Free & Budget-Friendly Field Trips in Austin

The more Austin grows, the more opportunities we have to get out and learn about our historic buildings, discover new favorite spots and even find out how to make ice cream!

governors mansion

The Governor’s Mansion offers free tours, with advance reservations.

Free tours:

Amy’s Ice Creams – Tour the Austin Amy’s Ice Creams Production Facility. Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., by reservation. Maximum capacity for the tour is 35 people (kids and adults combined). Tours are designed for ages 5 years and up. The tour itself is free. The tour concludes with a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream for $2 per scoop. A non-dairy option is available with prior notice. Tours are booked a month in advance (meaning that, for example, October tour reservations open at midnight on September 1). Reservations are first come, first served. Call 512-458-3188 to schedule a tour. 2109 Northland Drive, Austin.

Austin Energy Power Plant Facility Tours – Austin Energy offers group tours at two natural gas power plants in Austin as well as a few of the utility’s district cooling plants which used chilled water to cool buildings. Power plant tours are hosted by Austin Energy power plant employees who provide an inside look at how electricity is produced and transmitted via high voltage power lines to homes and businesses. District cooling facility tours include an inside look at how district cooling works and the thermal storage tanks which allow Austin Energy to produce chilled water during off electric peak hours. To request a tour, email outreach@austinenergy.com. Tours must consist of a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 25 people, grade 4 or higher. One supervising adult is required for every 8 minors.

Austin Fire Department – AFD will accommodate visits to fire stations for small groups. No minimum number of visitors is required. Normal hours for station visits are 9 – 11 a.m. and 1 – 6 p.m. To arrange a tour, contact the Public Education Office to schedule at least a week in advance.

Blue Baker – Take a tour of Blue Baker in The Arboretum. During this free bakery tour, kids go behind the scenes to learn about the artisan baking process, see how the equipment works and get some flour on their hands by shaping their own loaves of bread. After each tour, let the loaves slowly rise, bake them in the oven and have them ready for pick up. Groups of up to 20 children with adult supervision are welcome. Tours last up to an hour and they wrap up the tour with warm, freshly baked-from-scratch cookies. If you have an interest in a bakery tour, please email bakerytours@bluebaker.com or fill out the form here. 10000 Research Blvd., Austin.

Bullock Texas State History Museum – All students and teachers in reserved school groups receive free exhibit admission and discounted group rates for films and programs! To be considered a school group, you must gave at least 10 students of similar age, grades K-12; be enrolled in an educational institution (includes organizations such as home schools); make a reservation at least 2 weeks in advance; and have at least one teacher/chaperone for every 10 students. Students and teachers get in free, but chaperones must pay $12. 1800 N. Congress Avenue, Austin.

Colorado River Foundation and the Wilkerson Center for Colorado River Education at Redbud Center – Learn how the river influences our lives in Austin, and vice versa. The five-acre riverside grounds offer free public tours that feature exhibits teaching the importance of the river, interactive water features that demonstrate flooding and water supply, and water conservation systems. The park grounds are open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. – 5 p.m. The grounds are open to the public free of charge, but the Colorado River Foundation also offers several programs for youth and educators. The Colorado River Foundation joined with AISD and LCRA to develop TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills) – aligned student field experiences perfect for 3rd through 5th grade students, with exciting, hands-on activities as they teach about important earth and physical science and social studies concepts. 3601 Lake Austin Boulevard, Austin.

Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium – Free self-guided tours. (Guided 75-minute tours are also available for $10 per person.) The suggested starting point is at The Frank Denius Veterans Memorial Plaza at the corner of 23rd St. and San Jacinto. Click here for the self-guided tour route (at the bottom of the page). 3500 Jefferson St # 315, Austin.

Governor’s Mansion – Free guided tours of the Texas Governor’s Mansion are available Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 2-4 p.m., and select Saturdays. Tours will last 20 minutes and are subject to availability. Reservations must be made at least one week in advance and no walk up tours are available. To schedule a tour, visitors can call the Mansion Reservationist at 512-305-8524 or send an email to Mansion.Tours@tspb.state.tx.usRead about Leigh Ann’s experience with the tour here. 1010 Colorado St., Austin.

Harry Ransom Center – Tours offer an in-depth guided experience of the current exhibitions and the Gutenberg Bible and the First Photograph, which are on permanent display at the Ransom Center. Admission and tours are free. Your donation supports the Ransom Center’s exhibitions and public programs. To schedule a prearranged tour or to alert Ransom Center staff of your visit, click here for a tour request form or contact hrctours@austin.utexas.edu. Public tours take place at noon daily, 6 p.m. Thursdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Private tours can be scheduled to take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and between noon and 5 p.m. on weekends. Teachers can view the useful education resources online at the Primary Source Education Modules page.  300 W. 21st St., Austin.

H-E-B – Be A Healthy Buddy! is a free, educational field trip to promote smart food choices, good nutrition, and physical activity. Content includes building healthy habits, understanding portion size, making balanced meal choices, and the benefits of staying active. Trips vary in length and content based on upon the grade level of the participants.

KUT – The local radio station can accommodate many types of educational student tours which focus on specific areas within KUT. All tours are led by wonderful volunteers and require a reservation made at least two weeks in advance. Tours are provided (with a prior reservation) during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For more information on group tours, please contact volunteer@kut.org. 300 W. Dean Keeton, Austin.

LBJ Presidential Library – Guided tours are available free of charge on weekdays to school groups with reservations. Guided tours generally last ninety minutes and cannot be provided to groups smaller than 10 or larger than 60 students at a time. Guided tour reservations must be made at least a month in advance. If interested, fill out this online Group Tour Registration Form. 2313 Red River St., Austin.

Leander Fire Department Tours (Leander) – The Leander Fire Department offers tours to residents in the Leander fire district by reservation. During the tour, firefighters explain the equipment on the trucks, gain an understanding of the gear, and learn about the role of firefighters as first responders. Tours are available on a first come, first served basis after approval from the on-duty Battalion Chief.

Microsoft Store at the Domain – Public, private and homeschool students can sign up for field trips at the Microsoft Store, centered around Microsoft Office Products, such as creating short stories in Word, choosing your own adventure in PowerPoint, game designing, movie making and picture taking. To learn more please call 512-582-6500. 3309 Esperanza Crossing, Ste. 104, Austin.

Texas Capitol Tours – Tours are generally 30-40 minutes in length and are available during the following times: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Sunday, Noon – 3:30 p.m. Capitol tours are conducted daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter. Reservations for groups of 10 or more should be made in advance by calling (512) 305-8402. Special group tours are also available through the Capitol Visitors Center. Check the website for specialty tour times, which vary by month. Read about the tour here. 1100 Congress Street, Austin.

Texas Military Forces Museum – Open Tuesday – Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The 45,000-square feet museum displays uniforms, weapons, tanks, artillery, aircraft, helicopters, and more. Admission is free. Adults must show photo ID to enter Camp Mabry. 35th Street West of Mopac.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum – The Umlauf is free to all independent school districts and are available for students in 1st-12th grades. This includes the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Texas School for the Deaf (TSD), special needs students (offered education until age 25), Communities in Schools (CIS) programs, and other community organizations associated with children’s education and students with special needs. Private school student groups are $1 per person. Tours include the largest touchable bronze collection in Texas, a docent-led tour of the gardens, a video explaining the bronze casting process, a Sculpture Safari, tools and materials used by professional artists. One-hour tours are available Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 605 Robert E. Lee Road, Austin.

Williamson County Courthouse (Georgetown) – Tours of both the Williamson County Museum and the Williamson County Courthouse are available for school groups.

Low-Cost Field Trips ($6 or less):

Austin Nature and Science Center – The Austin Nature and Science Center is a regional environmental education center that offers a variety of quality informal science experiences to support and enrich classroom curriculum. The ANSC environmental educators engage students in TEKS-based activities integrating the rigor of the classroom science experience with the relevance of the field experience. Cost $4 – $6 per student. Registration form available here. 301 Nature Center Dr., Austin.

Ballet Austin Field Trip – Gain an insider’s perspective into Ballet Austin by taking a field trip to our Butler Dance Education Center. Observe a dance class or a rehearsal, see real ballet costumes and pointe shoes, learn more about our dance companies and programs, and have all of your questions about ballet and Ballet Austin answered by our knowledgeable Community Education staff. 45 minutes to one hour; $5 per person ($100 minimum). This tour will give you a better understanding of all elements that help bring a ballet to the stage. Please sign-up here to schedule a field trip to Ballet Austin’s Butler Dance Education Center. Butler Dance Education Center, 501 W. 3rd St., Austin.

Blanton Museum of Art – The Blanton provides engaging, interactive, and inquiry-based tours. Pre-K-12 tours are available for $2 per student. Teachers are free with school ID. Guided tours are available Tuesdays to Fridays from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and are 50 minutes in duration. Schools that demonstrate financial need are eligible for the Blanton Art Access program, which seeks to increase K-12 student access to the museum by offering funding for transportation and tour fees on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more about this opportunity, email tours@blantonmuseum.org. To schedule a visit, please fill out online form at least three weeks in advance. The University of Texas at Austin, 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Austin.

Boggy Creek Farm – This working urban farm offers guided tours as is feasible. On market days (Wednesday through Saturday 8-1) you are welcome to freely walk the farm and see the crops, compost area, hen house, and the chickens at no cost! For large numbers of tourists, please let the farm know in advance that you are coming as parking might be an issue. Guided tours cost extra and need to be arranged ahead of time. East Austin elementary school teachers can call 512-926-4650 for special information on tours. 3414 Lyons Rd., Austin.

The Contemporary Austin – The Contemporary Austin offers age-appropriate, engaging, and interactive tours for a range of audiences with our friendly and knowledgeable docents. Spanish-language tours are also available. Please book your tour at least two weeks in advance during gallery hours or at tours@thecontemporaryaustin.org. Laguna Gloria (3809 West 35th Street) and The Jones Center (700 Congress Avenue).

Dell Diamond – A guided ballpark tour is available year-round. Take a behind-the-scenes look into the press box, luxury suites, Intel Club and other exclusive areas of Dell Diamond, the home of the Round Rock Express. Guided tours last approximately 30-45 minutes. There is a $2 charge per person (free admission for teachers, bus drivers and children under 2 years old). There is a minimum of 10 guests for a personalized tour. Tours are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday at three different time slots: 9:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. During the season, tours are given when the express is on the road. Please contact Casey Schnautz at 512.238.2215 or cschnautz@rrexpress.com for more information or to schedule a tour of Dell Diamond. 3400 East Palm Valley, Round Rock.

Dinosaur Park – The Dinosaur Park features a unique outdoor museum setting. While most museums have dinosaur skeletons, realistic life-size dinosaur replicas show skin and color variations to give a better understanding as to how they looked when alive. The Park is available on a daily basis for reserved schools and groups. Please email info@TheDinoPark.com or call 512-321-6262 for reservations. Admission is $5 each for groups of 15 or more. One teacher for every 10 students receives free admission. 893 Union Chapel Rd., Cedar Creek.

Elgin Christmas Tree Farm – Field trips are designed for Pre-K to 5th Grade students. The cost is $5 per reserved student; $7 for all others. Field trips start at 10:00 a.m. and last about 3 hours. The field trip includes an educational talk, plant cycle and farming, according to the season. Check out all of the science there is to learn in nature that aligns with your curriculum. 120 Nature’s Way, off Roy Davis Road, Elgin.

French Legation Museum – School tours of the French Legation Museum are available Tuesday through Friday including the historic house and reconstructed kitchen. Tours are led by trained docents and last approximately forty-five minutes. Basic tours are $3 per student (10 students required for tour rates). One chaperone for every 10 students is required and is admitted free. Additional chaperones pay will be charged the tour rate. Registration is required prior to visit. To register for a school tour or check availability please call the Programs Coordinator, Jenny Phillips at 512-472-8180 or email programs@earlyaustin.org. 802 San Marcos St., Austin.

Gault Homestead – The Gault Homestead is available for tours by reservation only for schools, groups, and Wells Branch residents. The tours focus on pioneer life in the mid to late 1800s. Tours can be geared towards kindergarten children through adults. Most tours require a minimum number of participants. Tours are conducted September through December and March through May. To book a tour, call the recreation manager at 512-251-9814. $1.50 per student or a $30 minimum. 2106 Klattenhoff Dr., Austin.

Mexic-Arte Museum – Guided tours of Mexic–Arte Museum exhibitions provide students and adults with a unique cultural experience. Tours are an engaging way to expose all age groups to current exhibitions and a fun opportunity to learn about Mexican and Mexican American art from Mexic–Arte Museum’s knowledgeable staff. Admission for kids age 12 and under is $1; students 13 and up are $4; adults are $5. 419 Congress Avenue, Austin.

Neill-Cochran House Museum – The Neill-Cochran House Museum welcomes students of all ages, including fifth-grade Civil War students, seventh-grade Texas history students, and high schoolers studying American History or Interior Design. Teachers from public and private schools and parents engaged in homeschooling may express specific areas of interest for the focus of their individualized tours. Reservations may be made with this form or by calling (512) 478-2335. Admission is $2 per student with a minimum rate of $40 for field trips. 2310 San Gabriel St, Austin.

Pioneer Farms – Students learn about history, science, and nature in a nearly 100-acre working farm featuring three fully restored 1800s farmsteads and three historic sites. Hands-on, inquiry-based learning takes place during numerous programs for school groups. Tour fees are $5 – $6 per person. In the spring, Pioneer Farms will a offer a special day for homeschooling families to visit at a discounted rate. 10621 Pioneer Farms Dr., Austin.

Texas Memorial Museum – Organized groups of 10 or more are encouraged to register before visiting the museum. To request a date and time for a self-guided group visit, call 512-471-3551 or request a time and date online with the reservation request form. Be sure to check out the free curriculum resources. The Museum now charges admission. Ten or more K-12 students from the same educational institution and their chaperones are $1 per child or adult from September 1 through May 31. Home school groups of 10 or more and their chaperones, visiting on week days from September 1 through May 31 are also $1 per child or adult. Active or retired UT faculty, staff, and students with a valid UT ID are free. Active or retired U.S. military with photo identification and their dependents are $1. Non-UT college students with a valid student ID are $2. Children under 2 are free, children ages 2 to 12 are $3 and ages 13 and up are $4. Organized UT undergraduate and graduate classes are also free. Texas Natural Science Center, The University of Texas at Austin, 2400 Trinity Street, Austin.

ThinkeryGroups experience Thinkery through a 90 minute hands-on tour of exciting exhibits and activities. Tours are divided into groups of 15-20, each led by a Thinkery staff member. Groups explore six different galleries in 10-15 minute rotations. To ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all, Thinkery requires one adult for every five students. $2-$6 per student (based on Title I status); teachers receive free admission with badge; chaperones pay the student tour admission price. Submit your tour request online. 1830 Simond Ave., Austin.

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve – Students travel in small groups with a trained guide on a two-hour hike through Wild Basin’s Hill Country habitat. Guided hikes for schools give students a hands-on outdoor experience and can be correlated to classroom studies in natural sciences. Programs are appropriate for 1st through 12th grade, and can accommodate up to 40 students. School tours are a suggested donation of $3 per student. There is no charge for adult chaperones. Please contact kimj@stedwards.edu to sign up or for questions. 805 North Capital of Texas Highway, Austin.

Wildflower Center – To request a Self-Guided Youth Group Visit, you can fill out an online form. Admission is $2 per person, pre-k to 6th grade or $5 per person, middle to high school (admission fee is per student, chaperone, and teacher). The Mr. Smarty Plants Stations are offered only in the fall and spring. Both fall and spring dates are available on Tuesdays for Kinder-2nd and on Thursdays for 3rd-5th at 9:30 a.m. on both days.  Fall dates will begin on October 4, 2016 and go through November 17, 2016 on Tuesdays and Thursdays only.  Spring dates will begin on March 21, 2017 and will go through May 25, 2017 on Tuesdays and Thursdays only.  The Mr. Smarty Plants Stations are NOT offered during the summer. Designated picnic areas are available for lunch and snacks. For questions, you can check out the Frequently Asked Questions page. 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin.

Zilker Botanical Garden – Each tour is about 90 minutes. Individual docents will bring their special knowledge to each tour. All docents are avid gardeners and very familiar with the gardens. Each is trained to work with a variety of student groups. Some are especially facile with special needs children or ESL kids. March, April and May are especially busy months, so make your reservations early. Requested donation of $1 per student in addition to the required admission. Please talk to the president of the Zilker Docents if that presents a hardship to your school. Please see the garden rules for school tours. 2220 Barton Springs Road, Austin.

Low-Cost Field Trips in Central Texas:

Hill Country Science Mill (Johnson City) – The Science Mill will be open to field trips Tuesday-Friday when school is in session. Field trips begin at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. The museum closes at 4 p.m. Learning Labs are available now and new Learning Labs will be announced in October. Field trips are $6 per person; extra chaperones are $7. Learning Lab is an additional $4 – $6. 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City.

Mayborn Planetarium & Space Center (Killeen) – Educators may reserve K-12 school programs in a variety of astronomy, science, and social-studies related disciplines on weekday mornings during the school year. School group tickets cost $5 per ticket (per program). One teacher is free for each 10 paid tickets. Reservations are required. Mayborn Planetarium & Space Theater is located on the campus of Central Texas College in Killeen.

For more educational resources, including local DIY learning opportunities and printables, head over here!

About the Author

Nicole Basham
A recovering workaholic, Nicole Basham now spends her time rediscovering Austin through her 9-year-old son's eyes. A soccer-playing mom, Nicole also enjoys tickling too close to bedtime, taking in some live music and being silly.