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 13 budget-friendly things to do in Austin.
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Visit The Texas State Capitol
Start out your budget-friendly Austin adventure by touring the Texas State Capitol. The building is open and free to the public seven days a week, and a new tour starts every 20 minutes. The Texas State Capitol is the oldest state office structure that is still standing to this day.
Hike and Swim Near the Greenbelt
Austin is an urban city that has a few natural greenbelts. However the Barton Creek Greenbelt is the greenbelt to visit. And 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. 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 Spy Glass, Gus Fruh or Twin Falls.
Ride a Bike
Austin is a bike-friendly city. Therefore 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). Rent for a couple hours or even a couple 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
You honestly can’t visit the “Live Music Capital of the World” without listening to some live music. Now 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 your favorite taco joint. If you’re visiting during the summer, hit up Blues on the Green at Zilker Park, a popular free concert that occurs a couple times during the summer.
Explore Zilker Park
Zilker Park may be known as the home of ACL festival. However even when the festival isn’t going on, it’s a free spot to enjoy the Austin sunshine, have a picnic and to take a nice stroll. Explore the grassy expanse or head to the Zilker Botanical Gardens where admission is free.
Swim in Barton Springs Pool
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. For only a few dollars, you can enjoy a day at this large and refreshing pool. 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
Mount Bonnell is the highest point in Austin at 775 feet. Take the steep staircase up the top of Mount Bonnell, where you will be granted with great views of Austin and its surrounding landscape. There is no admission to trek up to Mount Bonnell. Sunset is a great time to head to Mount Bonnell.
Explore Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake, also referred to as Town Lake, is the large lake situated in the middle of the city. There is a trail that wraps around the lake, making it a perfect spot to bike, walk or run. However explore Lady Bird Lake by kayak or stand-up paddle board too. There are a couple spots to rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards around the lake that shouldn’t break the bank.
View the Bats
Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in the nation. 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. 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
South Congress is an eclectic street full of neat shops and local eateries. Now 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. If you get hungry, stop by Home Slice Pizza for a cheap, single slice of thin-crust pizza.
Eat from a Food Truck
You will find that a food truck is on every corner in Austin. And 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. 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
The Blanton Museum of Art, located on the University of Texas campus, is a beautiful and unique art museum that has both resident art exhibits and rotating exhibits too. Admission is less than $10. However come on a Thursday and admission is free.
Take a Donation-Based Yoga Class
Yoga classes can be pricey. However one of the most popular yoga studios in Austin actually offers donation-based classes. Black Swan Yoga has various locations and offers a variety of classes that occur throughout the day. The recommended donation is $10 to $15. For an hour of great yoga instruction, that is an awesome deal.