Even though Texas is super hot and humid during this time of year, I absolutely love summer time! We love to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight by taking long walks, having sunset patio dinners, lazy days by the pool and squeezing in as many fun, summery activities as possible!
Austin has so many fun (and free) activities year round, but specifically in the summer. We take full advantage of these events, and thought I would share a few local favorites… basically what to do it Austin all summer long!
Below is a guide to all of our favorite free and cheap summer events and activities that take place every year, and don’t forget to visit each event’s website for more information!
1. Movies in the Park: One of our absolute favorite summer activities is watching movies in the park. I don’t know what it is, the fact that they are usually popular classics, or that magical feeling you get from watching a movie under the stars, or that you can bring a picnic dinner (which is always fun!); but catching as many of these special movies every summer is a must! Luckily, there are many locations in Austin that offer this fun experience for free.
- 101x Summer Cinema- This is always a great place to watch a movie! Nestled in the park next to Central Market on Lamar Boulevard, this movies in the park plays fan favorites (no really, you the fan vote on what you want to see each week), like The Goonies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Princess Bride, just to name a few. We like this location because there is plenty of shade (while you wait for the movie to start) and you have access to Central Market to use the facilities, grab some drinks, snacks or even dinner. There is also $2.50 beer specials all night long. While parking is available in the store’s parking lot, come early as this smaller location fills up quickly.
- What to bring: Outside coolers are allowed onto the lawn/movie area, but may be checked for outside food/beverage. If you do purchase snacks from Central Market keep your receipt handy as you may be asked for it. While there are picnic tables and chairs, they get snatched quickly, so bring blankets and folding chairs. Pets on leashes are ok!
- For more information check out 101x Summer Cinema online and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
- When: Every other Wednesday all summer long for 5 to 6 weeks (click here for exact dates and movie schedule).
- Time: Movie starts at dusk 8:30-9pm
- Where: Central Market 40th and Lamar, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX
- Sound and Cinema- This one is another favorite because it combines both our love of classic movies and local music! Every other Wednesday all summer long at the Long Center, you can listen to live local music before the classic movie of the night. The music and movie are paired perfectly, like The Sandlot with The Nightowls or Naked Gun with Hard Ball. There are several popular food trucks, like Peached Tortilla, Yeti Frozen Custard, and Uncle Louie G’s on site to purchase food; and the Long Center will have cocktails and craft beer available for purchase.
- What to bring: There are no tables or chairs on site, so bring blankets and folding chairs. Coolers with outside food and non-alcoholic drinks are allowed, but be prepared to have your cooler checked. And no pets are allowed.
- Tip: Be prepared to pay for parking and park in the Long Center parking garage.
- For more information, check out Sound and Cinema online and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
- When: Every other Wednesday all summer long for 6 weeks (click here for exact dates and movie schedule).
- Time: Concert starts at 7pm and movies start at dusk, around 8:30pm
- Where: Long Center Lawn 701 W. Riverside Dr., Austin, TX 78704
- Other movies in the park around Austin:
2. Concerts in the Park: Second or maybe first to movies in the park, concerts in the park is probably our favorite! Visiting with friends, summertime picnics, all while listening to local musicians sing in perfect harmony! Luckily, Austin is the music capital of the world, and home to many fine artists and concerts. Below are a few of our favorite summer freebies:
- Blues on the Green- This summer concert series is celebrating 25 years and has a killer line up of local musicians, like Shakey Graves, Bob Schneider and more(!), to help them mark this momentous occasion! Of all the events I am sharing today this concert series brings the most locals far and wide! Because of this loyal following getting to the fun can be a bit tricky. Even though the music doesn’t start until 8pm, plan to arrive early to get a spot. Also plan for traffic… lots of it! While the concert is free, to park in a convenient, designated area, you will pay a small fee; and will still have a bit of a walk. There are plenty of food trucks with concert eats available for purchase or you can pack a picnic lunch.
- What to bring: Lawn chairs or blankets for sitting (there are absolutely no chairs) and while I love my pup (and dogs on leashes are allowed), with crowds this size, dogs can easily get lost (I have seen it happen numerous times). Oh, and due to all the rain we have been having, check the official website for concert cancellations and updates.
- For more information visit Blues on the Green online and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- When: One Wednesday a month, May through August
- Time: Music starts at 8pm
- Where: Zilker Park, located at 2100 Barton Spring Road.
- Austin Symphony Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park- I have to admit, this is a summer activity we have yet to enjoy. Every year I put this concert series on my calendar, as I have friends that rave about it, but we never make it down. This is the year we are changing this! This concert series, put on by the Austin Symphony, features a different ensemble (strings, brass, woodwinds, etc.) each week, performing everything from jazz to film scores. Not only are these concerts free, but you can pack a picnic and enjoy those sweet sounds every week!
- Other concerts in the park around Austin:
- Unplugged at the Grove: Shady Grove, 1624 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704 (8pm every Thursday, April-September)
- City of Pflugerville Music in the Park: Pfluger Park
515 City Park Road (every Friday through the end of September, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m)
3. Museum Days- I am grateful that Austin is home to many museums and art galleries. While we have explored many, there are still so many we need to check out. While museum admission can be pricy (especially if you have a large family), luckily many offer free or discount days.
- Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin: 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78701 10am-5pm (open to 9pm every 3rd Thursday) Free admission every Thursday
- Bullock Texas State History Museum: 1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701 Open Sundays: 12pm-5pm Free admission to the exhibits on the first Sunday of each month.
- Thinkery Austin’s Children’s Museum: At the Meredith Learning Lab 1830 Simond Ave, Austin, TX 78723 Community Night every Wednesday from 4 – 8 pm (admission by donation)
Cheap summer fun:
4. Round Rock Express: If you follow my Instagram account you know we love baseball! In fact, it is probably the only sporting event that we really watch. Luckily, Austin is home to the Round Rock Express, a minor league baseball team that is under the Texas Rangers. Since summer wouldn’t be complete without watching a little b-ball, it should be on everyone’s summer bucket list. Luckily for you there are free or cheap nights, where you too can catch a game!
- Every Tuesday: Half priced ticket day.
- Every Wednesday: Bring two H-E-B branded canned goods in exchange for one lawn ticket, benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank.
- For more information visit them online.
5. Austin Pass Book: This is a new to us way to celebrate summer! This fun little book is filled with buy one, get one coupons to some of Austin’s most popular eats, like Bananarchy, Burro Cheese Kitchen, Gourdough’s Public House, and more; plus various attractions, like the Austin Zoo, Blue Starlite Urban Drive-In, and Congress Avenue Kayaks. While you have to purchase the coupon book up front to receive the discounts, it is well worth it, with over $600 in deals! Not only is that a huge savings, we have had so much fun exploring Austin while we get our little Pass Book stamped!