Austin has a variety of fun and educational spots to visit around town. Many of these locations offer free educational resources to enhance your visit. From pages that can printed before you go, to kits than can be checked out to use during your visit or at home, there’s a number of free educational options for your family. Some sites charge an admission fee, but all educational resources are free unless otherwise noted.
The City of Austin has temporarily banned public gatherings. Please stay home. The Free Fun in Austin calendar is only for live digital events at this time.
Here’s a roundup of some of the amazing free educational resources available in greater Austin:
Resources by Location:
- Austin Nature and Science Center – Free admission
- Print: Bingo Cards
- On Site: Eco-Detective Kit available for check-out at the front desk.
- The Blanton Museum – Free admission on Thursdays
- Print: How to Write an Ekphrastic Poem
- Print: Lesson plans and curriculum are available on the Resources for Teachers page.
- On Site: Headphone music tours. New wireless headsets are now available for check-out at the front desk. Each headset offers a spoken tour of the European paintings exhibit along with a sample of music appropriate to the area.
- Bullock Texas State History Museum – Free admission on the first Sunday of the Month
- The Dinosaur Park – Admission fee
- On Site: A Scavenger Hunt is available at the visitors center.
- Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center – Free Admission
- On Site: Handout available at the visitors desk.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – Admission fee
- Print: A large variety of printable sheets, activity pages, and workbooks are available on the Education page of the site.
- On Site: Discovery Packs: each pack includes various tools to help guide your exploration of the gardens such as: hand lenses, books, scavenger hunts, binoculars and much more! Available for check-out at the kiosk.
- Laguna Gloria – Free admission on Tuesdays
- Splash! Exhibit at Zilker Park – Free admission
- Texas Memorial Museum – Admission fee
- Texas Military Forces Museum – Free admission
- On Site: Scavenger hunt page available at the sign-in desk.
- Texas State Capitol – Free admission
- Umlauf Sculpture Garden – Free on the first Sunday of the month and during the summer (June – August)
- On Site: The Sculpture Safari activity is available at the visitor desk.
- Zilker Botanical Garden – Admission fee
- Print: A 13 page self guided tour of the gardens is available on the Education page.
- On Site: Free book lending program for younger children. Teachers/Parents are welcome to call in advance to reserve the books and pick them up at the reception desk upon arrival (leaving a driver’s license or other form of i.d. as a deposit).
Other Great Resources:
- Earth Camp Field Trip Guides: An extensive list of lesson plans, slide shows, tour guides, puzzles, activity sheets and more for a number of Austin locations including: Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer, Splash! Exhibit, Blunn Creek, Bull Creek, Walnut Creek, Slaughter Creek, and McKinney Falls.
- Junior Park Ranger Program:
- On Site: Pick up a free Junior Ranger Journal for your child when you visit a state park. Complete a certain number of activities (depending on age) to earn a Junior Ranger pin.
- On Site: Junior Ranger Explorer Packs are a free activity pack that parents can check out at many state parks across the state. Each Explorer Pack comes with a pair of binoculars, magnifying glass, animal tracking key, sketchbook, pencil, crayons and watercolors, colorful guides to identify the flowers, birds, butterflies, trees, rocks, wildlife and plants, and a journal to record what they see and learn.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: The TPWD has an extensive education section on their website. Some of the highlights are listed here:
- Print: a large selection of lesson plans separated by topic and grade level on the Activities and Lesson Plans page.
- Print: Keep Texas Wild lesson plans, activity ideas, and vocabulary.
- Print: a very large collection of Posters, Maps, and Publications are available to download and print.
- On Site: Loaner Trunks filled with educational activities are available for teachers and homeschool parents.
- Online: The TPWD Kids page lists kid-friendly activities in the parks.
- Zilker Trek: An amazing multi-media scavenger hunt that incorporates all of Zilker Park. Using free downloadable content trek the park and create your own nature journal, a nature sculpture, and more. Read about the free Zilker Trek program and view the Map.
Make sure to bookmark this post as we will be adding to this list as we find additional free educational opportunities around town. Have fun learning while exploring Austin with your family!