Are you headed to Austin with kids? The capital of Texas is well known for its tasty food scene, iconic live music venues, and general quirky nature. Additionally, it’s a fantastic place to visit with kids! No matter the season, you will find a full itinerary waiting for you in Austin. If you’re looking for great things to do in Austin with kids, we’ve leveraged the collective wisdom of our Facebook community to compile this list. Whenever you visit Austin with kids, consider family-friendly attractions like The Thinkery, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, or visit the Museum of the Weird. If you’re visiting in the winter, be sure to meander through the twinkling Christmas Lights at Zilker Park, or go ice skating on a rooftop!
No matter what’s on your bucket list, we’re sure these 16 Fantastic Things to Do in Austin with Kids will fill your days will endless adventures and family fun!
Things to Do in Austin with Kids No Matter the Season
There are several things to do in Austin with kids no matter the season! Based on our community recommendations, you’ll be able to fill your Austin family vacation with these attractions no matter what your family is interested in doing. From hiking to museums to learning about local history, be sure to check out some of these family-friendly activities in Austin during your visit.
Play at Zilker Metropolitan Park
Often considered Austin’s most beloved park, Zilker Metropolitan Park is over 350 acres of fun. Here, your family can enjoy a round of disc golf, the Zilker Playscape, and much more. At the playground, let kids mingle with local children, while you relax and plan the rest of your time in Austin with kids. Don’t forget to get restaurant recommendations from local parents too! Plan to bring a picnic lunch or snack, as the park offers three picnic sites, including one sheltered area. Then, Barton Springs Pool is a great place to cool off on hot summer days. Additionally, the Zilker Metropolitan Park is home to a few other amazing things to do in Austin with kids on this list, including the Austin Nature and Science Center and the Zilker Botanical Gardens. This means families can spend the whole day here exploring, playing, and making amazing memories in Austin!
Pro Tip: Be sure to wear sunblock and pack plenty of water for a full day of fun at the park!
Get Creative at Thinkery
One of the best things to do in Austin with kids is to spend a morning or afternoon at Thinkery! This well-designed children’s museum is a great place to escape the outdoor elements. Not to mention, it’s fun for all ages (parents included!). Thinkery has multiple exhibits that allow children to explore and foster their creativity. If you require inside activities in Austin, head to the museum for a day of play. In fact, some of the outstanding exhibits include a light lab, innovator’s workshops, and a water feature (they provide aprons for kids). When the weather is nice, head outside to play in the amazing outdoor playground area. Notes, Thinkery also provides up to three hours of free parking in the McBee Street District Garage during regular hours. Finally, due to COVID-19, plan to reserve your place ahead of time, as space is limited.
Meet the Animals at the Austin Zoo
Next on our list of kid-friendly activities in Austin is the Austin Zoo! Here, your kids can meet many types of animals (over 300 actually, representing 100 different species) ranging from a potbelly pig to a red kangaroo. Kids will delight in meandering the grounds viewing the many different animals. Challenge them to find their favorite one! Then, head to the domestic animal area and feed the resident goats, llamas, and the miniature donkey. Food can be purchased in advance at the Austin Zoo gift shop. Animals are most active in the cool early mornings, plan to arrive early to catch them at their best. Then, take a train ride through the grounds for a different perspective. Kids will adore riding along for a quick break from walking. Finally, the walking trails are made of crushed granite gravel, the Austin Zoo recommends closed-toed shoes when visiting.
Learn Local History at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
When visiting Austin with kids, be sure to take in some local history at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Located downtown Austin, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum tells the “Story of Texas” across 3 floors of interactive exhibits. Exhibits include topics like the history of oil and gas in Texas, Texas history from 1821 to 1936, and Texas’s leading role in STEM. Additionally, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum has an on-site IMAX theater with a rotating series of movies. If you have a music-lover in your family, let them delight in the special exhibit on Austin’s local music scene. The Austin City Limits Theater installation highlights the best of the longest-running music program in American television history. Then, when you’re ready for lunch, visit the on-site Story of Texas Cafe. Finally, parking is available in an on-site ramp for an additional fee.
Hike at Mount Bonnell
Active kids will love a day on local hiking trails! Located in Covert Park, outdoor families can trek up Mount Bonnell while visiting Austin with kids. In fact, Mount Bonnell is Austin’s highest point. Hike your way up almost 800 feet to overlook Lake Austin. Once you reach the top, take in the panoramic views and watch as boats drive around the lake. Be sure to check out the view deck and pavilion before making your way back down. Want to stay a bit? Pack a picnic for the top! Kids will love eating al fresco while parents enjoy the breathtaking views. Note, the 102-stair climb may stop those with strollers in tow from the view at the top. Afterward, take the kids to nearby Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve to see the peafowl and the different ponds, another of the many fun things to do in Austin with kids!
Pro Tip: Be sure to wear sunblock and pack plenty of water.
Check Out the Austin Nature & Science Center
If you have science-minded kids, put the Austin Nature & Science Center on your itinerary! One of the best kid-friendly activities in Austin, you’ll find a variety of science and nature-based exhibits here. You can even learn about native wildlife who call Austin and Texas home. Head to the Naturalist Workshop to touch animal furs, rocks, bones, plants, and insects, as well as inspect them with magnifying glasses to learn more! Then, kids will also love digging in the Dino Pit. Kids can play in this outdoor exhibit designed to teach them about some of Texas’s oldest residents. Outside, you can also wander around the pond walk to learn more about water systems and pond life. You may even see a turtle basking in the Austin sun! Finally, don’t miss the pollinator gardens for a chance to stroll among the blooming plants and to meet the local butterflies.
This is also one of the best free things to do in Austin with kids, as there is no paid admission for individuals and families visiting the exhibits (donations are happily accepted).
Explore McKinney Falls State Park
If you’re looking for another family-friendly hike in Austin, check out McKinney Falls State Park. Only 13 miles from Austin, you can hike, bike (mountain or road), and, if interested, camp while visiting Austin with kids. With nearly nine miles of trails, families will find one that meets their experience level. The Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail has a hard surface, ideal for strollers. In McKinney Falls State Park, kids can even go geocaching and delight in a modern-day treasure hunt. Using a smartphone, challenge older kids to find the coordinates of the nearby geocache. Make it a day trip and pack a picnic to enjoy along the Onion River. Let kids splash in the water, or bring a fishing pole to see what’s biting. The river height can change due to rainfall, check their swimming safety tips before visiting one of the best family-friendly activities near Austin.
Note, there is an admission fee for park entrance. Adults are $6.00/person and children 12 and under are free.
Get Curious at the Museum of the Weird
Looking for a truly unique experience in Austin with kids? Head to the Museum of the Weird. As one of the best things to do in Austin with kids, your kids will be captivated by the array of quirky oddities, which range from the Texas Bigfoot to shrunken heads. Located in the back of Lucky Lizard Curios & Gifts, this hidden gem is a must for families who think they have seen it all! Explore the “Cabinet of Curiosities” and see which mummies, mermaids, fossils, cryptids, and movie props you recognize. Then, check out the iconic “Creature in Ice!”, featured on Mysteries at the Museum and Unsolved Mysteries. Plus, this kid-friendly attraction is the last true dime museum in the United States. No matter what curiosity brings you into the Museum of the Weird, it’s fair to say this is one of the most unique places to visit in Austin!
Wander the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum
If you’re ready to embark on a relaxing stroll surrounded by beautiful sculptures under the Austin sun, then head to UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum. Here, 58 sculptures by American artist Charles Umlauf proudly line this enchanting walkabout. Other sculptures also rotate through the museum and outdoor sculpture garden. Located in the Zilker neighborhood, the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum is also adjacent to Austin’s Zilker Park, making this area perfect for a fun day filled with kid-friendly activities in Austin. In its entirety, the sculpture garden covers six acres with a medium-sized gallery on-site, as well. While there is some limited on-site parking, be prepared to park in the nearby overflow lot. Better yet, take a rented bike or public transportation (there are bike racks available). Note, the inside gallery is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19.
Meet the Creatures at the Austin Aquarium
Next on our list of family-friendly activities in Austin is the Austin Aquarium! There are several incredible exhibits and opportunities for animal encounters and princess makeovers. Get up close and personal to creatures like stingrays, sharks, iguanas, and tortoises, during the scheduled feedings. Or, meet one of the resident lemurs. In fact, the Austin Aquarium is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can interact so closely with these critters. After meeting the lemurs, your kids will adore meeting the aquarium’s mermaids too! Looking for something extra special to do with your aspiring biologists? Take the Mourning Rounds tour and learn about how the staff prepares the aquarium and the animals for the day. Then, gaze upon tropical fish, reptiles, birds, and more while exploring the many exhibits one of the best things to do in Austin with kids.
Summer Things to Do in Austin with Kids
Are you visiting Austin during the summer? Here are a few unique things to do in Austin with kids to add to your summer itinerary.
Meander the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Home to almost 900 species of native Texas plants, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is one of the best summer things to do in Austin with kids! Here, you will discover 285 acres of curated gardens, as well as an arboretum. In fact, you can even gaze upon native aquatic plants at the Wetland Pond. Book a private guided tour to learn more about the flora found here. Before you arrive, check out what is blooming and in season. Families can spend a full morning exploring the grounds and then grab a bite to eat from the on-site Wildflower Café, offering an array of sandwiches, salads, snacks, and desserts. Due to COVID-19 advanced reservation is required to enter the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Traveling to Austin in the fall and winter months? Plan ahead and purchase tickets to Luminations, an illuminated trail walk featuring the forts of Fortlandia (special forts designed by architects and designers).
Learn more about how the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is addressing COVID-19 here. Note, private guided tours have been suspended during COVID-19.
Smell the Flowers at the Zilker Botanical Garden
Near downtown Austin, the Zilker Botanical Garden is known as the “jewel in the heart of Austin”. And, it is definitely worth a visit when exploring Austin with kids. Little ones will delight in wandering through an array of themed gardens spread across 28 acres, including the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, Hartman Prehistoric Garden, and Rose Garden. There is even a koi pond that they can peer into and discover schools of colorful fish! Be sure to check the schedule before purchasing your tickets, however, as the garden offers several free days throughout the year. Finally, due to COVID-19 advanced reservation is required to enter the Zilker Botanical Garden. An on-site parking lot, as well as an overflow parking lot, are available for those driving to the gardens.
Looking for best things to do in Austin? Let real locals show you the best of the city’s rich culture and history, with a little bit of that famous Central Texas Hill Country. Book this 30 miles, 50+ points of interest, in 90 minutes (1.5 hours) using Viator.
Let Austin Duck Adventures Take You on a Tour
If you’re looking for a tour as unique as Austin, look no further than Austin Duck Adventures! Grab your seat on this amphibious vehicle and see Austin from a new perspective. This family-friendly sightseeing tour will launch you into learning about Austin while embarking by water over Lady Bird Lake and by land through downtown Austin. As one of the best summer things to do in Austin with kids, this 75-minute tour gives you a new look at Historic Sixth Street, the State Capitol Building, Bob Bullock State History Museum, the Governor’s Mansion, and Lady Bird Lake. While tours are available all year round, there are more tour times available, as well as more cooperative weather, during the summer months. Finally, reserve your tickets online in advance because space is limited due to COVID. Plus, tours generally fill up quickly, be sure to book well in advance of your visit.
Discover These Outdoor Hidden Gems in Austin
While exploring Austin, don’t miss the great outdoor options! Some of the best summer things to do in Austin with kids including discovering these hidden gems. First, Jacob’s Well Natural Area is a great place for kids to enjoy the water near Austin. Swimming is available by reservation from May 1 – September 30 (in two-hour time slots). If you’re not up for swimming, you can hike the area and view the water from the trails. Then, Bull Creek District Park is a 48-acre city park in Austin, offering everything from hiking to stunning views of the local creek. Looking for more swimming holes in Austin? Check out Barton Springs. Here, you can dip your toes and try to glimpse the endangered Barton Springs Salamander. Nearby, you will also find Splash!, an exhibit where families can learn about the history and biology of Barton Springs.
Winter Things to Do in Austin with Kids
Headed to Austin for a winter family vacation? Be sure to add these special winter things to do in Austin to your itinerary, especially if you’re in Austin with kids during the holiday season.
Marvel at the Trail of Lights at Zilker Metropolitan Park
Headed to Austin during the holiday season? You won’t want to miss the Christmas lights at Zilker Park! You already know Zilker Metropolitan Park is one of the best family-friendly places to visit in Austin. But did you know part of the park transforms during December? The Austin Trail of Lights boasts over 2 million lights, 90 illuminated holiday trees, and more than 70 other holiday displays. One of the best winter things to do in Austin, kids will simply marvel at the magical twinkling lights. In fact, it recently won the USA Today’s Top 10 Best Public Holiday Lights Displays in the United States! While 2020 held a drive-through only experience, in years past, visitors could walk along the trails, as well as drive through the jubilant light display.
Go Ice Skating on a Rooftop
If you’ll be in Austin with kids during the winter, be sure to bring your family ice skating! One of the most exciting winter things to do in Austin is skating at the CultureMap Rooftop Rink at Whole Foods Market’s downtown location. Each year, Whole Foods turns its entire rooftop into a thrilling skating rink for locals and tourists to enjoy. Here, your family can grab food and drinks at Whole Foods, then head up to the rooftop for a round of ice skating. Typically open from the end of November through January, it is open daily with the recommendation to purchase tickets online in advance for a designated time slot. Note, all tickets include the skate rentals, as well as the requirement to sign a waiver.
Learn more about how the Rooftop Rink at Whole Foods Market is addressing COVID-19 by emailing them directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to Stay in Austin with Kids
Looking for a family-friendly place to stay when visiting Austin with kids? Here are a few parent-recommended hotels in Austin to consider. Firstly, you’ll want to review the Four Seasons Hotel Austin. This downtown hotel also offers a saltwater pool, lawn games, and standard rooms or suites, many of which overlook Lady Bird Lake. Then, Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt is another option for families to consider. Located in the Rainey Street District, this hotel is especially popular with those interested in Austin’s music scene. If noise is an issue, our families recommend requesting a room that does not face Rainey Street. Finally, the Embassy Suites Austin Downtown South Congress is centrally located and offers large suites and complimentary breakfast each morning. Don’t forget, sites like VBRO also offer accommodations with a local feel, as well as locations close to the many things to do in Austin with kids.
Ready to embark on a family trip to Austin? No doubt you found a variety of things to do in Austin with kids on this list! From inside activities to hiking to animal encounters, there is a lot to love about visiting Austin! With so many kid-friendly activities in Austin, we know you’ll be able to keep your kids happy and entertained. No matter what you choose to do, one thing is for certain, you’ll be able to make plenty of family memories in one of the coolest cities in Texas!
Thank You to Our Community!
A special thank you to the Families Who Love To Travel Facebook community who generously shared their travel advice and top picks for this list of Best Things to Do in Austin with Kids We could not have compiled such a thoughtful and helpful list without their dedication to our community. Families Who Love To Travel is a group of amazing families who love exploring through travel. For more family vacation recommendations and inspiration, be sure to join us on Facebook at Families Who Love To Travel. We’re a community of experienced traveling families who love adventure and seeing the world with kids. Plus, follow us on Instagram (@families.love.travel) to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer.
A special thank you to our FLT contributor Erin Gray for helping us compile suggestions for this list!
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the things to do in Austin with kids on this list may have reduced services or may temporarily close at times. Please ensure availability before making your decision. Find information on COVID-19 practices and policies for Austin here.
This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.