Free Austin, Free Fun Austin, Free Stuff Austin And Free Things Austin
Austin Convention and Visitors Center offers two free Austin guided walking tours of historical homes and places in downtown Austin. Both tours require 24 hour advance reservations and reservations may be made through the Austin Convention and Vistors Center website. The Historic Congress Avenue and Sixth Street tour times are 9 AM Thursday through Saturday and 2 PM on Sunday and include 19th century buildings such as the Old Bakery, the Driskill Hotel and St. Mary's Cathedral. The Bremond Block Historic District tour examines a collection of homes belonging to members of the John Bremond family built during the Victorian era and tour times are at 11 AM on Saturday and Sunday. The tour departure point for both these free things to do in Austin is the South entrance of the Capitol building at 1100 Congress Avenue.
The Austin History Center is devoted to keeping and maintaining Austin history. The Austin History Center is a repository of over one million items, from manuscripts, maps, and news clippings, to recorded oral histories and photographs, including historical artifacts from before 1839, the year of Austin's founding. The Austin History Center is open both to the public and for research purposes with a reference service available online and over the phone. The Austin History Center presents one to two large-scale exhibits related to Austin history each year along with two additional smaller photograph exhibits on a staggered schedule to ensure that there is always something new to see at the Austin History Center. Exhibits are created by Austin History Center staff from the existing collections of photographs and documents are are often timed with anniversaries and other events happening in the Austin area. Admission to the Austin History Center is FREE.
The Austin Nature and Science Center is a "living museum," focused on the creative use of specifically planned interpretive exhibits, programs, collections, and trails. It has an animal exhibit, featuring more than 90 native animals that can't be returned to the wild. There is a Dino Pit, where you can dig up actual replicas of fossils found in Texas, follow dinosaur tracks, and view fossils from the 301 Congress construction site. Also featuring a naturalist exhibit, and an educational center. The Austin Nature and Science Center also has camps for both children and adults. Admission to the Austin Nature and Science Center is free.
The free Austin Recovery Recovery Enrichment Workshops are on the second Saturday of each month and are open to all members of the Austin community. National and local speakers present on topics related to addiction and recovery. Refer to the Austin Recovery website for the schedule of speakers and topics. Austin Recovery is a non-profit alcoholism and drug treatment center offering affordable treatment for addiction problems.
One of the iconic fun free things to do in Austin is to watch the world's largest urban bat colony fly out from under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. The Congress Avenue bridge is one of three bridges linking the downtown area to South Austin across the Colorado River or what is sometimes referred to as Town Lake or more recently renamed Lake Lady Bird. Each night from mid-March to November, approximately a million or more Mexican free-tail bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk to blanket the sky as they head out to forage for food. The bats generally emerge before dark, but may fly late as the time of year and weather conditions affect bat emergence times. July and August are the best times to see the most dramatic flights when new born pups first begin to forage with their mothers. It is possible to view the bats from the bridge, but the bridge itself is a high traffic throughfare. The best way to see the bats is to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to the free Austin Bat Observation Center located at the Austin American Statesman offices at 305 South Congress Avenue on the southeast side of the bridge where there is a viewing area and an educational kiosk. If parking is not available at the Austin American Statesman, additional parking after 6 PM is located at Texas Department of Transportation offices located around the corner off Riverside Drive. Bat Conservation International Bat Interpreters are present Thursday through Sunday nights in the months of June, July and August. Please remember to look, but DON'T TOUCH THE BATS. Bats are free wild animals and like all free wild animals, they may bite in self-defense if handled.
The Blanton Museum of Art is the largest art museum in Austin and features a substantial permanent collection of important works of art as well as traveling collections from around the world. Some of the free things to do at the Blanton on Thursdays include over 30,000 square feet of permanent and traveling collections and exhibits. The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin is one of the foremost university art museums in the country, and has the largest and most comprehensive collection of art in Central Texas. The Blanton features modern and contemporary art from both the United States and Latin American including the Mari and James A. Michener Collection of 20th-Century American Art Modern and the Barbara Duncan Collection of Latin American Art. There is also a notable collection of paintings of the American West. Thursdays from 10 AM to 5 PM is FREE DAY at the Blanton Museum of Art.
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is named after former Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, who was the driving force behind the establishment of the museum. It tells "The Story of Texas" with three floors of permanent, traveling and special exhibits on the history, traditional culture and popular culture of Texas including sports, business, performing arts and technology. It also features a "Texas Spirit Theater," which showcases movies filmed in Texas and the special effects show, "The Star of Destiny," a multimedia experience of the history of Texas narrated by the character of Sam Houston. It is also home to Austin's only IMAX theater, and plays "Texas: The Big Picture," a large-format film, as well as current commercially released movies. During the summer, there is a annual free concert series called "Music Under the Star" presenting popular Austin performers on the Lone Star Plaza under the 35-foot-tall bronze star. First Saturdays of the month are FREE admission at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum from 2 PM to 6 PM.
Bright Leaf is a natural area over 200 acres in size within the city limits of Austin, Texas. Bright Leaf began as the inspiration of Georgia Lucas who purchased the land in 34 separate real estate transactions in order to put together the property she named Bright Leaf. To gather 216 acres of contiguous undeveloped land within the city limits of Austin today would be impossible. The land was first under Texas Parks and Wildlife management and is now owned by the Austin Community Foundation. In order to protect the fragile nature of Bright Leaf, Georgia Lucas specified in her will that "all hikes will be guided hikes". Guided hikes at Bright Leaf take place on the second Saturday and second Sundays each month at 9 AM. Park visitors are to meet the guide at the parking lot off of 2222 and Creek Mountain Road. Hikes are approximately 4 miles long and last 2-1/2 hours. Hikers should dress for the weather and bring a water bottle. Admission to the guided hikes at Bright Leaf Preserve is FREE.
The Capitol Visitors Center is located on the southeast corner of the Capitol grounds in the restored 1856-57 General Land Office building. It focuses on the history and the qualities of the Texas Capitol and Governor's Mansion. The Visitors Center features interactive exhibits and films about Capitol and Texas history, lots of free brochures on Austin and Texas visitor information and a gift shop with Austin and Texas related gifts. Admission to the Capitol Visitor's Center is FREE.
The Elisabet Ney Museum is one of the oldest museums in Texas, and celebrates the life and works of Elisabet Ney, an early Texan artist. Following Elisabet Ney's death in 1907, her friends preserved the studio and its contents as the Elisabet Ney Museum, dedicated to honoring the memory of Elisabet Ney and to promoting her ideals and visions for the people of Texas. It is also a national, state and local historic landmark. Admission to the Elisabet Ney Museum is free.
Free Fun In Austin is a website run by a mother of four named Heidi with a degree in theatre arts. She does an excellent job of posting free things to do in Austin including food, events and coupons. Most of her notices come from her Facebook page so be sure to "Like" Free Fun In Austin there.
Every morning between 5 AM and 8 AM swimming is free at Barton Springs Swimming Pool at Zilker Park but there is no lifeguard on duty. One of the best fun free things to do in Austin is the free swim from 9 PM to 10 PM at Barton Springs Pool. From 9 PM and 10 PM there is no charge for swimming at Barton Springs Swimming Pool at Zilker Park and lifeguards are on duty. For the evening swim, the best time to get to the swimming pool and find a convenient parking spot is about 8:30 to 8:45 PM. When the lights at the entrance flash on at 9 PM that is the sign that pool admittance is now free. During the summer, there is usually local music on the night of the full moon and the pool area is full of Austinites howling at the moon during free swim between 9 PM and 10 PM.
The George Washington Carver Museum was Texas' first African-American neighborhood museum. Located in the building that was Austin's first library, and later Austin's first branch library, it focuses on African-American history and heritage. Admission to the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center is free.
Under renovation since October of 2007, The Governor's Mansion was damaged by fire in June of 2008, but is once again open after for extensive repairs and rebuilding. Fortunately at the time of the fire, all furnishings and historic aritifacts had been removed due to the scheduled renovation. Built in the Greek Revival architectural style, the original construction on the Texas Governor's Mansion was completed in 1856. Forty Texas governors and their families have occupied the Mansion. Free guided tours of the Texas Governor's Mansion are available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 AM to Noon beginning on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. Tours will last 20 minutes and are subject to availability. Reservations must be made at least one week in advance and no walk up tours are available.
The major focus of the Ransom Center is the study of the literature and culture of the United States, Great Britain, and France. Free things to do in Austin at the Harry Ransom Center include include the exhibits at the center displaying manuscripts, rare books, photographs, works of art and major collections in theater and movie memorabilia including the David O. Selznick and Gloria Swanson archives. The Harry Ransom Center also offers a number of special events including poetry readings, lectures and movies. Admission to the Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin is FREE.
The Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is located at the Austin Water Utility's Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant. It is hosted by the Austin Water Utility's Center for Environmental Research at Hornsby Bend. More than 350 birds have been recorded here. The complex consists of 4 lagoons, woods along the Colorado River, and fields. There are monthly bird walks, volunteer work, and bird counts at the Education Center. Be prepared for unpleasant odors during the summer. Visitors are required to sign in at the main gate. Admission to the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is FREE.
Keeping Austin Free is a blog style website that updates on a regular basis with current free events and activities in the Austin area. Information on free stuff to do in Austin ranges from free kids shows to free food coupons to free admission to films, concerts and theater events.
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Library houses forty-five million pages of historical documents which include the papers from the entire public career of Lyndon Baines Johnson and also from those of close associates. The museum provides year-round public viewing of its permanent historical and cultural exhibits. Special activities and exhibits are sponsored privately by the Friends of the LBJ Library and its parent organization, the LBJ Foundation. The LBJ Library offers FREE admission on the following days; Martin Luther King Day; Presidents Day; Explore UT Day; Memorial Day; The Fourth of July; August 27th (LBJ's birthday); Veterans Day; and Austin Museum Day.
The Mexi-Arte Museum provides education programs and exhibitions focusing on traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture. Since its founding in 1984, Mexic-Arte Museum has been designated as the Official Mexican and Mexican American Fine Art Museum of Texas by the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas. Admission to the Mexi-Arte Museum is FREE every Sunday and FREE during the month of December.
The Moonlight Prowl is a tour of the University of Texas campus at night complete with anecdotes of student life, history and University of Texas legend. This fun thing to do in Austin is free. Reservations must be made online and confirmed by email. There are several versions of the Moonlight Prowl and the email confirmation includes the place to meet. Moonlight Prowls are held several times a month from March to early November. This activity is probably not suitable for young children. The Prowl is a mostly outdoors walking tour of the 40 acres as the University of Texas campus is sometimes called. All Prowls start at 8 PM and last 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
There's an old folk tale in Austin that if a couple walks up the 100 stairs to the top of Mount Bonnell they will fall in love, the second time they will get engaged, and the third time they will inevitably get married. Regardless of the actual statistics, Mount Bonnell is the oldest tourist attraction in Austin, and has been enjoyed by generations of Austinites since the 1850s. A great view of Austin, it is a bit of a hike, so be sure to wear appropriate shoes. Admission to Mount Bonnell at Covert Park is FREE.
Austin Parks Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to building partnerships, advocacy and action for parks. In conjunction with Alamo Draft House, the Austin Parks Foundation sponsors a fun free thing to do in downtown Austin with free outdoor movies at Republic Square Park. Dogs, picnics and lawn chairs are welcome. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the park. Republic Square Park is located at 5th Street and Guadalupe Street. There is free parking on surrounding streets. There is also parking in the State Garage at San Antonio and 4th Streets for $5. Movies begin at dusk which is usually around 8:30 and there is pre-show entertainment starting at 7 PM. Check the Movies in the Park website for a schedule of upcoming movies. Admission to Movies in the Park at Republic Square is FREE.
The mission of the O. Henry Museum is to collect, preserve, and interpret artifacts and archival materials relative to the author, for literary, educational, and historical purposes that are accessible to the public. The museum was established in 1934, under the jurisdiction of the City of Austin, and is both a National Register Property and a National Literary Landmark. Admission to the O. Henry Museum is FREE.
REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), a national retail cooperative selling outdoor gear and clothing, offers a variety of free classes, clinics and events for both children and adults at the store located in downtown Austin. Free Austin store classes include rock climbing, guided hikes, attracting outdoor birds, map and compass basics, bicycle maintenance and photography. Refer to the REI website for specific dates and details. Registration is generally required and class space is often limited, so sign up in advance. REI Austin-Downtown stocks gear and clothing for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, paddling and more. REI in downtown Austin also has bike shop offering a full range of professional bike shop services. REI in downtown Austin also offers a wide selection of outdoor rental equipment. There is also an REI store in Round Rock and one in the Gateway shopping area.
The Astronomy Department at the University of Texas hosts free viewing on the Painter Hall Telescope every Friday and Saturday night while UT is in session. Painter Hall is located at the corner of 24th street and Inner Campus Drive just to the north of the UT Tower. At Painter Hall take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. At the sixth floor go to the right and follow the signs up to the telescope. Parking is available at nearby UT parking garages for $3 after 6 PM. Viewing times change throughout the year so check the website first or call (512) 471-5007 for current times. If the weather seems questionable for this fun free thing to do, call (512) 232-4265 approximately 30-45 minutes before the scheduled start time to find out if the viewing is cancelled. The Painter Hall telescope has been in place at Painter Hall since the 1930's and the lens in the telescope was ground at the turn of the century.
Texas Memorial Museum is part of the Texas Natural Science Center at the University of Texas. Texas Memorial Museum has exhibits featuring dinosaurs and fossils, Texas wildlife and gems and minerals. Texas Memorial Museum also has a working Paleontology Lab where visitors can observe and ask questions as scientists work with real fossils. Exhibits of dinosaur fossils found in Texas include the largest flying creature ever found, the Texas Pterosaur, with a wingspan of nearly 40 feet, and the 30-foot Mosasaur that swam the shallow sea that once covered most of the state. The Texas Memorial Museum also has a gift shop with lots of fun and interesting gifts for kids. The Texas Memorial Museum is CLOSED for all University of Texas home football games. Admission to the Texas Memorial Museum is FREE.
The Texas Military Forces Museum is a military museum located at Camp Mabry. The Museum focuses on Texas Military Forces from 1823 and the first militia musters in Stephen F. Austin's Colony to the present day in 5 different main exhibits, each of which highlights different parts of the Texas Military Forces story. A photo I.D. for all adults is required for entry onto Camp Mabry. Admission to the Texas Military Forces Museum is FREE.
Built in 1888, the Texas State Capitol is widely regarded as one of the nation's most distinguished state capitols and is the largest in gross square footage of all state capitols.The Texas State Capitol is second in total size only to the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. and is 15 feet taller than the national Capitol. The pink granite of the exterior walls was quaried only fifty miles from the site in the Oak Hill area of Austin by state convicts and that is the reason part of that area came to be known as Convict Hill. The Capitol Information and Guide Service located in the restored Treasurer's Business Office on the first floor of the Capitol provides brochures for self-guided tours. Guided tours of the Capitol are conducted daily beginning in the Capitol South Foyer and concluding in the Capitol Extension. This tour features the Capitol, Texas history, and the Texas legislature. Tours are generally 45 minutes in length and are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Saturday from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM and on Sunday from Noon to 3:30 PM. These tours are conducted daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Easter. Guided tours of the Texas State Capitol are FREE.
A traditional free thing to do in Austin every summer is to take the family out to the Zilker Hillside Theatre summer musical. The Zilker Hillside Theatre is located in Zilker Park across the parking lot from Barton Springs swimming pool. The stage is located in a natural amphitheater under a stand of 100 year old pecan trees and in addition to the summer musical features numerous locally produced musical and dance oriented events including the Austin Symphony and Shakespeare in the Park. Admission to events at the Zilker Hillside Theatre is always free but there is a $3.00 fee to park in the Zilker Park parking lots. Most events start at 8 PM and blankets can be placed on the hillside after 6 PM. Theatre goers may bring a picnic or other refreshments, but alcohol is not permitted in the park. The free summer musical opens in July and runs into the month of August. Performances of the Zilker summer musical start at 8 PM. Admittance to the Zilker Summer Musical and other events at Zilker Hillside Theatre is FREE.