The end of summer 2017 is upon us. For most of the country, this signals the end of the summer fun. But not so much in Austin, where there are still tons of totally fun (and mostly free) places to explore and activities to enjoy all year long. Here are a few of our favorites:
Now that the autumn air has taken some of the sting out of the summer heat, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore nature. Austin has some incredible places to do just that! From Walnut Creek to River Place Nature Trail to McKinney Falls State Park, the greater Austin area is home to some seriously gorgeous trails. But if you’re looking for convenience, you might want to start with the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. Located just a few minutes from the heart of Austin and offering easy to vigorous hikes, Barton Creek Greenbelt is the perfect quick getaway for nature lovers of every experience level.
Austin is home to a truly first-rate craft beer scene, so brewery tours and tastings should be up there on your list of things to do when looking for inexpensive fun in ATX. Among the notables are Austin Beerworks, Hops & Grain, Jester King and Independence Brewing Co. But there are tons more! Check with brewery websites for tour times and pricing (Tours at Hops & Grain and Jester King are FREE!). If you have a few bucks to spend and don’t want to worry about driving—it is a brewery tour after all—then you can also book yourself a ticket on the Austin Brew Bus which offers a variety of all-inclusive multiple-brewery tour packages.
Every Wednesday night at 9:30, Austin’s New Movement Theater hosts a free comedy show by Good Fight—a hilarious improv group that has quickly become a huge name in Austin comedy circles. It’s a fast-paced and ridiculously fun show that’s always full of surprises. And it’s also BYOB, so you don’t have to worry about the usual comedy club two drink minimum. If you’re looking for an inexpensive laugh on a weeknight, this is definitely the place to be.
The city of Austin and the Art in Public Places program recently launched TEMPO, a public art program that allows artists to use public spaces throughout the city to explore a range of themes via (often largescale) temporary art instillations. Our favorite from last year: David Goujon’s “Las Piñatas,” which featured a small herd of enormous piñata donkeys gently grazing in Edward Rendon Sr. Park.
Every Friday, the local art collective SprATX hosts Free Art Friday, which invites local artists to create an original work of art and then hide it in an undisclosed location somewhere in the city. Locals can then search for the artwork by following clues on Instagram under the hashtag #atxfreeartfriday. It’s a great way to get out and explore the city—and maybe go home with your very own one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
Every Sunday and Wednesday, the Kung Fu Saloon in downtown Austin offers free play on all of its retro arcade games. With all your favorites including Street Fighter II, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, NBA Jam, Super Contra and so many more, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to, well, the late 80’s-early 90s. Video games not your thing? They also offer free play on foosball, skee-ball and a huge selection of classic board games!
No we’re not talking about visiting a certain sandwich chain that shall remain unnamed, we’re talking about the ripe, fragrant and juicy freshness of Austin’s award winning Cedar Park Farmers Market. Located in the parking lot at Lakeline Mall in North Austin, the Cedar Park Farmer’s market features a smorgasbord of over 70 vendors who specialize in fresh local produce, locally raised meats, locally crafted cheeses, fresh baked goods, and all sorts of tantalizing specialty foods. Open every Saturday from 9am – 1pm, the market also features hand-made jewelry, live local music, chef demonstrations and plenty of activities for the kids.
If none of the above activities suits your fancy, just remember: you’re in the live music capital of the world. From major festivals to local rock clubs and open mic nights, Austin offers an endless supply of year-round music for your listening pleasure.