Austin is one of those cities filled with fun activities for anyone and everyone—even if you're on a budget. Whether you're looking for some fun drinking or you want to spend a day in nature, Austin has you covered with some bizarre and other tranquil entertainment options for the best day ever.
Here are 9 activities under $10 you should try in Austin.
Chicken Shit Bingo at The Little Longhorn Saloon
Address: 5434 Burnet Road
For the past 40 years, The Little Longhorn Saloon has provided Austinites with amazing live music of all genres, a good time and one of the weirdest and most creative activities: chicken shit bingo.
If you had to do a double take on that name, you aren't alone. The popular weekly activity is a fan favorite at The LIttle Longhorn Saloon. From 4-8 p.m. on Sundays, you can make a $2 donation to buy your ticket and gather with your friends for the unique bingo experience. Once the chickens are fed and the anticipation for what is followed begins, the rounds of bingo start. Your ticket will have a number that will correspond with one on the table and if a chicken happens to do its business on your lucky number, you win a cash prize.
Cathedral of Junk
Address: 4422 Lareina Dr.
Hidden behind a south Austin home is none other than the Cathedral of Junk, a beloved Austin treasure. What started as a fun project for owner Vince Hannemann has become the talk of the town and a location for tours, weddings, parties and much more.
Hannemann started building his towering artwork in 1988 when he was in his 20s and has since collected some 60 tons of unwanted items, adding to the Cathedral of Junk. Adults can make a $10 donation to tour the Austin gem and kids 18 and younger get in for free. You can make a reservation to tour the Cathedral of Junk by calling Vince at 512-299-7413.
Zilker Botanical Garden
Address: 2220 Barton Springs Road
In the heart of downtown is a land where the grass is green and gardens don't fall short on the horizon. At the Zilker Botanical Garden, guests can tour around the different themed gardens while enjoying some sunlight and all that nature has to offer. The botanical garden has three garden themes: Taniguchi Japanese Garden, Hartman Prehistoric Garden and the Rose Garden, all offering different sights and peaceful walking tours. General admission tickets range from $6 to $8 depending on the time of day and a reservation can be made online here.
There are also free days offered for 2021: May 2, July 17, Sept. 12, Nov. 11 and Dec. 27.
Barton Springs Pool
Address: 2131 William Barton Dr.
It's no secret that Austinites cherish one of the most well-known treasures of the city: Barton Springs Pool. The 3 acre pool is made possible from underground springs with warm water temperatures of 68-70 degrees, making it a perfect place to visit year-round. The pool has been visited by locals, tourists, celebrities and all people wanting to enjoy a beautiful natural treasure within downtown city limits. Austin residents can enter the Barton Springs Pool for $5; entry for children between the ages of 1 and 11 is $2, ages 12 to 17 is $3 and seniors 62 or older is $2.
Address: 3505 W 35th St.
Since before humans toured the grounds of Mayfield Park, bright and colorful peacocks claimed it as theirs and haven't left since. Mayfield Park, home to over 20 acres of palm trees, brilliant gardens, koi ponds and as stated before, brilliantly eccentric peacocks. From 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., guests can roam around the park while exploring the historic buildings, running into peacocks and enjoying the outdoors.
Watch the sunset at Oasis Texas Brewing Company
Address: 6650 Comanche Trail Suite #301
Lake Travis has some of the most breathtaking views in Austin, and now, you can enjoy a cold beer and some sunset views at the Oasis Texas Brewing Company. From 4-6 p.m. on Thursday and 2-6 p.m. on Fridays, the brewery hosts a killer happy hour with a great view. Guests can order $12 sliders and beer tasting featuring a fried chicken slider, wagyu beef slider and triple threat pork slider plus a flight of 3 beers. If the extra $2 is a dealbreaker, you can try any slider and a beer for $5 during happy hour. Checking out Lake Travis during golden hour might be an activity worth doing every weekend.
The Congress Avenue Bridge bats
Address: Congress Ave.
Locals know that starting in late March until early fall, spotting bats during sunset isn't a surprise. Whether it's your first time seeing the Mexican free-tailed bats wake and start their night flight or you've seen it one too many times, it's a mindblowing and beautiful activity worth witnessing, sometimes more than one. The small winged nocturnal animals come out to play right around sunset. If you find yourself on the Congress Avenue Bridge, along with hundreds of other people wanting to see the magical experience, you won't be disappointed.
Address: 1110 E. 52nd
Halloween is far away but Carousel Lounge, a beloved Austin circus-themed bar will be reopening it's doors just in time for a fun summer. The oh-so-Austin and unique dive bar has been providing Austinites with quite a weird scene of circus-themed everything since the 1960s. Now, with the pandemic's end in sight, the bar will be opening its doors May 1 for a night of creepy fun, drinks and tons of live music. If you're not sold on the idea or being surrounded by clowns, you'll be happy to know its BYO-liquor, according to do512. Go for the experience, save on the alcohol.
Address: 6700 Burnet Road
At Yard Bar, you'll find yourself enjoying a cold beer while spending time with exclusively dog lovers, all while giving your own pup a space to have fun. For a $9 per dog entry pass, 21 and older guests can enjoy the afternoon at the outdoor restaurant while drinking $5 draft beers and soaking up some sun. Along with pup-inspired meals for your own four-legged friends, Yard Bar also offers human food such as burgers and sandwiches. So if you're looking for good beer, good food and even better—dogs, Yard Bar has you covered.
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For the first time since July 30, the seven-day moving average for COVID hospitalizations dropped below 50 on Tuesday, reaching the Stage 4 threshold.
At 49, the number is low enough to lower guidelines, but the city has not yet changed its Stage 5 status.
Austin has been in Stage 5, the highest level of Austin Public Health's COVID risk-based guidelines, for over a month as case rates and hospitalizations surpassed last summer's surge, the Delta variant targeted the unvaccinated and a younger demographic and ICUs surpassed capacity in the Austin metro. But with the seven-day moving average at 49 on Tuesday, it may be a sign that the third surge is beginning to end.
On Tuesday, 515 new cases were reported, down from a third-surge peak of 1,261 on Thursday, Sept. 7. Two days after the peak, Austin reported 1,000 COVID deaths and broke a daily death toll record with 23 deaths in a single day.
But while cases and hospitalizations are dipping, the city still has many factors to consider before dropping safety guidelines. Austin Public Health told KXAN Wednesday that key indicators including "positivity rate, the doubling time of new cases, and current ICU and ventilator patients" will need to be evaluated first.
The metro continues to have no ICU beds available as Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes says patients from other counties come into the area to seek care. Travis County saw 35 COVID deaths for the week of Sept. 17, slightly down from a peak of 36 for two weeks prior.
The lower hospitalization rate comes as Austin reaches a 70% vaccinated population, a number once thought to be needed to reach herd immunity. With the highly contagious Delta variant, however, many think that the new herd immunity rate is closer to 80%. But Austin officials have reported being "cautiously optimistic" as the moving average for hospital admissions slowly declined from their peak of 83.6 on Aug. 11.
"We're starting to see our case numbers decrease over time, and that is an exceptional thing to say at this point, but we're still cautiously optimistic," Walkes said.
Under Stage 4 guidelines with the Delta variant, APH continues to recommend limiting dining to takeout/curbside for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals and slightly lifts shopping and travel guidelines to "only if essential." Stage 4 continues to recommend masks for vaccinated individuals in social and public settings but now includes high-risk vaccinated individuals that were recommended to stay home unless essential in Stage 5.
(Austin Public Health)
(Austin Public Health)
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Austin's new police chief is former assistant chief Joseph Chacon, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk announced Wednesday morning.
Narrowing a pool of 46 candidates down to seven, then three, Chacon beat out Avery L. Moore, assistant chief of the Dallas Police Department, and Emada E. Tingirides, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, for the position. Austin City Council will still need to confirm the appointment come Sept. 30.
"I'm confident Interim chief Joseph Chacon is the right person to lead our City's police department to achieve results, build trust and transparency, and accomplish equitable public safety outcomes for all Austin residents and visitors," Cronk said.
Chacon, who was the interim chief for the past six months, will assume the position after Brian Manley retired in March and the department underwent scrutiny with a rise of murders and crime in the city. The Austin Police Department is also undergoing reform as a result of last year's Black Lives Matter protests that ultimately resulted in city council cutting and reallocating millions of the police budget. The department has additionally faced a staffing shortage that predates the budget cuts and was exacerbated by the halting of police cadet classes—classes have since resumed with a new curriculum at the beginning of summer.
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Cronk said the final decision was driven by input from the community. He said Chacon is committed to reshaping public safety and gaining the trust of the community—putting in the work to do so.
Chacon acknowledged APD is at a crossroads, saying its relationship with the community needs a reset and it the department will be committed to transparency. He cited a change he made as interim chief that releases video of officer-involved incidents in 10 days as opposed to 60, which he says is in line with such expectations of transparency.
When discussing the spike in homicides, he said the homicide unit has worked to solve most cases and hold those responsible accountable.
"We remain one of the safest big cities in the United States and this is in large part due to to the daily efforts of the men and women of this department who show up every day with courage, respect, professionalism, integrity and a heart for service," Chacon said. "They keep this city safe every day."
He also addressed the attrition rates at the department, citing that while officers are leaving at high numbers, people are also applying at record rates.
Like Manley, Chacon is an internal hire; Cronk said he did not anticipate making an internal hire initially.
Chacon has been in law enforcement for 28 years and was appointed assistant chief in Austin in 2016.
"I am extremely excited and humbled by this amazing opportunity," Chacon said. "Austin PD is at a critical juncture, and I am honored that the city manager is showing the trust in me to lead this amazing organization. I will be engaging our department employees and our community to make sure we are moving forward in the best way possible."
This story was updated after the 1:30 p.m. press conference.
What, you think the only thing there is to do at Austin City Limits is to watch your favorite artists? Must be your first time. ACL is more than just a dreamy three-day soundscape in the park—between sets, the festival has so much to offer that it's nearly impossible to get bored.
You're bound to have some downtime while attending ACL 2021, so when you do, make an effort to explore the booths, zones, markets and branded seatbelt forests—you'll be glad you did.
Ice for your Hydroflask
(Katrina Barber for ACL Fest)
Empty plastic or aluminum water bottles are welcomed inside the festival and ACL does a great job of keeping attendees hydrated, so there's no reason to buy water or waste plastic while attending. You have to bring the bottles in empty but there are several filling stations for water bottles located around the park. None of them offer ice, which can be essential during those 100-degree days. Head to any of the bars located in the park and ask for a cup of ice—bartenders are happy to part with it and you'll be cool as a cucumber!
Access to private lounges
Need a break from the never-ending sun? A snack that doesn't cost $30? There are private, shady lounges all over the park—some for exclusive ticket holders, some waiting to be discovered by even the one-day crowd. Take for instance the T-Mobile Lounge, located adjacent to the stage of the same name, offered patrons a wristband to access the lounge in exchange for a social media post back in 2019. If you're an American Express cardholder, the benefits are numerous: a lounge open only to cardholders and complimentary merch awaits those who don the card.
Free prizes, snacks and drinks
(Katrina Barber for ACL Fest)
With dozens of vendors on the grounds, swag is not hard to find. You might have to play a game, answer some trivia or post on social media to qualify but the free merch often comes in handy. Forgot a fan? A vendor has one. Need a bandana? Visit the Tito's stand. Lose your water bottle, sunscreen or earplugs? A vendor has you covered, so be generous with the Instagram tags.
The ACL Art Market
(Roger Ho for ACL)
Support local by visiting the artisans at the festival's art market, located in the center of the park. Artists from all walks of life and levels of success sell their artwork yearly at the festival, so you'll need space to store your new keepsake if you're planning to collect. Blue Lux, Austin Art Garage, Greg Davis and Futurgarb are a few previous attendees. You'll know you've made it when you stumble across the massive, colorful "ART" sign.
Clean up trash for free merch
(Katrina Barber for ACL Fest)
Ensuring that Austin's beloved park stays clean throughout the festival, ACL partners with Austin Parks Foundation for its "Rock & Recycle" program that offers a little something for everyone. Stop by the Austin Parks Foundation booth when you have some free time to pick up a bag, fill it up with littered recyclable items and return the full bag for a free T-shirt—that's it. Plus, you can be entered to win other contests every time you help keep the park clean.
See some interactive art installations
Each partner at the festival has something up their sleeves, often worth exploring. As ACL partners change, you're likely to see some returns, like the Honda Seatbelt Forest or the Bumble BFF Find Your Bestie Booth. In 2019, Honda gave attendees a colorful backdrop to pose in front of and a break from the chaos, whereas Bumble promised to introduce you to a new friend and gave out merch to those who gave it a go!
Lend your ear (or your wallet) to a good cause
(Roger Ho for ACL Fest)
ACL is more than just a festival—it's a time to raise awareness for local organizations. Stop by the ACL Cares area, where nonprofits and organizations gather to spread the word, and you're likely to find organizations like Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, SIMS Foundation, Austin Music Foundation, Keep Austin Beautiful, The Nature Conservancy and the Love Hope Strength Foundation, where you can register to be a bone marrow donor at the festival.
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