Have you ever been to Austin, Texas? If not, you’re missing a fun and cultural city! Austin can be expensive to visit through which makes finding free things to do in Austin Texas a must if you’re planning on traveling on a budget. Austin is great to visit because there is just so much to see. It is excellent for a day trip, weekend trip or longer vacation and family fun is everywhere! In addition to fun, your kids can learn at most places! As a mom, there isn’t much I love more than my children learning while they’re having a blast!
29 Free Things to Do in Austin Texas for the Whole Family
When visiting Texas make sure to also check out our Texas Resource page with 51 of the best things to do all over the state. tips on finding the best places to stay, and how to save money on the top attractions!
If you are in the Austin Texas area and looking for some great things to do, make sure to check out the South Central Texas Pogo Pass. The Pogo pas is a coupon book for all sorts of things to do (you can also use it is a mobile app). There are 19+ attractions you can visit at least once some of them twice, some of them once a month.
Austin Nature & Science Center – Do you have little dinosaur fans? If so, swing by the Austin Nature & Science Center! Located at Zilker Park, the center is packed with amazing artifacts in the Naturalist Workshop, Texas wildflowers and even a pit where you and your kids can dig for real dinosaur bones! Best part? It’s free! For free parking, park under the Mopac overpass off Stratford drive and walk in.
Austin Bat Watching – This is one of the most famous free things to do in Austin Texas! Most Austinites know about bats since the Congress Street bridge is famous for watching the bats! Every night at sunset, view hundreds of bats leave the bridge for the night. It might seem a bit lame, but seeing it in person is pretty amazing! If you don’t want to brave downtown Austin, you can also view bats just off I-35 in Round Rock each night. No matter which location you go to, make sure you get there early to make sure you get a good spot.
Snap a photo – No trip to Austin would be complete without a “Greetings from Austin” photograph! Make your own postcard by heading down to the corner of S. 1st Street and Annie Street to the wall mural. Snap a cheesy photo or get the whole family together for a not so impromptu family fun photo shoot!
Tour the Governor’s Mansion – After your visit to the Texas Statehouse, why not swing by and see where the Governor of Texas lives? Touring the Governor’s mansion is free, but does require a couple of hoops so if you’re planning a trip, you’ll need to plan ahead of time. Since the Governor and his family actually do live in the house and because you could run into them, you will need to request a tour and pass a security check before you can go. Once your visit is approved, you will need to pass security and other precautions before you are allowed to enter the house.
Cool off at a splash pad – Austin is hot during the spring and summer which means you may be looking for a place to cool off! Why not do so for free? Austin is home to over 20 splash pads that are free to use! Grab the kids and their swimsuits, load up on sunscreen and get cool! If you want to avoid the Austin traffic, most suburbs such as Round Rock, Cedar Park and Georgetown also have free splash pads for use.
Tour the Texas State House – The Texas Statehouse is located in downtown Austin and offers free tours each weekday. In addition to the tour, there are also special events such as “Ladies of Texas history” scheduled throughout the year. The State House tour is free, but there are cafe’s and restaurants nearby if you want to spend a bit on lunch. If not, pack a picnic and eat lunch for free on the Statehouse lawn.
The Austin Fire Museum – If you’re out and about on a Saturday or Sunday, swing by the Austin Fire Museum. Here, you’ll find history on firefighting, antique fire trucks and more! If you’re traveling with a group, the Austin Fire Department can help you complement your trip to the museum with a FREE tour of an AFD fire station! How cool is that? Free museum hours are only from 12-5 pm so make sure to allow time for travel when you plan your trip.
Texas Military Forces Museum – Austin is home to Camp Mabry where you can view the Texas Military Forces Museum. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m and is closed on Mondays. When you visit, you can take in exhibits such as the WWII Pacific Theater Exhibit, the Texas Navy exhibit, and the 19th Century Gallery. Though exhibits change, it is always well worth a trip to see what is new. Museum admission is free, but donations are always appreciated. Since the Texas Military Forces Museum is located at a working military camp, adults over the age of 18 will need to show a valid photo id for entry.
Blanton Museum of Art – You can get into this museum every Thursday for free. The Blanton Museum of Art features the art of all different time periods. They also offer a free yoga session in the gallery every month!
Visit the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum – The Bob Bullock, Texas State History Museum, is located not far from the UT campus. While the museum does cost money most days, every first Sunday of the month is “HEB First Sunday.” These days, entry is 100% free. This museum is three stories high, features an Imax theater (paid) and more. It is well worth taking the time to visit!
Trail of Lights – Starting in December, you can walk through the trail of lights at Zilker Park! Lights go on when the sun goes down, and they even have a carousel you can ride. While this is only available one month a year, it makes the list of free things to do in Austin Texas because it’s just plain cool!
Zilker Park – When the trail of lights isn’t going on you should take in Zilker Park. There are hiking trails, and lots of open space to play sports or watch people play sports.
Barton Springs – Here you can swim for free from 5 am to 8 am and 9 pm to 10 pm. It’s perfect for a late night swim date! Yes, the hours are weird, but those are the free swim hours if you wish to visit any other time there is a fee.
Lady Bird Lake – While this isn’t a swimming like it is perfect to hike around and take in the views of downtown Austin! Lady Bird Lake was named after President Lyndon B Johnson’s wife who he called Lady Bird. While it’s not free LBJ’s presidential library is located in Austin as well and worth the visit! Make sure to bring your camera for the fantastic views of downtown from the boardwalk! This is one of Austin’s best-kept secrets on the free things to do in Austin Texas list!
Hope Outdoor Gallery – This area is also known as Graffiti Park and always has a rotation of artwork. While staring at graffiti may not sound appealing these works of art are museum quality!
Mayfield Park – There is a whole flock of wild peacocks at the park, and that alone is worth a visit in my book! There are many hiking trails and over 30 garden plots to can volunteer to help maintain. This was one of my kid’s favorite free things to do in Austin Texas.
Mount Bonnell – The views here make a visit any time of the day worth it, but it’s very popular around sunset and watching the sun go down. Plus you can’t beat the pictures!
Bull Creek District Park – Some of the most beautiful hikes in the city and even some small waterfalls. Though this isn’t a great spot for swimming.
6th Street – This is an excellent area for nightlife in Austin. There is a lot to see walking around and plenty of events.
Free Movies in the Park – You can’t beat a great movie under the stars in the park.
Explore The University of Texas – The university has so many amazing buildings to take in, plenty of events, and more!
Farmers Market – We LOVE visiting farmers markets where ever we are. They are a great way to talk to locals, take in an area, get new recipes and more.
Red Bull Isle – Dog person? This you will love this leash free park! Your dog will thank you and if you don’t have a dog but just want to see some adorable deg this is the place for it.
BookPeople Book Store – This is the largest independent bookstore in the area, and they offer a fantastic story time for kids.
O. Henery Home and Museum – The famous short story writer stated with a shady past that is detailed in his museum.
Explore the Driskill Hotel – This hotel was built in 1886 and located in downtown Austin is worth the stop. The architecture alone is a history lesson for kids. It’s pretty impressive for us adults too! This is my personal favorite thing to do on this list of free things to do in Austin Texas.
Mexic-Arte Museum – Labeled the official Mexican America fine art museum this is worth a stop. It is free every Sunday.
Harry Ransom Center – Located on the University of Texas Campus and exhibits include the Gutenberg Bible (the first substantial book printed from movable type on a printing press) and the First Photograph. Admission is always free.
Play a Game of Giant Chess – Playing a game of giant chess is just plain fun! Even if you don’t know the game, it’s a great picture opp for the whole family.
Again don’t forget to also check out our Texas Resource page!
Did I miss any of the free things to do in Austin Texas? Let me know, and I will add them in!