This is a sponsored post by Radisson Hotel & Suites, Downtown Austin. All opinions are my own.

My family enjoyed a quick trip to Austin last weekend — sort of our last-fling, summer getaway since my daughter started high school drill team this week. I can never get enough of Austin — especially since I lived there 20 years growing up.


We tend to do a lot of the same things when we visit Austin, which is OK… And it usually revolves around food. This trip we crammed in Amy’s Ice Cream, Torchy’s Tacos, Threadgills, the new Shake Shack, Le Cafe Crepe, and Dine, the downtown restaurant of Radisson Hotel & Suites.

austin food collage

Being the owner of Houston on the Cheap, it’s no surprise that we chose lots of free things to do in town. Because like Houston, Austin has lots of options for free fun. {Our splurge was heading to 6th Street for Esther’s Follies, a fun evening of comedy skits and magic that’s been running for 37 years.} Here are our six free things, thanks to some recommendations from my friend Heidi at Free Fun in Austin:

Six Free Things to Do in Austin

1) Castle Hill/Baylor Street Graffiti Wall — The scenery/art changes often at this hillside of colored walls. Located at 11th & Baylor near North Lamar.

Baylor Street graffiti wal

2) Mount Bonnell — 775 ft above the lake, Mount Bonnell is a beautiful view of downtown Austin and more. Why does it seem harder to climb the 106 steps to the top now?! I never knew it was dedicated to Travis County in 1938 by a local family.

austin mount bonnell

3) The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria — The sculpture park on the grounds of Laguna Gloria are filled with changing art installations by national artists. Love this new one — Looking Up — by Tom Friedman. It’s free to browse the grounds. Tours of the 1916 villa are $5. Free on Tuesdays. I remember attending the annual Fiesta at Laguna Gloria back in the day!

4) Zilker Hillside Theater — We joined tons of people at Zilker Hillside Theater Saturday night for the free summer musical, Hairspray. It’s dubbed the “longest-running free outdoor musical in the country” — since 1959. I enjoyed attending when I grew up! This show continues through August 15. Parking is $5. You’ll find free symphony concerts, dance performances and more throughout the year there.

austin zilker

5) Capitol and Historic Walking Tour Downtown — There is so much history in downtown Austin, from the Capitol to 6th Street. Make a reservation for a free historic walking tour of these National Register Districts. This would definitely be better when it’s not so hot outside! The tour kicks off at the Capitol and goes 10 blocks down Congress Avenue and then explores Sixth Street. The 19th century buildings are amazing, like the Old Bakery (1876), Driskill Hotel (1886) and St. David’s Church (1852). Tours are 9 am Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 11 am and 1 pm.

austin historic downtown

6) Austin Boardwalk — Last summer, Austin completed its Boardwalk along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. It offers amazing views back at the city. Just cross the Congress Bridge to access it from Austin American Statesman or near E. Riverside and Lakeshore Blvd. For years, this has been a 1.3 mile gap for walkers, bikers, and runners.

austin boardwalk

Living the Local Life

The most exciting part of our weekend was staying right in downtown Austin near the Congress Bridge. What a location! Radisson Hotel & Suites Downtown provided us an amazing lakeview room on the 11th floor. We got spoiled quickly with the scenery!

Radisson Hotel Austin view

Thanks to a special partnership, Houston on the Cheap readers can save 25 percent on the lowest available room rate and 50 percent off self-parking at this Radisson property. Read to the end for more info!

The hotel is currently in the midst of a renovation of guest rooms, which are expected to be complete by end of summer. I was excited to try out the Sleep Number bed, but it didn’t work as I expected! After a quick call to the front desk the next morning, the hotel staff helped get our bed back on track.

Radisson Austin

Our breakfast Saturday morning was onsite at Dine. My daughter said it was the best pancakes she’d ever had! In early June, the restaurant added a new chef and changed names, serving fresh American fare by Chef David Garrido. The space was renovated last year, and it’s a beautiful setting for meals, thanks to the huge windows and amazing view.

austin dine restaurant

We enjoyed the infinity-edge salt water pool Saturday afternoon. It was definitely a popular destination in the Austin heat, since there weren’t any chairs available for awhile.

austin pool

The hotel lobby is beautiful in its Texas motif and even offers a full-service Starbucks in the lobby.

Radisson hotel AustinOur schedule was so busy in the evening we didn’t get to head out to watch the bats emerge from under the Congress Bridge. Radisson is the perfect location to make that easily happen, though, whether it’s watching from the railing of the bridge or down the hill near the water.

austin bridge collage

Austin muralThanks to a special partnership, Houston on the Cheap readers can save 25 percent on the lowest available room rate and 50 percent off self-parking. If you’d like to experience this downtown hotel for yourself, click over to their site for this deal.

This is a sponsored post by Radisson Hotel & Suites, Downtown Austin. All opinions are my own.