12 Affordable Activities In Austin Tx

cheap things to do in austin tx

Nestled in the heart of Texas, Austin is a city that won't break the bank, as it offers both affordable yet top-notch activities. Experience the vibrant city like a local with this budget-friendly itinerary that will not only entertain but also educate you about the rich culture, history, and unique way of life of Austin. From strolling through the bustling streets of South Congress to exploring the scenic parks and natural springs, here are 12 affordable activities in Austin that you won't want to miss.

Activity Description
Hike on Barton Creek Greenbelt A scenic hiking trail with waterfalls and swimming holes
Zilker Botanical Garden A 28-acre garden with themed areas, including Japanese and rose gardens
Visit Texas State Capitol Tour the historic building and grounds of the state's government
Explore Graffiti Park at Castle Hill A legal graffiti art wall presided over with positive and creative vibes
See the bats at Congress Avenue Bridge Watch the largest urban bat colony in North America emerge at dusk
Visit the Blanton Museum of Art A museum offering modern and contemporary art exhibitions
Texas Memorial Museum A natural history museum featuring dinosaur fossils and Texas wildlife
Visit the Mexic-Arte Museum A museum dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Mexican and Mexican American art and culture
Swim at Barton Springs Pool A spring-fed pool for swimming, playing, and cooling off
Watch a movie at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema A movie theater chain that serves food and drinks, known for its unique programming and events


Hiking at McKinney Falls State Park

Source: tpwd.texas.gov

If you're looking for a cheap and fun way to spend a day in Austin, Texas, consider heading to McKinney Falls State Park for a hike. This state park offers beautiful trails, stunning waterfalls, and plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors for an affordable price.

To enter McKinney Falls State Park, you'll only need to pay a small entrance fee of $6 per adult (children 12 and under are free). This is a great deal considering the park's many activities and beautiful scenery. Plus, if you're a Texas resident, you can enjoy free park entry on the first Tuesday of every month.

Once inside the park, there are several hiking trails to choose from, ranging in difficulty and length. Whether you're an experienced hiker or just starting out, there's a trail for you at McKinney Falls State Park. One popular option is the Rock Shelter Trail, a .8-mile loop through a scenic rock shelter and along Onion Creek.

Another great option is the Homestead Trail, a 2.8-mile loop that takes hikers to the beautiful Lower McKinney Falls. This trail offers stunning views of the waterfall and the surrounding natural landscape. It's important to note that swimming is not allowed in the waterfall area for safety reasons, but you can still enjoy the view and take plenty of pictures.

In addition to hiking, McKinney Falls State Park also offers opportunities for fishing, camping, and picnicking. The park has several campsites available for rent, and there are plenty of spots throughout the park for a relaxing picnic lunch.

Overall, McKinney Falls State Park is a fantastic choice for an inexpensive and enjoyable day outdoors in Austin. With its many hiking trails, stunning waterfalls, and other recreational activities, there's something for everyone at this beautiful state park.


Strolling through Zilker Botanical Garden

Source: www.austintexas.org

If you're on a tight budget but still want to explore the beauty that Austin, TX has to offer, a trip to the Zilker Botanical Garden should definitely be on your list. This stunning attraction covers 26 acres and boasts numerous gardens featuring a wide variety of native and exotic plants from around the world.

One of the best things about the Zilker Botanical Garden is that admission is incredibly affordable, with prices ranging from just $2 to $6 depending on whether you're a student, senior or adult. The garden is also open seven days a week, so you can plan your visit around your schedule.

Once you arrive at the garden, you can take a leisurely stroll along the many paths and see the different gardens, ponds and waterfalls that make up this natural wonderland. There are 13 distinct areas to explore, including the Cactus Garden, Rose Garden and Japanese Garden, each with its own unique features, from peaceful ponds to vibrant flowers.

If you're visiting in the summertime, the Hartman Prehistoric Garden is a must-see. This garden features several life-sized dinosaur statues among the greenery, providing a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

In addition to the beautiful plant life, the Zilker Botanical Garden also hosts several special events throughout the year, including plant sales, seasonal festivals and even live music performances.

Overall, a trip to Zilker Botanical Garden is a fantastic way to spend a day in Austin without breaking the bank. With such a breathtaking variety of flora and fauna to explore, you're sure to leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

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Source: do512family.com
Characteristic Description
NameHOPE Outdoor Gallery
TypeEvent venue in Travis County, Texas
Rating / Review count5 / 1
Address701 Dalton Ln, Austin, TX 78742

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to explore the vibrant art scene in Austin, then the HOPE Outdoor Gallery should definitely be on your to-do list. This unique outdoor gallery showcases some of the best graffiti and street art in the city, all for free.

Located on Baylor Street in downtown Austin, the HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a three-story outdoor art installation that features more than 50 graffiti murals painted by local and international artists. Visitors can explore the colorful walls and take in the intricate designs that cover every inch of the space.

One of the unique aspects of HOPE Outdoor Gallery is that the murals change frequently, with new works of art added regularly. This means that every visit to the gallery is a new experience, with new and exciting pieces of art to discover.

Another great aspect of the gallery is that it is an inclusive space for artists of all skill levels to showcase their work. This means that visitors can see a variety of styles and techniques on display, from the more traditional graffiti and tagging to stencil art and street art.

But the HOPE Outdoor Gallery is not just a place to look at art, it is also a community space that regularly hosts events and workshops. From poetry slams to art classes, there is always something interesting going on at the gallery.

So if you're looking for an inexpensive way to explore the vibrant art scene in Austin, then be sure to check out the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. With free admission and new artwork constantly being added, it's a must-visit destination for any art lover or anyone just looking to explore the city's unique cultural offerings.

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Watching the bats fly out from Congress Avenue Bridge

Source: austin.culturemap.com

Are you looking for a cheap but unique experience in Austin, TX? Look no further than watching the bats fly out from Congress Avenue Bridge.

Every evening from March to November, thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the bridge and take flight, creating an incredible sight to see. Plus, it's completely free to watch!

To get the best view, arrive early and find a spot on the bridge or on the lawn area across from it. Bring a blanket or chairs, snacks, and drinks to enjoy while waiting for sunset.

If you want to learn more about the bats, check out the Bat Conservation International organization, which offers educational tours and information about bat conservation efforts.


Touring the Texas State Capitol

Source: www.austintexas.org

If you're looking for budget-friendly things to do in Austin, Texas, consider taking a tour of the Texas State Capitol. The Capitol building, located in downtown Austin, is not only the seat of Texas government, but it's also a beautiful piece of architecture and a historical landmark well worth visiting.

The best part about touring the Texas State Capitol is that it's absolutely free! Visitors can take self-guided tours during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There's also a guided tour offered daily, except for major holidays, at 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. The guided tours typically last around 30-45 minutes and offer a more detailed look at the Capitol's history and architecture.

One of the highlights of the tour is the stunning rotunda. The rotunda is the central point of the Capitol building and features a dome that reaches 218 feet high. The dome is decorated with intricate artwork and a star made of Texas pink granite. Visitors can also visit the House and Senate chambers, where Texas laws are debated and passed.

Another interesting aspect of the Capitol is its collection of art and artifacts. The Capitol has a significant collection of artwork and historical treasures, which are on display throughout the building. Included in the collection are portraits of Texas governors and other notable figures, as well as Texas-themed artwork and sculptures.

Visitors can also take a stroll through the Capitol grounds, where they'll find several monuments and memorials that honor Texas history and its citizens. Some of the most notable monuments include the Texas African American History Memorial, the Texas Vietnam Veterans Monument, and the Heroes of the Alamo Monument.

Overall, touring the Texas State Capitol is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Austin, Texas. Not only is it an important landmark, but it's also an architectural masterpiece and a significant piece of Texas history. Best of all, it's completely free to visit. So, if you're looking for a cheap and educational afternoon in Austin, be sure to put the Texas State Capitol on your itinerary.


Visiting the Blanton Museum of Art on Thursdays (free admission)

Source: www.austintexas.org
Characteristic Description
NameBlanton Museum of Art
TypeMuseum in Austin, Texas
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.6 / 2,292
Address200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78712
Phone(512) 471-5482
HoursTuesday - 10 AM–5 PM
Wednesday - 10 AM–5 PM
Thursday - 10 AM–5 PM
Friday - 10 AM–5 PM
Saturday - 10 AM–8 PM
Sunday - 10 AM–5 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - Closed

Plan ahead: Museum admission is free on Thursdays, but it can also be very busy. To make the most of your visit, try to arrive early and plan out which exhibitions you want to see. Beat the crowds and give yourself enough time to see everything you want to see.

Explore the museum’s permanent collection: The Blanton Museum of Art has a vast collection of artwork from around the world. Take advantage of your free admission and explore the permanent collection. You’ll find everything from Renaissance paintings to contemporary sculptures.

Check out the current exhibitions: In addition to the permanent collection, the Blanton Museum of Art also hosts several temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Take the time to check out the current exhibitions and learn about new artists.

Take a tour: The museum offers free tours on Thursdays at 12:30 pm. This is a great way to learn more about the art and the museum’s history. The tour is led by a knowledgeable docent who can answer any questions you may have.

Bring a friend: Admission is free on Thursdays, so why not bring a friend along? It can be a great way to share your love of art and explore the museum together.

Overall, visiting the Blanton Museum of Art on Thursdays (free admission) is a great way to explore the world of art without breaking the bank. Plan ahead, explore the museum’s permanent collection and current exhibitions, take a tour, and bring a friend. You’ll have a great time and learn a lot about the history and culture of Austin, TX.

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Sampling local food trucks at The Picnic food park

Source: thevendry.com
Characteristic Description
NameThe Picnic - Food Truck Park
TypeFood court
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.3 / 1,373
Address1720 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
HoursTuesday - 11 AM–9 PM
Wednesday - 11 AM–9 PM
Thursday - 11 AM–9 PM
Friday - 11 AM–9 PM
Saturday - 10 AM–9 PM
Sunday - 10 AM–8 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - 11 AM–9 PM

Austin, Texas has become a foodie's paradise in recent years, with a thriving food truck scene that has gained national recognition. For those on a budget, sampling the local cuisine at one of the city's many food parks, such as The Picnic, is a fantastic way to experience Austin's culinary delights without breaking the bank.

The Picnic food park is located in the heart of the city, and features over 12 different food trucks offering a wide variety of cuisines at affordable prices. From delectable tacos to mouth-watering fried chicken, there is something for everyone at this food park.

One of the most popular food trucks at The Picnic is Veracruz All Natural. This family-owned business serves up authentic and affordable Mexican cuisine, including their famous breakfast tacos made with fresh, homemade tortillas. Another must-try truck at The Picnic is Four Brothers Venezuelan Food, which offers delicious and filling arepas stuffed with a variety of tasty ingredients like slow-cooked beef and roasted vegetables.

For those looking for a healthier option, The Picnic also boasts The Vegan Nom, which offers vegan versions of classic Texan dishes like tacos and nachos. Other noteworthy food trucks include Wokker Texas Ranger, which offers Asian-inspired cuisine, and Mellizoz Tacos, which serves up some of the best fusion tacos in the city.

The Picnic food park is not only affordable, but also provides a great hangout spot for locals and tourists alike. With ample outdoor seating and a relaxed atmosphere, it's the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, catch up with friends, or enjoy some live music.

In addition to The Picnic, there are plenty of other food parks and trucks scattered throughout Austin that offer delicious eats and great value. Some other notable locations include South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery, East Austin Succulents & Tea, and Soursop Thai & Barbecue.

In conclusion, if you're looking for delicious, budget-friendly food in Austin, look no further than The Picnic food park and other food trucks scattered throughout the city. With so many unique and satisfying options available, you're sure to find a culinary experience that you won't soon forget.

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Swimming at Barton Springs Pool

Source: www.tripadvisor.com

When it comes to finding affordable activities in Austin, Texas, one of the best options is swimming at Barton Springs Pool. This historic swimming hole is located in the heart of the city and offers visitors a refreshing escape from the Texas heat.

Barton Springs Pool is fed by natural springs and is roughly three acres in size. The water temperature remains a consistent 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, making it ideal for swimming no matter the season. The pool is also surrounded by plenty of grassy areas to relax and soak up the sun.

Perhaps the best part about Barton Springs Pool is its affordability. Admission is only $5 for adult residents of Austin and $9 for non-residents. For children and seniors, the cost is even lower. Additionally, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9-10 am, admission is free for all visitors.

But don't let the low cost fool you - Barton Springs is revered by locals and visitors alike as one of the best swimming spots in the country. In fact, it was even named one of the top ten swimming holes in America by Travel + Leisure magazine.

While admission to the pool is cheap, there are a few things to keep in mind when planning a visit. First, parking can be a challenge, especially during peak times and on weekends. Visitors are encouraged to park at one of the nearby lots and walk to the pool. Additionally, Barton Springs Pool is a popular destination and can get crowded, so it's best to plan a visit during off-peak times if possible.

Overall, swimming at Barton Springs Pool is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Austin on a budget. Not only is it affordable, but it also offers a unique and refreshing way to experience the city. So grab your swimsuit and head to Barton Springs to beat the Texas heat!

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Browsing vintage and handmade items at South Congress Avenue shops

Source: austin.culturemap.com

If you're in Austin, Texas and looking for inexpensive shopping options, South Congress Avenue is a great place to start. This trendy street is lined with quirky shops that specialize in vintage and handmade items. Here are some of the best shops to check out:

  • Uncommon Objects - This store is a treasure trove of oddities and antiques, from taxidermy to vintage clothing. Prices are reasonable, and you could easily spend hours browsing the aisles.
  • Parts & Labour - This boutique features clothing, jewelry, and home goods from local and independent designers. The selection is eclectic and affordable, with items starting at under $20.
  • Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds - This vintage costume shop is known for its extensive selection of funky clothing and accessories. While some of the pieces are pricier, there are plenty of affordable finds to be had.
  • SoCo Market - Located in a cute yellow cottage, this shop sells handmade goods from over 50 local artisans. You'll find everything from homemade soap to jewelry to art prints, all at reasonable prices.
  • New Bohemia - This bohemian-inspired boutique stocks clothing, accessories, and home goods with a vintage feel. Most items are under $50, so it's a great spot for budget-conscious shoppers.

Whether you're looking for unique souvenirs, one-of-a-kind gifts, or just something fun to wear, South Congress Avenue has plenty of affordable options. So grab your wallet and get ready to explore this funky, eclectic neighborhood.

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Biking or hiking at Lady Bird Lake

Source: www.austintexas.org

If you're looking for a cheap and fun way to explore Austin, Texas, then look no further than Lady Bird Lake! Located just south of downtown, Lady Bird Lake is a beautiful body of water surrounded by some of the city's best parks and trails. Here are some tips to help you enjoy biking or hiking at Lady Bird Lake without breaking the bank.

Biking at Lady Bird Lake is one of the most popular activities for both locals and visitors. The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is a 10-mile loop that circles the lake and offers scenic views of downtown Austin. The best part is that it's completely free to use! There are several places to rent bikes near the lake, including Austin Bike Rentals and Tours and Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop. Rates vary, but you can expect to pay around $20-30 for a full day rental. If you're on a tight budget, you can also bring your own bike or rent one through a bike share program like B-cycle.

Hiking at Lady Bird Lake is another great way to experience the outdoors in Austin. The trails around the lake are well-maintained and offer plenty of shade, making it a popular spot for hikers and joggers. The best part is that all of the trails are completely free to use! If you're looking for a longer hike, the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail is nearby and offers over 12 miles of hiking with stunning views of the Texas Hill Country.

To make the most of your visit to Lady Bird Lake, be sure to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks. The Texas heat can be brutal, especially during the summer months, so it's important to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. There are also several parks and picnic areas around the lake where you can take a break and enjoy a snack or meal.

In conclusion, biking or hiking at Lady Bird Lake is the perfect way to experience the beauty of Austin without spending a lot of money. With a little planning and preparation, you can enjoy a fun and affordable day exploring one of the city's best natural attractions. So grab your bike or hiking shoes and hit the trails!


Watching live music at South Congress Hotel

Source: southcongresshotel.com
Characteristic Description
NameSouth Congress Hotel
Type4-star hotel
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.5 / 897
Address1603 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Phone(512) 920-6405

If you're looking for a cheap but entertaining way to spend a night in Austin, look no further than the South Congress Hotel. This hip hotel is not only a great place to stay, but also a prime location for live music.

South Congress Hotel's outdoor lounge, the Courtyard, hosts live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening. The best part? There's no cover charge, so you can enjoy the tunes without breaking the bank.

The lineup at the Courtyard is always diverse, featuring everything from local indie bands to jazz ensembles. The setting is intimate and relaxed, with plenty of seating options and a laid-back atmosphere.

While you're there, be sure to check out the hotel's other amenities. The restaurant, Café No Sé, offers delicious brunch, lunch, and dinner options, as well as a variety of cocktails and coffee drinks. The rooftop pool is also a great place to relax, with stunning views of downtown Austin.

So whether you're a music lover or just looking for a fun and affordable night out, head to the South Congress Hotel for some live entertainment. You're sure to have a great time without spending a fortune.


Visiting the Mexic-Arte Museum (free admission on Sunday)

Source: www.austintexas.org
Characteristic Description
NameMexic-Arte Museum
TypeArt museum in Austin, Texas
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.4 / 898
Address419 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701
Phone(512) 480-9373
HoursTuesday - 10 AM–6 PM
Wednesday - 10 AM–6 PM
Thursday - 10 AM–6 PM
Friday - 10 AM–5 PM
Saturday - 10 AM–5 PM
Sunday - 12–5 PM
Monday(Memorial Day) - 10 AM–6 PM

If you're looking for a cheap activity to do in Austin, Texas, consider visiting the Mexic-Arte Museum. This museum highlights Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture and is a great way to spend an afternoon learning about different perspectives in art.

One of the best things about the Mexic-Arte Museum is that admission is free on Sundays. This is a great opportunity for budget-conscious travelers or locals who want to experience the museum without breaking the bank. On these free admission days, you can explore the museum's various exhibits, which showcase everything from contemporary art pieces to traditional textiles.

One of the highlights of the museum is the permanent collection, which includes works by prominent Mexican and Latino artists. You'll also find rotating temporary exhibits that feature up-and-coming artists. These exhibits change throughout the year, so even if you've visited before, there will always be something new to discover.

In addition to its exhibits, the museum also hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year. These events, which include workshops, performances, and film screenings, are a great way to engage with the local community and learn more about Mexican and Latino culture.

If you're interested in exploring the Mexic-Arte Museum, take advantage of the free admission on Sundays. By visiting on this day, you can save money and still experience the museum's diverse collection of artwork. Whether you're a history buff, art lover, or just looking for something different to do in Austin, the Mexic-Arte Museum is a must-visit attraction.

Frequently asked questions

Some affordable attractions suitable for families include visiting the Zilker Botanical Garden, hiking on Mount Bonnell, and exploring the Austin Nature & Science Center.

Yes, there are plenty of free events and activities in Austin, such as visiting the Texas State Capitol, the street art of the Hope Outdoor Gallery, and Tuesday free admission at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Some inexpensive dining options in Austin include grabbing breakfast tacos from Torchy’s Tacos Trailer Park, having burgers at P. Terry’s, or enjoying Thai food at Titaya's Thai Cuisine.

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