Austin, Texas is an outdoor lover's paradise and a super kid-friendly city, making it the perfect getaway for families with kids of all ages. While your Austin family vacation might not be raging at all the music venues, there are still so many things to do, see, eat and listen to that are totally kid-friendly and cool for the parent too. Get inspired with these 20+ top family-friendly attractions in Austin and start planning your trip today!

Big Top Candy Shop
Courtesy of Big Top Candy Shop.

Top 5 Things for Families

  1. Exploring South Congress Avenue: From Big Top Candy Shop to Amy’s Ice Creams, there is something delicious to taste on each block.
  2. Cathedral of Junk: A truly inspirational spot, let your kids use their imagination to see how one man’s trash can become a treasured work of art. A super fun photo spot!
  3. Peter Pan Mini Golf: This kitschy mini golf spot will delight the kiddos and spark a bit of childhood wanderlust in the parents. Play early in the day to beat the heat.
  4. See the bats at sunset: 1.5+ million Mexican free-tailed bats call Austin home from March through late October. See their nightly flight near the Congress Avenue Bridge.
    Travel tip: the best view is from lake level, so rent a kayak and paddle over there to see them in action.
  5. Live Music at The Salt Lick BBQ: Salt Lick’s barbecue is definitely top notch, but parents will love it for the outdoor patios, easy-to-order menu and fun live music environment.

Kayaks on Lady Bird Lake
Kayaks at Lady Bird Lake.

Outdoor Activities

  1. Barton Springs: Barton Springs Pool is a must for families traveling with kids. The three-acre natural spring-fed pool is the perfect setting to spend half a day or cool off after a long day in Zilker Park. The crisp water is so refreshing and there is plenty of room to spread out and relax.
  2. Bike the Greenbelt: Rent a couple of bikes and have endless adventures around Austin, near the river and lakes. The city is very bike friendly, and it’s a fun alternative for driving. If you want even more biking adventures, head to Walnut Creek or Turkey Creek Trails.
  3. Hike the City: The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail skirts along Lady Bird Lake through downtown for 10 miles. The views of downtown are some of the best and you’re never too far from the river, plus the trail is well maintained and easier on strollers and children's bikes.
  4. McKinney Falls State Park: Located within Austin city limits are smooth limestone pools and picturesque waterfalls that are perfect for swimming or hiking.
  5. Mount Bonnell: With only 102 stairs to the top, even little kids can make it to the peak of one of the highest viewpoints in the city.
    Travel tip: While you’re in the area, stop by Mayfield Park and Preserve to catch a glimpse of the beautiful peacocks that roam the grounds.
  6. Kayak and Fish in Lady Bird Lake: Rent a pole and a kayak and spend a day on the lake teaching your kids how to fish. Definitely an activity for the memory books.
  7. Hamilton Pool: About an hour outside of Austin, Hamilton Pool is a beautiful natural spring-fed pool where you can hike, explore and sometimes swim. Reservations are required during the peak summer months and swimming is not guaranteed, so book in advance to make sure you can get in. Check the website for current information.

woman holding daughter in front of i love you so much mural at jos in austin texas
I love you so much Mural. Credit Jade Broadus, courtesy of iExplore.

Arts and Attractions

  1. Mural Hunting: Located all around the city, murals are a fun way to explore new areas. Have the kids “be on the lookout” for street art while you discover Austin.
  2. Austin Zoo: Nearly all of the animals at the zoo are rescues, making Austin a leader in research and rehabilitation. Your children will love seeing them all, too!
  3. Picnic in Zilker Park: Afterwards, make sure to take the train ride around the park; it's a fun way to see different areas of the park without walking all 350+ acres!
  4. Boggy Creek Farm: You pick 'em fruits and veggies — the kids will love getting their hands dirty and seeing the chickens in the hen house.
  5. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: A true joy for all flower lovers, there’s always something in season at the Wildflower Center.
  6. Inner Space Cavern: Cool off underground while uncovering fossils, exploring the cave systems of Texas and learning about the difference between stalagmites and stalactites.

patio with twinkle lights at Loro in austin texas
Loro. Credit Jade Broadus, courtesy of iExplore.

Kid-Friendly Dining

  1. Hopdoddy Burger Bar: Fresh ingredients with a selection of local beers and outdoor seating where you can watch the action of South Congress go by.
  2. Loro: The tree swings and beautiful outdoor patio, plus amazing cocktails and easy-to-share small plates have two thumbs up from parents.
  3. Phil's Ice House: With several locations around town, Phil's offers yummy burgers for the parents, a kid-friendly menu and expansive playgrounds for the kids to explore.
  4. la Barbecue: Offering call-ahead ordering, you don’t have to wait in line with kids for some of the best barbecue in Texas.
    Travel Tip: If you do want to wait, get there early and bring folding chairs, games for the kids and a cooler of drinks!
  5. Dinner and a Show: See live music during your meal at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q (make reservations in advance to skip the wait!), Geraldine’s, Guero’s (Wednesday nights in the Oak Garden), and Stella San Jac - just to name a few.
    Travel Tip: If you're in Austin on a Sunday morning, don't miss the Kid Show at Cherrywood Coffeehouse featuring family-friendly music and entertainment, brunch and plenty of coffee!

Need more awesome ideas for your Austin getaway? Check out our 3-day Family Fun Itinerary!