Greenway offers all sorts of free yoga and fitness classes throughout the year.

The schedule changes based on the season, but check out their website to see what current events they have going on right now. 

34. Get some free dance lessons at the White Horse in east Austin!

Learn how to swing, two-step, or dance the blues FOR FREE at this iconic Austin dance honky tonk.  as you move your feet along to the music of live bands at White Horse.

35. Visit The Contemporary Austin

Learn how to swing, two-step, or dance the blues FOR FREE at this iconic Austin dance honky tonk.  as you move your feet along to the music of live bands at White Horse.

36. Attend the Pecan Street Festival

Attend the Pecan Street Festival for free music and art booths every fall. Learn more about this iconic Austin festival here.

37. Saxon Pub offers FREE MUSIC most days.

Check out their schedule.

38. Discover Latino arts every Sunday in Mexic-Arte Museum.

They offer free admission, as well as free tours.

39. Stop by the Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue.

STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN - 101 free things to do in ATX!

Stop by the Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue, one of the most iconic sculptures in Austin.

40. Walk around the University of Texas.

Walk around the University of Texas campus to experience some real Austin vibes.

41. Round up some friends and play a round of disc golf

Round up some friends and play a round of disc golf at Roy G Guerrero park in east Austin. 

42. Play at Mueller Lake Park.

Play at Mueller Lake Park, an awesome park in east Austin with a pond, playground, walking trail, and ducks.

For more photos and information on this gorgeous green space in the middle of Austin, check out our guide to Mueller Lake Park here!

43. Listen to hundreds of live bands perform music during Free Week.

Listen to hundreds of live bands perform music during Free Week. It happens in the Red River Cultural District every January! 

44. Stop by the Elisabet Ney museum.

ELISABET NEY MUSEUM - 101 free things to do in ATX!

It’s where the German artist created lots of her art in the 1800s, including a sculpture of Stephen F Austin. 

Admission is completely free, although donations are accepted at the door.

45. For another free museum in Austin, go to FREE FIRST SUNDAY at the Bob Bullock museum.

You and your family can explore the story of Texas through three floors of Texas history. 

46. Attend the Sound and Cinema at The Long Center.

It’s a summer event with free films shown on the Long Center lawn.

Details here

47. Kids eat free at Central Market N Lamar every Tuesday evening.

Kids eat free at Central Market N Lamar every Tuesday evening. Plus, this grocery store has a fun outdoor playground!

48. Go lay in the giant hammock at Pease Park. 

PEASE PARK - 101 free things to do in ATX!

This beautiful park in central Austin underwent a massive renovation a few years ago. It's one of the most instagrammable spots in Austin now!

49. Go hiking at River Place Nature Trail.

 There are lots of stairs and hills, so bring some water! 

50. Go down the super fast cement slide

CEMENT SLIDE AT WATERLOO GREENWAY - 101 free things to do in ATX!

It's seriously so much fun! Kids (*and adults*) love this thing!

51. Head to the top floor of the parking garage at the Long Center.

Head to the top floor of the parking garage at the Long Center for an amazing view of the Austin skyline.

52. Go down the waterslide

Go down the waterslide at Bartholomew Municipal pool! 

53. The ABGB offers FREE CONCERTS almost every weekend.

Check out their schedule.

53. The ABGB offers FREE CONCERTS almost every weekend.

Head to this award-winning Austin brewery, grab a pint of beer and enjoy some free music on a Friday night.

They have some of the best Austin vibes! Check out the concert schedule here.

54. Hang out at the Austin Public Central Library.

AUSTIN PUBLIC LIBRARY - 101 free things to do in ATX!

It’s located in downtown Austin and offers sweeping views of Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake. Time Magazine called it one of the World’s Greatest Places. 

55. Attend one of the Longhorn Women’s Soccer matches.

Attend one of the Longhorn Women’s Soccer matches. Admission is free! 

56. Listen to some free jazz music.

If you love jazz music, The Elephant Room has no cover from Sunday - Wednesday.

You can check out their monthly calendar here.

57. Play at the newly renovated Circle C Metropolitan Park.

Psst: they have an amazing frisbee golf course, too.   

58. Check out the Leander Dinosaur Tracks

It's not too far from Austin (about 30 miles north) and it's totally free! 

59. Go on an Austin mural tour. 

EAST AUSTIN MURAL - 101 free things to do in ATX!

You've probably already seen a bunch of them in photos (I love you so much, Greetings from Austin, You're my butter half, etc.), but it's so much cooler to see these Austin murals irl!

 Here’s your guide to all the best murals in Austin, Texas.

60. Fareground is an epic food hall in downtown Austin

Fareground Food Hall

This downtown food hall is absolutely gorgeous! Even if you're not planning to spend any money at a restaurant, it's a beautiful place to stop by, walk through, and and enjoy a bit of air conditioning.

61. Head to storytime at your local Austin library branch.

Head to a storytime at your local Austin library branch.

62. Ride your bike

Ride your bike on the Southern Walnut Creek bike trail.  

63. Morning Glories

Morning Glories is a weekly early childhood education series in Waterloo Park that offers hands-on play and learning on Tuesday mornings.

They have really fun events for toddlers, like painting, interactive music, fun book readings/signings, and more!

You can find the details on their events page. 

360 BRIDGE - 101 free things to do in ATX!

64. Climb up the 360 Bridge overlook

Climb up the 360 Bridge overlook to watch the sun rise. 

64. Climb up the 360 Bridge overlook

Climb up the 360 Bridge overlook to watch the sun rise. 

65. Do a workout with 50+ age group!

If you're in the 50-and-older age group, head to the Stay Strong 50+ workout to move your body and meet some new friends! 

66. Bring your pup to the off-leash park at Auditorium Shores

Connect with other dog owners. It’s located in the heart of Austin and has a beautiful view of downtown

67. Cool off at Big Stacy Neighborhood Pool.

Admission is free!

68. If you're in Austin, you need to visit a good honky tonk!

Here's a guide to all of the best honky tonks in Austin. 

Little Longhorn Saloon has no cover charge and offers free music almost every night. |WEBSITE|

69. Go take a picture by the iconic El Arroyo sign.

70. Stop by the Texas Book Festival in the fall.

It’s a free annual book fest, and it’s one of the top book festivals in the United States. |WEBSITE|

71. Soak in the beauty at Laguna Gloria.

Every Thursday is a free day! 

LAGUNA GLORIA - 101 free things to do in ATX!

72. Walk the Violet Crown trail.

It’s the first regional trail system in central Texas and it’s great for long walks, bikes, or runs.

73. Visit the butterfly garden at Waterloo Greenway. 

74. If you’re in Austin during the holiday season, attend the Zilker Tree Lighting.

It’s a really sweet little ceremony that kicks off the Trail of Lights holiday season.

The moonlight tower in Zilker Park is transformed into a giant Christmas tree that you can see all the way from Mopac. 

75. Another fun (FREE) holiday event: the Blue Genie Arts Bazaar has free admission.

Wander around and see some of the fun, locally made gift ideas you can find in Austin.

76. Check out a playground (any playground!) in Austin.

Walnut Creek Playground in Austin

77. If you love FREE OUTDOOR MUSIC in Austin.

Meanwhile Brewing is one of the best places to enjoy the Austin outdoors and listen to some fun local bands perform. 

MEANWHILE BREWING MUSIC - 101 free things to do in ATX!

78. Bluebonnet pictures!

 Visiting Austin in the spring? Take a photo with the beautiful Texas bluebonnets.

You can truly find them all over the city. But if you're looking for the best and densest fields of bluebonnets, here are some of the best places to take bluebonnet pictures in Austin.

Austin bluebonnets

79. Check out an Austin pumpkin patch!

Visiting Austin in the fall? Head to a fun pumpkin patch!

The Tarrytown United Methodist Church has a free one where you can wander and snap photos at no cost, and then purchase pumpkins to take home. 

80. Pack a picnic and enjoy it at Auditorium Shores.

It’s a beautiful place at dusk! 

81. Head out to Sweet Berry Farm at any time of the year!

Admission is free and you can purchase the things you want pick (flowers, berries) or experience (hay rides, mazes, etc.)

Best Breakfast Spots In North Austin

82. Kids eat for free at Kerbey Lane on Tuesdays!

Just purchase an adult entree, and kids 12 and under can eat free. Must be 12 & under. 

83. Head just north of Austin to the Quarry Splash Pad.

It’s an absolutely epic place for kids to cool off in the summer months! 

84. Window shop at The Domain NORTHSIDE.

It’s where you can find the best of the best shopping. 

85. Take a photo at the iconic “You’re My Butter Half” mural.

YOU'RE MY BUTTER HALF MURAL - 101 free things to do in ATX!

86. Go to the rooftop garden at the Central Austin Library

Go to the rooftop garden at the Central Austin Library and take a photo of the view. 

From this rooftop garden, you can take in views of the lake, South Austin, and glimpses of the Austin downtown skyline.

87. Head to the free part of Barton Springs.

Just a few feet north of the pool, on the other side of the fence, you can jump in the water for free! It’s always busy with families (including kids and dogs) splashing around in the summer months for a $0 entry fee. 

88. Go to the Round Rock Chalk Walk Arts Festival. |WEBSITE|

89. See some east Austin street art.

Walk up and down the streets of East Cesar Chavez or East 6th Street and search for hidden street art.

90. Austin Museum Day happens every September!

You get free access to many free Austin museums.

91. Head to the amazing splash fountains at Lakewood Park in Leander. 

92. Go to the Wildflower Center for free!

Every July 23 is Lady Bird Day when you can get FREE admission to the Wildflower Center. 

93. Play in the giant tree house at Katherine Fleischer Park. 

KATHERINE FLEISCHER PARK - 101 free things to do in ATX!

94. Hike Enchanted Rock.

95. Wander through Book People.

They have story time on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings!

bookpeople

96. Go to Secret Beach in east Austin (park at Roy G Guerrero Park to find it.) 

97. Load up your fam and your bikes in the car and bring everyone to The Veloway.

Load up your fam and your bikes in the car and bring everyone to The Veloway.

It’s a 3-mile loop that’s great for the whole family. 

BUDA CITY PARK - 101 free things to do in ATX!

98. Head to the epic splash park at the new City Park in Buda. 

99. Go to the GIANT slide at Walnut Creek Park. 

100. Kids eat free at Modern Market every Sunday and Monday after 5 pm! Just purchase an adult entree. 

101. Volunteer at the Cap10K

(Texas’ largest 10k race!) to hand out water or other race-related tasks.

It’s a great way to watch the running crowd, experience Austin, and cheer on your community.

PS: looking for some fun stuff to do in San Antonio? Check out our sister site, TheSanAntonioThings.com!

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