Free Fun Makes for Smart Free Time

Zilker Park, where Blues on the Green takes place each summer. Local radio station 93.3 KGSR puts on the event on Wednesday nights during the summer.

Photo Credit: Silvana Di Ravenna

Classes or internships might not come with wages, but that shouldn’t stop you from being able to enjoy what the city has to offer during the summer. In Austin, that might range to anything from musicals and blues to bats and outdoor movies.

Blues on the Green
Each summer the radio station KGSR puts on what has become a live music tradition. Bring a blanket, some friends and some spare cash if you want to enjoy the local food vendors every other Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. from late May to early August at Zilker Park. Last year’s summer line-up included well-known artists from the Austin music scene such as Bob Schneider and Alpha Rev. Blues on the Green offers a reason to look forward to Wednesdays in Austin. Be sure to get there early to beat traffic and find parking, as well.

Films at the Long Center
Austin Sound and Cinema, organized by Alamo Drafthouse and Do512, pairs live music and movies outdoors on the Long Center grounds that overlook the city skyline. Local bands perform prior to the films, which tend to be classics, such as “Back to the Future” and “Jurassic Park.”

Grab a folding chair or a blanket for the lawn, and the Long Center allows food and drink to be brought onto the grounds if you want to make a picnic out of it. If you want to grab dinner during the movie, there are plenty of food trucks on site. Sponsor Aquasana also provides free, cool filtered water throughout the movies. Starting in June, Austin Sound and Cinema will continue until late August.

Carpenters fixing the stage at Zilker Park Hillside Theater, which has hosted free summer musicals for the public for the last 55 years. [PHOTO CREDIT: Silvana Di Ravenna]

Zilker Hillside Theater
If you want a different kind of live music this summer, class it up with some of the performances at Zilker’s Hillside Theater. Zilker’s Hillside Theater, adjacent to Barton Springs, has provided free summer musicals to the public for the last 55 years. This summer, the featured show will be Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “Oklahoma!” While the event is free, consider bringing some of your spare change to donate, as half the project is supported by public donations, according to Zilker Theater Productions. All you need to enjoy the performance is a blanket or folding chair.

Austin Zoo
This one isn’t free, but only costs $8 if you bring your student ID, and the money goes toward supporting the animal sanctuary. The zoo also allows you to bring your own food and beverages, so bring a lunch! The zoo has everything from lions, tigers and jaguars to a kangaroo and black bear. The sanctuary is one of Austin’s hidden gems, and is a way to get outdoors and up-close to animals you don’t get to see everyday, while supporting a good cause.

Congress Avenue Bats
Under the Congress Avenue Bridge resides the largest urban bat colony in the world, according to Bat Conservation International. Throughout the summer you can head over to the bridge to enjoy the sunset, and then watch 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats fly out from under the bridge in search of insects. While the attraction itself is free, other ways to enjoy it might be by renting a kayak, taking a boat out or over a drink at one of the hotels overlooking the bridge.