Free Stuff And Free Things To Do In Austin

Austin Visitors Center Free Guided Historic Walking Tours
Web Site: Austin Visitors Center Free Guided Historic Walking Tours
1100 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

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.

Austin History Center
Web Site: Austin History Center
810 Guadalupe Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512) 974-7480
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.

Bat Viewing at The Congress Avenue Bridge
Web Site: Bat Viewing at The Congress Avenue Bridge
10 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512) 416-5700 (Category 3636)
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.

Blanton Museum of Art
Web Site: Blanton Museum of Art
200 East Martin Luther King Boulevard
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 471-7324
Thursdays from 10 AM to 5 PM is FREE DAY at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
Web Site: Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
1800 North Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512) 936-8746
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museumprovides free admission to the Exhibits on the first Sunday of each month. Regular admission prices still apply to the Texas Spirit Theater and IMAX Theatre.

Capitol Visitors Center
Web Site: Capitol Visitors Center
112 East 11th Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512) 305-8400
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.

Elisabet Ney Museum
Web Site: Elisabet Ney Museum
304 East 44th Street
Austin, Texas 78705

Phone: (512) 458-2255
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 Swimming at Barton Springs Swimming Pool
Web Site: Free Swimming at Barton Springs Swimming Pool
2101 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78704

Phone: (512) 476-9044
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.

Free Yoga at Barton Springs
Web Site: Free Yoga at Barton Springs
863 Robert E. Lee Road
Austin, TX 78704

The non-profit organization Save Our Springs Alliance sponsors free yoga on Saturdays at 9:30 AM at Barton Springs Pool during the months of May through July. This community event is free to the public. Bring a yoga mat or towel and water. This free yoga class meets at the back gate area of Barton Springs Pool off of Robert E. Lee Road under the big tree outside of the Barton Springs pool area.

George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center
Website: George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center
1165 Angelina Street
Austin, Texas 78702

Phone: (512) 974-4926
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.

Governor’s Mansion of Texas
Web Site: Governor’s Mansion of Texas
1010 Colorado Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: 512-463-5516
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 artifacts 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. 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.

Harry Ransom Center
Web Site: Harry Ransom Center
300 West 21st Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512)471-8944
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.

Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory
Web Site: Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory
2210 South FM 973
Austin, Texas 78725

Phone: (512) 972-1960
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.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum
Web Site: Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum
2313 Red River Street
Austin, Texas 78705

Phone: (512) 721-0200
Free admission to Children 12 and under and active duty military. 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.

Mexic-Arte Museum
Web Site: Mexic-Arte Museum
419 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512) 480-9373
Admission to the Mexi-Arte Museum is FREE every Sunday and FREE during the month of December.

Mount Bonnell at Covert Park
Web Site: Mount Bonnell at Covert Park
3800 Mount Bonnell Road
Austin, Texas 78731

Phone: (512) 974-6700
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.

O’ Henry Museum
Web Site: O’ Henry Museum
409 East Fifth Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512) 472-1903
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 (Outdoor Equipment INC)
Web Site: REI Outdoor School Austin
601 North Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78703

Phone: (512) 482-3357
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.

Stacy Pool
Web Site: Stacy Pool
800 East Live Oak
Austin, Texas 78704

Built by the Works Progress Administration between 1933 and 1937, Big Stacy Pool is located within the Travis Heights neighborhood close to the South Congress shopping district. The pool is called Big Stacy to differentiate it from Little Stacy, the wading pool located within the same city greenbelt. Popular with lap swimmers, Big Stacy Pool is free, open year-round and heated in the winter by water from an Artesian well located 2000 feet below the surface. The pool is wheelchair accessible and there is a handicap lift. Parking can be scarce in the late weekday afternoons when lap swimmers arrive after work, but there is additional parking in the neighborhood around the park. There are usually three lap lanes open in the summer and six in the winter. One of Austin’s famed moontowers can be seen from Big Stacy Pool.

Star Gazing At 16 Inch Telescope At Robert Lee Moore Hall On University of Texas Campus
Web Site: Star Gazing At Robert Lee Moore Hall
Robert Lee Moore Hall
2557 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712

Phone: (512) 471-5007
The Astronomy Department at the University of Texas sponsors free public star parties on the top roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall at the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway every Wednesday night while UT is in session. Take the elevators at Robert Lee Moore Hall to the 17th floor and then follow the signs to the stairs up to 16 inch telescope used for teaching undergraduate astronomy majors and for graduate student projects. 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 call (512) 232-4265 approximately thirty to fortyfive minutes before the scheduled start time to find out if the viewing is cancelled. A typical night will include a planet or two, binary stars, star clusters and some of the brighter nebulae.

Star Gazing At Painter Hall Telescope On University of Texas Campus
Web Site: Star Gazing at Painter Hall
Painter Hall
2400 Speedway
Austin, Texas 78712

Phone: (512) 471-5007
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 State Capitol
Web Site: Texas State Capitol
1100 Congress Ave
Austin, Texas 78701

Phone: (512) 463-0063
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.

Texas State Cemetery
Web Site: Texas State Cemetery
909 Navasota Street
Austin, Texas 78702

Phone: (512) 463-0605
Established in 1851, the Texas State Cemetery is the final resting place of Governors, Senators,, Congressmen, Judges and other legendary Texans who have made the state what it is today. Notable Texans buried on Cemetery grounds include General Edward Burleson, Stephen F. Austin, General Albert Sidney Johnston, Governor Allan Shivers, Governor John Connally, and Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock. Located just blocks east of the Capitol, the Texas State Cemetery is still in use today. The cemetery grounds are open seven days a week and the Texas State Cemetery Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday. Self guided tour brochures are available at the Visitor’s Center or online at the Texas State Cemetery website. A Cemetery Audio Tour is also available to download from the Texas State Cemetery website for Mp3 players and iPods. Guided tours are offered with reservations. Admission to the Texas State Cemetery is FREE.

Zilker Hillside Theater
Web Site: Zilker Hillside Theater
2206 William Barton Drive
Austin, Texas 78746

Phone: (512) 477-5335
Admittance to the Zilker Summer Musical and other events at Zilker Hillside Theatre is free, but there is usually a $5 fee to park in the Zilker Park parking lots.. Many Austin families have made it an annual tradition to attend the Zilker Summer Musical, including a swim at Barton Springs before the show and a picnic dinner during the musical entertainment. 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. Most events start around 8 PM and blankets can be placed on the hillside after 6 PM. Theater 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 with performances beginning at 8:30 PM.