As the temperatures start to (hopefully) settle into a more comfortable autumnal zone sometime soon, there are few better ways to enjoy some crisp September air than by taking a free guided tour of downtown Austin, seeing the sights and getting a sense of the town’s true history. Congress Avenue/Sixth Street district walking tours take place at 9 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, as well as 11 am and 1 pm on Sundays. All require a reservation 48 hours in advance but are free of charge. Afterward, pop into Royal Blue Grocery for a quick bite to eat at a sidewalk table, where you can soak in all the knowledge you’ve just learned about the neighborhood.
Downtown Walking Tours, every Tues, Thurs-Sat: see above for times
Register at least 48 hours in advance (for free) online
Austin is more than just the live music capital of the world; it’s also home — at least part of the year, anyway — to more than 1 million Mexican free-tailed bats. Migrating to Austin each March and typically staying through October, many of the bats give birth to pups over the summer, making their nightly display of flying out from beneath the Congress Avenue bridge even more spectacular in the latter months of their stay. That’s why Bat Fest was established nine years ago: to celebrate the weird, wild awesomeness of our furry friends in flight. With two live stages, 10 bands, 75 arts & crafts vendors, plenty of food & drink, and lots for the kiddos to do, it’s a truly unique event that shouldn’t be missed.
Bat Fest, Saturday, August 24, 4 pm – midnight
Congress Avenue Bridge, downtown (see website for parking details)
Cheesy goodness quite literally abounds this weekend at The Mohawk on Red River Street as a queso competition takes over the crunchy music club and douses it in deliciousness. Saturday afternoon, The Quesoff, as it’s called, offers amateur queso-makers a chance to go head-to-head with fellow cheeseheads in an attempt to win top marks in one of the event’s three categories: spicy, meaty and veggie. Admission is free, but if you want your own bag of chips to help you sample the gooey goods, it’ll cost you a five-spot at the door.
The Quesoff, Saturday, July 27 from 2 to 6 pm
The Mohawk, 912 Red River Street
Admission: free / Chips for queso tasting: $5
More than 100,000 people will descend upon the shores of Town Lake next Thursday evening to enjoy the sweet sounds of the Austin Symphony performing patriotic selections to commemorate the 4th of July,aka “America’s Birthday,” but a love of classical music likely isn’t the main reason: the performance itself will be held in a grand prelude to the city’s annual fireworks extravaganza. Though droughts have left Austin’s skies dark in previous years, this year’s rainfall levels have been high enough to warrant some fantastic fire overhead, so to speak. Frankly, there’s no better night of the year to enjoy a picnic under the stars (and stripes, of course) with entertainment courtesy of the fair city, its symphony and its favorite grocer.
Austin Symphony/HEB July 4th Concert Fireworks
Auditorium Shores at The Long Center, 800 W Riverside Drive
Performance begins at 8:30 pm; fireworks begin at 9:30 pm
For parents, summer always presents an insurmountable challenge: that of finding enough things to keep the kiddos occupied during the hottest months of the year while they’re out of school on summer vacation. Luckily for those of us in Austin, there’s no shortage of free and inexpensive civic events designed to educate kids while entertaining them in the air-conditioned confines of Austin’s museums and community spaces. And this year, as Austin Children’s Museum prepares to relocate to the Mueller development northeast of downtown, it ticks down its final months at its 2nd Street location with the Think:Do:Make experience, geared toward giving kids hands-on opportunities to explore the wonders of science and engineering. Divided into three parts — “Nano” (cutting edge science smaller than the eye can see), “Build” (design secrets of nature’s architects), and “Flow” (a playful invention launched by the power of air), the experience has something to fascinate kids of all ages as the heat blazes on outside.
Think:Do:Make at Austin Children’s Museum (through August)
201 Colorado Street
Adult admission: $6.50 / Children over 2 yrs: $6.50
Toddlers (12-23 months): $4.50 / Babies (under 12 months): free