Over the last five years, Austin has become one of the most popular US travel destinations.
That, combined with a major increase in population during the pandemic, has resulted in some price increases in the capital of Texas. But don’t worry, travelers – while it’s no longer considered a “budget destination,” there are plenty of things you can see and do in the city without breaking the bank.
We’ve made a list of all the free things that Austin has to offer, from music to art and a lot of outdoorsy experiences, too. Check it out.
1. Watch the Congress Avenue Bridge bats emerge at night
If you visit Austin from late March through early fall, you can watch the 1.5 million bats ascend into the sky around sunset (7:30-9:45 pm) every night. Their nightly flight will start slow and then grow into a massive wave of bats that fly over Lady Bird Lake. It’s quite a magnificent thing to witness and can last about 45 minutes. You’ll want to arrive early to get a good spot for the show.
Planning tip: The bats fly to the east when they leave the bridge, so keep this in mind when choosing a viewing spot on the Congress Avenue Bridge or on the grassy hill of the Statesman Bat Observation Center (adjacent to the bridge.) If both areas get too packed, find a spot (off the path) on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail. Remember to pick a spot on the path that’s east of the Congress Avenue Bridge. For a more unique experience, take your kayak, paddleboard, canoe, or water bike to Austin and watch the bats’ nightly flight from the water.
2. Go on a free historic walking tour
The incredible history of Austin can be yours to experience with a free guided or self-guided tour. See the Texas State Capitol, learn all about the architecture, and visit different areas like the Senate Chamber, Supreme Court Courtroom, and more.
If the Capitol isn’t your vibe, check out Preservation Austin, which created 12 different self-guided historic tours around the city. These tours will take you through major neighborhoods like South Congress, showcase the East Austin Barrio landmarks, and tell you all about historic homes…