Continuing the series of guest posts about North American cities, Taiss and Rob of Together To Wherever have written this post about how to visit Austin on a budget by enjoying all of these free things to do in Austin Texas.
Austin is one of those cities that never falls short of giving visitors awesome things to do and places to see. Since the city has so much to offer there is a good variety of activities with a wide range of costs, making it a great place for any travel budget. If you want to save some money during your time here, you can add some of these free things to do in Austin to your itinerary, which won’t cost you anything to enjoy!
The Best Free Things to do in Austin
See Peacocks At Mayfield Park
Get up close and personal with some beautiful peacocks at this stunning nature preserve and park. A free and relaxing place to go in Austin where you can roam around and watch these colorful creatures display their amazing feathers to attract the females.
This park features loads of flowers and plants surrounding ponds which give it a magical vibe that feels like an enchanted garden out of a storybook!
The best time of year to see the birds’ full tails is in February when they are looking for mates. However, you can still see them any time of year and still be impressed with their beauty.
Hike For Spectacular Views
Mt. Bonnell & 360 Bridge Viewpoints are two very iconic spots to visit in Autin without having to pay a dime! Get that perfect photo on your visit simply by going on a short hike.
The drive to get to each of these locations alone is gorgeous, but you’ll be blown away once you arrive as well. The hike up to each viewpoint is not very strenuous, though, if I had to pick one that was “easier” I would say that Mount Bonnell has less of an incline.
Atop Mount Bonnell, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Colorado River lined with magnificent homes on it’s banks. On a clear day, you will also be able to spot the Pennybacker Bridge in the distance, so in a way, you can get a “two for one” if you just visit Mount Bonnell!
The Pennybacker (360) Bridge overlook is slightly harder to hike, but doesn’t take more than 15 minutes. You’ll get views of the bridge along with the city in the distance that are just unforgettable,and certainly one of the best free things to do in Austin!
You don’t have to worry about finding or having to pay for parking as there is plenty of room for your car without a fee. If you plan on going on a hot day, just make sure you bring some water with you and maybe a hat!
Free Things to do in Austin: Movies in the Park
Summertime in Austin is perfect for outdoor movies at night! The Austin Parks Foundation puts on movies in different neighborhood parks around Austin all summer long for free with the help of Alamo Draft House and it is an enjoyable time to be had if you are around for one of the showings.
While summer days can be extremely hot, getting out at night is the thing to do so why not take advantage of seeing a free movie?!
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If you are looking for a tour of Austin, check out these options on GetYourGuide:
Hike/Bike Trail Ladybird Lake
This one is another great free option for nature lovers and those who like to get a little outdoor workout. The 10 mile loop around Ladybird Lake, officially named the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is a wonderful path offering a mix of urban and nature views.
A portion of it is a boardwalk that takes you over the water’s edge, most of it is a dirt path that is great for biking or walking on. You are treated to lush landscapes and even a skyscraper backdrop. While you don’t have to do the entire ten miles, you can pick a portion to stroll on or find a bench in your favorite spot and just take it all in.
Visit Zilker Park
Zilker park is home to the Botanical Gardens and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden which both require an admission fee. However, the park itself is free for everyone to enjoy. Have a picnic, play frisbee, do a workout, fly a kite or just hang out! You’ll enjoy this amazing park with a magical view of Downtown Austin in the background!
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See The Bats
If you do decide to walk along the HIke Bike Trail, you may run into the area where the famous Austin bats live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Each year over a million and a half bats migrate here and make it their temporary home for a few months.
Between March and October, you can see swarms of bats making their way down to the Gulf for some dinner starting at sunset. Pick a spot either on the Congress Avenue Bridge or just under it and watch them take flight. It is truly a spectacle to see! You could also take a kayak tour on the water for a unique perspective!
Visit The Capitol Building
Right in the heart of Downtown Austin is the seat of the state’s government and the Capitol Building. You can visit the building and grounds during their operating hours without a fee. They even offer free tours of the State Capitol.
After going through security at the entrance, you are able to go to different floors and check out several of the chambers where all the action takes place.
The architecture of the building is impressive and the rotunda is something worth seeing. There are several significant sculptures outside the building that are interesting to check out and learn from on your visit as well.
Free Things to do in Austin: South Congress Avenue
Outdoor markets, live music, shops, and wall art are just a few of the fun things you can discover by visiting South Congress Avenue. This section of the street that leads down from the Capitol Building is a family-friendly place to stroll and get a vibe for what Austin is all about without having to spend anything.
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Take Photos With All The Murals
If you’ve ever researched things to do in Austin, you have undoubtedly run into someone mentioning the many murals all around this town. There are the usual famous ones like the “Greetings From Austin” or “I love you so much” that have become super popular, but there are so many more to see almost everywhere you go.
Whether you are walking around in Downtown or strolling through one of the hip neighborhoods like SoCo, you’ll certainly run into a couple (if not more) really cool murals that are great to take a photo with. If you’d like a guided tour, check out this street art tour on Airbnb.
Explore The Greenbelt
The Barton Creek Greenbelt located south-southwest of Downtown is an oasis filled with several trails, limestone buffs, swimming holes, and waterfalls. It’s amazing that this place exists just minutes from the heart of the city. Rock climbing, swimming, mountain biking, and hiking are all the activities you can partake in depending on which trail you choose to take.
What do you think? If you have any more tips for how to visit Austin on a Budget I’d love to hear them, and if you have more suggestions for free things to do in Austin please let us know in the comments below.
Where to Stay in Austin
There are some gorgeous places to stay in Austin on Airbnb, from Airstream trailers to luxury homes perfect for big families. Solo or budget travellers will love this Little Eastside Cottage, which has great reviews for the friendly hosts and location close to the popular things to do in Austin.
If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $52 credit to use on your first trip! Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code and my full Airbnb guide or click below for your Airbnb coupon.
About the Author
Taiss and Rob of Together To Wherever share their experiences of traveling and living abroad. They enjoy slow travel, together as a family, and staying in places long enough to get to know the cultures and peoples of different locations around the world a little better. You can also find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to Austin, get a quote now from World Nomads.
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