13 Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Austin, Texas

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You can have fun in Austin no matter what budget you are on. Unlike other cities, there are actually a number of free or cheap things to do to occupy your time here. Have a great time in Texas’ capital city with these top budget-friendly things to do in Austin.

Visit The Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol

Visit The Texas State Capitol

What Is It? Start out your budget-friendly Austin adventure by touring the Texas State Capitol. 

Why Do It? The building is open and free to the public seven days a week, and a new tour starts every 20 minutes. 

Good to Know: The Texas State Capitol is the oldest state office structure that is still standing to this day.

Hike and Swim Near the Greenbelt
Austin Greenbelt

Hike and Swim Near the Greenbelt

What Is It? Austin is an urban city that has a few natural greenbelts. However, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is the greenbelt to visit. 

Why Do It? The Barton Creek Greenbelt is also a popular spot to go swimming when the water is high enough. Hit up popular spots such as the access points of SpyGlass, Gus Fruh or Twin Falls.

Good to Know: Whenever you hear an Austinite refer to ‘the Greenbelt,” the Barton Creek Greenbelt is the one they are talking about. The greenbelt is free to explore and has a number of established trailheads, hiking trails, mountain biking trails and climbing spots.

Ride a Bike
Town Lake Trail Bridge, Austin

Ride a Bike

What Is It? Austin is a bike-friendly city. 

Why Do It? You will find a number of bike lanes, bike shops, and bike rental spots here. And every establishment seems to have a bike rack to park your ride too. If you don’t have a bike, bike rentals run fairly cheap (about a few bucks for an hour). 

Good to Know: Rent for a couple of hours or even a couple of days. Riding a bike in the city is a great way to discover Austin, and it will get you out of that dreaded Austin traffic.

Enjoy Live Music
Free Blues on the Green Concert at Zilker Park

Enjoy Live Music

What Is It? You can’t visit the “Live Music Capital of the World” without listening to some live music. 

Why Do It? You don’t have to purchase a pricey ticket to ACL or see a headliner at Stubb’s to embrace Austin’s live tunes. There are plenty of free live music performances that happen all over the city and on any given day. You may even find live music in the airport, at a local cafe or at your favorite taco joint. 

Good to Know: If you’re visiting during the summer, hit up Blues on the Green at Zilker Park, a popular free concert that occurs a couple of times during the summer.

Explore Zilker Park
Above Zilker Park, Austin

Explore Zilker Park

What Is It? Zilker Park is best known as the home of ACL festival.

Why Do It? Even when the festival isn’t going on, it’s a free spot to enjoy the Austin sunshine, have a picnic and take a nice stroll. 

Good to Know: Explore the grassy expanse or head to the Zilker Botanical Gardens where admission is free.

Swim in Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool

Swim in Barton Springs Pool

What Is It? Austin during the summer gets quite hot. Therefore, head to Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed pool where the temperature stays at 68 degrees year-round.

Why Do It? For only a few dollars, you can enjoy a day at this large and refreshing pool. 

Good to Know: If you’re an early riser or a night owl, hit up those hours for free admission, from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Hike to Mount Bonnell
View from Mount Bonnell

Hike to Mount Bonnell

What Is It? Mount Bonnell is the highest point in Austin at 775 feet. 

Why Do It? Take the steep staircase up the top of Mount Bonnell, where you will be granted great views of Austin and its surrounding landscape.

Good to Know: There is no admission to trek up to Mount Bonnell. Sunset is a great time to head to Mount Bonnell.

Explore Lady Bird Lake
Kayakers in Lady Bird Lake

Explore Lady Bird Lake

What Is It? Lady Bird Lake also referred to as Town Lake, is a large lake situated in the middle of the city. 

Why Do It? There is a trail that wraps around the lake, making it a perfect spot to bike, walk or run. 

Good to Know: You can explore Lady Bird Lake by kayak or stand-up paddleboard too. There are a couple of spots to rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards around the lake that shouldn’t break the bank.

View the Bats
Bat Watching in Austin

View the Bats

What Is It? Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in the nation. 

Why Do It? Referred to as the Bat City, Austin is proud to be home to over one million Mexican free-tailed bats. Viewing the bats is an interesting and free experience. 

Good to Know: From March to September, the bats are active and emerge from the South Congress Bridge each night to feed. Therefore head to the South Congress Bridge at dusk to view thousands of bats.

Stroll Along South Congress
View from South Congress

Stroll Along South Congress

What Is It? South Congress is an eclectic street full of neat shops and local eateries.

Why Do It? You don’t even have to buy anything from the shops. Just browsing the awesome antiques from Uncommon Objects, the costumes in Lucy in Disguise, or the leather boots in Allens Boots is enough entertainment.

Good to Know: If you get hungry, stop by Home Slice Pizza for a cheap, single slice of thin-crust pizza.

Eat From a Food Truck
Food truck in Austin

Eat From a Food Truck

What Is It? You will find that a food truck is on every corner in Austin. 

Why Do It? Don’t bother waiting for hours or paying high prices at popular Austin brick-and-mortar joints. The food trucks here serve some great grub, from gourmet eats to southern cooking.

Good to Know: Get breakfast at Veracruz All Natural or try East Side Kings for lunch. No matter what food truck you choose, you’re sure to be pleased by the food and the prices.

Visit the Blanton Museum of Art
Inside the Blanton Museum of Art

Visit the Blanton Museum of Art

What Is It? The Blanton Museum of Art, located on the University of Texas campus is the perfect spot for art lovers. 

Why Do It? The museum is recognized for its European paintings, prints and drawings, modern and contemporary American and Latin American art, and Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin. The museum is a beautiful and unique art museum that has both resident art exhibits and rotating exhibits too. 

Good to Know: The permanent collection has more than 19,000 works to browse.

Take a Donation-Based Yoga Class
Yoga class at Black Swan Yoga

Take a Donation-Based Yoga Class

What Is It? Yoga classes can be pricey. However one of the most popular yoga studios in Austin actually offers donation-based classes. 

Why Do It? Black Swan Yoga has various locations and offers a variety of classes that occur throughout the day. 

Good to Know: The recommended donation is $10 to $15. For an hour of great yoga instruction, that is an awesome deal.

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