Austin, one of the most unique cities in Texas and even in the entire US, proudly sticks to the motto, “Keep Austin Weird.” Luckily, all Austinites and visitors can experience the uniqueness of the city without spending a fortune, thanks to the Lone Star State Capital’s wide variety of free attractions.
With so many free things to do in Austin, you won’t spend a minute of your time in Austin feeling bored. In fact, you’ll love every moment. So when you’re convinced you can’t go another day without living in Austin, contact AptAmigo to find the perfect luxury apartment to call home.
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Fun Things to Do in Austin for Free
If you weren’t a hiker before coming to Austin, you will likely become one now. Austinites love to spend their time outdoors soaking up the Texas sun, and, luckily, hiking provides one free way to do just that.
One of the shorter hikes in the area provides incomparable panoramic views of the Colorado River and the surrounding hills. This easy hike includes a 200ft. elevation gain with stairs leading to the top, making it accessible for most visitors. Mount Bonnell is a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset with unobstructed views in either direction. Entrance and parking are free, and the park is open from 5am to 10pm daily.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown life, but don’t want to travel outside of the city, lace up your hiking boots and head to the spacious Barton Creek Greenbelt. With 12 miles of trails winding through South Austin, you’ll feel like you’re miles outside of the city. The Greenbelt is a great place to quiet your mind, refresh, and take in the sites of nature. Hikers, swimmers, and bikers alike can reap the benefits of the Greenbelt.
We’ll go ahead and say it again: Austinites love being outdoors, absorbing the nearly 300 days of sunshine each year. No matter the activity level, there is something for everyone. If you’re looking for something more relaxing than a hike, consider checking out one of Austin’s many spacious and beautiful parks.
Zilker Metropolitan Park
If you live in Austin and don’t spend time at Zilker Park, you are doing yourself a disservice. With over 350 acres of land, Zilker serves as the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic, host an outdoor event, or spend an afternoon people- (and dog-) watching.
As one of the most pet-friendly spots in the city, you’ll want to head here with your canine companion all the time. Zilker also puts on several events throughout the year, like the Trail of Lights at Christmas and the Austin City Limits music festival in October. The Colorado River and Barton Creek encompass the park, making it ideal for hopping on a paddle board, taking a stroll, or bike riding along the surrounding paths.
Another great park located just across the river from the heart of Downtown Austin is Auditorium Shores. Here you’ll encounter some of the most iconic views of the Austin Skyline in an unbeatable spot to spend a sunny afternoon.
Take a stroll through the park to the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge for the most picturesque view of the city. Much like Zilker Park, walking trails and bridges outline the Shores, making it a great place to get active.
Creativity flows through Austin like the Colorado River and leaves its mark on everything it touches. We especially love how Austin artists showcase their talent in murals throughout the city. From the “Willie for President” on South Congress to “You’re My Butter Half” in East Austin, you could spend an entire day on a scavenger hunt for murals and the photo-ops they present. Indeed, if you’re looking for the perfect Insta-worthy photo, Austin’s got you covered!
Congress Avenue Bridge Bats
If you want a firsthand look at why the locals say, “Keep Austin Weird,” look no further than the Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset between late spring and early fall. You’ll observe thousands of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats taking over the sky as they fly out from under the bridge each evening. The bats begin trickling out one by one as the sun sets. Then, after the sun goes down, they flood out by the hundreds to make their nocturnal rounds. The native Mexican bats are welcomed neighbors to the locals, who appreciate the bats keeping the bugs under control. For a free, authentic experience unique to Austin, don’t miss this bat-watching experience.
Arts & History
On the rare occasion that you experience a not-so-nice day in Austin, there are several free indoor activities worth exploring as well.
The Texas State Capitol Building
For anyone interested in history or architecture, check out the Texas State Capitol Building. Always free to the public, see first-hand where your state representatives congregate to make impactful decisions. At 360,000 square feet and with a history dating back to 1888, the Capitol Building is the largest and one of the most impressive in the country. They don’t say “Everything’s bigger in Texas” for nothing!
Blanton Museum of Art (Thursdays)
As one of the largest university museums in the US, you’ll love spending a relaxing afternoon learning about different cultures at the University of Texas’ own Blanton Museum of Art. The museum is home to permanent collections of European, Latin, and Modern & Contemporary art, as well as relevant temporary installations, like the February exhibit celebrating Black History Month. The Museum is free to the public every Thursday and worth the visit.
Moving to Austin?
With so many fun, free things to do in Austin, it’s hard not to want to call it home. When you’re ready to officially become an Austinite, let AptAmigo make your move effortless and fun. We’ll find the best luxury apartments for you to tour for free!
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Brett Hayden is a native Wisconsinite turned Texan who loves exploring Austin and beyond. She has a passion for writing and traveling, which she showcases on her blog, “by, Brett Nicole.”