Downtown on a Budget

Experiencing Austin Summer Life For Cheap


Photo Courtesy of Sarah Nilson

Chalk recreation of the “Greetings From Austin” mural done by Sarah Nilson. On instagram @imchalkinhere

Kaley Johnson, Reporter

As we grow, so does the city we live in. With more and more people moving to Austin every year, new businesses, activities and things to do are constantly popping up, and we are fortunate enough to live just 30 minutes away from it all.

However, with a limited amount of money and time as teenagers, it can be difficult to find a good place to enjoy our summer vacations without breaking the budget.

Below are nine ways to enjoy Downtown Austin on a budget this summer.

Walking or Kayaking at Lady Bird Lake

Named after first lady, Lady Bird Johnson at the time of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Lake offers a 10-mile hike-and-bike trail that winds along the shoreline and has beautiful views of Austin’s Skyline. It’s completely free to enjoy and there are also many organizations that provide cheap boat rentals including Rowing Dock and Texas Rowing Center.

Swimming at Deep Eddy Pool or Barton Springs

Ranging from two to nine dollars a person, depending on age and residence, Deep Eddy Municipal Pool is Texas’s oldest public pool. Being large enough so that you don’t feel cramped and filled with clear unchlorinated water, Deep Eddy is a great way to cool off in the Texas summer heat. While Barton Springs sits at the same prices and is also considered a public pool, it’s also very different. Having more of a lake or river feel to it, Barton Springs is considered to be a year-round pool. listed as a federally protected habitat, it also serves as home to the endangered Barton Springs Salamander.

The Picnic Food Trailer Park

Located on Barton Springs road, close to both the pool and Zilker Park, The Picnic provides the classic Austin experience of food trucks with trailers like The Mighty Cone, Hey Cupcake!, Steel City Pops and many more. Prices vary but the food is consistently good even from the cheaper trucks.

Jo’s Coffee

Sitting on South Congress, Jo’s Coffee isn’t known for its low prices but can definitely be enjoyed as such. With the options of more than their wide range of coffee, they also serve food and beer, for those over 21. Iced coffee and an order of Frito pie may not sound like the greatest combo but you’d be surprised how accurate the “Keep Austin Weird” motto is here.

Take Pictures in Front of Austin Murals

A great place to start being the iconic “I Love You So Much” mural right outside of Jo’s Coffee the art life in Austin can be found in the most random of spots throughout the town and what better way to create memories with friends and family than to capture these summer moments with a picture. Other well-known spots include the “Greetings From Austin” mural on South 1st and the Austin, Texas mural in 6th Street Historic District.

Wander Through the Shops

Austinites have some of the best fashion taste there is and even if you’re not there to spend money on clothes there’s no harm in wandering through the stores for some outfit inspiration. Not only are there stores for clothes but with Austin becoming one of the most visited places in the U.S., the souvenir shops are great for everyone tourist or not. Here the “KAW” slogan continues, as you can find the most interesting and often hilarious things in these shops.

Tour the State Capitol Building

With the capitol of Texas being so close to us, it is a crime not to go check it out at some point. With free tours offered almost every day, you can learn about the history of the building and visit rooms such as the Senate Chamber and the House of Representatives chamber. The Texas Capitol is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most distinguished state capitols and definitely worth the visit.

Shady Grove

Around since 1992, Shady Grove is known for its good food and family-friendly feel but, most notably its free live music series “Unplugged at the Grove.” Being Austin’s longest-running live music series, the concerts are completely free and held outdoors. It’s the perfect way to enjoy Austin’s free music scene with a picnic blanket and some friends.

Waterloo Records

Another way to experience Austin’s music scene for free is at Waterloo Records where free concerts are regularly held for all ages. Don’t forget to wander the records while your there. Even if you don’t have a record player, the old school, vintage feel of the place makes you never want to leave and if you do have a player, then who knows, maybe you’ll find a hidden gem you never expected.

Whether you have family in town or just want to hang out with friends, all of these activities are great ways to experience the summer life of Downtown Austin in a fun and inexpensive way that works for everyone.