We’ve already told you about some of the great restaurants in Austin and which quintessential Austin events to put on your calendar. Now how about some free things to do in Austin on the weekend? Well, we’ve got what you need with some of our favorite parks in Austin…and some bats.

Did you move to Austin recently, or do you have a move coming up? (Ahem, use Bellhops.) Austin’s population has grown 3 percent year over year for the past decade, so you’re not alone. With its year-round temperate climate, Austin is great for people who love to spend their time outside. And some of the best places to have outdoor fun is by making use of the public parks in Austin. The vast majority of parks are run by the local government and are completely free to use.

Below are four great parks in Austin (but we have to tell you about those bats first):

  • Watch 1.5 million bats fly out from under a bridge:

Watching bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue bridge from the Bellhops article "Four Of Our Favorite Parks in Austin, Texas (Plus Some Bats)"

Austin is home to the largest bat colony in North America. It’s estimated that over 1.5 million free-tailed Mexican bats live under the Congress Avenue bridge. One of the most fun things to do in Austin is standing along the bridge or sitting in a canoe in the river at dusk and watching as this insanely massive group of bats emerge. There’s an audible sound of millions of flapping wings as they fly out to feed during the night. And here’s a fun fact: It’s estimated that they eat between 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects…each night! Make sure you’re there late-spring through early fall since this colony migrates to Mexico for the winter.

  • Take your bud on a walk at Red Bud Isle:

Looking out on the river while on a walk on red bud isle from the Bellhops article "Four Of Our Favorite Parks in Austin, Texas (Plus Some Bats)"

Red Bud Isle is a 13-acre off-leash dog park on the northern boundary of Lady Bird Lake. It’s almost completely surrounded by water, which serves as a great swimming spot for dogs and their loyal companions, people. Around the park, there are trails to hike and the fishing is great. Along the southern end of the park there are hundreds of cypress trees, which have roots that are perfect for bass to hide in. Bring a boat, your dog, or your fishing pole and enjoy this outdoor oasis year around.

  • Snap a picture of Austin at the top of Doug Sahm Hill:

Walking up Doug Sahm Hill is a free thing to do from the Bellhops article "Four Of Our Favorite Parks in Austin, Texas (Plus Some Bats)"

Doug Sahm Hill is a park on the shores of Lady Bird Lake named after the famous Austin musician, Doug Sahm. In the middle of the park, there’s a large hill you can walk up and get an amazing view of the Austin skyline. It has also become a popular venue for wedding shots, thanks to the blanket of green grass with the background of the beautiful city of Austin.

  • Splash in the Liz Carpenter fountain in Butler Park:

The lightshow at night at the Liz Carpenter fountain from the Bellhops article "Four Of Our Favorite Parks in Austin, Texas (Plus Some Bats)"

At night, the Liz Carpenter Fountain lights up, creating an amazing light show in the middle of Butler Park. It’s a completely free and fun thing to do in Austin, TX. Take your kids during the summer, throw on some bathing suits and splash around!

  • Swim in the Barton Springs Pool:

People swimming in the Barton Springs pool from the Bellhops article "Four Of Our Favorite Parks in Austin, Texas (Plus Some Bats)"

One of the most fun and free things to do in Austin is swimming in the Barton Springs pool. It’s a 3-acre pool located in Zilker Park and is filled entirely by nearby natural springs. Because of the springs, it’s swimmable year around and normally maintains a temperature of 68°F. Historically, the springs were considered sacred by a local Native American tribe, the Tonkawas. The pool is surrounded by freshly trimmed grass on both sides, which is great for sunbathing and picnics. There are also lifeguards there for most operating hours, from 8:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m.

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