The Best Free Things to do in Austin
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The Best Free Things to do in Austin

Austin Nature And Science Center

The Austin Nature & Science Center has been an educational hub since 1960, offering a diverse range of exhibits and programs focusing on nature, science, and art. It’s a haven for exploration and learning, featuring hands-on exhibits for visitors of all ages. The center offers a broad spectrum of attractions, from Wildlife exhibits showcasing native animals to the Dino Pit, where visitors can dig for ancient fossils. Additionally, visitors can delve into the Naturalist Workshop, explore the Forest Trail with native trees, discover the inner workings of a Honey Bee Hive, and experience unique features like the Human Sundial and Nano exhibit. The site also hosts the Seed Library for community seed exchanges, Pollinator Gardens supporting local wildlife, and public art installations through the Art in Public Places program, including artworks like Arboreal Passage, Big Snake, and Land Before Us.

Blanton Museum of Art

The Blanton Museum of Art is a celebrated cultural hub renowned for its diverse art collection spanning various eras and styles. Housing over 19,000 artworks, the museum showcases an impressive array of European paintings, modernist sculptures, Latin American art, and contemporary pieces. Notably, the Blanton stands out by offering free admission every Tuesday, an initiative aimed at fostering inclusivity and inviting individuals from all walks of life to engage with art and culture. Made possible by the Moody Family Free Day Endowment, this program allows the community to explore the museum’s extensive collections, rotating exhibitions, and educational programs without financial barriers, ensuring that art appreciation is accessible to everyone within Austin and beyond.

Cathedral of Junk

The Cathedral of Junk stands as a testament to one man’s creative whimsy and fascination with repurposing discarded materials. Initiated by Vince Hannemann in 1988, this evolving structure, comprised of an estimated 60 tons of eclectic items, weaves an intriguing narrative of repurposed junk transformed into an immersive artistic environment. Its construction spans stairways, multiple levels, vaulted ceilings, observation platforms, and even a “Throne Room,” creating a whimsical and otherworldly space. What began as a personal endeavor has become a communal attraction, welcoming visitors, hosting events like weddings and parties, and intriguing curious minds of all ages.

Austin Central Library
This incredible library in the center of Downtown Austin is free to visit, and library cards are free to residents, too! You could spend a day just wandering the building for fun, because there is so much to look at. Plan to spend some time here—there are 6 floors totaling 200,000 square feet to explore, including a rooftop garden with great views of the city. There’s a technology petting zoo, where people can get up close and personal with the latest tech, like 3D printers. And when it comes to books, the library has the potential to house more than half a million of them.

Waterloo Greenway

Waterloo Greenway is an expansive and visionary 1.5-mile park system that stands as a unifying force within the heart of Austin. As it unfolds, this interconnected 35-acre green space emerges as a vibrant tapestry, weaving together natural beauty, cultural richness, and community engagement. Stretching from 15th St. along the eastern edge of downtown to the serene Lady Bird Lake, the park system envisions a harmonious blend of diverse elements—lush gardens, meandering pathways, and the glittering Waller Creek that binds them. More than merely a park, it’s a canvas where environmental consciousness, artistic expressions, well-being, and the spirit of adventure converge, nurturing authentic experiences reflective of Austin’s kaleidoscopic identity.

Mueller Lake Park
Mueller Lake Park is an expansive 30-acre expanse situated at the heart of the Mueller neighborhood, in close proximity to Mueller Central and the future town center. The highlight of this park is the fully completed 6.5-acre lake, an idyllic centerpiece that offers a serene ambiance for leisure activities. This park is adorned with an open-air amphitheater and stage, presenting opportunities for live performances and community events against a natural backdrop. Families can enjoy the interactive playscape and take advantage of the inviting picnic peninsula, ideal for gatherings and relaxation. A loop trail offers scenic paths for walking or jogging, complementing the park’s appeal for outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, Mueller Lake Park integrates captivating public art installations that add cultural richness and aesthetic allure to the vibrant community space.

Governor’s Mansion
The Governor’s Mansion offers a remarkable opportunity for visitors to explore its rich history and architectural grandeur through free guided tours. Despite being a symbol of Texas’s enduring legacy and the oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence west of the Mississippi River, these tours are provided without cost. However, reservations for these tours must be made in advance, at least one week prior, through the State Preservation Board’s website or by contacting the Mansion Reservationist directly.

Leander Dinosaur Tracks

The Leander Dinosaur Tracks offer an adventurous family outing amidst beautiful scenery and usually minimal crowds. In the riverbed of the South Fork of the San Gabriel River, about a half-mile west from the Hwy 183 bridge near Leander, Texas, these approximately 12 dinosaur footprints add a touch of magic to the experience. The location lacks signage or designated trails, enhancing the sense of discovery. To reach the tracks, visitors can use GPS to locate the South San Gabriel River crossing on Hwy 183 and then proceed to a parking area at 601 S. Gabriel Dr, though this won’t directly lead to the tracks. From there, follow a well-trodden footpath down to the river and head west along the riverbed for about half a mile. The tracks, featuring three-toed prints of carnivorous dinosaurs and circular imprints from large herbivores, are situated on the left side of the riverbank. It’s advisable to plan the visit during low water levels for optimal visibility of the tracks. As this is an undeveloped site, there are no amenities or designated parking, so visitors should prepare accordingly. Additionally, as Texas can experience sudden flash floods, it’s crucial to be cautious during inclement weather conditions.

Two Step Lessons

The Hill Country Two Step dance community hosts a series of engaging Texas Two Step lessons across various days of the week. From the Two Steppin’ Tuesday sessions followed by live music with Fingerpistol at The Little Longhorn Saloon to the Wednesday Two Step Lessons and Honky Tonk Night School, they welcome everyone, regardless of skill level, to learn and enjoy the unique dance style rooted in Texas tradition. Additionally, Thursday’s Sagebrush Two Step Lessons, accompanied by live music performances by local bands like Walter Daniel and the Del Vallee Trustees and Snakes of Central Texas, offer an inclusive environment for individuals passionate about honing their dance skills. These lessons not only teach the steps of the Texas Two Step but also provide an immersive experience by pairing them with live music, creating an authentic Texas dance atmosphere for all attendees to enjoy.

Capitol Grounds
The Texas Capitol is one of the most impressive capitol buildings in the U.S. Standing nearly 15 feet taller than the capitol building in Washington D.C., the Texas Capitol building is the largest in terms of square footage. While there are guided tours of the inside of the building for free as well, some of the most rewarding sights are on the grounds. They stretch across 22 acres in the heart of the city, and they’re a great place to bring lunch and hang out on the grass. What’s more, there are several important monuments to observe and learn about. Make sure to check out the ​​Texas African American History Memorial to learn about the impacts African Americans have made throughout history in Texas, as well as a focus on Juneteenth.

Play for All Abilities Park
This incredible park is an example of what happens when a community comes together. The large 51,000-square-foot space allows kids of all abilities to enjoy play. Even if you don’t live in Round Rock, many parents make the drive to check out the unique features. There is the Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships Speedway, a racetrack that’s bring-your-own bike, scooter, or other wheeled device. There is also a large playground space, sensory pods, swings, and even a mini city! Brushy Creek Village is a favorite for kids, and they get to explore a miniature town filled with buildings, as well as streets that they can ride their bikes on.

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