- June 20, 2023

Free (And Cheap) Things to Do Near the Austin Airport

Have some time to spare before catching that flight out of Austin? Have no fear; there’s plenty of family-friendly fun to be had in and around the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Keep kiddos of all ages happy and busy (and maybe even ready for an in-flight nap) with this list of Free and Cheap Activities Near the Austin Airport!

Grab a brew and a bite
Hi Sign Brewing and Live Oak Brewing offer their own brews for the adults, outdoor spaces with plenty of roaming area for the kiddos, and delicious eats for all. Live Oak also offers disc golf. Catching an evening flight? Not a problem. All locations are open until 9 p.m. or later! Note – Food trucks are available at Hi Sign (1201 Old Bastrop Hwy, Austin, TX 78742) and Live Oak (1615 Crozier Ln, Del Valle, TX 78617).

Go Bird Watching
Not many visitors know about the hidden gem that is the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory (2210 S FM 973, Austin, TX 78725), but it’s a real treasure for animal lovers. Enjoy the duck-filled pond, stroll a nature trail, and enjoy time spent counting how many different types of birds can be spotted at this unique locale. The Hornsby Bend facility is open dawn to dusk 7 days a week, year-round.

Feast Before Flight
Craving some Austin famous eats before take off? Hut’s Hamburgers (across from gate 14), Salt Lick, (between gates 20 and 21), TacoDeli (between gates 23 and 24), and Peached Tortilla (Gate 16) are all popular local options with airport locations. Looking for more dining options in and near and the airport? Check out this list.

Listen to Live Music
Since it’s the live music capital, it’s not hard to find live music at the Austin airport. But the Heart of Austin (Across from Gate 10) is the place to be when there’s pre-flight time available. With 4,456 square feet of fun including a live music stage, café, bar, game tables, and ample seating, this ABIA favorite offers the best seat(s) in the house to see performances by some amazing local artists.

Heart of Austin, AIBA

Get Lost In A Good Book
Need a book, or five, for your trip? Bookpeople (across from Gate 11) is Austin’s famous and favorite bookstore. The airport location offers a café and plenty of literary options for all ages to enjoy.

Get a Ticket to Narnia
Between gates 12 and 14 you’ll find the Interimaginary Departures lounge. This commissioned art experience by Brooklyn artist Janet Zweig, intersects airport walls and a row of seats at a 7 degree angle. Answer a few questions at a bronze ticket machine, and find out which of 120 fictional destinations you will get a ticket for.

Run around before buckling in
Playgrounds, hiking trails, and outdoor adventures are aplenty in the ATX, and the airport area is definitely no exception. Barkley Meadows Park, Richard Moya Park, Southeast Metropolitan, McKinney Falls are all within fifteen minutes of the Austin Airport. Barkley Meadows (4529 County Rd 130, Del Valle) and Richard Moya (10001 Burleson Rd) are both less than ten minutes from ABIA and are great basic parks for those in a time crunch. But if time isn’t of the essence? McKinney Falls (5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy) offers waterfalls, picnic areas, and gorgeous trails, while Southeast Metropolitan (4511 TX-71, Del Valle) boasts a bouldering wall and ridgetop views of downtown Austin. Both are about 15 minutes from the airport. Note: McKinney Falls is free for kids 12 and under, but has a $6 daily fee for adults.

Grab a smoothie
Needing a healthy pick-me-up pre-flight? Mad Greens (Across from gate 16) and JuiceLand (Gate 7) are both great options for a smoothie, bowl, or nutritious snack during a layover. Both offer plenty of fun options for the littles too!

Zap Energy, Laser Tag Style
If there is plenty of time and energy to spare, the fifteen-minute drive to Blazer Tag (1701 W Ben White Blvd) may be just the ticket. This adventure center offers an arcade and the largest laser tag arena in Texas, so the longer the layover, the better for this one. Have a late-night flight? This spot is open 12 noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday!

Treasure Hunt
Skip airline pricing and ball on a budget just miles down the road. Perusing for last-minute gifts, or looking for a shopping spree that won’t break the bank? Look no further than Treasure City Thrift (2142 E 7th St). Discounted clothing, appliances, books, and so much more are waiting – just make sure all of the new finds will fit in your luggage!