Free things to do in Austin Archives - 365 Things to Do in Austin, TX

As part of Hotel Van Zandt’s 12 Days of Christmas celebration, they’re creating an adorable holiday photo op for your pup—a picture with Santa Paws! So dress your little guy in his favorite Christmas sweater and head down to the Rainey Street District to make some memories. From now until December 14, there are all kinds of free events happening at the hotel, in what they call, “The Living Room.” It’s basically every great holiday activity packed into one place. Plus, each night there will be a roaring fire, vinyl holiday records playing in the background, a hot toddy bar, and light snacks for purchase.

When: Today, December 10th

Time: noon

Location:
605 Davis St.
Austin, TX 78701

We’ve done just about everything for Christmas in Austin, but we’ve mostly been limited to land activites—until now! Tonight is Austin’s first annual Boat Trail of Lights! Hopefully this has the makings of a longstanding tradition that will get bigger and crazier every year. Call that friend of yours with a boat and get organized. Decorate the boat (and/or your body) with holiday spirit and lights and meet under the 360 Bridge. Boaters will hit the lights at 6 p.m. sharp, and listen to holiday music.

Boaters and spectators will need to pay normal entrance fees at the bridge. The city can accept cash and checks only and it costs $15 for a truck and trailer, $10 for a vehicle, and $3 for anyone who walks into the park to watch the fun.

If you are planning on launching at the 360 Bridge, message the page Boat Trail of Lights and let the organizers know (this is important!). They need to make sure everyone isn’t coming at once.

When: Today, December 9th

Time: 6 – 8 p.m.

Location:
Lake Austin
Austin, TX 78701

It’s December and we are officially going crazy for Christmas in Austin. Ring in the season at this free, family-friendly event that celebrates the arrival of the holiday season and the joy it brings. Enjoy live music from local favorites like Riders Against the Storm, Jane Ellen Bryant, Charlie Faye and the Fayettes, Gina Chavez, and more.

They’ll also be a ton of great activities for the kids like face painting, ornament making, carnival games, and gingerbread decorating! Plus the big guy will be there—all the way from the North Pole.

When: Today, December 2nd

Time: 5 – 9 p.m.

Location:
1100 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

It’s the big one! Tonight, the Christmas season officially kicks off in Austin with the lighting of our beloved Zilker Tree. Enjoy local entertainment, food, live music, and more tonight for this special occasion. The tree stands 155 feet tall and is made of 39 streamers, each holding 81 multicolored, 25-watt bulbs—totaling 3,309 lights.

The tree will be on display nightly from until December 31 from 6 p.m. – midnight. Don’t forget that area roads will be closed as thousands visit the Trail of Lights. It’s totally worth the trouble, but make sure you plan ahead!

When: Today, November 26th

Time: 5:30 – 11:00 p.m.

Location:
Zilker Park
Barton Springs Road

Mozart’s is one of the best coffee shops in Austin, mostly because they have a phenomenal location on Lake Austin and a great outdoor deck. It’s one of the best places in town to see some spectacular holiday lights.

Visitors to Mozart’s Coffee Roasters’ annual Christmas light extravaganza will get a new immersive, interactive experience surrounded by more than one million LED lights in a show that will run every evening from November 17 through January 1 (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas day). Come with eager eyes and ears (there will be music, too). And bring your camera to get photos and videos that will light up your Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook pages.

Thousands of dazzling lights have been sculpted into giant iconic objects, custom-made in Greece, that evoke Austin’s culture and the Christmas season, including a dozen guitars, the State Capitol, and a tree filled with presents. Plus, an audio-activated wall of lights. Thousands of other lights will be imaginatively strung in the trees, facades and rooflines. All will be placed around Mozart’s lakeside deck.

For refreshment, Mozart’s acclaimed coffee and hot chocolate can be purchased inside the coffee house and at kiosks outdoors. Special holiday goodies from Mozart’s bakery will also be available. 

NOTE—High Points of the Show/Timing:

The exhilarating highpoints of the free show, super light-ups and live choral singing, will be spaced throughout the entire evening. Families can relax and arrive at any time to get their over-the-top dose of Christmas magic.

More than 20 choirs from local schools and community groups have been tapped this year to sing Christmas songs that range from traditional to “rock-the-deck” tunes.

For more holiday fun this month, check out our Top 25 Things To Do This December!

Time: Top of every hour, starting at 6 p.m – 11 p.m.

When: now – New Years

Location:
Mozart’s Coffee
3826 Lake Austin Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78703

http://www.mozartscoffee.com/

Photo: Mozart’s Coffee

Tipster, Austin’s first pay-what-you like walking tours, have officially started walking in Austin! These local tours are super fun, affordable, and a great experience for visitors and locals alike.

Tipster is making Austin part of a world-wide movement bringing pay-what-you-like walking tours to everyone from backpackers to local business people.

The tours are nontraditional. There are no prices or set fees, no reservations required, and the guides create the tours they want to give.

Tipster wants everyone, regardless of budget, to experience Austin like an insider. They believe everyone who visits or lives in Austin should be able to connect with the local vibe and culture.

Downtown Tour

From the Capitol to the Driskill, this tour is great for visitors looking to learn more about this unique city deep in the heart of Texas. Learn all about the history of Austin as you walk through downtown and stop for local drinks and snacks along the way.

Austin Music Tour

As the Live Music Capitol of the World, Austin has more live music venues than any other city in the nation. From jazz to country, hip hop to blues, there is a show for everybody at almost any time of day. On this tour, learn how the Austin music scene came to be and gain some insider knowledge.

Greenbelt Tour

Explore one of Austin’s most beautiful natural prized gems. This tour is more of a nature walk and is a great way to explore the city in tranquil scenery. We’ll walk along the beautiful Barton Creek through wooded ravines and canyons right in the heart of Austin. Along the way you will stop at Austin’s beloved Taco Deli mid-walk.

East Side Art Tour


Art is all around us in Austin. On this tour you’ll explore the vibrant world of street art that dominates the East Side. From murals and graffiti to the art of craft cocktails, there’s something on this tour for everyone!

 

Beer Tour


Beer lovers unite! The craft beer movement is thriving in Austin. The Austin area has over 30 craft breweries and is growing by the day. Get introduced to some of Austin’s East side breweries as we hit some of our favorites and explore this hip part of town.

Want to learn more about Tipster?
Email: Kelly @tipstertours.com
Like TipsterTours on facebook
Instagram- @tipstertours

Last year was the start of a new Austin tradition—a spectacle for everyone to enjoy right before the holiday season officially kicks off. Waller Creek Conservancy’s Creek Show, which is free and open to the public, is returning for a second year and taking place November 10-18. Downtown Austin will be lit up like never before! We have a feeling this will become a mainstay of the holiday season in Austin—just like the Zilker Tree and the Trail of Lights. Bring the kids and walk along the Waller Creek downtown as you explore six luminescent, site-specific installations along between 5th and 8th Streets, all created by local artists.

They’ll also have hands-on, family friendly activities every night at the Sabine Tree Deck between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Thinkery will be on-site Fridays and Saturdays and you can visit the Creek Show Lounge (700 E. 6th St.) for interactive entertainment, a Creek Show photo booth, Waterloo Park model, and more.

The kids will really love this—and adults get to see their city in a whole new way.

For more details click here.

When: November 10th-18th

Location:
Waller Creek between 5th and 8th Streets

Present Company’s 4th annual Shakespeare at the Market, Romeo & Juliet, runs October 13th – 29th on the rooftop of the downtown Austin flagship Whole Foods Market. Promoting the philosophy of accessible art, Shakespeare at the Park is free! A suggested $20 donation supports the artists and event. RSVPs are encouraged.

When: Today, October 13th

Time: Seating begins at 6:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. show

Location:
Whole Foods Downtown
524 North Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

A few things to remember!

  • Picnics and blankets or chairs encouraged
  • BYOB or purchase from Whole Foods
  • FREE & PLENTIFUL parking in the Whole Foods garage
  • Parents encouraged to research the plot and have any necessary conversations with children under the age of 10.

 

 

You slept in, the weather is fabulous and cool, and now there is simply one thing to do to make this day completely perfect: Go to Super Soul Sunday at Icenhauer’s!

Since its beginning in 2011, this legendary #SundayFunday shindig has joined the ranks of Austin’s “must do” activities alongside swimming in Barton Springs, shopping on South Congress, and jamming at Austin City Limits.  A hotspot for locals and tourists alike, this historic Rainey Street hangout is the ultimate backyard party for both the young and the young at heart.

Enjoy an afternoon relaxing in the sun, drinking giant mason jars of Sangria, and listening to Austin’s favorite 10-piece soul outfit, The Nightowls.

When: Today, September 10th

Time: 4 – 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Location:
Icenhauer’s
83 Rainey Street
Austin, TX 78701

Winning things is fun. Winning things is great. But winning ACL passes for your entire crew is how you win at life! Imagine how much of a hero you’ll be.

bthere, the app that rewards friends for spending time together, has just launched in Austin and they are celebrating with a 10-ticket giveaway to weekend one of ACL Fest.

The problem with traditional group messaging platforms is they don’t provide helpful context for close friends who are getting together and planning to hang out. Friends go out, lose each other, phones die, we’ve all been there. Most annoyingly, our messages are all about finding each other: Text me when you get there! I’m outside! What’s your ETA? It never ends.

With bthere’s private location sharing (only for your closest pals), pinata dropping, group texting, and notifications around phone batteries that are about to die, the app creates a world within a world where all of those problems are solved. It’s a smart and fun way to stay in the loop when you and your friends are out on the town in ATX.

The app makes it easier for close friends to get together and stay together. And through partnerships with local retailers, they offer users free giveaways and discounts based on the amount of time they spend together. Groups will be rewarded with large-scale giveaways, and individual bthere users can cash their bthere points in for discounts at local restaurants and bars. bthere is starting out with a small number of retailers in the Austin market, but keep checking! They’ll be adding more soon.

If you have a ongoing text chain with your closest friends that’s a mile long and blowing up your phone all day, this app is for you. We all love Instagram and Facebook (hey, like and follow 365 Things Austin!) but our phones are making us miss out on real life moments with friends. bthere will help you get the crew out of the phone and see each other face- to-face in real life. Imagine that! You love your buds; you can’t get enough them—why not get rewarded while you’re at it?

Entering the ACL giveaway is easy as pie:

  1. Download bthere and create a circle with your closest friends.
  2. Circles receive points for the amount of time friends spend together.
  3. The circle with 10 or fewer members who receives the most points between now and September 22nd will win ACL Weekend 1 tickets.
  4. Winners will be announced on September 22nd.

Good luck to you and your buds!