We’ve compiled a list of the Best Freebies and Deals in Austin in everything from museums, to outdoor fun, to live music to delicious food. Enjoy checking these places off your to-do list and saving yourself some money at the same time.
— The Blanton Museum of Art is free every Thursday from 10 am – 5 pm, except on the third Thursday of the month when it stays open until 9 pm. Kids 12 and under are always free. The Blanton has over 17,000 works of art with a focus on modern and contemporary American and Latin American art. There is also 15th-century prints and drawings, as well as European paintings and Renaissance and Baroque art.
— Laguna Gloria is free every Tuesday and open from 10 am – 4 pm. It’s partner museum, the Jones Center, is also free every Tuesday and is open from 11 am – 7 pm. Both venues are part of The Contemporary Austin, and both house interesting and beautiful works of contemporary art.
— The Bullock Texas State History Museum is free on the first Sunday of every month from noon – 5 pm. Learn the story of Texas through artifacts, recreated environments and multimedia. Most months you can enjoy Free First Sundays featuring special family programs from 12-3 p.m. that include activities for kids.
— The Austin Nature & Science Center is ALWAYS free and is open from 9 am – 5 pm Monday – Saturday, and noon – 5 pm on Sunday. The ANSC is located on the western edge of Zilker Park and is dedicated to the exploration of the natural world. Kids can see rescued animals, uncover bones at the Dino Pit, check out interactive exhibits and they can even bring their own found artifacts to the Naturalist Workshop to learn all about their findings and maybe trade for a different one.
— The Thinkery holds a Community Night every Wednesday from 4 – 8 pm where you can pay by donation (suggested $1 per person). The Thinkery is full of interactive exhibits and encourages kids to pick up and play with everything. There are story times, workshops, kitchen labs and other cool events too. Keep an eye on their calendar for upcoming events.
— The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is free every first Sunday of the month when it holds its Family First Sundays event which features a story time and other special, hands-on programming designed for families. Family First Sundays run from 12 – 4 pm.
— The Mexic-Arte Museum is free every Sunday from 12 – 5 pm. The museum is dedicated to cultural enrichment and education through the presentation and promotion of traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino and Latin American art and culture.
— The Women & Their Work Art Gallery is always free (though donations are appreciated) and is open from 10 am – 6 pm Monday – Friday and noon – 5 pm on Saturday. Women & Their Work serves as a catalyst for contemporary art created by women living and working in Texas and beyond.
Cultural & Historical Landmarks
— Touring the Texas State Capitol is always free! There are self-guided tours for the capitol itself, the grounds and even a brochure for the Trail of Trees, who knew?
— You can’t talk about Austin landmarks without mentioning our staple MURALS! Stop by any of these for a great picture and a great experience.
- Hope Outdoor Gallery, an ever-changing hill of art where artists can display large scale pieces.
- Greetings from Austin mural in Bouldin Creek.
- “You’re My Butter Half” mural on E. MLK.
- “i love you so much” on the Jo’s Coffee S. Congress location
- Daniel Johnston’s “Jeremiah the Innocent” on the corner of 21st and Guadalupe, better known as the “Hi, How are you” mural.
- 6th Street mural, welcomes everyone to the party!
— The Texas State Cemetery is the resting place of Governors, Senators, Congressmen, Judges and other legendary Texans.
— The O. Henry Museum collects, preserves and interprets artifacts and archival materials relative to William Sidney Porter, the author otherwise known as O. Henry. The museum is always free, Wednesday – Sunday from noon – 5 pm.
— The Elisabet Ney Museum is the former studio and portrait collection created by the 19th century sculptor, Elisabet ney. It offers a range of educational programs, exhibits, special events, workshops and lectures throughout the year. It’s always free and is open from noon – 5 pm Wednesday – Sunday.
— Free 3o min. tours of the Governor’s Mansion are offered Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 – 4 pm. Tours will last 20 minutes and reservations must be made at least one week in advance. Click here to reserve.
— The Driskill Hotel was built in 1866 as the showplace of cattle baron, Jesse Driskill. This iconic and historic hotel is decked out with marble floors, a stained-glass dome and classic decor. While it is not free to stay or eat there, you can pop in and take a look at the old-school opulence.
— Zilker Park is always free (minus major events like ACL and Trail of Lights) and always full of people relaxing, playing Frisbee, throwing a ball around, playing with their dogs, playing volleyball or having a picnic. But do take note that parking fees are $5 at various times during the year.
— Barton Springs is free from 5 – 8 am every morning (except Thursdays for cleaning) and from 9 – 10 pm in the summertime. The pool also has special holiday hours and charges no admission during the cooler months. Keep an eye on the website for all of that information.
— There are tons of trails in Austin, and they’re always free! Click here for info on our favorite family-friendly hikes.
— Take your dog to a leash-free park and enjoy the day.
— There are FREE KIDS SHOWS nearly every Sunday at Cherrywood Coffeehouse at 10 am. Keep an eye on their calendar to see who’s playing. Regular acts include Groundwork Music Orchestra, The Hey Lollies and the Que Pastas.
Awesome Food Deals
Here’s the Do512 Family staff picks for free kids’ meals:
— Mama Fu’s Asian House (Sunday)
Kids 12 & under get a free kid’s meal per adult meal purchase, all day on Sundays, dine-in only. The little ones can use those chopsticks to work on hand-eye coordination as they enjoy a variety of tasty Asian dishes.
— Frisco (Sunday)
The Frisco has been serving up comfort food since 1953. Kids eat free at this old school Austin restaurant after 5 p.m. on Sundays with the purchase of an adult meal.
— Cafe Mueller at HEB (Monday)
Enjoy meal time before or after you do your grocery shopping at this HEB. Kids eat free all day in the Cafe on Mondays with the purchase of an adult meal over $8.
— Kerbey Lane (Tuesday)
On Tuesdays, kids eat free all day with the purchase of an adult entrée. Kids love the breakfast-all-day options on the menu. Mmmmm…pancakes.
— Ikea (Tuesday)
If you’re in the Round Rock area and have some shopping to do on a Tuesday, stop by the IKEA cafe where you can get two free kids’ meals per adult entrée purchased. (Drinks are not included with the kids’ meals.)
— Slab BBQ (Wednesday)
From 4 p.m. – close, all the little homies ages 12 & under eat for free on Wednesday Family Nights.
— Zen Japanese Food (Saturday & Sunday)
At the Anderson Lane and Guadalupe locations, kids ages 10 and under eat free all day on the weekend. When you buy any BYOB, Ultimate Bowl or Big Salad, you can get a free Little Budha Bowl for the kids when you dine-in.
Phew, have fun out there, saving money and stuff. You’re welcome!