22 Best Things to do in Austin with Kids

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If you’re looking for a great family vacation spot, look no further than Austin, Texas. With plenty of activities to keep kids of all ages entertained, Austin is the perfect destination for a fun-filled getaway. From exploring the city’s many museums and parks to taking a scenic hike or bike ride through the surrounding hills and forests, there are plenty of things to do in Austin with kids, in this in this vibrant Texas city.

the city of ausin texas with kids

A Guide To Austin With Kids

Austin is an amazing city. It has been named “The Live Music Capital of The World.”

Many visitors mistakenly associate this beautiful city with the South by Southwest Music Conference and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. These two annual events are internationally recognized as the most significant music events in the world.

Austin is more than that, it is an excellent place for families to vacation.

Temperate weather, an abundance of outdoor activities, and the vibrant arts community are what makes Austin great. You don’t want to waste time on boring activities that your kids won’t like.

When you’re planning your next trip with the family you’ll have no trouble finding unique and memorable experiences in Austin!

Where is Austin Located?

Austin is the capital city of Texas. It is located in Travis County and is the 4th largest city in the state. The University of Texas at Austin is also located here, bringing in many students to the city from around the world.

If I had to describe Austin in my own words, I would say it is the “Playground of Texas.”

Austin’s location within the state has a significant impact on its appeal as a family fun destination.

Located in Central Texas, Austin is a little over 2 hours drive West of Houston and South of Dallas, which are the two largest cities in Texas. Austin also sits 1 hour east of the beautiful Texas Hill Country and an hour North of San Antonio.

These areas are internationally known for their food, wineries, art, culture, and outdoor recreation, and Austin sits at the centre of it all.

People come from all over the state to do fun things in Austin with their kids.

If you would like to know more about the area of Central Texas, check out these Best Day Trips from Austin.

Top kid-friendly attractions in Austin, TX

1. Hike at Mount Bonnell

view from mount bonnell over austin

Mount Bonnell is a popular destination in Austin for families. You will climb nearly 800ft and overlook Lake Austin.

It offers spectacular views of the city and is Austin’s highest point.

Note that climbing the 102 stairs might hinder those carrying strollers from reaching the top.

After climbing up, you will enjoy a panorama view of the lake as the boats sail by. You can visit the deck and pavilion before you descend again. The kids love taking pictures and eating outdoors, while the view is stunning.

2. Central Library

The Austin Central Library is a fantastic place to spend time with the kids. This magnificent, modern, 6-story building is a popular option for local children and visitors on hot summer days and rainy days.

The library has all sorts of resources for learning and fun, from books to movies!

One of the most popular parts of the library is their Children’s Center, where there are lots of toys and games for children up through age 12.

There are also computers available so that adults can work while their children play nearby. The library has free movies for all to enjoy on their big screens.

The MakerLab is a fun place where you can make all sorts of things with the help of librarians!

You’ll have all the materials you need for your projects, like recycled materials and fun tools that let you create music or even 3D drawings using wax; then, you can take home what you’ve made.

3. The Thinkery

The Thinkery is a hands-on children’s museum in Austin, Texas. It is filled with interactive exhibits designed for kids of all ages and interests.

Thinkery has 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor activities, children have fun while learning.

Their STEAM exhibits encourage physical, emotional, and cognitive development in kids of all ages. At the same time, their playful atmosphere will keep your kids entertained for hours.

Right outside the museum is the beautiful Mueller Lake Park. Kids can play, and families can walk the hiking trails and go to the farmers’ market.

4. Visit Texas State Capitol

texas state capitol building with trees

Take in the Texas State Capitol while visiting Austin! You will appreciate seeing the government house and learning fascinating history about Texas.

Families can also book a free guided tour at the entrance to the capital.

Tours run during business hours on weekdays. You can also take a segway tour outside the capital to admire the beautiful architecture.

5. Zilker Metropolitan Park

zilker metropolitan park aerial view

Zilker Metropolitan Park is a beautiful park in the heart of Austin. It has a lot of green space perfect for kids to play sports and outdoor recreation. You can also take a stroll through the gardens and get lost in the beauty of all the flowers blooming.

This park is downtown in the middle of all the action. So if kids want to burn off some energy and then go get something to eat, everything is right there.

Depending on the time of year, there are events and free music concerts in the evenings. So check their website for occasions when you are in town.

An extra bonus about Zilker Park is that it’s pet-friendly! So if your family includes one or more furry friends, bring them along too!

6. Lady Bird Lake

lady bird lake in austin

Lady Bird Lake is actually a tributary of the Colorado River that runs right through the heart of the city.

Modelled after the River Thames in England, the lake is popular with locals and tourists who come for a beautiful view of the city skyline.

Kayak, paddleboard, or enjoy the shaded running/cycling route and hiking trail. Visit Texas Rowing Center Boat Rental to get kayaks before enjoying these beautiful water stretches.

7. Austin Nature & Science Center

Austin Science & Nature Center is one of the best kid-friendly activities in Austin. This site has dozens of natural science-related exhibitions. Kids also get to learn a little bit about the native wildlife in Texas.

Take part in a naturalist workshop and explore the furs of animals and different plants. Children are sure to enjoy digging in the Dino Pit, playing outdoors, and learning a little bit as well.

8. Watch The Bats on Congress Ave.

bats flying over congress avenue bridge at dusk

Bat watching on Congress Ave. is an exciting activity for the whole family. Between late April and fall, thousands of bats flock to downtown Austin and live under the bridge.

See the bats from their viewpoint in the Statesman Bat Observation Center near Congress Avenue Bridge.

Right at sunset, little ones are captivated watching thousands of bats ascending from under the bridge all at once. Bat tours can be obtained by local suppliers such as Lone Star Riverboat and Captain Cruises.

You can also take a sunset kayak tour to view the bats.

9. Texas Memorial Museum

The Texas Memorial Museum is a science museum that is home to a wide range of exhibits perfect for kids of all ages.

The DinoLand exhibit is home to several different types of dinosaur fossils and life-size dinosaur replicas that kids will love!

The Hall of Paleontology has tons of exciting items perfect for visitors interested in history and science. When visiting this museum, make sure you get an audio tour.

They also feature a planetarium where they put on weekly shows, so there’s always something fun going on at the museum.

10. UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum

Umlauf Sculpture Gardens & Museum is an outdoor museum that offers curated art and architecture in Austin.

There are 58 sculptures by American artist Charles Umlauf that decorate a charming walking path through the garden. Various sculptures are also scattered through museums or outside sculpture gardens.

The UMLAUF sculpture garden is located adjacent to Zilker Park in Austin. It is a fantastic place to spend a day filled with family activities in Austin. Over six acres, the sculpture garden contains several prominent galleries.

11. Zilker Botanical Gardens

zilker botanical gardens waterfall

The Zilker Botanical Garden is called the “Jewel of Downtown Austin.” The kids can explore 28 acres of themed gardens, which includes Taniguchi Japanese Garden, Hartman Prehistoric Garden, and Rose Garden.

In some areas, the kids can see schools of colourful fish.

Make sure you check the calendar before acquiring tickets, as the gardens offer several free days each week.

12. Inner Space Cavern

Inner Space Cavern is a 10,000-year-old cave discovered in 1963 by the Texas Highway Department core drilling team. Since then, it has been opened to the public for its beauty and preservation of ancient history dating back tens of thousands of years ago!

Inner Space Cavern is a popular attraction for kids and adults alike! The cavern has excellent features, including stalagmites, flowstone formations, and long-prop pools.

There are also three different types of cave rooms to explore: the Cathedral Room with its soaring ceiling; the Hall of Columns with its columns that go up 3 floors; and the Palace Room where you can see some excellent detailed work ceilings.

13. Museum of the Weird

The Museum of the Weird is precisely what you would think it to be, and it is a place where people can go and see all sorts of things that they may not have ever seen before.

It has fossils, mummies, cryptid movies, and even some snow sculptures in this little cabin of curiosities!

This place is perfect for families with kids who are interested in anything odd or unusual that might happen to them while visiting this museum!

14. Barton Springs Pool

barton springs pool in austin

If you need to cool off, Barton Springs Pool is located in the massive 358-acre Zilker Park in Downtown Austin. It features a magnificent three-acre swimming pool fed by natural springs with an ideal swimming temperature of around 75 degrees throughout the year.

The pool can be used daily, and its lifeguards serve between 9 am and 8 pm. There is a broad lawned bank nearby that is perfect for relaxation. 

15. Austin Toy Museum

When you visit Austin with kids, be sure to check out the Austin Toy Museum.

It is a nonprofit museum that has been in operation for more than thirty years and houses more than 5,000 toy-related items representing 100 countries and cultures.

The collections are arranged according to different themes. Visitors can participate in interactive experiences like running through a maze made out of giant Tinkertoy pieces or playing vintage video games.

The museum also hosts frequent activities for children, including storytime and educational programs.

Children can participate in a regular outdoor toy hunt with prizes hidden around the museum’s garden during the summer months.

16. Chaparral Ice

Chaparral Ice is an ice skating rink in Austin, Texas. The rink is located in the Northcross Mall and features public skating, figure skating, and hockey. Chaparral Ice is also home to the Austin Figure Skating Club and offers lessons for all levels of skaters.

This is a great way to have a little old-fashioned fun on the ice with the family!

17. Zach Theatre

Zach presents regular performances kids can enjoy as part of the Theatre for Family program. ZACH’s talented actors, musicians, and designers are responsible for creating a wide range of nationally recognized plays that reflect the area’s diverse culture.

Some shows are targeted toward children under 3, but some productions will fit older kids.

Suppose your child is willing to be involved. In that case, you can enrol them into a Zach Theatre educational program which includes courses, camps, workshops, and residence.

18. The Contemporary Austin at Laguna Gloria

The Contemporary Austin at Laguna Gloria is where famous artists find the latest and most significant art from modern pieces.

Their outdoor installations will make for incredible photo opportunities. Capture the city’s beauty but also show off some of America’s leading talents!

They always have something special in store for the kids. Children 18 and under get in free every day. Veterans and community members get in free on the second Saturday of every month.

Their events calendar has all the upcoming opportunities you’ll want, including interactive art activities when you visit.

19. Bullock Texas State History Museum

bullock texas state museum star

Bullock Texas State Historical Museum has some exciting activities for kids to learn more about Texas history.

The museum features an exhibit entitled The Belle Exhibit featuring an explorer boat from 1686 that sat beneath the water for almost 900 years. The recovered hull can be visited as an art museum.

There are a lot of fun things and rotating visits. We attended the “History of the Guitar” exhibit and saw an educational film in their Imax theatre. The kids loved it.

Check their calendar when you are in town to see what unique things they store.

20. Explore McKinney Falls State Park

mckinney falls state park waterfalls

If you want an alternative, family-friendly hiking adventure near Austin, see McKinney Falls Park. You can reach the city limits by hiking, cycling (mountain or street), and camping in the area if you are interested.

With almost nine miles of trail, families discover which path suits their needs.

The Onion Creek hiking and biking trail offers hard surfaces, making the path suitable for strollers. McKinney Falls State Park is a playground with fun things for children, and they are also able to explore and find modern treasures.

For something unique, try a smartphone to challenge older children to find geocaches near them or try a downtown scavenger hunt as a fun way to explore the city.

21. Austin Zoo

The Austin Zoo has over 700 animals and offers many different interactive opportunities for children of all ages.

Walk through the hedge maze or enjoy walking paths with scenic views of ponds, lakes, and wildflowers–and maybe even spot an armadillo!

The zoo features more than 1,000 acres of outdoor space. Visit the hiking trails on foot or by bike. You will have the chance to see different wildlife in the area, from prairie dogs to coyotes to deer in their natural habitat.

Take a dip at Splash Island! With its four pools (one heated), three water slides, spray fountains, and the “tot pool,” Splash Island is so much fun for kids of all ages. –

22. Kalahari Resorts

The Kalahari Resorts is a great place for families to have fun in Round Rock, Texas, 10 minutes North of Austin.

The resort features a 5-star hotel with an indoor water park. It has one the largest wave pool in America, a ropes course, and one of the largest indoor arcades I have ever seen, “Tom Foley’s.”

The Kalahari Resorts indoor water park offers an ultimate water playground for kids and adults of all ages.

The park features a lazy river, four-story tall waterslides, a wave pool, and a children’s play area to ensure everyone has a great time!

There are many restaurant options onsite, so you don’t need to worry about finding something good to eat while you’re there.

Conclusion

Austin is the heart of Central Texas. This article has listed the 22 best things to do in Austin, Texas, with kids, but we are only scratching the surface. The Austin area offers lots more family-friendly attractions for those who want a little adventure and enjoy some downtime.

About the Author

Jeremy Coleman, husband, father of twins, teacher, aspiring travel agent, and founder of the travel blog Texas Family Vacation.com.

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