It’s getting hot out, which means the time has come to make those summer plans to get your kiddos out of the house and into healthy, educational, and fun daytime acitivities. To help you be the best parent you can be, we’ve assembled a HUGE collection of our favorite free summer activities for kids in Austin. Let’s go!
Updated for 2019 on May 30, 2019.
Too Cool for School
- Take a break from the heat with a dip in one of Austin’s 28 free neighborhood pools.
- If a trip to the pool is too stressful, how about an outing to a splash pad? (Schedules updated in 2018.)
- Skip the long drive to the coast and play in the sand closer to home instead.
- Enjoy water at the Barton Creek Greenbelt for a little bit longer, thanks to this year’s rains.
- Dip your toes into Bull Creek and practice skipping rocks.
- Show your adventurous side by swimming for free at Barton Springs from 5-8:00 a.m. or 9-10:00 p.m. daily during the “swim at your own risk” hours, when no lifeguards are on duty.
- Explore St. Edward’s Trail.
Enjoying the Great Outdoors
- Explore the grounds of the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, where kids get in free and adults are just $5.
- Head up to Round Rock to the Play For All Abilities Park, which has special accommodations for children with special needs.
- Experience the sights, smells, and sounds of a Farmer’s Market.
- Visit a park recommended by Free Fun in Austin readers.
- Plan a fun day out with your furry family member.
- Check out over a dozen works of art at the Bee Cave Sculpture Park or further north at the Cedar Park Sculpture Garden.
- Hang out in the shade at Springwoods Neighborhood Park.
- Dig in the Dino Pit at the Austin Nature & Science Center.
- Go fishing at East Metro Park.
- Explore the grounds of Laguna Gloria for free on Tuesdays.
- Play on the playsets, sports fields, walking paths, and mini mountain biking park at Cedar Park’s Elizabeth Milburn Park.
- Attend one of the free events at TOMS Austin and do some window shopping while you are on South Congress.
- Check out the huge climbing structure at Ramsey Park.
- Take a short drive down to San Marcos to play on the wooden playscape at Children’s Park.
- Play on the playground, explore the trails, and feed the ducks at Mueller Lake Park.
- See the final resting place of some Texas heroes at the Texas State Cemetery.
- Play in the big wooden house near the playground at Katherine Fleischer Park.
- Keep Austin clean by volunteering for cleanups at Lady Bird Lake on June 11 and/or August 13.
- See the sky sparkle at the HEB & Austin Symphony’s 4th of July Concert and Fireworks.
- Admire hot rods and support local charities with Austin’s Pistons at the Park car show.
- Ride the Rawhide Rocket Train at the Austin Zoo (children under 2 ride free, everyone else is just $3).
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
- Snap a selfie with the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, with the downtown skyline in the background.
- Print off free DIY learning resources to sneak a little educational fun into your local summer outings.
- Climb up to the top of Mount Bonnell and take a photo in your favorite direction.
- Create bag art for Terra Toys.
- Give your budding photogs a chance to capture their favorite pieces of public art.
- Pose for a family photo with Austin street art, murals, and mosaics in the background.
- Check out the “museum” at the Broken Spoke.
- Climb on the cows in the shade at the Arboretum and smile for the camera.
Nurture Your Nature Lover
- Pretend to be a tourist as you watch a million of our favorite winged residents head out for dinner.
- Spend Thursday evenings at the free Wildflower Center’s Nature Nights, learning about the plants, animals and ecology of Central Texas.
- Learn about nature at The Science Mill in Johnson City, where most special events are free with admission.
- Explore new venues for adventure via the free Texas Nature Challenge.
- See the peacocks strut their stuff at Mayfield Park.
- Attend a Star Party in mid-June through early August at the University of Texas.
- Pick blackberries at the Robinson Family Farm, where children under 2 get in free.
- Take the kids to a BookPeople storytime event (note: these are very popular so get there early).
- Look for tadpoles at Walnut Creek Park.
- Watch the purple martins put on a show in the sky during a Purple Martin Party.
- Feed the ducks.
- Lead those kids who don’t yet understand sleeping in on a morning hike or stroll.
- Take a guided or self-guided tour of the University of Texas’s Landmarks collection.
- Walk on the Boardwalk.
- Bring a snack and your Frisbee to Zilker Park’s Great Lawn.
- Relish in the breeze as you bike with your littles on these kid-friendly routes.
- Get vertical at a free BMX and Skate Park.
- Borrow a book (and donate one too) from your closest Little Free Library.
- Go ice skating at Chaparral Ice and all kids under 5 get in free.
Catch a Flick
- Watch a Hollywood classic paired with sounds from a live band at Austin Sound & Cinema.
- Grab a blanket, a picnic and bug spray for a movie in the park.
- Catch your favorite flicks on the big screen at The Moviehouse & Eatery’s Summer Kids Camp in northwest Austin.
Air Conditioned Outings
- Get your library card and check out the special events planned for the Austin Public Library’s Summer Reading Program.
- Visit the Blanton for free on a Thursday.
- Try the scavenger hunt at the Texas Military Forces Museum and cross it off your printable checklist of free museums in Austin.
- Get crafty at Lakeshore Learning, The Home Depot and Lowe’s kids’ workshops (advance registration required for the Home Depot and Lowe’s).
- Families can explore the exhibits at the Bullock Texas State History Museum for free on the first Sunday of each month from noon until 5:00 p.m.
- See how many species of fish there are at The Fish Gallery.
- Round up any spare diapers, travel-sized toiletry items, spare office supplies, and extra art supplies to donate to Little Helping Hands.
- Satisfy the need for sweet treats at Krispy Kreme’s Family Nights.
- Take a tour of the Texas Capitol building.
- Visit South Austin’s unique Aqua-Dome.
- Enjoy improvised, interactive storytelling with Steve the Poodle at ColdTowne Theater most Saturday mornings.
Take in Some Tunes
- Check out the Austin Symphony’s Concerts in the Park series on Sundays at 7:30 p.m. (except July 3rd) in front of the Long Center City Terrace.
- Spend your Thursday night rocking out at Shady Grove for Unplugged at the Grove.
- Hear local acts at Zilker with a few thousand of your closest friends at Blues on the Green.
- Hear intimate sets from some of Austin’s finest musicians Local & Live at the Visitor Center.
- Picnic with your people while watching The Little Mermaid, this year’s free Zilker Summer Musical Production.
- And don’t ever forget about the amazing Austin Summer Musical for Children, going strong for more than 30 years!