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You know we’re all about free here at Free Fun in Austin. And just because Austin is in our name, it doesn’t mean we don’t include those areas outside the city limits. In fact, we love the areas outside the city limits. So, for those of you who live or like to explore in the surrounding areas, this one’s for you. Here are our five favorite free things to do in Round Rock, Texas.
1. See The Round Rock For Which The Town Was Named
Did you know that there is an actual round rock in Round Rock? Yep, that’s how the town got it’s name. You can park across the street, visit the cattle statues along the Chisholm Trail (500 Chisholm Trail Rd) and then walk down to the rock. Once you’ve found it (yes, it’s that big, round rock!), hike along the creek and discover the wagon wheel ruts embedded in the rocky ground. If you wish to continue your adventure, you can keep walking along the creek all the way across the bridge and over to the Memorial Park playground where you can see geese and ducks in the Brushy Creek.
2. Watch The Round Rock Bats
Everyone knows Austin is world famous for its bat population, but did you know that Round Rock has its own bat colony? Some say it’s just as impressive (some say it’s moreso!) as Austin’s bat show. The Mexican free-tailed bats emerge at dusk from under the McNeil Road overpass and I-35 bridge intersection in Round Rock. They can be seen from March through November. Free parking is located in the NAPA Auto Parts parking lot (601 S I-35). To enhance your bat-watching experience, bring chairs, blankets, water, snacks, and hats. And remember, never touch the bats!
3. Strike Out Hunger With The Round Rock Express
Free baseball? Yes, please! On select Wednesday nights throughout the summer, you can bring two H-E-B branded canned goods for the Central Texas Food Bank in exchange for one FREE lawn ticket to see the Round Rock Express!
4. Explore Prete Main Street Plaza
Looking for old-school, small town charm? Look no further than Round Rock’s Main Street. You’ll find boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, salons, and the library. But perhaps the place that has the most going on is the Prete Plaza on Main Street. During the summer, it transforms into a popular splash pad to cool off your little ones. But it’s so much more than that! During the spring, you can attend concerts every Wednesday evening at Music on Main. During the fall and winter, you’ll find free Halloween and Christmas events there. Throughout the year, other fun events happen there, like free yoga and free movies. It’s also a very popular PokeStop.
5. Visit A Park
Round Rock is home to over 20 parks, some of them among the best in all of Austin! The new Joanne Land Playground at Old Settlers and Play For All Abilities Park are two favorites in the area.
Old Settlers Park (3300 Palm Valley Blvd) is a giant park that offers more than you could possibly do in one day including fishing, all the sports, and several playgrounds. The newly remodeled Joanne Land Playground is probably everyone’s current favorite. A huge draw is a zip line called the Gravity Rail, where kids can climb on a swing that glides along a track speeds to a downward slope, curves up a hill that carries kids up, then down again. It’s certainly a unique feature that is a big draw for families.
Play For All Abilities Park (151 North AW Grimes Blvd) is a one-of-a-kind park that is perfect for all ages and abilities. Our favorite part is the mini-town, where you can ride bikes or scooters (don’t forget to bring your own!) around realistic streets, complete with working traffic lights. There are swings, climbing structures, sand pits, musical instruments, and more.
Recent updates to the park include (from the City of Round Rock website): “The park now features the all new Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships Speedway, a new Nolan Ryan Foundation Train Pod, an all-new Adventure Hill, an all-new Nature Pod featuring a Seton/Ascension all abilities Tree House, a zip line and Mason’s Monkey Ranch Nature free play area.”
“We’ve also expanded the Village Pod Section of the park featuring a Baker Realty Building, a new drive-thru Chick-Fil-A restaurant and a car wash with misters called Missy’s Car Wash and a new Hester’s Automotive Bike Parking Area. Additionally, the Swing Pod section of the park now includes additional all ability swings. Finally, the Rock Band Pod area sponsored by Smiles for Sammy, has expanded and a new restroom facility, additional parking for cars and busses and a new Picnic Grove has also been added.”
Bonus: Not Free, But A Must-Do:
We would be remiss if we didn’t include the world-famous Round Rock Donuts on our list of things to do in Round Rock. The donuts are legendary, especially the enormous Texas-sized donut. If you make it all the way out to Round Rock, you don’t want to miss these donuts!