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The more Austin grows, the more opportunities we have to get out and learn about our historic buildings, discover new favorite spots, and even learn how to make ice cream! Here are our favorite FREE and budget-friendly field trips in Austin.
Editor’s Note: This list has been updated as of August 2021. Additional reporting by Christina Boudreaux.
FREE Field Trips in and Around Austin:
Austin Energy Power Plant Facility Tours – Due to COVID-19 concerns, tours are not available at this time. Austin Energy usually offers group tours at two natural gas power plants in Austin, as well as a few of the utility’s district cooling plants which use chilled water to cool buildings. Power plant tours are hosted by Austin Energy power plant employees who provide an inside look at how electricity is produced and transmitted via high voltage power lines to homes and businesses. District cooling facility tours include an inside look at how district cooling works and the thermal storage tanks which allow Austin Energy to produce chilled water during off electric peak hours. To request a tour, email [email protected] Tours must consist of a minimum of five and a maximum of 25 people, grade four or higher. One supervising adult is required for every eight minors.
Austin Fire Department – AFD will accommodate visits to fire stations for small groups. No minimum number of visitors is required. Normal hours for station visits are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 6 p.m. To arrange a tour, contact the Public Education Office to schedule at least a week in advance.
Blue Baker – Take a tour of Blue Baker in The Arboretum. During this FREE bakery tour, kids go behind the scenes to learn about the artisan baking process, see how the equipment works, and get some flour on their hands by shaping their own loaves of bread. After each tour, Blue Baker will let the loaves slowly rise, bake them in the oven, and have them ready for pick up. A minimum of 10 children are required to conduct a tour, but groups of up to 20 children with adult supervision are welcome. Tours last up to an hour and they wrap up with warm, freshly baked-from-scratch cookies. If you have an interest in a bakery tour, please email [email protected] or fill out the form here. Location: 10000 Research Boulevard.
Bullock Texas State History Museum – All students and teachers in reserved school groups receive FREE exhibit admission and discounted group rates for films and programs. To be considered a school group, you must have at least 10 students of similar age, grades K through 12; be enrolled in an educational institution (includes organizations such as home schools); make a reservation at least two weeks in advance; and have at least one teacher/chaperone for every 10 students. Students and teachers get in free, but chaperones must pay $12. Additionally, Admission to the theatres at the Bullock cost $4 to $5 per student. Location: 1800 North Congress Avenue.
Colorado River Foundation and the Wilkerson Center for Colorado River Education at Redbud Center – On a Redbud Field Trip, students learn about the geology and geography of Texas, drinking water sources, healthy watershed attributes, pollution and the water cycle, physical properties of water, and water conservation methods. The program utilizes materials in both English and Spanish to support bilingual students.
The Redbud Field-Trip Program teaches elementary-school students and other visitors the importance of protecting our community’s economic and environmental lifeblood, the Texas Colorado River. Launched in 2009 in collaboration with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the program takes place at LCRA’s Wilkerson Center for Colorado River Education, a five-acre, riverside, outdoor exhibit space that focuses on the history and importance of the Colorado River. Registration for 2021 – Spring 2022 Redbud Field Trips can be found here: https://coloradoriveralliance.formstack.com/forms/yesregistration. For groups less than 36, please email [email protected] for more information. Location: 3601 Lake Austin Boulevard.
Governor’s Mansion – FREE guided tours of the Texas Governor’s Mansion are available Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. Tours last 30 minutes and are subject to availability. Reservations must be made at least one week in advance and no walk up tours are available. To schedule a tour, visitors can call the Mansion Reservationist at 512-305-8524 or send an email to [email protected] Read about Leigh Ann’s experience with the tour here. Location: 1010 Colorado Street.
Harry Ransom Center – Tours offer an in-depth guided experience of the current exhibitions, the Gutenberg Bible and more. Admission and tours are FREE! Your donation supports the Ransom Center’s exhibitions and public programs. To schedule a prearranged tour or to alert Ransom Center staff of your visit, click here for a tour request form or contact [email protected] Public tours take place at noon daily; 7 p.m. Thursdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Private tours can be scheduled to take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and between noon and 5 p.m. on weekends. Teachers can use this helpful list of special exhibitions to help with planning! Location: 300 W 21st Street.
H-E-B – Be A Healthy Buddy! is a FREE, educational field trip to promote smart food choices, good nutrition, and physical activity. Content includes building healthy habits, understanding portion size, making balanced meal choices, and the benefits of staying active. Trips vary in length and content based on upon the grade level of the participants. This program is currently on hold due to COVID-19 concerns.
KUT – The local radio station can accommodate many types of educational student tours which focus on specific areas within KUT. All tours are led by wonderful volunteers and require a reservation made at least two weeks in advance and are for groups of 20 or less. Tours are provided (with a prior reservation) during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For more information on group tours, please contact [email protected] Location: 300 West Dean Keeton Street.
LBJ Presidential Library – Effective August 9, 2021, the LBJ Presidential Library is temporarily closed. Guided tours are usually available FREE of charge, September through May, on weekdays to school groups with reservations. Guided tours generally last ninety minutes and cannot be provided to groups smaller than 15 or larger than 60 students at a time. Guided tour reservations must be made at least six weeks in advance. Start times for tours must be between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. School tours generally last 90 minutes. One adult, 18 or older, is required per eight students. If interested, fill out this online Group Tour Registration Form. Location: 2313 Red River Street.
Leander Fire Department Tours (Leander) – The Leander Fire Department offers tours to residents in the Leander fire district by reservation. During the tour, firefighters explain the equipment on the trucks so kids gain an understanding of the gear and learn about the role of firefighters as first responders. Tours are available on a first come, first served basis after approval from the on-duty Battalion Chief. To schedule a station tour, open and complete this request link.
O’Henry Museum — Temporarily closed. The O. Henry Museum is the former residence of William Sydney Porter, otherwise known as O. Henry, the short story writer who authored such classics as “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Ransom of Red Chief,” and “The Last Leaf.” The mission of the museum is to collect, preserve, and interpret artifacts and archival materials relative to Porter for literary, educational, and historical purposes. The museum usually offers free guided tours Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Location: 409 East 5th Street.
Texas Capitol Tours – Tours are generally 30 to 40 minutes in length and are available during the following times: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, from 12 :30 to 4 p.m. Capitol tours are conducted daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Easter. Reservations for groups of 10 or more should be made in advance by calling (512) 305-8402. Special group tours are also available through the Capitol Visitors Center. Check the website for specialty tour times, which vary by month. Read about the tour here. 1100 Congress Avenue, Austin.
Texas Military Forces Museum – Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The 45,000-square feet museum displays uniforms, weapons, tanks, artillery, aircraft, helicopters, and more. Admission is FREE! Adults must show photo ID to enter Camp Mabry. Location: 3038 W 35th Street
Williamson County Courthouse (Georgetown) – Tours of both the Williamson County Museum and the Williamson County Courthouse are available for school groups. School tours of the Museum can be accommodated with a maximum of 40 students per tour, but can be combined with the Courthouse and downtown walking tours for larger groups. One accompanying adult chaperone is required for every 10 students on tour. To schedule a tour contact [email protected] or 512-943-3856. Location: 710 South Main Street, Georgetown.
Want more FREE fun things to do in Austin? Check out these five museums where kids get in free!
You can also find FREE things to do in area towns like Cedar Park, Round Rock, and more here.