The best free things to do in Austin

a movie by Bronwyn Watkins

Austin boasts great food, an emerging arts community, world-class sports facilities, and annual music events like South by Southwest and Austin City Limits.

But not every activity you do here has to cost as much as a festival ticket. Here are the best free things to do in Austin.

Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

Every year up to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats make their home underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge, making up North America’s largest urban bat colony.

It's an Austin tradition to sit on the grassy banks of Lady Bird Lake at dusk and watch the bats swarm out from under the bridge.

Bat Conservation International has volunteers on hand and holds programs during bat season (between April and November). The best viewing time is in August.

Mt Bonnell

One of Austin’s best vantage points is also one of its oldest tourist attractions, providing panoramic views to visitors since the 1830s.

Rising 775ft from the Colorado River, Mt Bonnell is the perfect place for an afternoon picnic with views of the skyline to the east and the arches of Pennybacker Bridge to the west.

Central Library

As part of a redevelopment of the former Seaholm Power Plant, the Central Library overlooks Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake and has a rooftop garden, outdoor reading porches and an indoor reading room.

Don’t miss the public artwork on display around the building, including CAW, a 37ft cuckoo-clock sculpture inspired by Austin’s grackle population.

Waterloo Records

If you want to flip through albums and catch some free live music, Waterloo Records is the place to be.

Free, intimate performances put on by up-and-coming bands often take place here on weekday afternoons, so time your record store visit right.

See the full list here
See the full list here