Big Fun on a Little Budget in Austin, Texas! Some FREE and Inexpensive Things to Do


If you are looking for some fun things to check out in Austin, Texas without spending a lot of money, you might want to check out this list that I compiled with my wife.  As a father of three young children, I am always looking to maximize our fun without breaking the bank.  Enjoy!


Mount Bonnell – This is one of the highest points in Austin, and it is open to the public.  Since you have to climb a mega-staircase to get to the top, it’s great for exercise, has a great view for miles, makes a great romantic picnic spot, and… it’s free!  It overlooks Lake Austin and some of the gorgeous waterfront estate homes.


 Barton Springs Pool – Free during colder weather, when there are no lifeguards, but still very cheap during the summer.  This natural spring swimming pool has a constant year-round temperature of 68 degrees. Brrr!  I haven’t been there to swim in years, but it is definitely invigorating.


UT Tower – Closed for many years after the 1961 Charles Whitman shooting incident, the tower’s observation deck is now open again to the public.


Governor’s Mansion – Visit the Governor of Texas’ home for free.  Why not?



LBJ Library – This top-notch facility is on the University of Texas campus.  A library with documents from Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidency, plus a museum of many interesting and beautiful artifacts of LBJ and Lady Bird’s lives.


Zilker Park – The playscapes, fields, Botanical Garden, and parking at Zilker are free.  The train is not.  The Umlauf Sculpture Garden charges a small fee for people over 6 years old, but the cost is more for tours or workshops.  This is considered Austin’s version of Central Park, since it is located next to downtown.  This is home to the annual Trail of Lights during the Christmas season, and it also plays hosts to concerts and events with some regularity.



Lake Travis – Try swimming or fishing in Lake Travis for fun. There are lots of options here – sailing, jetskis, speedboat rentals, Volente Beach, and more.


Feeding Ducks at the Arboretum – Go to the Arboretum shopping center, and climb on the fun cow sculptures (made of stone.)  Then, take some stale bread down the small, stone path that goes down to the pond, so you can feed the ducks.  Our kids love this particular adventure!



Tour the State Capitol – Don’t forget to bring some unsalted nuts for the squirrels and stale bread for the pigeons on the grounds of the capitol building.  Go inside for a tour of the classically designed building, including paintings of past governors.  Here, you can also see the legislature room where Texas laws are made.


Congress Avenue Bats – Yes, you read that right.  Austin is home to the largest bat colony in North America, and they live underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge.  Right before dusk, go to the bridge and wait.  They start coming out slowly at first, then begin flooding out.  It looks like a smoke trail going off into the distance.  The bats’ squeaking is very high, but you can hear it.  I would recommend that you stand above the bridge, not under it.  There are also boat tours offered to take advantage of this event.

Austin Farmer’s Market – From their website:  “There are plentiful prepared foods, farm products turned into jams, salsas and honey, and hand-made crafts. Chef’s demos, children’s activities, and live local musicians make supporting local growers fun!”  Check the link above for times, location, and parking details.


If you are considering buying or selling a home in the Austin, Texas area, give me a call anytime.  I would love the chance to help.  I can be reached via cell at 512-796-7653 or email at  My primary Austin Texas real estate website is

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