Top 50 Things to do in Austin

Austin has to be one of the most fun places to live!   And yes, the summers are hot, but there are lots of great ways to beat the heat! 

Below is a list of of some of our favorite places to go. Now if only summer were six months long! :o)

Last year, I also added a blog of the fun places we went. So, for most of the 50 items below, I have a link to my blog (if we made it there).  For each blog, I have tried to include some photos along with helpful hints and tips that we learned through our visit!  Enjoy and have a great summer!  
 Link to blog of the places we have visited!

1 ●Swim in Austin's natural springs and pools

Austin has a number of natural pools that are just perfect for cooling off during the hot Texas summers.  Since these pools are spring-fed, they often are wet when all other pools are dry!  Below are four of our favorites.

Hamilton Pool
Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole where Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone outcroppings to create a 50 foot waterfall. 

The pool's water level stays pretty constant, even during periods of drought. 

After cooling off in the pool, take a nice short (.6 mile) hike out to the Pedernales river for a change in scene.

Krause Springs is a well-known camping and swimming site located in Spicewood, Texas approximately 30 miles west of Austin. 

There are 32 springs on the property, and several feed the man-made pool and the natural pool which flows into Lake Travis.

Go and enjoy for the day or bring camping gear and spend the night!
Learn More!

Three acres in size, the pool is fed from underground springs and is an average 68 degrees year round. With all the beautiful trees, clear water, and diving board, this is certainly a favorite! 

Be sure to bring a mask and snorkel to check out all the fish life. 

Moss makes the bottom a bit slippery for young children and non-swimmers. 
Learn More

Blue Hole in Wimberley
The Blue Hole, spring-fed by Cypress Creek, has long been known as a beautiful and refreshing swimming hole in Wimberley.  

In 2005, the town of Wimberley purchased the land and has converted this spot into an incredible regional park.  The Wildflower Center worked with the city to landscape the park, and it shows, because it is just beautiful!
Learn More

2 ●Browse one of Austin's fine museums
Austin has a number of museums to check out!  On those incredibly hot days when even the pools seem too warm, a cool, quiet museum can be the perfect way to spend an afternoon!

Austin Children's Museum provides innovative, participatory exhibits, programs, and resources which encourage curiosity, creativity, appreciation, and learning for children. 

Your child will run from the moment he\she arrives until you finally pull him\her from the museum, all the while participating in educational activities.

Bullock Texas State History Museum

One of Austin's newest museums, the Bullock opened in 2001.  Learn everything you might want to know about Texas History, enjoy the special effects at the Texas Spirit Theater, or watch an IMAX production.  

Blanton Museum of Art
One of the largest university art museums in the United Sates, this art museum is fun for all ages.  If you are not sure if your younger children will enjoy the museum, check it out on a Thursday, when admission is free!

Texas Memorial MuseumThe Memorial Museum on the UT Campus is almost a museum piece itself: dim, cool, hushed, with four floors from basement dinosaurs to the glowing gem room and the top level dioramas.  Check out the dinosaurs, rocks, and digging area.  

Best of all, this museum is free!

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum
This museum, also located on the UT Campus, has recently been renovated.    Interactive exhibits give a complete look at the life and times of this famous president!

Texas Military MuseumThe Texas Military Forces museum in Camp Mabry is perfect for anyone mesmerized by tanks, guns or battles!

The main exhibit hall contains a variety of tanks, helicopters, planes and more that were used by Texas forces throughout history.  Some of the tanks are still running and are used in reenactments today.

3 ● Go fishing!

Fishing seems to be one of those lost arts with kids.  There are lots of Normal Rockwell paintings of kids fishing, but there are few kids who have actually been!  

I was a little nervous taking the boys fishing, but it has turned out to be one of my youngest's favorite activities. Check out my blog for tips and tricks fishing with young ones!

Southeast Metropolitan park
Southeast Metropolitan Park is one of Travis County's newest parks, located near the airport.  This park has a very nice three mile trail to get to a secluded pond.  It would be a bit far for a very young child and probably impossible with a stroller, but just perfect for a nine-year old!  And best of all, this park does not have an entrance fee.  

Also, the ranger told us that, since the pond was catch and release, no fishing permit was required - making this a perfect location for new-to-fishing families.
Learn More

Decker Lake (Walter Long Lake)

This was another lake I found recommended for new fishers, as it is frequently stocked.  The lake is far easier to get to then Southeast Metro (no hiking - you can park and walk 50 feet to the lake shore).  

However, it does have an entrance fee and I think it is less pretty than Southeast Metro Park. 
 Learn More

4 ●  Check out Austin's Weirdest: The Cathedral of Junk
The Cathedral of Junk is most definitely one of Austin's weirdest.  Plunked down in a very normal South Austin neighborhood, this structure is something to behold!

Since this is located in someone's backyard, you need to call ahead to make an appointment to check it out!

Gather a big group of friends, and enjoy climbing through the structure!
Learn More

5 Hike, Bike and Swim at a State or County park 

Pack up the car with bikes, swim suits and a picnic lunch and for a nominal fee, you can have a fun filled day!

Pedernales Falls

Pedernales Falls is located a few miles outside of Austin (about 45 minutes), but well worth the drive. It has one of the most unusual geologic structures in the area! 

The park has swimming (though none near the falls), fishing, biking, hiking, geocaching and more!
More info

McKinney Falls State Park 
Located in South Austin, this park has a 3 mile asphalt path for biking as well as miles of mountain biking trails for the more adventurous biker. 

There is a nice swimming hole, fishing along Onion Creek, plenty of hiking trails and a nice picnic area and a small nature center (open only on weekends)
More info

Reimer's Ranch
Located in Southwest Austin, this Travis County park is most known for its rock climbing and mountain bike trails.  

However, it is also a really fun place to swim and play in the Pedernales River.

It is often one of the least crowded parks around Austin, and a great place to visit on busy weekends when other parks are full!
More info

McKinney Roughs McKinney Roughs is an 1,100 acre park along the Colorado river.  There are lots of great walking trails, horse paths and an interactive learning center.  

This park also has a bunch of adventures that look like a lot of fun.  They have several different raft and kayak tours, including a moonlight float trip.  They also have a ropes course (both low and high).  

Unfortunately, due to their week-long summer camps, it looks like the only summer option is a Saturday night moonlight float trip :o(  During the fall, they do sponsor community days, which are open to non-camp goers.

6 ● Run through a Sprinkler park
Austin has a number of sprinkler parks to enjoy.  A great way to cool off, while running around!  Here are a few of our favorites!

Butler Park 

Butler Park is located right behind the Dougherty Arts Center. It has fountains with programmed morning, afternoon and evening water shows. It also has an observation hill overlooking Lady Bird Lake, a children's garden and a meadow.
Learn More

Brushy Creek Lake Park
Located in Cedar Park, this sprinkler pad is probably the most fun sprinkler park in Austin.  Very large, with lots of sprinkler heads.  But this pad also tends to get very busy!!

This pad is located in a wonderful park with lots of other things to do as well!

Pease Park Sprinkler Pad
Located in downtown Austin, this sprinkler pad is smaller than the ones above.  When we visited, it was mostly younger children, but it was still a great way to cool off!

7 ●  Visit the Capitol

Spend an morning or afternoon visiting the Capitol.  Start at the Texas Capitol Visitors Center, a free museum that has a lot of interactive exhibits, to learn more about the history and building of our Capitol.  Then head over to the Capitol for a free 45 minute tour.  Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the Capitol grounds under the huge pecan trees. 

8  Join the Splash Party at Deep Eddy

Deep Eddy is a wonderful spring fed pool in Central Austin.  This pool is a treat to visit at any time.  But on Friday nights, they host a "Splash Party". 

Enjoy family movies while taking a dip in the pool on a hot summer night. 

All movies begin at dusk and the regular entrance fee covers the cost of the movie as well!
Learn More

9  Listen to Live Music while the Kids play
This is Austin - live music capital, so it shouldn't be suprising that there are lots of concerts in the park. Here are a few

Blues on the Green Learn More
Probably the oldest and most well known.  For the last 21 years, KGSR has hosted Blues on the Green - an outdoor concert held every other Wednesday night at Zilker Park. Entrance is free, and parking is only $3. 

Concerts in the Park at the Long Center
Starting its 8th year, every Sunday night, the Austin Symphony Concert selections range from film scores and pops selections to jazz and light classical.
Friday Nights at Central MarketThe downtown Central Market has a great playscape and nearby pond to feed ducks. Always a popular site. And on Friday nightslocal artist perform a variety of music.

Saturday Night at Hill Country GalleriaLocated in the small town of Bee Caves, this outdoor mall has different musicials every Saturday night starting April 7th. While there isn't a playground, there are a number of fountains to play in near that music area
Southpark Meadows After Dark Concert SeriesFriday evenings in April and May.  The Grove has a really fun playground for kids of all ages, and also a few fountains for the kids to cool off in.  Lots of small restaurants have outdoor seating where the music and playground can be enjoyed. 

Music in the ParksHosted by the City of Austin's Music Division and Parks Department - this is a year-long concert series in various parks throughout Austin.  Check out their website for bands and locations 
Kvet's Texas Music Series
April through mid-May, concerts are held every Wednesday night at Nutty Brown Cafe

10 ●  Austin Symphony's Children's Day Art Park
Experience the magic of the arts at Children's Day Art Park. This exciting summer program features local musicians, dancers, storytellers, magicians, mimes and crafts people. 

Youngsters can visit the Instrument Petting Zoo (where they can see, touch and try to play the instruments), talk to symphony musicians and hear them play their instruments.

11 ● Fly through the air on a zip line

There are a few places around Austin to take a zip line tour.  We recently visited Lake Travis Zipline Adventures.  This is a really fun way to see the Hill Country!!

Children should be over 10 and 70 pounds.  

12 ●   Play mini-golf at Peter Pan Mini Golf

Peter Pan mini golf has been open since 1948 with two different courses and lots of old style mini golf holes.  

While some might call the course outdated, I find it very nostalgic.  

And finishing the 18 holes with a snowcone in the shade makes it the perfect day!
Learn More

13 ● Enjoy a musical

Zilker Hillside Theater
Learn More
Located just across from Barton Springs Pool in beautiful Zilker Park, the natural amphitheater is nestled among a grove of giant 100 year old Pecan trees and is home to numerous locally produced musical and dance oriented events.    

This year's musical is the Little Shop of Horrors.

Austin Summer Musical for Children
A great and inexpensive way to introduce children to musicals.  We missed last year's, but the year before the kids really enjoyed this.  I'd like to make it this year!

14 ● Visit an Amusement Park

There are a couple of amusement parks in Austin

Austin Park and Pizza
Go karts, bumper boats, laser tag, rock climbing walls, tea cups, little shot, mini-golf, moonwalk and pizza buffet.  Check online for inclusive specials

Kiddie Acres
Open since 1979, this amusement park is designed for children 10 and under. It features a variety of kiddie rides, food, and miniature golf. 

15 ●Pick some local fruit
Nothing tastes better than fresh fruit just picked, still warm from the sun.  They are a few places in and around town to pick fresh fruit.

Sweet Berry Farms
Enjoy family fun by picking your own fresh strawberries and blackberries at this farm just outside Marble Falls. March - April is the best time to pick strawberries and June is the best time for the blackberries, but you can come as early as May. There will be a spring hay-field maze in May and June while the blackberries are at their peak. The location also has goats and horses for petting.

Peach Picking
There are a variety of places around Austin to pick fresh peaches.  

16 ● Visit a Cavern 

There are many local options for caverns in and around Texas.  The caverns are naturally cool and comfortable, making this a great way to avoid the heat on those incredibly hot Texas days!

Longhorn Cavern  More info
My favorite cavern in the area is definitely Longhorn Cavern. Located in Burnet, this park features a Texas Hill Country wonder created over thousands of years by the dissolving and cutting action of water on the limestone bedrock of the area. 

Fossil remains show that many Ice Age animals once occupied the cave.  

Inner Space Caverns
Inner Space Cavern was discovered by a Texas Highway Department core drilling team in the Spring of 1963. While drilling through 40 feet of solid limestone, the bit broke into what is now known as Inner Space Cavern.

Natural Bridge Caverns
Located about an hour south of Austin, pan for precious stones, take the ultimate leap of faith from the Watchtower, go caving on one of the adventure tours or simply experience nature on the original Discovery Tour. 

17 ●Play a game of Laser Tag
Laser tag is a high tech form of hide-and-go-seek and tag for everyone from age 7 to 97. Players wear a light-weight vest and carry a futuristic phaser to "tag" opponents with a visible laser light beam and score points.

Blazer Tag More Info
Located in South Austin, this is probably the best location in Austin with a large multi-level playing area

Main Event

Located in North Austin, this location has bowling, a climbing wall, laser tag, billiards, glow-in-the-dark mini golf course and arcade. Look on the web page for specials days that give you access to all for one price

18 ● Swing into Camp Ben McCulloch

Located near Driftwood in Hays County, this privately owned campground hosts a prime swimming hole with a rope swing.  

After a rainy season, the river flows pretty quickly, so bring a raft and play by the river.  

The camp also has a nice playscape and tables for a picnic lunch

Entrance is free

19 ● Spend a morning at the Austin Nature and Science Center

This has been one of our families long time favorite summer places!  Located on the western edge of Zilker Park, the Austin Nature & Science Center is dedicated to the exploration of the the natural world.
The Center includes a Dino Pit for digging up fossil recreations, wildlife exhibits with rescue animals, a pond for fish feeding and many paths to explore.   

Bring native plants, leaves or bones to be identified, then turn them in to t
he Trade Counter to exchange for other items.   The counter is open from 10am to 1pm Wednesday - Friday. 

The center is free but donations are accepted.

20● Take a Hike
Austin has some great hikes.  Some hikes are best to hit early in the morning, before the day heats up.  Others have great swimming holes and are perfect any time, just bring along a swim suit.  Here are some of our favorites!

Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls 
This has to be one of my favorite hikes in all of Austin.  It is minutes from downtown and yet, hiking along the Barton Creek Greenbelt, you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere!  

Twin Falls is about a half mile down the trail head and is a great swimming hole.  

If you are more adventurous, Sculpture Falls is a mile further down the path and even more fun!
More details

Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail

The Bull Creek Greenbelt is a gem of a hike, located near 2222 and 360.  The 3.5 mile hike has lots of small waterfalls, gorgeous wildflowers and all sorts of critters.

The hike starts at Bull Creek Park on Lakewood Drive.  But a short hike along the creek will take you to a less populated area, where dogs frequently roam free.

Be sure to bring a swim suit and water shoes, as the trail crosses the creek many times, and the sweet water holes are impossible to resist!

Turkey Creek Nature Trail
The Turkey Creek Trail is located just outside of Emma Long Park.  The trail is a fairly easy and flat 2.7 mile hike, 1.35 out and back, that winds back and forth over Turkey Creek.  

This is a great place for dogs to run (the entire trail is off-leash) and for kids to catch frogs and pollywogs, dig with rocks, and do all the things kids do!  
More details

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
Wild Basin Preserve, located off of 360,includes 2.5 miles worth of trail in the preserve that are open from sunrise to sunset.  Bikes and pets are not allowed.  

This is a dry hike, so make sure to visit during the morning, or enjoy in the fall!

More details

21  Go Bowling

Bowling at the Texas Union 
More info

There are lots of places to go bowling in Austin but one of our favorite locations is at the Texas Union.  The kids love the black lights and disco ball. Plus the lanes seem reasonably priced, as does the air hockey table.  And it is frequently not very crowded.

Westgate Lanes
A family friendly location in South Austin, this location often has a summer card deal giving one day free of bowling for each day in summer (only cost is shoe rental)
Main Event
Located in North Austin, this location has bowling, a climbing wall, laser tag, billiards, glow-in-the-dark mini golf course and arcade.  Look on the web page for specials days that give you access to all for one price

Highland LanesLocated in North Austin

Dart Bowl
Located in Central Austin

22  View the Night Sky!
Austin has a number of other opportunities to check out the stars, sun or moon.
Austin under the Stars -  Learn More
In July, Austin Astronomical Society and St. Stephen's Episcopal School hosts their bi-annual event.  Free to the public, this event offers a full experience of astronomical observation, including safe solar viewing. Over 20 amateur astronomers bring out their telescopes for visitors to enjoy!

Wild Basin StargazingOnce a month the Austin Astronomical Society holds a star party a Wild Basin Preserve. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children 

McKinney Roughs Nature Park Held the fourth Friday of every month through August. Learn about the constellations and marvel at the beauty and mystery of the universe in this spectacular free program for the whole family. Bring lawn chairs, refreshments and blankets for comfort and enjoy this family event.

23●  Take an Ice Cream Tour

Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory  More info
A two hour drive east of Austin in Brenham Texas, this tour is well worth it if you are up for a day trip.  

This is a much larger scaled operation than Amy's, and fascinating in its industrialness!

Amy's Ice Cream
There is one place to tour an ice cream factory here in Austin - Amy's Ice Cream. Tours can be set up ahead of time for their Lamar locations.  The tour is $1.50 per child, and includes a trial scoop of ice cream.  Children can play on the nice playscape afterwards.

24 Rent a canoe or kayak or try paddleboarding

There are a variety of places that rent canoes on Town Lake, Lake Austin, and even Brushy Creek in Cedar Park.  The boys and I tried canoeing last year and had a blast.  

I recently had a chance to try paddleboarding, and they might enjoy that even more!  A chance to get wet and get some exercise!

25Tour the University of Texas

Tower Tour More info
The University of Texas has opened up their tower for tours.  We went up for the first time last year and had a great time!  The view is wonderful!  Reserve ahead, as the tours sometimes fill up!

Visit the Blanton Art Museum
My son's first grade class headed here there a few years ago and I must admit, I was prepared for a chorus of "I'm bored".  But the kids really loved it. There is an exhibit with a floor full of pennies, and lots of "bizarre" art that seems to fascinate them.  While it isn't hands on (and thus may not be appropriate for very young children), I think any school age kid is going to enjoy it!  Go on Thursday, and the museum is free.  What do you have to lose?

Visit the Texas Memorial and LBJ Museums
The Memorial Museum on the UT Campus is almost a museum piece itself: dim, cool, hushed, with four floors from basement dinosaurs to the glowing gem room and the top level dioramas.  Check out the dinosaurs, rocks, and digging area.  Best of all, this museum is free!
Across the street is the LBJ museum.  We visited this for the first time this year, and I was surprised how much my older son enjoyed it.  Perhaps not as hands on or interesting for little ones, but it is still worth a visit!

Bowling at the Texas Union More info
There are lots of places to go bowling in Austin, but one of our favorite locations is at the Texas Union. The kids love the black lights and disco ball. 

26 ● Enjoy the Aquarena Center in San Marcos

The Aquarium with an Endangered Species Exhibit, the floating Wetlands Walkway, Glass Bottom Boat tours and Hillside Nature Trails combine to give visitors a unique experience of the San Marcos Springs and the diversity which it creates.
Boat Tour: $8 adults, $6 children

27 ●Spend a day in West Austin

All located very close to one another are three fun places to explore.  Pack a lunch, and plan to spend the day in West Austin...

Climb Mount Bonnell
More info
Always a fun and free thing to do - climb the steps at Mount Bonnell,  take a quick hike along the ridge and enjoy one of the best views in Austin (though, admittedly, not as good as it use to be, since construction of the house beside it!)
See the Peacocks at Mayfield Park More info
Known for the many peacocks wandering the property, this park also features art installations, hiking trails, and a historic cottage that can be rented for parties.  

There is also a great hike behind the property!

Visit Laguna Gloria
Austin's Museum of Art, Laguna Gloria presents eight to ten exhibitions a year, most of which focus on American art since 1900.  

28 ● Visit Brushy Creek Lake Park More info
Brushy Creek Lake Park is a 90-acre park located in Cedar Park that offers active and natural resource-based recreational opportunities.

Facilities include a playground and  water playscape, hike and bike trail and a 38-acre lake.
One day this summer we will pack up the bathing suits and bikes and head down to the Brushy Creek Sprinkler Park and let the kids splash around. 

29 ● Go to the Beach

The Gulf is probably too far a drive to visit for the day, but there are a couple of lake beaches in Austin.  While they tend more toward gravel or mud then sand, they still are perfect for a hot day!

Westlake Beach This privately owned park has a shaded picnic area, marina, concession stand, diving platform, playground, showers, and beach and water volleyball. 

Lake Georgetown Beach Russell Park on the lake has a washed pebble beach with ten shelters. The lake also has hiking trails, group shelters and camping.

Emma Long Beach Located 6.2 miles off FM 2222 on City Park Road. The park is on the shores of Lake Austin, and consists of a total of 1150 acres, 70 of which are developed. Emma Long Park has a designated swimming area in Lake Austin and has a large sandy beach. A nice hike begins right outside the park alongside Turkey Creek.
Learn More

30  Visit the Zoo

There are plenty of zoos in and around Austin.  There is the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary located in southwest Austin.  

If you drive a bit further, you can visit the Capitol of Texas Zoo in Bastrop, a short drive southeast of Austin.

Slightly longer drives will bring you to the San Antonio Zoo and the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco.

31 Climb at the Austin Rock Gym

Austin's only indoor rock-climbing facility has up to 30 foot-tall textured climbing walls featuring fun, thought-provoking routes for every ability. With almost 10,000 sq./feet of climbing, a large lead climbing area and a huge bouldering cave. There is plenty of climbing for all ages and all experience levels.

32 Explore Zilker Metropolitan Park

More Info
Zilker Park, located in downtown Austin, is Austin's central park.  This is the location of many of Austin's outdoor events.  

However, even with no event going on, this park is a great place to hang out and have fun.  Nestled between Town Lake to the north and Barton Springs to the south, there is a plethora of things to keep a family busy. 

Ride the Zilker Zephyr
Running through the whole park is the Zilker Zephyr, a miniature train that rides arounds the perimeter of the park and under two tunnels, perfect for the younger crowd.

Dive into Barton Springs Pool More info
Three acres in size, the pool is fed from under ground springs and is on average 68 degrees year round. With all the beautiful trees, clear water, and diving board, this is certainly a favorite!  Be sure to bring a mask and snorkel to check out all the fish life.  Moss makes the bottom a bit slippery for young children and non-swimmers.  

Zilker Botanical Garden More info
Located on 30 acres in downtown Austin, this park has many "themed" gardens including a rose garden, pre-historic garden and native gardens.  

While this park is quieter in nature than many others, it is still a fun place for kids who like to explore!

Play at Zilker Playground

Zilker Park has a wonderful large playground, complete with a fire engine to climb on.  It also has the Zilker Zephyr, a mini train that takes tours around the park.  Located on the premise is Barton Springs Pool, some of the coldest water in Texas!  Also in the park is the Austin Nature Center Splash exhibit, with a quick walk-though hands on demonstration about the Edwards Aquifer.  Learn More

Take the dogs to Barking Springs
Just downstream of Barton Springs, the fence line ends and the waters from Barton Springs pour out from the pool and return to the river.  

This small area is perfect for those four legged creatures uninvited to the main pool.

33 Check out a free movie

Both Alamo Drafthouse and the Regal Entertainment Group theatres offer free mid-week summer movies. 

34 Go to a water park

Volente Beach  
Located in Volente, Texas, this water park has four fun slides, a pirate ship for little ones, a pool with water volley ball and an obstacle course... enough to keep anyone entertained for a couple of hours!  Right now, Lake Travis' water level is so low that there isn't really a 'beach' at Volente Beach, but the other attractions are enough to make this place a favorite.  Check for coupons online, or purchase tickets at Randall's for $5 off.
More info

Schlitterbahn In New Braunfels; 65 acres of slides, pools, inner tube floats, an uphill coaster, kiddie parks, and high-tech water rides, all located on the banks of the spring-fed Comal River. Voted America's Number One water park for three years straight

35 Go Letterboxing or Geocaching More info

Letterboxing is a combination of treasure hunt and hike. Each letterbox has a locations, and then clues on how to find it. What better way to get the kids outside and active, while having them practicing their puzzle solving and reading skills! I have listed many letterbox sites that located at some of my top places to visit. But, to get the whole list of letterboxes, and an overview of how it all works, go to

Geocaching is very similar, but you need a GPS (though iPhone has an app that works!) Go online to find a location, and then head out!
36 ● Check out the Library Program
Every year, the Austin Public Library has a great summer program, full of puppet shows, story times, mad science and more. 

37  Take a Day Trip to Bastrop
Dinosaur Park Travel back in time as you walk along twelve life-size dinosaur replicas on display throughout nature trails. These statues range in size from the 6-foot long Velociraptor to the 40-foot long T-Rex; with additional Dinos to come in the future!  The visit to the park only takes an hour or so, so follow it with a Swim and Picnic Lunch at Lake Bastrop South Shore $5 per person 

Lake Bastrop

38 Ride your bike at the Veloway

The Veloway in southwest Austin's first trail exclusively for bicycles and rollerblading, making it the perfect place for young bikers.  

No worries about cars pulling out, and if you have two children who ride at different speeds, it is pretty easy to coordinate a hook-up (there are multiple length routes, the longest is 3.1 miles) 

39 ● Take a Trip into the Past

Pioneer Farms Located in North Austin, the farm has five themed historic areas to explore: an 1840s Tonkawa Encampment, an 1860s German Immigrant Farm, an 1870s Texian Farm, an 1880s Cotton Planters Farm and an 1890s Sprinkle Corner rural village.  They have many scheduled activities, so check out their calendar.  
Sauer Beckmann Farm
Located about 50 miles west of Austin, Sauer Beckmann Farm is a living history farm where costumed interpreters carry out the day-to-day activities of a turn-of-the-century Texas-German farm family. 
Note: We checked Pioneer Farms a couple of times, and the boys have always had a great time.  We went to Sauer Beckmann Farm on a field trip, and were a little disappointed.  For the long drive, I don't think they have as much as Pioneer Farms, but if it is on your way, it is definitely worth a stop!

40  Go Skating 

Whether it is ice skating or roller skating, this is a great way to escape the middle of summer Texas heat!
Chapparal Ice
Visit one of the few (maybe only) ice skating rinks in Austin Texas.  Chapparal Ice is a family-owned business that seeks to share their passion for ice-skating with the Austin community.
Playland Skate Center More info

41Enjoy Nature Nights at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The Wildflower Center features amazing wildflowers, incredible native plant gardens, award-winning architecture and beautiful Hill Country trails.  Run up the observation tower, for a great view of Southwest Austin, stroll through the butterfly garden, or explore a forest trail. 

On Thursday evenings beginning June 21st, the Wildflower Center teams up with HEB for Nature Nights.   Each evening features interactive presentations, hikes with experts in their fields, and nature crafting for kids of all ages.  Subjects include Butterflies, Humming Birds, Birds of Prey and more!  Admission is free! 
More info

42 ● Cheer on the Round Rock Express
Grab a cheap seat on the berm, let the kids play at the playground, and schedule your trip on a night when they have fire works.  Throw in some cheese fries, and it sounds like the perfect evening!

43 ●  Watch the Congress Street Bats
The bats under the Congress Street Bridge are always entertaining.  Bring a blanket, and enjoy the dusk show.
For a longer distance (but more natural) bat visit, we'd like to get down to Mason Texas, where the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve is located.  During the summer they have tours Thursday through Sunday from 6pm - 9pm.
Also, every year Austin hosts the Austin Bat Fest on Saturday August 21st featuring children's activities, arts and crafts, music and, of course, bat watching.
More info

44 Take the dogs to Red Bud Isle
If you have dogs, this is a great place to go.  The island is an off-leash dog park on a small Town Lake island, just below Tom Miller Dam in Austin, Texas.   There are numerous open play areas, lots of shade and plenty of paths to the water where dogs can access the lake to swim.   Strolls through the woods are common, along with dogs running, people kayaking and fishing.
More info

45Discover Dinosaur Tracks in Leander
There isn't much cooler than seeing actual dinosaur tracks along a riverbed. And a short hike off the road in Leander can bring you to some pretty clear tracks - not roped off or anything - just lying there smack in the middle of a creek bed! 

There is one set of fossilized dinosaur footprints on the downstream side of the bridge, and another on the opposite side of the creek. The one set of tracks are from a sauropod, and the other is speculated to have been from a very rare carnivorous dinosaur called an Acrocanthosaurus. Only four sets of this dinosaur’s skeletal remains have ever been found and they were in Texas and Oklahoma. They probably traveled in packs, but these tracks in particular don’t indicate that.

These dinosaurs are thought to have walked by the creek bed in Leander more than 100 million years ago.

46Check out a different pool!
There are lots of really fun pools in and around Austin, and most of them have very low admission fees. For a change of pace, make a plan to try a new one!

Rock n River Aquatic Pool in Round Rock More info
A newer pool in Round Rock, this swim center includes a fun water plascape, two large slides (for those over 48 inces), a baby area and a lazy river with tubes. Most areas are are less than 4 feet, so this is a great place for younger children!  

Deep Eddy Pool  The huge shallow end, cool water, and massive cottonwood trees make this place a family favorite. Lap swimmers have their own pool, so the kids can frolic to their heart's content without getting in the way of the serious swimmers. Evening in Summer they show a movie for a fun experience!

Lakeway Pool The city of Lakeway has a nice pool with a large water slide, lily pad crossing and shallow area for young children

Mentzer Pool in Pflugerville The pool features a slide and other interactive water features. Other amenities at the park include a hike and bike trail, basketball court, bocce ball court, sand volleyball court, picnic shelter, barn, pond and nature trail, and an orchard. 
Garrison Pool More info Garrison Pool, located in Garrison District Park, is a great old pool in South Austin - and it is one of the few public pools that still have a diving board. There is a small fee for using the pool.

Micki Krebsbach Pool in Round Rock A perfect pool for young children with a huge mushroom waterfall, animals that squirt water, and a cement beach. For older children, there is a water slide and an obstacle type course.

Stacy Pool This is the place to swim during cold weather. Heated by a natural warm spring, this pool has been around since it was built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. 
Quarry Splash Pad in Williamson County

Just opened this year in the Southwest Regional Park, this looks like a fun way to spend an afternoon for smaller children. The park includes water cannons, waterfalls and water jets.

47 ● Go Jumping at a Trampoline Indoor Park
There are a number of trampoline parks in Austin. We recently visited Jump City in Cedar Park. This park has a number of 50 foot long tramploines, trampoline dodgeball, a tube hill, nerf pit with rope swing, mechanical bull and maze. A wonderful way to beat the heat!
Learn More

48 Pinballz
Pinballz Arcade and Mikki’s Replay CafĂ© is a family-run, family friendly arcade with the largest number of pinball machines in Texas!!! The arcade offers a massive 13000 square feet of pinball machines, classic and new video arcade games, shooting games, driving games, instant prize and ticket redemption games, air hockey, basketball, skeeball, touch screens, cocktail tables! 
49 Play a round of Disc Golf
Austin currently has 4 dics golf parks, with some more in surrounding towns.  This is a great way to spend an early morning or evening.  Pick up a few discs at a local sports store, find the nearest park, and enjoy.  Because so many of the holes are so long, we usually make a "kid's box", for the boys to shoot from, otherwise they get discouraged... 

50 Paint your own Pottery
There are a number of places in Austin to paint your own pottery.  The way these places work, you pick out a ceramic piece (typicall between $8 and $14) and pay for it (so no hourly fees).  They provide the paints and working space. When you have finished your piece, you leave it with the shop to fire it, and then return in a week or so to pick up your finished piece.  A fun way to spend an hour in the summer outside of the hot sun!
Cafe Monet Three locations, one in Westgate, another in The Triangle and a new studio in San marcos
Art Attack Located in the Galleria, this location also has glass fusing and mosaics.  It also looks like this location does charge a studi fee, so call in advance for pricing info!
Ceramic Bayou Claims to be the original paint your own pottery studio in Austin, this studio is located on Bee Caves Road


Annemarie said...

Thank you for visiting this page. If you have a favorite place that isn't listed here, please let me know by leaving a comment below!!

Kelly said...

I just came across this list, wow! I'm pinning it now. :)

Blissfulfour said...

I used to live in Austin in college and love going back with my kids to visit friends. This is such a great list and I am going to use it on our upcoming visit! We love riding the Zilker Zepher and playing at Zilker park when the kids need to get some energy out!

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Thomas Hardy said...

What a great list! I'd have to add some of the great coffee shops and breakfast taco places, like Houndstooth Coffee or Juan in a million.

Great list of things to do in Austin!

Anne S said...

Just moved to town and am so happy to find this! We have two weeks of summer vacation left and we are going to take advantage of this list! Thank you!

Joan Marie MacCoy said...

You guys have no horseback riding on here! I think the quintessential Texan experience is riding a horse. accommodates children of all ages as well as special needs riders.

Austin Sailboat Rentals said...

can you add Austin Sailboat Rentals right in downtown Austin on Ladybird lake? Great for kids and families! Visit website at and their Facebook page with tons of pictures and videos. 5 star customer ratings on both Trip Advisor and Yelp.

Shay Reynolds said...

Take a historical tour of Austin on a Segway.

Gliding Revolution, Austin Segway Tours

Anonymous said...

Add top golf!

Elaine said...

Austin Camp Guide has a ton of stuff for the kids to do this summer.

Austin Camp Guide

kate Mcclellan said...

Great list. I would add three things: Tour of KUT Studios (1st Thursday of each month, at 11 A.M. Signups are limited to 25 per tour), Elisabet Ney Museum and The Umlauf Sculpture Garden.

Skyline Houston said...

You have a really great list here. There is always a lot to do here in Texas.

Sree said...

Thankyou for the list and detailed description of each. Very helpful :)!

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