School is officially out and the long, hot days of summer are here. Considering Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World®, the live music season is only gaining momentum. With so many options for great live music experiences around town, it can be a little overwhelming to find the venue or event that’s perfect for the whole crew. To make it a bit easier, here are our top outdoor music spaces for families in Austin this season!
Editor’s note: Original post updated June, 2019.
Additional reporting by Christina Boudreaux.
Free Live Music Events in Austin
- Texas Radio Live, Guero’s Taco Bar: Stop by Guero’s patio on any given Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. (rain or shine) for the Texas Radio Live series presented by Sun Radio. Chow down on queso and tacos while local, regional, and national acts entertain as the sun goes down. Year-round.
- Blues on the Green, Zilker Park: Pack a picnic for this annual summer series, one of Austin’s favorites for over 25 years. Bring the kids, teens, pups, and friends to this massive community party in Zilker Park, but be sure to get there early to get a good spot. The schedule can be found here.
- Unplugged at the Grove, Shady Grove: Bring a blanket or arrive early to grab a table at Shady Grove’s annual spring/summer series. Enjoy music from local acts like Pat Byrne and Sue Foley under the twinkling lights and the towering pecan trees. Thursday evenings, check website for times and musicians.
- KUTX Live at Mueller, Mueller Lake Park: KUTX hosts a free music series at Mueller Lake Park Amphitheater. Browse the local food truck vendors for dinner options before the music kicks off. The unique lineup starts with a family-friendly artist, followed by an act for the grown up folks. Check website for dates and times.
- Festivals: Austin locals know there’s nothing better than a good music festival, and that goes for the kids’ events as well! Fun and creative activities pair with moving and grooving to music, making this an experience the littles will never forget. Thinking about bringing little ones to upcoming fall festivals like Austin City Limits Music Festival? Be sure to check out the kids’ stages. Children 10 and under are admitted for free, and ACL even throws its own kids-oriented event, Austin Kiddie Limits, packed full of music, crafts, workshops and more.
Free Live Music Venues in Austin
- Radio Coffee & Beer: This South Austin coffee house and bar certainly knows how to entertain. Radio hosts an eclectic selection of live music multiple nights a week, including a regular Bluegrass night on Mondays and a monthly residency by Austin fiddle player Erik Hokkanen. The kids will love exploring the lively yard and patio while parents enjoy a rotating craft tap selection and quality coffee brewed from Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
- The Midway Food Park: Grab a bite to eat and have a go on the outdoor playground at the Midway Food Park. This local food truck park is family friendly and packed full of musical fun on the weekends when local artists take the stage.
- Central Market, North Lamar: Many people may be surprised to find out just how well Austin capitalizes on the phrase Live Music Capital of the World®. But a visit to Central Market North is sure to solidify the title, considering this beloved grocery store also hosts regular musicians, community music events, and more. Let the kids explore the playground and park before grabbing a quick, healthy snack in the café and enjoying music on the deck.
- Cherrywood Coffeehouse: This cozy east Austin café serves up a family-oriented Sunday brunch, featuring mimosas for the ‘rents and live music from local kids’ entertainers. The free kid’s show starts every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Bring your dancing shoes because these weekend events are notorious for getting kids on their feet and dancing in the aisles!
- Threadgill’s World Headquarters: Hailing from Austin’s musical heyday (and situated alongside the site of the original Armadillo World Headquarters), the North Lamar location boasts plenty of Austin iconography. Stop by Sunday Gospel Brunch or any other weekend evening to get your fill of classic, home-cooked dishes while enjoying live music on the patio. One might even consider this an educational experience for the kids; let them flip through albums in the jukebox and check out music memorabilia, which weave together a tale of old Austin.
- The Wyldwood: This family-friendly venue has a little bit of everything. Live music, giant oak trees, BYOB and plenty of space for the kiddos to run around. Don’t miss this little gem just a little bit off the beaten path. Note: This venue is invitation only, but it’s easy to request an invite by writing a quick note via their home page. Shows do fill up quickly, so keep checking back for an opening!
- Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden: This spacious spot offers live music on both Tuesdays and weekends, and with food trucks and plenty of space to explore it’s a lovely choice for both adventuring and jamming with the crew. Check the link for weekly musicians and times.
- Ski Shores: Join this classic Austin spot on Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. for live music, a margarita, and some tasty cheeseburgers too. Bonus – there’s a playground for the kids!
- Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden: Pair live music with homemade sausage, craft beer, and ambiance aplenty, and Banger’s is the magic that happens. There’s room to run around and even a toy basket for kids, creating an ideal spot for every age group. Check their events calendar for a full rundown of upcoming music and musicians.
- Breweries like St. Elmo, Vista Brewing, Family Business Beer Co., ABGB and Celis Brewery are kid-friendly and often offer live music on the weekends and for special events. Check the links for the specific dates and times of each brewery.
Photo: KGSR’s Unplugged at the Grove. Credit Shady Grove.