Sound and Cinema Event

30 Cheap & Free Things To Do In Austin, Texas

Natural areas, mesmerizing parks, great lodging, a wealth of restaurants and bars, and the world-famous live music scene, the capital state of Texas, Austin, has something to offer for everyone. Of course, when planning a trip you never want to miss the cities top attractions and find the best things to do in Austin, Texas, but you also don’t want to spend an arm and leg exploring.   

To all my friends like me who are worried about putting a dent in their wallet, we have news for you! There is so much you can do in the capital of Texas on a minimal budget. So, grab your backpacks, and scour through our list of 30 cheap and free things you can do while in Austin!

1. SWIMMING AT THE BARTON SPRINGS POOL

Visit the public pool that is known as the soul of Austin. This spring feed pool is an adventure you won’t want to miss.   If you opt for swimming early in the morning, there are no fees! Have a good swim! Want to know more? Then check out everything you need to know about Barton Springs

Barton Spring address 2131 William Barton Dr, Austin, TX 78746

Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool

2. ZILKER HILLSIDE THEATER

Free and suitable for all ages, the Zilker Hillside Theater has produced amazing summer musicals since 1959. Located in picturesque banks of Barton Springs Zilker Hillside Theater is something that you don’t want to miss, ever! Time to get outside with lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the show. 

The theatre is located at

2206 WILLIAM BARTON DR, AUSTIN, TX 78746

Find out more information at https://zilker.org/hillside/

Zilker Hillside Theater
Zilker Hillside Theater

3. WATERLOO RECORDS

When in the Live Music capital it can be fun to pay homage by visiting one of the cornerstones of the Austin music industry, Waterloo records. Waterloo Records opened its doors April 1st, 1982, and has been offering outstanding customer-oriented service since the beginning. 

Be sure to check out their website https://waterloorecords.com/Home beforehand to catch one of their often free live performances in-store by emerging local artists. 

This is located at 600 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

Waterloo Records Live Performance
Waterloo Records Live Performance

4. BACKYARD STORY NIGHT

Sure, Austin has a lot to offer when it comes to music, but there is also a lot more the city offers. Backyard story nights are held in various spots across the city. Definitely worth it and totally free! It is literally stories told informally in a back yard. Learn more at backyardstorynight.com

Backyard Story Night
Backyard Story Night

5. HOPE OUTDOOR GALLERY

Fairly new, there are some seriously contemporary aesthetic graffiti and street art on display at HOPE Outdoor Gallery (completely free!). So, don’t forget to some snaps for your Instagram!

The Hope Outdoor Gallery started as a public art project that launched in March 2010 at “The Foundation” a failed condo development from the 1980s on Baylor Street in downtown Austin. The original Baylor location officially closed on Jan. 2, 2019.

The project is moving across from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Spring/Summer 2021.

Hope Outdoor Gallery
Hope Outdoor Gallery

6. LADY BIRD LAKE

There is so much you can do at the Lady Bird Lake that doesn’t cost a lot, that includes kayaks, canoes, boat rentals, and paddleboards alongside other things too!  You can even have a pretty nice bike ride as the Austin hike and bike trail circles almost the entire lower two-thirds of the reservoir offering access to the bank.

Seriously, this is a lot of fun. So we hope you backed your swimsuit and sunscreen. 

Austin Lady Bird Lake
Austin Lady Bird Lake

7. TOUR THE STATE CAPITOL

Makes sense to tor the state capitol right?  I mean you are in the capital of Texas might as well learn a thing or two with the state capitol tours. 

Seriously, the is a variety of reasons to visit the Texas State Capitol. This is a must-do for visitors. 

This is located at 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Texas State Capitol Landscape
Texas State Capitol

8. Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Watching

1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats fly into the sky from beneath the bridge nightly from spring through fall. The famous bat-watching is something that you need to experience at least once in your life.

Want to know more? We break down how to Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

This is located at Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Congress Bridge Bats
Congress Bridge Bats

9. GOVERNOR’S MANSION

The Texas Governor Mansion was built in 1927 by the state’s first female governess, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson. The elegant mansion features free tours, something that’s once in a lifetime experience.

So if you want to see another part of Texas history this is a must-see. 

This is located at 1010 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701

Texas Governor Mansion
Texas Governor Mansion

10. FREE WEEK

A welcome wagon to the new year in Austin, the Free Week features a celebration of music acts across the city. Free Week typically last January 1st thru 8th. So if you are looking to catch some free live shows you may want to mark this on the calendar. 

Austin Free Week
Austin Free Week

11. TUESDAYS AT THE CONTEMPORARY AUSTIN

Did you know that the 14-acre Laguna Gloria site and the Jones Center downtown waive their admission charges on Tuesdays? Why wouldn’t you want to visit that!

The Contemporary Austin is definitely a unique experience where you can engulf yourself in a spectrum of contemporary visions through exhibits, commissions, education, and collections. 

The Contemporary Jones Center is located at 700 Congress Ave and the Contemporary Laguna Gloria is located at 3809 W 35th st

Contemporary Art Austin
Contemporary Art Austin

12. FREE DANCE LESSONS AT WHITE HORSE

If you want free dance lessons, don’t forget to visit the White Horse on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 7-8 pm! Swing lessons are on Wednesdays while Blues are on Tuesdays and Texas two Step lessons are on Thursday.

The dates may change in the future so stay up to date with the free dance calls schedule at their website https://www.thewhitehorseaustin.com/events

They are located at 500 Comal St, Austin, TX 78702

Austin Whitehorse Dancing
Free Dance Lessons At Whitehorse

13. SOUND AND CINEMA EVENT

Grab your friends and family and come experience FREE live and local music combined with classic movies and cult films projected onto the Drafthouse’s giant, inflatable outdoor screen – all with a beautiful downtown view in the background.

Sound and Cinema is a free event that features a live band for an outdoor movie. How cool is that!

Sound and cinema event address 701 W Riverside Dr. Austin, TX 78704

Sound and Cinema Event
Free Outdoor Event

14. PARAMOUNT THEATRE 

Located in the heart of downtown Austin, The Paramount Theatre is a century-old performance venue and a movie theater where you can catch a great flick! 

You can catch some of the most desirable plays and events at the Paramount Theatre.

Paramount Theatre address is 713 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Paramount Theatre
Paramount Theatre

15. GOSPEL BRUNCH

Food and Austin go hand-in-hand, so make a reservation on a Sunday at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, where you can enjoy some delicious food with a live music scene.

The event is held in their expansive backyard on their amphitheater stage. 

Stubbs Bar-B-Q is located at 801 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701

Stubbs BBQ Brunch
Stubbs BBQ Gospel Brunch

16. CHERRYWOOD COFFEEHOUSE

Exercise is therapy, and when you have it for free… why not! Release your stress and tone down your muscles at Central Austin’s Cherrywood Coffee House every Monday to Friday with free yoga!

Cherrywood coffeehouse address 1400 E 38th 1/2 St, Austin, TX 78722

CHERRYWOOD COFFEEHOUSE free yoga
Free Yoga At Cherrywood Coffee

17. THE GREEN AND THE GROOVE

The Groove features a great unplugged music scene every Thursday. So does the Green, where Blues can be heard once a month.

18. ELISABET NEY MUSEUM

A former studio and portrait collection of the namesake Elisabet Ney, the German sculptor, the museum is completely free and open for the public! The Elisabet Ney Museum is worth a quick visit to get your 19th-century fix in. 

This is located at 304 E 44th St, Austin, TX 78751

Elisabet Ney Museum
Elisabet Ney Museum

19. BARBARELLA

If you are in for the craziest night of your life, take your night to Barbarella and dance your heart out. They routinely have some of the best DJs Austin has to offer with an electric environment and disco balls. You can’t go wrong with disco balls. 

BARBARELLA
Barbarella Dance Floor

20. MEXIC- ARTE MUSEUM SUNDAYS 

Photographs, paintings, sculptures, and so much more…. all on a Sunday when the Mexic-Arte Museum is completely free!

Mexic-Arte Museum address 419 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Mexic-Arte Museum
Mexic-Arte Museum

21. HARRY RANSOM CENTRE 

Simply put, you don’t want to miss a chance to miss this classical museum. The museum holds 42 million manuscripts, one million rare books, five million photographs, and more than 100,000 artistic works, the Gutenberg Bible, and original works by Frida Kahlo, including her iconic Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.

Harry Ransom Center Address 300 W 21st St, Austin, TX 78712

Harry Ransom Center
Harry Ransom Center

22. EAST AND WEST STUDIO TOUR

Here’s what you will find at the East and West Austin Studio Tour; hundreds of locations and countless artists! 

Come see where some of your favorite artists has recorded. 

East And West Studio
East And West Studio

23. FARMERS’ MARKET

The Saturdays bring homemade treats and gourmet snacks at the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown. They are utterly irresistible!

Austin Downtown Farmers Market Address: 422 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701

SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown
SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown

24. MAYFIELD’S PARK

Mayfield’s Park is a historic cottage, gardens, and nature preserve in west Austin, Texas on a bluff overlooking Lake Austin. 

You can expect to see a large population of stunning peacocks, always strutting amid the gorgeous green space. It’s truly a mesmerizing sight!

Mayfield Park Austin
Mayfield Park

25. WEST SIXTH

West Sixth is the section of Sixth Street that runs west from Congress Avenue to North Lamar Boulevard. You can expect a lively nightlife, delicious restaurants, and some great shopping.

We promise these are drinks and a shopping spree that you absolutely don’t want to miss! You can dance the night away or wander the bookshelves and listen to a free author reading at BookPeople.

West Sixth Bars
West Sixth Bar

26. GREENBELT

Whether you want to hike or bike, The Barton Creeks Greenbelt is the way to go. You can further explore the Gus Fruh, Twin Falls, and Sculpture Falls. This park is managed by the City of Austin’s Park and Recreation Department. 

If you are up for outdoor adventures and scenery then this place is a must-visit. 

Barton Creeks Greenbelt address: 3755 S Capital of Texas Hwy B, Austin, TX 78704

Barton Creek Greenbelt
Barton Creek Greenbelt

27. ST. EDWARD’S PARK

Need a chill day? Then come and relax at St. Edward’s Park.  You can explore this 80-acre hidden lush escape for everyone within the city limits. You’ll see easy trails, a swimming hole, and an old-fashioned rope swing.

You can find out more about this location on their website – https://austinparks.org/stedwards-park/

St. Edwards Park Address: 7301 Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78759

St Edwards Park
St. Edwards Park

28. 3TEN MUSIC 

Want to see creativity in the works?  Then come visit 3ton music. 3TEN is a haven for music enthusiasts and singer/songwriters. Enjoy the late-night performances, game scenes, and happy hour shows!

3Ten address is 310 Willie Nelson Blvd, Suite 1A Austin, TX 78701

3ten
3Ten Venue

29. SANDY’S HAMBURGERS

You can’t miss tasting the most delicious hamburgers in all of Austin that has been open since 1946. Don’t forget the fries, frozen custard, and the frosty root beer with your order for the complete experience!

Sandy’s Hamburger Address: 603 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Sandys Burger
Sandys Burger

30. Zilker Park

Don’t let the last number fool you. Zilker Park is one of the top places to visit while you are in Austin. Grab some friends and get some fresh air. 

Need more information on Zilker Park? Then check out our complete breakdown over Zilker Park

Zilker Metropolitan Park

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