Everyone loves to know the best things to do in any given town, but if you are on a serious budget then you will be pleasantly surprised by this list. I’ve lived in Austin for close to 20 years and am a very frugal engineer (so I love to keep the pennies I’ve earned in my pocket), which is why this list comprises the best things to do in Austin for Free!
#5 – Go see the bats in Austin
This picture says it all, there are about 1 million Mexican free tailed bats that live under the Congress Avenue bridge. Just get down to the bridge before sunset and you can watch the bats come out for their nightly flight and feast of local insects. The show will last for about 45 minutes and the bats stay out until just before dawn, but you won’t be able to see them after sunset.
#4 – Go to Ladybird Lake
Austin’s Town Lake was renamed to Ladybird Lake in 2009 to commemorate Ladybird Johnson’s (wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson) time as the first lady of the United States. You can walk, jog, bike, canoe, or paddle board on or around the lake - there are no motor vehicles allowed here. I am a huge fan of running and biking and you can choose your own path distance around the lake due to the multiple bridges that cross over the lake and back. Choose from 3 mile, 5 mile, 7 mile or 10 mile routes or any combination thereof to total your desired distance.
#3 – Tour the Texas State Capitol Building
The Texas State Capitol Building is by far the largest capitol building in the United States. For comparison, the Texas State Capitol has 667,700 square feet and the Washington DC Capitol building has 175,170 square feet. Most of the square footage is below ground in a very cavernous system of offices, but nonetheless it is the largest. Also, this building is one of the state’s most pristine examples of architecture both inside and outside. You can tour the capitol building free of charge year round on either a guided tour or just by wandering around on your own if you are tight on time.
#2 – Go to Mount Bonnell
Mount Bonnell has one of the most spectacular views in the state of Texas. It lies in the north central part of Austin and overlooks Lake Austin and the multimillion dollar homes of some Austin-ites. Be aware that you will need to climb about 100 steps from the parking lot to get on top of Mt. Bonnell and see the view. If 100 steps is too many to climb in a single bound, you can always walk a little slower and take a break on the way up. It is a million dollar view that is free for those who make the quick jaunt up the stairs.
#1 – Tour the University of Texas Campus
This is just a short list of really awesome things that you can do at the UT campus, but they are all awesome and all totally free. You could make a whole day (or two) out of touring the campus.
- Find some Dinosaurs (fossils) at the Natural Science Center
- See new exhibitions at the College of Fine Arts (they are always changing)
- Visit the Blanton Museum of art which has 17,000 works of art
- Tour the LBJ Library and Museum with over 40 million documents on President Lyndon Baines Johnson
No matter what you end up doing in Austin, just make the entire day a journey and you will be sure to have fun!