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Austin, Texas is a great travel destination that’s oozing with vibrant culture and endless entertainment, but an Austin vacation can be pricey if you’re not careful. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of fun and affordable events and activities in Austin. Plus, when you stay at Uptown’s Downtown Austin or Round Rock locations, there are even more savvy ways to save. Read on for our cheap travel tips, free parks, low-cost attractions, and ways that staying at Uptown can help you save money so you can plan an amazing trip to Austin without hurting your wallet.

How To Travel to Austin Attractions on a Budget

Since Uptown Suites in Austin are centrally located, getting around the city on a budget is easy with CapMetro, Austin’s public transport system. Avoid high rental car fees and keep your transportation simple by using the bus or commuter rail. Many of Austin’s most interesting attractions are downtown or in metro areas where it’s easy to hop on public transport and then walk from place to place, or use rental bikes located throughout the city. Use CapMetro’s online planning tool to find the best routes for all your adventures. Rideshare services are also a popular option for getting around Austin, especially during off-hours; look for online coupons and be flexible in your timing to save some money on these options.

Popular Parks in Austin To Visit for Free

Visiting a park is one of the most fun, relaxing things to do in Austin for free. Although Austin is a lively urban city, it does offer many lush, green parks throughout the metro area. These areas have plenty of trails, amazing views, picture-worthy pit stops, and picnic spots to spend an entire day there without breaking your budget. 

Low-Cost Recreation & Events at Zilker Park 

2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Austin’s most beloved park, Zilker Park, is a 350-acre metropolitan park found right in the heart of the city. Roam for free or choose to rent a SUP, canoe, or kayak for an hour or the day (for the best rate). Zilker Park is home to a variety of recreation opportunities, facilities, and many special events. The park is open every day from 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Take some time out of your day and take in the fresh air at Zilker Park.  

Free Swimming at Sculpture Falls 

Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail, Austin, TX 78746

Sculpture Falls is a hidden gem in the greater Austin area. The falls are part of the 8-mile-long river called Barton Creek Greenbelt that flows throughout the city. The falls themselves are quite the urban oasis and offer opportunities for swimming, fishing, and relaxing. If your pup is staying with you at Uptown, this is a pup-friendly paradise.   

Free Photos With Peacocks

3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703

Mayfield Park and Preserve is a historic garden and wildlife sanctuary located on the west side of Austin that is home to wild peacocks. That’s right, this beautiful Austin park overlooking Lake Austin has wild peacocks, found right in their natural habitat. Snap photos of these majestic birds as they wander by, marvel at the beautiful water lilies, and pack a picnic to make a day of it. Mayfield Park is open daily from 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. 

A Free Playscape for Toddlers Ages & Up

4550 Mueller Blvd, Austin, TX 78723

Mueller Lake Park is a tranquil place to take a stroll on one of the many trails that wind around the lake and enjoy the thriving ecosystem. This 30-acre area has space to accommodate exercise classes, festivals, farmers markets, and more. Your family’s favorite part might be the playscape, an innovative take on a playground with features to please all ages. Kids will be in awe of swings that rotate in circles and a merry-go-round that travels up and down, and the sandbox is a great free activity to keep toddlers busy. There’s no admission fee and no end to the fun at Mueller Lake Park, open daily from 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. 

Free Children’s Playground & Splash Pad

1000 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

A quick escape from the Austin city limits, Butler Metro Park is a popular park with lots of free activities for kids. Here you’ll find running and walking trails and picturesque places to picnic, plus the ever-popular children’s playground. Pack a towel, a swimsuit, and sunscreen to visit the splash pad at the Alliance Children’s Garden, where there are places for kids to explore, run, climb, and more. This park is free to enjoy daily from 5:00 a.m. –  10:00 p.m. 

Free Museums & Art Exhibits in Austin

With an abundance of rich history, Austin has a lot to offer art enthusiasts, aspiring writers, and history buffs. Discover exhibits to explore celebrating prominent historical figures, famous pop culture and political documents, and historical movements. This list of museums will add interesting attractions to your vacation plans without adding to your budget—they’re all free!

Explore the Archives at Harry Ransom Center 

300 West 21st Street Austin, Texas 78712

The Harry Ransom Center is a humanities research facility at the University of Texas, which has an expansive collection of art, literature, film, and photography. Some notable collections are Robert De Niro’s archive of film memorabilia, production materials from the film Gone With The Wind, and Albert Einstein’s unpublished notes and calculations. Harry Ransom Center hopes that visitors arrive with curiosity and leave with inspiration. The museum is open on weekdays from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and noon – 5:00 p.m. on weekends.

Free Science Exhibits & Activities for Kids

2389 Stratford Drive Austin, TX 78746

Since 1960, the Austin Nature and Science Center has been educating kids with free hands-on activities. These indoor and outdoor nature exhibits focus on dinosaurs and fossils, birds of prey, and more. The Museum’s goal is to educate the public on the importance and preservation of nature. Locals and tourists love this center, and its location in the popular Zilker Park area makes it a convenient stop. The center is open Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from noon – 5:00 p.m. 

Cultural Exhibits at Carver Museum

1165 Angelina St, Austin, TX 78702

The George Washington Carver Museum welcomes walk-ins to explore its free exhibits dedicated to illustrating the rich history of African Americans. This museum features one main exhibit, two rotating art galleries, and four permanent exhibits honoring the Black experience in Austin and beyond. The hours are from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday – Wednesday and Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, and closed on Sunday. 

German Sculptor Museum

304 E 44th St, Austin, TX 78751

The Elisabet Ney Museum offers free admission to thousands of visitors each year. This sculpture museum teaches about the life work of Elisabet Ney, an Austin transplant and influential German sculptor. The original homestead on the property is on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll also enjoy exhibits featuring the works of contemporary artists who shared the same love of sculptured art as Ney. Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday from noon – 5:00 p.m. (closed Sunday and Monday).

Unique & Cheap Things To Do in Austin

Below is a list of truly unique things to do in Austin, from bat-watching to enjoying the blues. Each event offers an inexpensive, yet can’t-miss event you’ll find only here. Add some or all of these bizarre things Austin has to offer to your vacation itinerary and immerse yourself in a truly Austin-only experience. 

A Collector’s Paradise: Cathedral of Junk

4422-4424 Lareina Dr, Austin, TX 78745

The Cathedral of Junk is composed of tools, dolls, toys, plaques, statues, baskets, tires, bells, mannequin heads, beads…the list goes on. Each item has been carefully chosen and placed into this living, ever-changing sculpture. Since 1988 Vince Hannemann has been slowly adding to his unique masterpiece, right in his backyard. To visit the site attendees must call ahead (512-299-7413) to make sure Vince is available. Bring a small cash donation from your group for admission.  

Bat-Watching at the Congress Bridge

Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Watching these bridge bats is a free activity, unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. The Congress Bridge is a one-of-a-kind habitat for Mexican free-tailed bats, and if you plan your vacation between March and October, you’ll get to join the hundreds of people gathered to see these bats emerge by the thousands. Evenings from 7:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. is typically the best time to catch this event and watch them swarm. 

Free Blues Tunes on the Green

Blues on the Green is a free monthly musical event hosted in Zilker Park during the summer months. The event draws a large enough crowd to fill the extended area around the stage. Arrive early to find a good spot, and bring a blanket to lounge on the lawn and enjoy the show. There’s nothing like an evening filled with good entertainment, and Blues on the Green has been a favorite of Austin locals and tourists for 29 years.

Small City Tours

There’s a host of small towns outside of Austin with low-cost activities to get away on your getaway. Visit Ilano, a historic river town that boasts selfie stops, family events, and parks. Fayetteville is home to historic buildings, antique shopping, and a recreational lake. Movie buffs will love a visit to see the town square of Lockhart, Texas. This small town has been featured in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? And Waiting for Guffman. See Cattlelacs Chainsaw Art Gallery in Manchaca, catch live music at the cider tap room, or retreat to the quiet river for relaxation. 

Affordable Hotels Near Austin

These low-cost attractions will help you pull off an affordable vacation, but the real anchor is selecting the right accommodations. Let Uptown Suites help you out! Our property locations are near many attractions for a convenient and comfortable experience. We also allow one dog for your stay, so you truly can take the entire family on vacation. Make our apartment-style rooms your relaxing, comfortable home base while you’re here exploring Austin and beyond. 

Reasonable Hotel Rates

Our hotels have more of the amenities you need, and fewer of those you don’t to keep our rates affordable. Trust us, when you stay in Austin, you won’t need to rely on resort-style common areas or pools for entertainment—you have an entire city to explore! Book directly with us and we guarantee your rate will be the best. 

Well-Appointed In-Room Amenities

Eating out for a weeklong vacation would tax anyone’s budget. At Uptown Suites, you can order grocery delivery and prepare the meals you need using your spacious in-room kitchen. The full-size refrigerator, microwave, and two-burner stove make it easy to pull together a quick breakfast before your first adventure or make a picnic to bring along to any of the amazing free parks in Austin. When you’ve finished exploring, count on the premium cable and comfortable rooms for all the relaxation you need. 

Whether you’re staying in our Round Rock or downtown locations, we know Uptown Suites will provide the R&R you need between awesome Austin outings. Loving this city too much to leave? We’re happy to extend your stay anytime, easily, online.