Summer is finally here, which means warm weather and long days to fill with fun. From outdoor concert series to family-friendly programs, here are eight quintessential Austin activities to partake in this season. Oh, and did we mention they're totally free?
Enjoy Austin's live music
Summertime in Austin has no shortage of free live music. KGSR's Blues on the Green in Zilker Park and Unplugged at the Grove feature some of the best local artists, from country to pop-rock. Concerts in the Park at the Long Center provides a wonderful opportunity to hear the acclaimed Austin Symphony Orchestra for free. All three of these series are running now through August.
Catch a flick
Austin also has plenty of outdoor movie screenings this summer, most of which are kid-friendly. Sound & Cinema at the Long Center and 101X's Summer Cinema at Central Market are great places to start.
Watch a play
This year's free summer production at the Zilker Hillside Theater is Shrek: The Musical, a sing-songy rendition of the beloved fairy tale film. The production runs July 8 through August 13.
Swim at Barton Springs
When Barton Springs finally reopens, you can enjoy its cool, refreshing waters for free from 9-10 pm each night. The crowd at this time is thin, so you won't have to wait to try new moves on the diving board. Bonus: If you're an early riser, you can also swim for free from 5-8 am.
Escape the heat at a museum
When the temperatures rise, head inside one of Austin's many museums. The first Sunday of the month at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, second Saturdays at The Contemporary Austin, and every Thursday at the Blanton Museum of Art are free. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is also offering free admission through August 31, and the Harry Ransom Center and Texas Memorial Museum, both on the University of Texas campus, are always free.
Explore the great outdoors
Beginning June 9, every Thursday from 6-9 pm at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is Nature Night, which means interesting presentations, guided hikes, and more entertainment for kids. The Austin Nature and Science Center is always fun — and always free too. The nature center offers educational hands-on activities that teach us all about the environment and the way our world works.
Hit up the library
The Austin Public Library has an awesome summer reading program that features a wide variety of events for kids of all ages — even adults. From June to August, swing by your local branch and check out everything from arts and crafts to live music to grown-up workshops.
Volunteer your time
With all of this free time on your hands, why not use it to give back to your community? Austin has tons of great volunteer opportunities, from hanging out with the pups at Austin Pets Alive! to picking fresh veggies at Johnson's Backyard Garden and helping out at the Central Texas Food Bank.