10 Free Things to Do in Austin, Texas

free things to do in austin

Do you live in the greater Austin area?

Are you tired of spending too much money on your entertainment?

Then it sounds to me like you’re looking for some free things to do in Austin. And fortunately, there are plenty of activities to choose from.

So without further ado, check out the following 10 awesome Austin activities you can do with your family that won’t cost a penny!

1. The State Capitol

If you’re interested in the historical side of Austin, you can tour the Capitol buildings and grounds for free, and learn more at the Capitol Visitors Center.

The Capitol Visitors Center is located on the southeast corner of the Capitol grounds in the General Land Office building, the oldest state office building in Texas.

The Visitors Center focuses on the history and qualities of the Texas Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion, with interactive exhibits and films about Texas history. You can select a range of brochures and information packets on Austin and Texas in general – and it’s all totally free!

2. Baylor Street Art Wall

You’ve heard the saying, “Keep Austin Weird,” right?

This artsy gem is one of the more uniquely eccentric aspects of the whole city. The Baylor Street Art Wall is one of the largest graffiti showcases in Texas, and is always evolving as new artists cover it with their work.

You can climb around and see all the different layers of the Wall while you appreciate the wide view of downtown. Bring your camera – you’ll want to enjoy and remember the colorful Baylor Street public canvas.

3. Concerts in the Park

Get your blanket and picnic basket ready – you can see a great concert and enjoy a beautiful sunset backdrop every single weekend.

The Austin Ensemble puts on shows at The Hartman Concert Park in front of the Long Center City for free, once a week. They’re one of Austin’s best summer events.

You’ll hear a variety of music, which includes everything from jazz to film scores, from 7:30 to 9PM. And once you attend one of these concerts, one thing will be certain: there’s no lack of great culture in the Austin area.

4. Austin History Center

Do you love the idea of passing on an archive for generations to come to learn from and engage with?

Then you’ll love the free experience of the Austin History Center.

The History Center is a repository of over one million items, which include:

  • Manuscripts
  • Maps
  • News clippings
  • Recorded oral histories
  • Photographs
  • Historical artifacts
  • Reference materials

The local history collection at the Austin History Center provides the public with information about the history, events, and activities of Austin and Travis County. If you’re a local history fan, check it out ASAP.

5. Barton Springs Pool

After a long day walking around in the Austin heat, you might be interested in a refreshing nighttime dip in the huge Barton Springs pool.

Normally the swimming pool has an entrance charge, but every night from 9 to 10PM, Barton Springs has a special hour where you can swim free of charge. Just keep an eye out for the flashing lights at the entrance that signal pool admittance is free.

And if you don’t want to swim, you can hang out on the grassy hillside and enjoy the community vibe. Lifeguards on duty!

6. Explore SXSW

free things to do in austin

One of the yearly festivals Austin is most known for, South by Southwest (SXSW) celebrates film, music, partying, and everything in between.

The festival is built around helping locals and tourists alike get inspired, get connected, and share with other like-minded people.

And sure, it may be tough to get a pass for the festival if you aren’t in one of the featured industries – but there are tons of activities you can take part in for free!

So, if you want to learn more, check out this official list of the dozens of free events at SXSW every year!

7. Movies in the Park

Feel like relaxing in the outdoors while watching a family-friendly film? Then bring your blankets and lawn chairs for a fun evening under the Austin night sky at Movies in the Park.

Every year, the Austin Parks Foundation, in partnership with Alamo Drafthouse and Lyft, present free movies in parks all over Austin.

Also, the parks prohibit smoking and alcohol, which makes Movies in the Park one of the best free things to do in Austin for the whole family.

8. Pecan Street Festival

When you think of Sixth Street, you might imagine a huge crowd of drunken party-goers – not a family-friendly festival atmosphere!

Yet that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Pecan Street Festival, one of Central Texas’ oldest and most popular events. It’s an arts festival held each spring and fall in downtown Austin’s Sixth Street Historic District that proudly displays hundreds of local and national artisans offering their handcrafted creations.

You’ll find more than 60 musical acts on three stages, as well as activities that range from street magicians to a petting zoo. Plus, food trucks and vendors offer healthy – and, shall we say indulgent – choices that are supported by and benefiting charitable partners.

And since it’s free to enter, you have no excuse not to head down to Sixth Street with your family and see the Pecan Street Festival for yourselves!

9. Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

Every summer night, hundreds of people crowd the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch more than 1.5 million bats emerge from their home under the bridge.

Your first thought might be: But bats are scary!

The truth is, bats are gentle and sophisticated animals. Bat-watchers have nothing to fear as long as they don’t try to physically handle the bats themselves.

Each time the bat colony leaves the bridge, they consume 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects (which include agricultural pests!) before returning to roost.

So, for some unique (and free) Austin eco-tourism, wait for sunset at the Congress Avenue Bridge.

10. Austin Public Library

free things to do in austin

Whether you’re a child, a teenager, or an adult, there are tons of fun free things to do in Austin at your local public library.

Book clubs, computer classes, games, movies, crafts, and live music – all of these can be found at any of the neighborhood libraries found throughout the city of Austin.

If you want to look for something specific to do in your nearest Austin Public Library, check out the search feature on the Events website page and search by date, category, or location.

Oh yeah, there are also a ton of free books you can borrow if you have your library card!

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Exciting stuff, right?

I bet you can’t wait to get out there and experience some of these free things to do in Austin.

And if you’re looking for more suggestions about activities in Austin, Ft. Hood, or Killeen, or if this list convinced to you move to the area, contact me today!