There are plenty of things to do in Austin, the live music capital of the world, but it can be difficult when it comes to entertaining a family on a budget.
It is possible to have fun with your family while visiting Austin and spend just $50 for a day’s-worth of adventures. Here’s how:
Start the day with the quintessential Austin meal: Breakfast tacos. These can be found all over the city at brick and mortar restaurants or food trailers. One of the best places (according to Austinites) is Tamale House, where each member of your family can fill up for $2 to $3!
Breakfast cost for family of four: $10-12
Free Capitol Tour
Take in Austin’s history by visiting the famous Capitol Building downtown (the center of the city) and its surrounding gardens. You can take a self-guided tour of the building, or choose a guided 45-minute tour for free. The gardens feature 17 different monuments and the Trail of Trees, which has historical and significant trees throughout the grounds.
Depending on which day of the week you visit Austin, you can visit a number of museums for free.
The Blanton Museum of Art is free on Thursdays. It features American and contemporary art, Latin art, European paintings, prints, and drawings.
The Austin Museum of Art (Laguna Gloria) has a suggested donation of $3. It features modern and contemporary art.
The Austin Children’s Museum is free on Sundays from 4 to 5 p.m., suggested donations only on Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m., and free anytime through their Open Door Policy (call for details). Exhibits at this museum, such as the permanent “Funstruction,” will both entertain and educate your children.
Stop by Thundercloud Subs, an Austin favorite since 1975, where you can get HUGE sandwiches for around $5 to $6 each. Also check for weekly meal specials. Buy two and split between your family members. Add drinks and chips for a few dollars more. Or check the local weekly publication “The Chronicle” (found at nearly every retail store in Austin) for BOGO coupons at other local eateries.
Lunch cost for family of four: $14 to $18
Visit Zilker Park Area
Take your lunch over to Zilker Park for a picnic and then later visit the 30-acre botanical gardens or go swimming in Barton Springs Pool (or both!) There are various gardens with different themes, ranging from rose to herb to Japanese, and even a prehistoric garden that has recreated a dinosaur habitat. You’ll also find streams and koi-filled ponds throughout the gardens.
Barton Springs is a collection of four natural water springs, the largest of which makes up the pool, a favorite place for locals to go swimming. Be warned: The year round temperature of the water is around 68 degrees, so it’s only a refreshing dip if you go during the hot days of summer!
- Botanical gardens cost: $2 per adult, $1 per child (total cost $6)
- Barton Springs Swimming Pool cost: $3 per adult, $2 per child (total cost $10)
- Parking is $5 per car from March through Labor Day on weekends and holidays
Total cost: $6 to $21
Local Dinner Values
Austin holds many options for dinner. If you want the chance to please everyone, head to the food trailer park on South Congress Avenue where each person has their choice from Thai food to tacos to sandwiches to sausages and more. Each person can get their meal for $5 to $6. If your family loves pizza, Homeslice is a great (and cheap) bet (also located on South Congress). Each person can get a HUGE slice for $3 to $3.50, or you can get one large pizza for everyone for around $14. While on South Congress, glance northward for a great view of the Capitol Building.
Dinner cost for family of four: $20 to $25
Finish your day with a fantastic spectacle of millions of bats in the evening. Get to the Congress Bridge about a half hour before sunset to secure your spot standing on the bridge. At or around sunset, the bats fly out from under the bridge, and it truly is a sight to be seen.
Total cost for an entire day in Austin for a family of four: As little as $50, or up to $75, depending on the time of year and day of the week you visit.
This has been a guest post by Erica from Austin, TX
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!