When the weekend rolls around, most parents have one goal: Keep the kids entertained. And if any city is on board with this goal, it’s Austin.
Austin is full of activities that will inspire awe in kids and parents alike. There are natural wonders, educational experiences, and even art museums that young children can enjoy. (Seriously, you won’t hear a single “I’m bored!” all day.) Your children will learn something new, and you might too. So, put on your explorer’s cap — which we assume looks kind of like a baseball hat — and get ready for a family-friendly adventure.
We’ve rounded up 18 things to do in Austin with kids. For anyone who lives in the Austin area or is visiting Austin with little ones, these are can’t-miss activities.
18 Fun Things to Do in Austin With Kids
Round up the kids and take them to all the places on this list. These 18 things to do in Austin with kids will inspire, educate, and exercise your little ones. At the end of the day, you’ll have one happy (and sleepy!) kiddo.
1. The Thinkery
One of the best museums in Austin, and certainly the best children’s museum, The Thinkery encourages learning with interactive exhibits. They offer science exhibits, farmer’s market exhibits, and story time. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays and has both indoor and outdoor activities for kids of all ages.
2. Zilker Botanical Gardens
Bring your little botanist to the Zilker Botanical Gardens. This 28-acre garden is located inside Zilker Park. It features multiple themed gardens, including a Japanese garden, a prehistoric garden, and a rose garden. In the summers, there’s also a Woodland Faerie Trail filled with fairy houses to inspire your child’s imagination. This outdoor outing is one of the best things to do in Austin with kids. Children aged two and under get into the gardens for free while children aged 3-17 get half priced tickets.
3. Kayak on Lady Bird Lake
To get out on the water with your kids, head to Rowing Dock on the south side of Lady Bird Lake where you can rent kayaks, canoes, or stand up paddle boards. Then, head out to paddle the Colorado River. It’s an outdoor activity in the middle of the city, but it feels like an escape into nature.
4. Austin Zoo
Zoos are a fun and educational outing for children of all ages, including little ones who are still in a stroller. The Austin Zoo is home to a variety of exciting animals, including lions, tigers, lemurs, reptiles, and amphibians. Your kids will be able to learn about both domestic and exotic wildlife.
5. Barton Springs Pool
Also located in Zilker Metropolitan Park, the Barton Springs Pool is fed by natural underground springs. The water is a comfortable 68-70 degrees year round, so it will feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter. You can swim with your kids, lounge on the banks, and learn about the springs’ role in the ecosystem.
6. Austin Nature & Science Center
This is yet another family-friendly activity in Zilker Park. The Austin Nature & Science Center teaches kids to appreciate their natural environment with interactive exhibits and educational activities. It’s an 80-acre nature preserve with several easy hiking trails, including a forest trail and a pond walk. Exhibits include a dino pit where kids can dig for fossils, a human sundial, and a honey bee observation hive. This is one of the best educational activities in the Austin area.
7. Bullock Texas State History Museum
Another of Austin’s best museums, the Bullock Texas State History Museum will help your child learn their local history. Located on Congress Ave., just a few blocks north of the State Capitol building, this museum has exhibits of local artifacts and an IMAX theater where you and your kids can watch educational movies and immersive documentaries.
8. Mount Bonnell
Wear out your kids on the easy but steep hiking trail to the top of Mount Bonnell. You’ll climb about 100 stairs to get to the top where you’ll be rewarded with the best view in Austin. This peak looks out on Downtown Austin, Lake Austin, the Pennybacker Bridge, and Texas Hill Country. Pack a picnic and spend the afternoon.
9. Peter Pan Mini Golf
If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, this is it. This vintage miniature golf course has been around since 1946. The holes feature dinosaurs, fairies, castles, and clown heads. And for the grown-ups in the family, Peter Pan Mini Golf is BYOB, so you can pack your favorite brews and booze — plus juice boxes for the kids.
10. Austin Aquarium
Located in North Austin, the Austin Aquarium is home to sharks, stingrays, and tropical fish. On the weekends, they also have one of the rarest sea creatures of all — mermaids! In addition to the aquatic life, the Austin Aquarium also has lemurs and sloths, and they allow guests to interact with and feed them. This is one of our favorite things to do in Austin with kids.
11. Mayfield Park
Mayfield Park features a historic cottage and extensive grounds with a garden, ponds, and nature preserve. Peacocks roam the grounds, and there are plenty of places to sit to enjoy a picnic with the kids. This is one of the best free things to do in Austin.
12. Kalahari Indoor Water Park
This isn’t the only water park in Central Texas, but it is the only indoor water park. Located in Round Rock, the Kalahari Indoor Water Park will help you beat the heat during an Austin summer. As an added bonus, you won’t have to wrangle your kids to reapply sunscreen. And while several of the nearby, outdoor water parks close during the winter, this indoor option is open year round.
13. Pioneer Farms
Step back in history with a trip to Pioneer Farms. This living history museum offers guided tours of their six different historical areas. Actors in authentic historical attire will teach your little ones a little bit of Texan history. The museum also offers workshops in archery, gardening, weaving, bird watching, and more. This is one of the most unique things to do in Austin with kids.
14. Barton Creek Greenbelt
Home to many of the best hiking trails in Austin, the Barton Creek Greenbelt has multiple entrances at different points along the creek. In addition to hiking, the Greenbelt is a good spot for swimming, rock climbing, biking, birding, and picnicking. It’s the perfect place to get outside with your kids — without having to get too far outside the city.
15. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Another botanical garden in Austin, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has five different gardens and access to 70 acres of hiking trails. The gardens feature native plants and seasonal blooms, so it’s a good opportunity to teach your kids about local plant life. There are also educational and family programs, like parent and toddler yoga, and little sprouts nature classes.
16. Umlauf Sculpture Garden
This art museum has indoor exhibits and an outdoor sculpture garden. The outdoor space is one of the best ways to introduce young kids to art. They’re able to stretch out, move around, and use their outdoor voices while seeing sculptures in a tree-covered, park-like setting. Children ages 12 and under get in for free.
17. Inner Space Cavern
This prehistoric cave was completely hidden for over 10,000 years and is now one of the best preserved caves in Texas. Located in Georgetown, to the north of Austin, the Inner Space Cavern features beautiful rock formations, large rooms, and prehistoric animal bones. There are a variety of tours that will explain different facets of the cave to you and your kids.
18. Bat Watching
From late March to early fall, hundreds of Mexican free-tailed bats take up residence under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Downtown Austin. Bring your kids any night during this season, and stand along the bridge, or sit on the grassy knoll at the nearby Statesman Bat Observation Center. The bats start their nightly flight at sunset. Get there early to make sure you get a good spot. This is one of the best free things to do in Austin with kids.
Keep the Kids Entertained, Austin Style
There’s always plenty to do in Austin, and the kids can come along for most of it. From bat watching to botanical gardens to children’s museums, these 18 Austin experiences provide immersive, educational fun for everyone. But, these aren’t the only family-friendly activities in the area.
Have some old-fashioned fun by going out for the best ice cream in Austin. Introduce your children to authentic Mexican food with the best taco spots in Austin. Explore some of Austin’s best parks. Or take the plunge at one of Austin’s best swimming holes. This city is fun for the whole family!