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Not Everything Is Bigger In Texas: 15 Things To Do In Austin With Kids

Not Everything Is Bigger In Texas: 15 Things To Do In Austin With Kids
Verena
Verena
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We’ve all heard the saying that “everything is bigger in Texas”. Yes, maybe most things are larger, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to do for the little people in our lives (i.e. kids). Even though Austin is known for its beautiful scenery and weird nature, kids may not appreciate it the same way adults do. They need to see the city through a different perspective, through more entertaining and exciting activities. Don’t worry, the list below has got you covered on activities that cater specifically for children. And just because the list is kids-oriented, it does not mean that adults can’t join in the fun and enjoy family time as well.

1. Feed the animals at the Austin Zoo

Source: Wikimedia

Located just 30 minutes away from the city, Austin Zoo is a small non-profit zoo that works to help animals in need. Today, they have over 350 rescued animals of over 100 species within their compound. It is also home to numerous exotic animals—such as 4 wolf hybrids that were abandoned during a hurricane in 2008, and what is believed to be the extinct Barbary lion that was a private donation to the zoo. Kids can feed goats, deer, llamas, and sheep with animal feed sold at the Gift Shop for 2.50 USD per bag. Stroll through the zoo and find your kids’ favorite animal. There is also a 15-minute optional train ride through Texas Hill Country where animals can be seen along the route if that interests you.

Austin Zoo

Address: 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX, 78736

Opening Hours: 9:30am - 6pm (February to October), 9:30am - 5:30pm (November to January)

Duration: Around 2 hours

Price: 11 USD (adults), 8 USD (children) *Additional 2.50 USD for optional train ride

Contact: +1-512-288-1490

Website: Austin Zoo

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2. Explore the rides at Kiddie Acres

Source: Flickr

Kiddie Acres is an amusement park and miniature golf complex designed specifically for children 10 years old and younger. It features several kiddie rides, such as the carousel and ferris wheel, and an 18-hole miniature golf course. Since large theme parks like Six Flags cater few rides for little kids, Kiddie Acres provides kids with activities designed just for them. Your children will have a blast going on rides and exploring the park. While entrance is free, tickets must be purchased for rides that require a specific number of tickets each. Tickets are sold individually, and in packages of 10, 25, or 100. Buy a package for a better deal on the tickets.

Kiddie Acres

Address: 4800 W Howard Lane, Austin, TX 78728-6304

Opening Hours: 10am - 6pm (Tuesday to Friday), 10am - 7pm (Saturday) [April to October]; 12pm - 6pm (Sunday). Closed on Mondays *Park opens 2 hours later everyday (except Sundays) between November to March

Price: 2.25 USD (single ticket), 18 USD (10 tickets), 35 USD (25 tickets) *5 USD for children under 12 (miniature golf)

Contact: +1-512-255-4131

Website: Kiddie Acres

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3. Enjoy a day of family fun at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex

Source: Pixabay

The Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex is an entertainment facility, owned by the City of Austin, with a skating rink, bowling center, arcade, and 154-seat theater. It encompasses a variety of activities all under one roof. The best day to visit is Friday, which the complex has deemed as ‘Family Fun Day’, because they give discounted prices for all activities for both adults and kids. You could spend an entire day in there just moving around from activity to activity without spending too much.

Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex

Address: 1156 Hargrave Street, Austin, TX 78702

Opening Hours: 10am - 7pm (Wednesday to Thursday), 10am - 11pm (Friday to Saturday). Closed from Sunday to Tuesday *Note that individual activities within the complex may open later or close earlier than the given opening times

Contact: +1-512-472-6932

Website: Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex

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4. Innovate and create at The Thinkery

Source: Wikimedia

Formerly known as the Austin Children’s Museum, The Thinkery is a museum that encourages children to connect with ideas through a hands-on approach. It emphasizes particularly on the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) fields. Within the museum, there are various exhibitions that focus on a range of topics, such as Innovators’ Workshop, Light Lab, Kitchen Lab, and more. It is a great place for kids to have fun and learn at the same time.

The Thinkery

Address: 1830 Simond Ave, Austin, TX 78723

Opening Hours: 12pm - 5pm (Monday), 10am - 5pm (Tuesday to Friday), 10am - 6pm (Saturday to Sunday)

Price: 10 USD

Contact: +1-512-469-6200

Website: The Thinkery

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5. Roam free among nature at Zilker Park

Source: Wikimedia

Located in the heart of the city, Zilker Park is known as the crown jewel of the Austin parks system. It is a popular park for families to spend an entire day in. Pack some food and head out to the park for a little picnic. Surround yourself with vast grass patches that are perfect for kids to run around in. Within the park, you can also visit several attractions, such as Austin Nature and Science Center to learn about nature, Zilker Botanical Gardens to explore plant life, or Barton Springs Pool for a swim.

Zilker Park

Address: 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78746

Opening Hours: 5am - 10pm

Duration: At least 1 - 2 hours

Website: Zilker Park

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6. Gape at life-sized dinosaurs at Dinosaur Park

Source: Flickr

Dinosaur Park is located approximately 20 miles or 32 km (30-minute drive) away from downtown Austin. With the life-sized dinosaur replicas and realistic depictions of skin color variations, kids can learn about these historical creatures and understand what they looked like. They can also uncover ‘fossils’ from the sand at Dino Dig, ideal for kids who are particularly interested in dinosaurs. Note that it is an outdoor exhibit and museum, so remember to slather on sunscreen before you head out.

Dinosaur Park

Address: 893 Union Chapel Road, Cedar Creek, TX 78612

Opening Hours: 10am - 4pm. Closed on Mondays

Duration: Around 1 - 2 hours

Price: 7 USD

Contact: +1-512-321-6262

Website: Dinosaur Park

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7. Learn about the ins-and-outs of a farm at Boggy Creek Farm

Explore farm life right in the middle of the city at the Boggy Creek Farm. Located within the city, this East Austin original urban farm is great for a quick little getaway. They host an organic market stand selling fresh fruits and vegetables four days a week. Arrive as early as possible to get the freshest goods. The farm is also open for visitors to explore at any time during these market days, where kids can roam around and see the farm’s crops, compost area, hen house, and more. If you’re particularly interested in the workings of the farm, attend one of their free guided tours that is offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. Kids are not only encouraged to eat healthier here, but they also get to see a different aspect of urban life.

Boggy Creek Farm

Address: 3414 Lyons Road, Austin TX 78702

Opening Hours: 8am - 1pm (Wednesday to Saturday) *Guided tours only offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am

Contact: +1-512-926-4650

Website: Boggy Creek Farm

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8. Grab dinner at a food trailer park

Source: Flickr

Austin is known for its food trailer parks that feature a collection of food trucks in one space. These parks are the easiest way to get a variety of options that your kids can choose from, especially with picky eaters or large families. Don’t worry if one child wants to eat a burger, while the other wants to eat tacos, and the third wants Asian stir-fry. Chances are the food trailer park has got you covered. In essence, it makes for an affordable and delicious meal. I recommend checking out The Midway Food Park — not only is there a wide range of food, there is also a playground adjacent to it that your kids can play in after the meal.

The Midway Food Park

Address: 1905 S. Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746

Opening Hours: 11am - 9pm (may vary depending on individual trailer’s hours)

Website: The Midway Food Park

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9. Take a ride on a historic steam locomotive at the Austin Steam Train Association

The Austin Steam Train Association (ASTA) aims to to preserve and re-create the experience of historic steam locomotive transportation. Kids with a particular interest in trains and locomotives will thoroughly enjoy this experience. With its primary purpose being enjoyment and education, ASTA offers various routes that are suitable for all age groups. The duration of these train rides ranges from 2.5 – 6 hours for a round trip, with some including a layover. For a long ride, go for the Hill Country Flyer, a 66-mile (106 km) trip that takes you through the Texas Hill Country. And for a shorter journey, take the Bertram Flyer, a 3-hour journey through the town of Bertram. Note that certain rides have a minimum age limit and are not suitable for children.

Austin Steam Train Association

Address: 401 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste C-100, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Opening Hours: See website below for train schedules

Duration: Between 2.5 and 6 hours

Price: 30 USD and up (depends on route and car class) *Kids fare is lower than adults for all routes

Contact: +1-512-477-8468

Website: Austin Steam Train Association

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10. Enjoy live, interactive performances at the Austin Scottish Rite Children’s Theater

Established in 1871, the Austin Scottish Rite Theater is Austin’s oldest theater and has seen the performances of numerous famous operas, circus acts, live music, and children’s programs. It serves primarily as a family theater, with a specific children’s theater dedicated to kid-friendly interactive shows. Let your kids mingle with other children and potentially make new friends. Do note that the theater’s shows are constantly changing. Be sure to check the website to find out which shows are currently showing. If you are lucky enough to spot a show your child is interested in, book it quickly. Each show only runs for a short period of time, and it might be over by the time you check again.

Austin Scottish Rite Children's Theater

Address: 207 W 18th St, Austin, TX 78701

Opening Hours: See website below for show schedules

Contact: +1-512-472-5436

Website: Austin Scottish Rite Children’s Theater

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11. Watch the bats emerge from Congress Avenue Bridge

Source: Wikimedia

The Congress Avenue Bridge over Lady Bird Lake is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. During the summer, it is home to around 750,000 – 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. They usually emerge daily at dusk and has become a must-see for anyone in Austin, adults and kids alike. The bats can be seen from the bridge, or beside the lake. Your kids may prefer to view it from a boat (i.e. Capital Cruises), as a fun way to experience this classic Austin attraction.

Capital Cruises: Bat Watching and Sunset Tours

Address: Capital Cruises Dock, Hyatt Regency Boat Dock, 208 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704

Opening Hours: varies, but generally 30 minutes before sunset (March to mid-November). Closed from mid-November to February

Duration: Around 1 hour

Price: 10 USD (adults), 5 USD (kids)

Contact: +1-512-480-9264

Website: Capital Cruises: Bat Watching and Sunset Tours

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12. Go underground at the Inner Space Cavern

This is an activity made for the adventurous kids who love to explore new ground. Hidden for approximately 10,000 years, the Inner Space Cavern is one of the best preserved caves in Texas. While several miles of the cave have been ventured into, many parts still remain unexplored and are hence closed off to visitors. Tours are offered for those who are keen to explore the underground caves, where skeletons of prehistoric creatures can be found. Different tours are available for various age groups and skill level, which take you through the tunnels with a guide explaining how this natural wonder occurred. Note that the intermediate (Hidden Passages) and advanced (Wild Cave) tours have a minimum age requirement.

Inner Space Cavern

Address: 4200 S. I-35, Frontage Rd, Georgetown, TX 78626

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm (Monday to Saturday), 10am - 5pm (Sunday)

Duration: Around 1.5 - 4 hours (depending on tour choice)

Price: 19.95 USD (adults), 11.95 USD (kids) *Note that prices above apply only for the beginner tour. See website below for prices on other tour options

Contact: +1-512-931-2283

Website: Inner Space Cavern

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13. Climb through obstacles at Mt. Playmore

Source: Mt. Playmore

Mt. Playmore is a huge indoor play center with a playscape, arcade, and toddler area. It is a place for kids of all ages to have fun. Described as “Texas Sized” (i.e. massive), it allows you to play alongside your children in the playscape. Or you could also sit on the benches in the middle to relax while your kids run around. There is also a restaurant within Mt. Playmore, which means that your family could spend the whole day inside without even having to leave for food. It is the most convenient place with everything under one roof, perfect for a day of family fun.

Mt. Playmore

Address: 13609 North IH35, Austin, TX 78753

Opening Hours: 10am - 8pm (Sunday to Thursday), 10am - 10pm (Friday to Saturday). Closed on Tuesdays

Price: 4.95 USD (2-3 years old), 10.95 USD (4+ years old), 1.50 USD (19+ years old)

Contact: +1-512-989-8886

Website: Mt. Playmore

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14. Channel your inner Tiger Woods at Peter Pan Mini Golf

Source: Flickr

Mini golf has always been a great family activity. But what’s better than mini golf itself? The answer is a mini golf course with fun features along the way. Consisting of two 18-hole miniature golf courses, Peter Pan Mini Golf is an icon of Austin. With its statues of turtles, dinosaurs, and more scattered around the park, it has earned the reputation as a place where people of all ages could enjoy themselves at anytime of the day. Even if your kids have never tried it before, they will have a blast just hitting the balls around, and being surrounded by some of their favorite animals and characters.

Peter Pan Mini Golf

Address: 1207 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704

Opening Hours: 9am - 12am (Monday to Thursday), 9am - 1am (Friday to Saturday), 9am - 11pm (Sunday)

Price: 7 USD (one course), 11 USD (both courses) *Prices are 2 USD less for children who are 5 years old and younger

Contact: +1-512-472-1033

Website: Peter Pan Mini Golf

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15. Have a blast at the Blazer Tag Adventure Center

Source: Flickr

Home to the largest laser tag arena in Texas, Blazer Tag Adventure Center is the activity for high-energy kids. With 3 stories of towers and ramps, it is sure to give anyone a rush of adrenaline. Once you start with one game, you won’t want to stop. It is an activity that becomes more fun with more people playing, so don’t be shy to join your kids in the arena. The Blazer Tag Adventure Center also has a neon ropes course called the Austin Skytrail, which will take you to new heights and challenge your courage. Note that both are fast moving and thrilling activities, making them suitable only for kids who are at least 7 years old.

Blazer Tag Adventure Center

Address: 1701 W. Ben White Blvd. Austin, TX 78704

Opening Hours: 4pm - 9pm (Monday), 4pm - 10pm (Thursday), 4pm - 12am (Friday), 10am - 12am (Saturday), 11am - 9pm (Sunday). Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Price: 8.99 USD (laser tag/sky trail) *Note that prices are charged on a per person per game/trek basis

Contact: +1-512-462-0202

Website: Blazer Tag Adventure Center

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An ideal city for kids

Did you know that Austin is recognized as a clean-air city for its strict ‘no smoking in public places’ law, and is consistently named within the top 5 safest major city in the US by the FBI? On top of that, the fun activities mentioned serve as the cherry on top that makes Austin one of the best cities for kids. It is clean, safe, and fun — you can’t really ask for much more in a large city. So if you weren’t convinced before that Austin should be the destination for your next family trip, hopefully you are now.

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Verena is currently a journalism student in New York City. Having to move around a lot throughout her childhood triggered her passion for traveling at a young age. She believes that exploring new...Read more

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