Autumn has finally arrived in Austin, and in addition to signature fests, there's an abundance of totally free activities to take advantage of this season. Check out these free "Austin" things to do, from enjoying the great outdoors to exploring East Austin's art scene.
Stroll along the new Boardwalk
The weather is cooling down, so why not mosey along the completed Boardwalk Trail on Lady Bird Lake? If you're feeling courageous you can put on your running shoes and complete the circuit around Lady Bird Lake, or you can take your maiden voyage on the new part of the trail along the southern bank.
Spend an afternoon at Continental
South Congress Avenue's Continental Club delivers free tunes on weekend afternoons from true music vets that are definitely worth a listen. On Saturdays, catch Redd Volkaert (known for his stint playing with Merle Haggard), who is sure to get you up and moving. Come back on Sundays for Planet Casper, featuring beloved guitarist Casper Rawls and a rotating group of stellar local musicians.
Visit a pumpkin patch
Pumpkin patches are a must, especially if you want to get some jack-o'-lantern action in this October. While there are many in Austin (we suggest Shoreline Church, Bethany Lutheran Church and Austin Oaks Church), take a trip outside of the city limits to Sweet Berry Farm or Texas Big Worm Pumpkin Patch. (Visit Free Fun in Austin for a comprehensive list of pumpkin patches around town.)
Ride a bike
The 2014 Austin BikeFest provides the perfect excuse to go for a leisurely ride. The fest will celebrate the opening of the Southern Walnut Creek Trail with an all-ages bike ride and family-friendly activities at Govalle Park on October 25 at 10 am. There will be a kids bike race, costume contest, live music, BMX ramp, raffle and more.
Take it all in at the Texas Book Festival
Book lovers from across the state converge on the Texas State Capitol grounds October 25-26 for the annual Texas Book Festival. Peruse books from both local and international writers and catch sessions with headliners like Martin Amis, Lidia Bastianich, Ziggy Marley, Valerie Plame Wilson and Hector Tobar. Entrance to the festival is free, but remember that seating for anticipated sessions is first come, first served.
Rev it up up at Fan Fest
You don't have to trek out to the track to experience Austin's new Formula 1 tradition. The free three-day Fan Fest held downtown from October 31 through November 2 includes musical guests Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, De La Soul, Texas Tornados and more. A bunch of family-friendly activities will take place, too.
Have a picnic at the Greenbelt
Sometimes it's easy to forget that there's a luscious outdoor oasis in the middle of our fair city. Pack yourself a little picnic and explore the Greenbelt this fall. Try a different entrance than you normally do and indulge in a side of the green space you've never seen before.
Find free art
Every Friday, Austinites have the chance to find — and claim — free art thanks to #atxfreeartfriday. Local artists hide their artwork around Austin and leave clues on how to find it via the #atxfreeartfriday hashtag for this Instagram-based scavenger hunt.
See a show at Uncle Billy's
KUTX is pumping out live music at Uncle Billy's every Sunday through November 7 as part of a new free music series. The remaining shows include HoneyHoney, Katie Holmes and Sip Sip. If you feel indulgent you can purchase a VIP table for $50, but otherwise the concerts are free and open to the public. Get there early to enjoy the DJ sets or take a nice walk along Barton Springs Drive.
The East Austin Studio Tour is your opportunity to meet the local artists and artisans that make Austin's thriving culture so bright and colorful. Visit studios and exhibitions during the self-guided event taking place November 15-16 and 22-23.