Winter in Austin is generally a sunny affair, best spent hiking, kayaking, and Instagramming photos of your t-shirt-clad self enjoying 70-degree days under a bright blue Texas sky. But, rest assured, if you happen to visit on a rare blustery day, you will not be bored. There are endless possibilities for cold weather adventures in Austin! Here are a few family-friendly favorites to try.
Austin Bouldering Project. Photo by Addie Gross.
Austin Bouldering Project
Visit the world's largest bouldering gym, a 50,000 square foot facility, for a unique rock climbing experience without a rope or a harness. There is no minimum age for kids who want to give bouldering a try. If they can walk, they can hop on a wall and scamper up! The floor is padded to protect climbers who take a tumble. For a more traditional rock climbing experience, check out Crux Climbing Center or Austin Rock Gym.
Head to Austin’s first indoor Foam Dart Sports Arena to participate in epic battles with Nerf blasters! Teams compete in hour-long dart tag games, complete with referees and music. Anyone age five and up can join in the fun. You may bring your own Nerf guns, but are asked to leave personal darts behind. Dart'em Up has darts aplenty, plus a large array of rental blasters in its armory.
Austin's Parkour Gym lets American Ninja Warrior wannabes climb, scramble, and hop over obstacles to their hearts' content. Stop by the North Austin warehouse for Open Jam to give freestyle parkour a try and jump into the giant foam pit. Ages five and up are welcome, with adult supervision.
Playing in the dark at Thinkery's Light Lab exhibit.
Located in East Austin's Mueller community, the 40,000 square foot Thinkery is equal parts science and technology center and children’s museum. Focusing on STEAM learning – science, technology, engineering, art, and math – the unique museum offers eight interactive exhibit galleries, each hosting a variety of engaging activities. A veritable wonderland of hands-on exploration, the two-story red building beckons builders, makers, and artists of all ages to come and learn through play. Community Night, held Wednesdays from 4-8 p.m., offers admission is by donation. To see when you can visit other Austin museums for free, head over here.
South Austin's Blazer Tag boasts the largest indoor laser tag arena in Texas, with three stories of towers and ramps to navigate. Race around, shoot lasers at opponents, and strive to be on the winning team. Players age seven and up are welcome. Guests not playing can watch the real-time action on screens in the lobby.
Founded right here in Austin, Alamo Drafthouse offers a fine movie viewing experience, complete with the opportunity to order meals, snacks and drinks right from your seat. There's even a Kids Menu. If plan to visit with small children, be sure to visit the Alamo for All schedule to see which screenings they are allowed to attend.
iFly is not unique to Austin, but it sure does make for a memorable outing! Flyers from age three to 103 are invited to float on a column of air inside a wind tunnel. If you're unsure about indoor skydiving, stop by to watch flyers in action first. It's free to sit in the observation area, and you might luck out and see professionals doing flips and tricks! Then, head next door for a burger from Phil's Icehouse, followed by a treat from local favorite, Amy's Ice Creams. Also within walking distance are Papalote Taco House and The Soup Peddler.
Pinballz boasts the largest selection of arcade games in Texas, with more than 150 pinball machines spread out across three locations. Parents can grab a beer and introduce their kids to pins, or indulge in all sorts of arcade games, both new and classic. The newest location in North Austin offers a full restaurant and bar, while the Original Pinballz Arcade is B.Y.O.B.
Fly through the air with the greatest of ease! If your child has ever dreamed of trying aerial arts, Sky Candy offers introductory level drop-in classes in Silks, Trapeze, Lyra and Hammock. Kids can hang upside down or spin around in a fun, safe environment.
To let kids burn off some steam, take them to this Texas-sized playscape, billed as the largest indoor playground in Central Texas. The playscape itself is 120 feet by 60 feet and stands 18 feet tall. Multiple levels wrap around the room to form a massive structure, providing ample space for kids of all ages to climb and run and bounce and swing. Inside, kids discover something new around every corner: a balance beam, a zipline, a hammock, a disk swing, monkey rings, bungee columns, and more. Best of all? It's built so that parents can play right alongside their children.
For many more ways to keep active indoors in Austin, check out Free Fun in Austin.
Heidi Gollub is the founder and editor of the award-winning website Free Fun in Austin.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more toddler fun, check out 100+ Things to do with Preschoolers in Austin and 100+ Free Things to do in Austin!