While the upcoming spring break provides the hope of relief and rest, the cost of activities could put a damper on vacation plans. Luckily, Texas offers all kinds of fun spring activities that will not break the bank.
From March through October, Austin experiences the Texas bat season. During Texas’ warm months, 750,000 bats visit and live underneath the South Congress Bridge. About 20 minutes before sundown, the bats emerge from their temporary home to hunt in the Hill Country.
There are pay-to-park areas at the Austin American Statesman that provides a free view of the famous bats in flight as they rise from the South Congress Bridge, according to the Austinot. The bridge itself also allows standing room to watch the bats.
Jacob Dondell, political science junior, witnessed the bats in flight by accident a couple years ago while biking home. As he passed under Congress Bridge, he noticed a huge crowd staring in his direction. He looked up and saw infrared lights shining on the thousands of bats hanging beneath the bridge.
“It kind of felt like a “Saw” movie or some horror movie,” Dondell said. “But it was so cool.”
Enjoy the festival without spending a penny with a South By Southwest Guest Pass. SXSW hosts free outdoor concerts at Lady Bird Lake in Austin for attendees with guest passes. The concerts are held on the largest stage at the event with over 50,000 attendees.
Emmanuel Galvan-Vasquez, exercise sports science freshman, has attended SXSW’s free concerts in the past. He said despite the concerts not being big, they were still enjoyable because he was not burdened by the cost of a regular festival ticket.
“The biggest benefit I saw was that I was able to buy drinks with my extra money,” Galvan-Vasquez said.
SXSW also hosts free, unofficial daytime events. These parties are typically sponsored and have previously headlined performers such as Kanye West and A$AP Rocky.
Rio Frio Fest
From March 14-17 in Concan, Texas, the Frio River will come to life with music and fun. Single-day passes are $20 and include live performances from Mike Ryan, Wade Bowen and William Clark Green. Each day includes concerts, activities, games and cookoffs.
This Texas-style festival includes wild hog sacking, tubing, scavenger hunts and crawfish boils.
Garner State Park
Just a short road trip away from San Marcos is Garner State Park, which lies directly on the Frio River. For $8 a day, guests can enjoy the river, food and a historic pavilion.
The Park Store, a short shuttle ride away, provides all kinds of river items from tube rentals to swimsuits and sunscreen. Paddle boats and kayak rentals can also be found on-site. Garner State Park offers freshly grilled burgers, ice cream and candy at their nearby restaurants and shops.
The historic pavilion, built in the 1930s, offers a large dance floor with concession stands nearby. When the sun goes down, guests take to the Texas Hill Country stone floor to dance the night away.
Texas Mural Road Trip
An easy and cheap option for spring break is a road trip across the Texas Hill Country in search of historic murals. Depression-era America brought forth Roosevelt’s Public Works of Art Project which employed 40 artists to paint murals on buildings nationwide. The art depicts the “American Scene” and was greatly inspired by Mexican art in the early 20th century.
These murals live along building walls from Kilgore to Amarillo. Some have been destroyed or painted over, but others have been restored and preserved.