You don’t need a long trip to have a memorable family vacation. Get weird, wild and wacky in just three days with this fun Austin itinerary.

Big Top Candy Shop
Courtesy of Big Top Candy Shop.

Day One

Morning
Start your day with an off-the-wall wonder. Part tree-fort, part modern sculpture, the multi-level Cathedral of Junk features a dense tangle of jungle-like foliage intertwined with an estimated 60 tons of unusual items and tchotchkes. If you’re looking to get wild, take the kiddos to the Austin Zoo to see more than 300 animals or head to the Austin Nature & Science Center to explore nature trails, see small wildlife creatures and dig for “dinosaur fossils” in the Dino Pit! Just steps away is the Zilker Botanical Garden, which kids also love to explore.

Mid-Day
Take the family for a stroll down South Congress Avenue, where funky shops and bustling eateries create a lively vibe. Take a family picture at the famous I Love You So Much mural, and then grab lunch on the patio at casual hot spots like Hopdoddy Burger Bar or Guero’s Taco Bar. For dessert, let the kids pick out some sweet treats at the circus-themed Big Top Candy Shop, or head over to Amy’s Ice Creams to grab a scoop of candy bar-flavored ice cream (we’re talking Twix, Peanut M&M’s and much more).

Evening
Once the sun goes down, seek out live music at one of the numerous summer concert series to listen to some tunes beneath the night sky. For dinner, you can’t go wrong at one of the local food truck parks such as The Midway Food Park or The Picnic.

Kid surfs at NLand Surf Park.
Courtesy of NLand Surf Park.

Day Two

Morning
Today, it’s all about the outdoor adventures. Go sightseeing by land and by water with Austin Duck Adventures, where you’ll ride an amphibious Hydra Terra vehicle around town — historic Sixth Street, the State Capitol and beyond — and then into Lake Austin. Or explore Austin on two wheels with a bicycle (and kids’ seat!) rental from Barton Springs Bike Rental, where they also offer guided tours.

Mid-Day
Take in some sunshine by spending the afternoon at one of Austin’s spring-fed swimming holes, such as Barton Springs Pool or Deep Eddy Pool — both located in the heart of the city.

For an adventure on top of the water, go on a guided kayak or stand-up paddleboard tour of downtown Austin with Austin Kayak Tours. Or let them try out the waves and the brand new NLand Surf Park - the only of it's kind in North America (opening spring 2017)! Then, kick back and relax with a picnic at Zilker Park — and be sure to take the little ones for a ride on the Zilker Zephyr miniature train.

Evening
As daytime fades into dusk, don’t miss the nightly show at the “Bat Bridge,” where thousands of bats pour into the evening sky from beneath Congress Avenue Bridge. This incredible spectacle starts around sunset between April and October.

Lake View at County Line Barbecue on the Lake
Bull Creek at County Line on the Lake. Courtesy County Line BBQ.

Day Three

Morning
Harness the cowboy spirit and giddyup over to nearby Texas Hill Country for a horseback ride around the ranch at Texas Trail Rides, where you’ll pass by picturesque spring-fed lakes, across Onion Creek and along wooded trails with your new horse friend.

Mid-Day
Afterward, venture over to Mueller neighborhood, a new urban village just three miles from downtown Austin where you’ll find a farmers market, an open-air retail district and plenty of places to grab a casual lunch, such as the Mueller Trailer Eats food truck park. Little ones will love the new hands-on children’s museum, the Thinkery, where science, technology, engineering, arts and math exhibits get kids learning and laughing.

Evening
You can’t leave Austin without experiencing some of its beloved barbecue joints, so hit up a favorite locals’ spot, such as the County Line or Stiles Switch to end your trip on a delicious note.