Things to Do

12 Awesome Things To Do in Austin for… Free!

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Tony Maples Photography


Austin has something for everyone, making it, oh so easy to love. Having lots to offer for free just makes such an eclectic city that much more delightful. Though there are many, here are 12 free ways to experience Austin:

1. Tour The Governor’s Mansion

Governor's Mansion


Free tours are offered Wednesdays – Fridays afternoons. Since walk-ins aren’t accepted, schedule tour at least a week in advance.

2. Tour The State Capitol Building

Texas State Capitol


Tours are offered daily and can either be self-guided or group. Many specialty tours, such as Women of Texas History and Holiday Tours, are also occasionally offered.

3. Lady Bird Lake

Austin Skyline from Lady Bird Lake


The lake formally know as Town Lake is the heart and soul of the outdoor enthusiasts of Austin. Paddleboard, kayak, or canoe the lake while live music drifts over the water from nearby bands.

4. Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail


If water sports aren’t your style, the hike-and-bike’s 10 miles of wide, smooth trail is a great way to see the lake.

5. The Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake

The Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake


The Boardwalk, bedecked with artwork by artist Ken Little, presents visitors with seven spectacular viewing decks in which to admire Austin’s skyline beyond the lake.

6. Barton Creek Greenbelt

Barton Creek


With alluring swimming holes, diverse hiking and biking trails, and sheer cliffs challenging climbers to scale them, it’s no wonder why locals love Barton Creek Greenbelt. It also is considered the 7th best hiking trail in Texas.

7. Waterloo Records

Waterloo Records


What better place to take in a free live music performance than in a record store? Browse vinyls, CDs, and apparel all while having an authentic Austin experience.

8. Mount Bonnell

Couple at Mount Bonnell


For stunning sunsets and perfect picnics, trekking the steps to the summit is well worth the effort.

9. Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Viewing

Bats at Congress Avenue Bridge


Watch the world’s largest urban bat colony take flight from Congress Avenue Bridge. Right before dusk, 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats take to the night sky to rid Austin of more than 10,000 pounds of insects.

10. Doug Sahm Hill

People looking at Austin Skyline from Doug Sahm Hill

Photo: Flickr/winemegup

This 35 foot hill located in Butler Park offers outstanding viewing of Austin’s downtown. Pack a picnic and watch the skyline flicker to life as the sun goes down.

11. Bull Creek

Bull Creek

Photo: Panoramio/destuffilator

Another urban retreat, this one more quiet than Barton Creek and boasts dog friendly hiking trails and play areas.

12. Austin Nature and Science Center

Children Discovering Fossils in Dino Pit


Kids and adults alike can dig for dinosaur bones in the Dino Pit, discover natural Texas wildlife, get hands-on with minerals and shells, trade these treasures, and hike the Zilker Nature Preserve. All of this and more without ever taking out your wallet.