The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Austin is probably beelining for some brisket at BBQ restaurant or attending a Too-Cool festival. Austin is more than just food and festivals. The capital of Texas is also a hotspot for family vacations and outings. Here are some of the things to do in Austin with kids.
1. The Thinkery
This is the ultimate destination for families that are curious about science and want to discover the “hows” and “whys” of life through physical and scientific experiments. The Thinkery is an innovative building that houses countless hours’ worth of fun activities including peering through a microscope, learning aerodynamics concepts, freezing shadows, drawing with light, uncovering the link between sound and water, or checking out the wide variety of story/picture books available at the Story Nook. The Thinkery also has something in store for those who love the outdoors. They have a space-age playing ground and a stream stocked with sieves and buckets for some water fun. Your kids will absolutely love this.
2. Austin Zoo
The underlying mission of the Austin Zoo is to rescue and rehabilitate animals in need. It is also a source of education for visitors. If you want to give your kids an up-close encounter with a variety of wild animals, then this is the place to be. The admission fee you pay will go towards saving endangered species and care of the animals at the zoo. The zoo has more than 300 animals on 15-acres. You can take a 20-minute train ride through the zoo to see emus, longhorns, alpacas and other animals.
3. Austin Nature and Science Center
Do your kids like getting their hands dirty? Then a trip to the Austin Nature and Science Center would make for an ideal family weekend getaway. The center was established in 1960 and it provides hands-on educational exhibits and recreational activities to help increase appreciation and awareness of the environment. It is located in the Zilker Nature Preserve and offers both outdoor and indoor exhibits. It also provides education programs in environmental sciences to schools and the Austin community. The center hosts family events every now and then.
This is the largest bookstore in Texas. It features three floors, a café, a quirky décor, and has been voted the city’s best bookstore several times. The kids’ area of the bookstore is particularly loved. It features a mini amphitheater that hosts storytimes. After a visit to the BookPeople, you can bet your kids will be smiling from ear to ear. This is one of the most exciting things to do in Austin with kids.
5. Playland Skate Center
The Playland Skate Center opened its doors in 1973. It has a 27,500 square feet skating rink, which is the largest in Austin. The center provides state of the art skating entertainment with a fog machine, great lighting, and an amazing sound system. Both kids and adults can skate to their heart’s desire in a safe, clean, entertaining, and fun environment. It’s the perfect place to have some fun with your kids over the weekend.
6. Texas Memorial Museum
Established in the 30s, The Texas Memorial Museum is the first science museum in Austin. The museum focuses on the natural history of the state of Texas. You’ll find over 5 million specimens that include dinosaur skeletons, gems and minerals, wildlife, and fossilized animals.
7. Pease District Park
This 42-acre park is one of Austin’s most loved outdoor spaces. The park has a number of trails that make it the perfect place to run, stroll, or hike. The park and the Shoal Creek Greenbelt are connected so visitors have miles of additional trails to explore. The park also has a shaded playground, a basketball court, a splash pad, and plenty of picnic tables big enough for a small family meal or even a big birthday party. You’ll also find a volleyball court and a baseball field where you can have fun all day with the whole family.
8. Austin Bouldering Project
If you’re in Austin on a cold day and are looking for a family friendly place to have some fun, then the Austin Bouldering Project fits the bill. It is the largest bouldering gym in the world with over 50,000 square feet of space. Kids of all ages can have fun exploring the huge facility and scrambling over walls.
9. Peter Pan Mini-Golf
This is the perfect place for a feel good, old-time type of fun. It’s one of the few landmarks in Austin that still retains that goofy, old school, and over the top look. Look out for a giant Peter Pan looming over the Barton Springs Road. You can have a go at a cheap round of mini-golf with your little ones. They’ll definitely love you more for it.
10. Austin Toy Museum
This is a new toy museum and is the place to ogle at vintage toys, retro toys, action figures, classic toys, and console video games. While the target market is largely fanboys and girls, the museum also caters to children and seeks to educate them on a lot of hands-on activities such as vintage video games. The whole family will have something to look forward to. This is one of the best things to do in Austin with toddlers.