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Free Things to Do with Kids in Austin

By AAA Travel Editor Laurie Sterbens
May 11, 2018
With its numerous parks, museums and other attractions, families will find no shortage of fun things to do in Austin. Better yet, budget does not have to be a problem; some of the city’s best attractions are free. Here are a few examples.
David Sucsy/iStockphoto.com

Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge

Congress Ave. & Barton Springs Rd.
(512) 327-9721
Here’s a fun fact: The world’s largest urban bat colony hangs out in Austin, under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. During the warmer months, the underside of the bridge is home to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. From May to October, the bats emerge from beneath the bridge to begin their nightly hunt for insects. Grab a viewing spot in the grassy area near the bridge’s southeast corner, where you’ll find signs with information about these tiny flying creatures.
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AAA/Laurie Sterbens

Austin Nature & Science Center

2389 Stratford Dr.
(512) 974-3888
This attraction is within Zilker Metropolitan Park, which is also free to enter between Labor Day and mid-March. Interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits and a nature trail through Zilker Preserve offer a fun way to learn about the plants, animals and geology of Central Texas. Mammals, birds of prey and “Small Wonders” native to Texas are among the wildlife exhibits, and kids will love the Dino Pit, which features reproductions of local fossils and dinosaur tracks.
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Covert Park at Mount Bonnell

3800 Mount Bonnell Rd.
(512) 974-6700
If your children are past stroller age, they’ll love climbing the steps leading to the top of Mount Bonnell. At 781 feet, it’s considered the highest spot in Austin and offers spectacular panoramas of the city skyline, Lake Austin and the surrounding hill country. It’s a great spot to enjoy a picnic lunch as you take in the views. A short, gently sloping hiking trail offers an alternative route back down the mountain.
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iStockphoto.com/Faina Gurevich

Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

3503 W. 35th St.
(512) 974-6700
Brilliant blue peacocks will be a highlight of your visit to Mayfield Park, an estate that was donated to the city of Austin in 1971 for its citizens to enjoy as a park. The grounds include a historic cottage surrounded by 2 acres of colorful gardens. Walking trails wind through Mayfield Nature Preserve, offering an opportunity to explore the wildlife habitat surrounding the estate.
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Texas State Capitol

1100 Congress Ave.
(512) 463-0063
While the little ones may not fully appreciate a tour of the Capitol building, older kids may enjoy seeing the chambers where lawmakers meet and viewing the artwork depicting historic battles and important figures from the state’s history. Family members of all ages will delight in exploring the gardens and statues on the Capitol grounds, and kids will love the Capitol Visitors Center, where they can dress up as pioneers and cowboys and learn about Texas history through interactive exhibits geared toward children.
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