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Things to Do in Austin with Family & Kids

Ayesha Munir2022-12-15

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From its fascinating museums & vibrant tourist streets to themed parks & scenic trails, Austin has the potential to keep kids and adults alike entertained! While your kids would love the endless adventure sprees in Austin’s parks and museums, your teens and travel partner would have a lot to do at its tourist streets and scenic trails & bridges. Not sure where to start? Here is a list of 10 things that should definitely be on-theme for your next family staycation in Austin.

 

Cruise through Lady Bird Lake

Cruise through Lady Bird Lake

(Credit: Daniel Jefferson / Facebook)

Want to see more of Austin in less time? Consider taking a cruise along Lady Bird Lake – the epitome of the Austin lifestyle dammed-off Colorado River. Kids would love embarking on a cruise to take a ride passing through iconic places of the city and witnessing the city skyline from the water. Alternatively, you can also choose to hike or bike through the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail looping round Lady Bird Lake and take in the beauty of the lake lined with towering trees with Austin’s skyline in the backdrop.

Stop by the Boardwalk and immerse yourself in the beauty of the jaw-dropping view of the downtown skyline from this vintage point. Hop off the cruise to let your tinies enjoy kayaking or canoeing at Texas Rowing Center, Congress Avenue Kayaks, or Paddle Shack.

 Lady Bird Lake

(Credit: Lydia Teague Photography/ Facebook)

If you happen to visit Austin any time between March and October, don’t miss out on the unforgettable sight of bat watching of Mexican free-tailed bats swarming to their homes under the Congress Avenue Bridge with sunset hues in the background giving you a uniquely Austin feel!



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Get Wild-Life Experience at Austin Zoo

Wild-Life Experience at Austin Zoo

( Credit: Alexia Freeman/Facebook)

The zoo is the first thing that comes up in kids’ minds for a family vacation! Your stay in Austin shouldn’t go without visiting and letting your kids get an up-close encounter with animals here. Located on the southwest edge of Austin on a pleasant Hill Country, this zoo homes more than 300 animals of over 100 different species ranging from Bengal Tigers to African Lions, and from Galapagos Tortoise to North American Black Bears.

What makes this zoo unique is its mission to focus on caring for rescued exotic animals, and their rehabilitation and education. Here, your kids would not only get a chance to interact with these animals but also get insights about animal care & develop empathy for animals. Kids would love feeding the animal in the Dairy Barn, getting up close to animals here, and posing for some lovely clicks. Don’t forget to hop on the Austin Zoo Train and embark on a scenic 20-minute ride through the hill country.

 

Travel Back to Prehistoric Times at Dinosaur Park

Dinosaur Park

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Accompanied by young Dino enthusiasts? Dinosaur Park should be your next destination in Austin. Located 12 miles east of Austin in Cedar Creek, the park features a unique outdoor Dino Museum with realistic life-size dinosaur exhibits ranging in size from as small as 2 feet to as large as 123 feet. Kids would be awestruck by the size & skin color variations of these Dino exhibits. Click some candid shots of your kids having fun with Dinos.

Head to the Dino Dig where your little peeps would love unearthing some life-size fossils. Take a walk along the famous ‘Trail of Giant Dinos’ where kids would live implants of huge Dino sculptures peeking through the trees, giving a near-to-reality glimpse of how dinosaurs would have looked in their natural settings centuries ago. Don’t forget to buy some souvenirs from the Dinosaur Store to please the Dino-lovers back home!

Take a Governance Lesson at Texas Capitol

Texas Capitol

(Credit: Texas State Capitol/ Facebook)

Texas Capitol – the seat of Texan government – is a good place to teach your kids fundamentals of politics & governance. With its Italian Renaissance Revival architecture, the Capitol is located atop a hill, providing a rich sneak peek into Austin’s downtown. It would be interesting for you to know that it is the sixth-tallest state capitol in the world. Take a self-guided tour through the Capitol’s potent hallways, and know about Texan history & legislature in greater detail.

As you roam around this massive three-story Sunset Red Texas Granite structure, you’d be awestruck by its elegant and ornate details. From its brass door hinges to detailed handrails, you’ll feel like each & everything is telling you tales of the bygone times. Brief your kids about how governments work, make laws, and implement them along the way. Stroll through its lush green gardens adorned with shady trees, concrete pathways, the Ten Commandments Monument, and fountains. Don’t forget to shoot some clicks and share the royal legislative vibe with your social media friends!



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Go on Adventure Spree at Zilker Park

Zilker Park

(Credit: Kristin Kreisel/ Facebook)

Want a day filled with endless recreation opportunities for your kiddies? Zilker Park should be your one-point choice! Located in the heart of downtown Austin and spanning over 350 acres of land, the park has everything – live music, theatre, playscape, themed gardens, woodlands, sports fields, mini-train, botanical garden, volleyball courts, and much more. If you’re visiting on a sunny summer day, kids will love a refreshing & rehydrating splash in the Barton Springs Pool. Kids will also love climbing the moderately challenging Rock Island here.

Head to the Zilker Playscape, and watch your kids play while you spend some quality time with your partner. Take a peaceful respite at the Zilker Botanical Garden, and stroll through its constituent theme gardens including Taniguchi Japanese Garden, Hartman Prehistoric Garden, and Rose Garden adorned with towering oaks, streams, and ponds.

Trail of Lights

(Credit: Austin Parks and Recreation Department/ Facebook)

The Austin Nature & Science Center located in the western corner of Zilker Park is also a must-visit! Your kids would have so much to do here – nature walks, hands-on nature exhibits, fossils exploration, and much more! If you happen to visit the park in December, the Trail of Lights with more than 2 million lights, 90 lighted holiday trees, and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels would be a bonus!

 

Museum of Ice Cream

Museum of Ice Cream

(Credit: Sandra Gzz Q / Facebook)

Ever heard of the museum of ice cream? Austin’s Museum of Ice Cream is for real! Rejoice your & your kiddos’ love for ice cream at this unique, yet fun museum that has made its way to headlines & social media newsfeeds recently. Located in the Century Oaks Terrace, this wonderland of dessert-themed visuals has 12 installations dedicated to the celebration of ice cream.

Jump into the sprinkle pool, pick your ice-cream-themed names at counters in a room with exhibits of giant maraschino cherries hanging from the ceiling, express your love for bananas at the Banana Forest, click a perfect happy family photo in pink snowball frame, jump on the candy-themed elephants, and pose for photos through the Rainbow Tunnel.

With its colorful rooms, you would surely leave with a full camera roll – better charge your cameras well before you visit. What’s more? You can have lots of ice cream included in your entry tickets with a wide variety of flavors!

 

Listen to ‘Story of Texas’ at Bullock Texas State History Museum

Bullock Texas State History Museum

(Credit: Bullock Texas State History Museum / Facebook)

Located a few blocks north of the Texas State Capitol, The Bullock Texas State History Museum is Texas State's official history museum. Featuring three floors of exhibition galleries, IMAX® Theatre, Texas Spirit Theater, Story of Texas Cafe, and Bullock Museum Store – the museum is much more than just a museum. The interactive elements like faux bows & arrows, a life-size bison statue, replica of the Texas State Capitol statue, on the first floor of the museum will take you back in time.

Watch short films about Texan history at the iMAX theater here to enrich your history knowledge. Stroll through the Texas History Galleries portraying more than 13,000 years of Texas history. Photo Tip: the five cornered bronzed star at the museum entrance is a must-pose point!

 

Feel Lively at South Congress

South Congress

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South Congress (aka SoCo) is the best way to feel the authentic Austin vibe! Located on South Congress Avenue, the SoCo district is perhaps where the city’s heart beats the loudest. With its unique restaurants, vintage shops, aesthetic boutiques, cool bars, nerdy bookstores, and always live music, the rhythm of this road is going to get you. As you walk down this busy tourist street, you will not be able to resist the desire to pose along the huge wall murals like the ‘Willie for President’ mural. Enjoy a shopping spree along the way at the funky vintage shops that have a lot to explore and shop! Take a seat, give yourself to live music being played, and enjoy the randomness.

Refuel yourself with a dessert & coffee from vibrant cafes located down the street. Stop by the restaurants with Austin-specific interiors, and feast yourself with yummy Austin-made food. Head to the Congress Avenue Bridge to take in a beautiful sunset view with a city skyline view. Head back to the SoCo at night to enjoy the authentic Austin nightlife!



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Enjoy a Water Getaway on Lake Travis

Lake Travis

(Credit: middlenamecraft / Instagram)

Looking to get out on the water? Lake Travis would be your perfect lake getaway! Located in the Texas Hill Country and stretching for almost sixty miles, Lake Travis is full of things to do at its adventurous zip lines, serene spas, ponds, oasis, and restaurants. Start off with a splash at the Krause Springs or Deep Eddy Pool. Get adventurous at any of the five-zip line tours of Lake Travis – perhaps the longest zipline in Texas- flying over the blue waters of Lake Travis and offering ever-so-scenic views of the Hill Country.

Rent a boat or party barge and embark on your adventure over the Lake Travis waters. You can also rent a jet ski, speed through lake waters, and feel thrilled as you make your way through waves. Paddleboarding, scuba diving, and fishing are some other options to enjoy here. Enjoy some live music at the restaurants lining the Lake, as you gaze upon the beauty of its blue water!

 

Scenic Night Tour

Scenic Night Tour

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You haven’t felt the real Austin-vibe if you haven’t experienced the city’s vibrant nightlife! One hassle-free way to do so is to take a scenic tour of the city passing through its major attractions and iconic places such as the picturesque Lady Bird Lake, Congress Avenue Bridge, Pfluger Bridge, Bremond and Rainey Street Historic Districts, South Congress Street, and others! As you pass through the iconic Welcome to Austin Mural delicately illuminated with lights, you’d feel like some force is pulling you to get off, and post for some Insta-worthy shots!



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The Bottom Line

All in all, your visit to Austin is destined to be filled with cherished family moments and quality time with your loved ones! While in Austin, the toughest thing would be which adventure to choose and which to drop as you’ll never have enough of these endless adventures! Looking for some guided solutions on what to do on your family trip to Austin? Explore our guided and facilitated tours to the city & beyond! 

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