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Kids and adults on similar bikes with baskets on a crushed granite trail. The bikes are part of Austin’s B-cycle rental program.
Biking is fun for everyone.
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25 best things to do with kids in Austin

The definitive guide to family-friendly fun this spring

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Biking is fun for everyone.
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Austin might have an international reputation for first-rate events and an acclaimed music scene—think SXSW or ACL—but it’s also an excellent city for families. Temperate weather, a plethora of outdoor activities, and a thriving arts community mean that you can always find something to do.

As you might expect from a growing metropolitan area, Austin boasts top-notch parks, zoos, and the always-necessary children’s museum. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find more unique attractions: The younger crowd will have a blast checking out one of the country’s best toy museums, learning about the difference between stalagmites and stalactites in an underground cavern, and watching 1.5 million bats fly from a downtown bridge.

Behold, here are 30 kid-friendly activities in Austin that will please locals and visitors alike. Know of something we missed? Leave a comment below; this map will be continually updated.

Traveling to other cities with your kiddos? Don’t miss Curbed’s maps of the best family activities in Washington, D.C., Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and New York City.

Map points are ordered north to south.

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1. Inner Space Cavern

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4200 I-35
Georgetown, TX 78626
(512) 931-2283
Visit Website

This natural underground cavern was discovered by construction workers building the I-35 freeway. Choose from one of the guided tours (we like the one-hour version) and learn the difference between stalagmites and stalactites while you explore the cavern’s Ice Age animal fossils.

A post shared by Jamie Mahood (@jamiemahood) on

2. Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms

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Pioneer Farms Dr
Austin, TX 78754

Pioneer Farms is a longtime establishment that makes learning about Central Texas fun (really!). That’s because it’s immersive, offers participatory events, and, most important, has a petting zoo. If you don’t make an event there, you can still enjoy its themed historic areas on self-guided walking tours; they include everything from an 1841 Tonkawa encampment to an 1899 rural village.

3. Chaparral Ice

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2525 W Anderson Ln
Austin, TX 78757
(512) 252-8500
Visit Website

Risen from the ashes of the ice rink of a now-defunct mall, Chapparal Ice has reinvented itself as a refreshing recreation space with times for free skating as well as ice skating and recreational competitive hockey programs. Plus curling!

Children and an adult teacher on ice in an ice rink. All of the children are wearing ice skates.
Young skaters participate in a beginning ice skating class.
Courtesy of the Chaparral Ice Facebook Page

4. Dart Bowl

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5700 Grover Ave
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 452-2518
Visit Website

The 56-year-old Dart Bowl—which is located not at, but near, its original location—is a longtime favorite for nostalgics, serious bowlers, and amateurs of all ages. (Its cafe’s enchiladas are particularly legendary). Retro appeal aside, it’s a serious but fun bowling alley, recently remodeled with 32 lanes that have recently been updated with automatic bumpers and scorers. It has a video arcade, kids leagues, and a party room popular for kids’ birthdays.

5. Mount Bonnell

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Mt Bonnell
Austin, TX 78731

Head to the 5.1-acre Covert Park at Mount Bonnell for beautiful views at the highest point in the city. Even kids can make the 102-stair climb up to the peak, and the trail to the top is only about a third of a mile.

An aerial view of Mount Bonnell. There is a large body of water surrounded by houses and trees.
The view from the top of Mount Bonnell.
Shutterstock

6. Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

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3801 W. 35th St.
Austin, TX
(512) 974-6797
Visit Website

Located in a lakeside villa built in 1916, Laguna Gloria is a museum that includes the fantastically fun Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park on its enchanting grounds, as well as the lovely peacocks that wander the area along with adjacent Mayfield Park—kid pleasers on both fronts. This is a don’t miss.

7. Patterson Park

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4200 Brookview Rd.
Austin, TX

Patterson Park is an outdoor oasis for kids, complete with basketball courts, a mini skate ramp, volleyball courts, picnic tables, multiple playgrounds, and top-notch trees to climb. Its Flamingo Mitote Its  mosaic sculpture, created by artist Stephanie Distefano and community members and maintained by the Chula League, also makes for one gorgeous pool-equipment shed.

8. Texas Memorial Museum

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University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX
(512) 471-1604
Visit Website

Formed in the 1930s as Austin’s first science museum, the Texas Memorial Museum focuses on the state’s natural history. Hardcore dinosaur lovers can savor more than 5 million specimens, including huge dinosaur skeletons and fossilized animals, gems and minerals, and wildlife specimens.

9. Pease District Park

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1100 Kingsbury St
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 974-9590
Visit Website

Pease Park, which runs alongs Shoal Creek just west of Lamar Boulevard, starting not far from downtown, is a big, beloved, and long-lived public park in Austin, great for a run or a stroll. It also has a playground, tons of picnic tables under a canopy of giant trees, volleyball courts, and an off-leash dog-walking area.

10. Texas Capitol

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1100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-4630
Visit Website

It may be easy to ignore the Texas State Capitol for fear that it’s boring, but that would be a mistake. One of the prettiest capitol buildings in the country—decked out in distinctive pink granite—also boasts free guided tours, 22 acres of green lawns perfect for rolling, and a rotunda that has fun acoustics.

The exterior of the Texas State Capitol Building. The facade is pink granite. In the distance is a building with a dome structure on top.
The pink granite of the Texas State Capitol building makes for a pretty picture.
Shutterstock

11. Austin Nature & Science Center

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301 Nature Center Dr
Austin, TX
(512) 974-3888
Visit Website

Nature is a hands-on experience at this curiosity shop of scientific and natural artifacts located in west Zilker Park, which has an old-school, natural history museum vibe. Unlike in most museums, though, kids are encouraged to touch stuff, rather than being prohibited from it. Major bonus: It’s free.

12. Republic Square

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422 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 381-1147
Visit Website

Recently transformed from a dusty lot to a downtown oasis, Republic Square now boasts a lovely green lawn, lots of shade trees, and a nifty bird sculpture the little ones will enjoy climbing and sitting on. It’s a great place to visit in combination with the Central Library, and there are food trucks and a farmers market on weekends.

13. Zilker Metropolitan Park

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2100 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 974-6700
Visit Website

Sitting on Lady Bird Lake, with views of the city skyline, Zilker Park is packed with activities. Kayak around Lady Bird Lake, admire the waterfalls in the Botanical Garden, ride bikes, fly a kite, take the pups for a frolic, have a picnic on the grassy lawn, or all of the above.

14. Texas Toy Museum

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314 1/2 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

A fine place to ogle vintage toys, action figures, retro toys, classic toys, or console video games of childhoods past or present. Though seemingly targeting fanboys/girls, the museum is in fact focused on childhood education and also has a lot of hands-on activities, like vintage video games.

15. Bats!

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Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 364-0759

Austin is the seasonal home for the largest population of Mexican free-tailed bats in North America. They winter in Yucatan, Mexico (and sometimes further inland), then fly north each spring to nestle under the Congress Avenue bridge until late fall. Almost every night at sunset—but especially in April-May and late July/early August, they emerge from under the bridge to form a huge, mammalian cloud, heading east to scout for that night’s insect dinner. It is truly an amazing sight, and crowds line up on the east side of the bridge and on a designated watching area just southeast of it, to watch it.

16. The Long Center for the Performing Arts

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701 W Riverside Dr
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 474-5664
Visit Website

Live entertainment might seem like more of an adult activity, but Austin’s Long Center boasts diverse programming that appeals to all ages. Head to the family section of the events calendar and get ready to expose your little ones to the arts.

17. Epic Fun

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7101 W, TX-71 Suite D
Austin, TX 78735
(512) 957-9099
Visit Website

Locally owned Epic Fun is the new kid in town when it comes to family-oriented indoor recreation. The fun does indeed look epic, with things to do that appeal to all age groups (including adults). Laser tag, climbing walls, a ropes course, mini bowling, arcade games, and bumper cars are a few of the attractions, and there’s a real cafe with adult options including beer and wine. You can also book events there, from kids’ birthday parties to corporate events (see: ropes course).

18. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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4801 La Crosse Ave
Austin, TX 78739
(512) 232-0100
Visit Website

The Wildflower Center is a wonderful place to visit any time of year, but the season when its namesake flowers are abloom is pretty special. Founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson and Helen Hayes with the mission of conserving native plants, creating sustainable landscapes, and conserve resources, it features nine acres of gardens, a 16-acre arboretum, a large and impressive rainwater collection system, 800 species of native plants, and landscapes that, as its website notes, “support a vast web of life, and have recorded more than 143 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, and 1,800 species of insects.”

19. McKinney Falls State Park

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5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy
Austin, TX 78744
(512) 243-1643
Visit Website

McKinney Falls is so close to central Austin, but people tend to forget about it. Even if the creek is dry during drought years, the pool at the end of the hiking trails most often offer a refreshing plunge. And it’s perfect for the mild, sunny days between summers, with hikes of varying length and difficulty.

20. Dinosaur Park

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893 Union Chapel Rd
Cedar Creek, TX 78612
(512) 321-6262
Visit Website

This outdoor museum boasts life-size dinosaur replicas, like a 2-foot-long Compsognathus and an 85-foot-long Brachiosaurus. A tree-lined path takes you on an educational trek, and the kiddos will also like participating in a fossil dig and playing at the playground.

A large statue of a dinosaur stands in a clearing surrounded by trees. Courtesy of the Dinosaur Park Facebook Page

1. Inner Space Cavern

4200 I-35, Georgetown, TX 78626

This natural underground cavern was discovered by construction workers building the I-35 freeway. Choose from one of the guided tours (we like the one-hour version) and learn the difference between stalagmites and stalactites while you explore the cavern’s Ice Age animal fossils.

4200 I-35
Georgetown, TX 78626

2. Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms

Pioneer Farms Dr, Austin, TX 78754

Pioneer Farms is a longtime establishment that makes learning about Central Texas fun (really!). That’s because it’s immersive, offers participatory events, and, most important, has a petting zoo. If you don’t make an event there, you can still enjoy its themed historic areas on self-guided walking tours; they include everything from an 1841 Tonkawa encampment to an 1899 rural village.

Pioneer Farms Dr
Austin, TX 78754

3. Chaparral Ice

2525 W Anderson Ln, Austin, TX 78757
Children and an adult teacher on ice in an ice rink. All of the children are wearing ice skates.
Young skaters participate in a beginning ice skating class.
Courtesy of the Chaparral Ice Facebook Page

Risen from the ashes of the ice rink of a now-defunct mall, Chapparal Ice has reinvented itself as a refreshing recreation space with times for free skating as well as ice skating and recreational competitive hockey programs. Plus curling!

2525 W Anderson Ln
Austin, TX 78757

4. Dart Bowl

5700 Grover Ave, Austin, TX 78756

The 56-year-old Dart Bowl—which is located not at, but near, its original location—is a longtime favorite for nostalgics, serious bowlers, and amateurs of all ages. (Its cafe’s enchiladas are particularly legendary). Retro appeal aside, it’s a serious but fun bowling alley, recently remodeled with 32 lanes that have recently been updated with automatic bumpers and scorers. It has a video arcade, kids leagues, and a party room popular for kids’ birthdays.

5700 Grover Ave
Austin, TX 78756

5. Mount Bonnell

Mt Bonnell, Austin, TX 78731
An aerial view of Mount Bonnell. There is a large body of water surrounded by houses and trees.
The view from the top of Mount Bonnell.
Shutterstock

Head to the 5.1-acre Covert Park at Mount Bonnell for beautiful views at the highest point in the city. Even kids can make the 102-stair climb up to the peak, and the trail to the top is only about a third of a mile.

Mt Bonnell
Austin, TX 78731

6. Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

3801 W. 35th St., Austin, TX

Located in a lakeside villa built in 1916, Laguna Gloria is a museum that includes the fantastically fun Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park on its enchanting grounds, as well as the lovely peacocks that wander the area along with adjacent Mayfield Park—kid pleasers on both fronts. This is a don’t miss.

3801 W. 35th St.
Austin, TX

7. Patterson Park

4200 Brookview Rd., Austin, TX

Patterson Park is an outdoor oasis for kids, complete with basketball courts, a mini skate ramp, volleyball courts, picnic tables, multiple playgrounds, and top-notch trees to climb. Its Flamingo Mitote Its  mosaic sculpture, created by artist Stephanie Distefano and community members and maintained by the Chula League, also makes for one gorgeous pool-equipment shed.

4200 Brookview Rd.
Austin, TX

8. Texas Memorial Museum

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Formed in the 1930s as Austin’s first science museum, the Texas Memorial Museum focuses on the state’s natural history. Hardcore dinosaur lovers can savor more than 5 million specimens, including huge dinosaur skeletons and fossilized animals, gems and minerals, and wildlife specimens.

University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

9. Pease District Park

1100 Kingsbury St, Austin, TX 78703

Pease Park, which runs alongs Shoal Creek just west of Lamar Boulevard, starting not far from downtown, is a big, beloved, and long-lived public park in Austin, great for a run or a stroll. It also has a playground, tons of picnic tables under a canopy of giant trees, volleyball courts, and an off-leash dog-walking area.

1100 Kingsbury St
Austin, TX 78703

10. Texas Capitol

1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
The exterior of the Texas State Capitol Building. The facade is pink granite. In the distance is a building with a dome structure on top.
The pink granite of the Texas State Capitol building makes for a pretty picture.
Shutterstock

It may be easy to ignore the Texas State Capitol for fear that it’s boring, but that would be a mistake. One of the prettiest capitol buildings in the country—decked out in distinctive pink granite—also boasts free guided tours, 22 acres of green lawns perfect for rolling, and a rotunda that has fun acoustics.

1100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

11. Austin Nature & Science Center

301 Nature Center Dr, Austin, TX

Nature is a hands-on experience at this curiosity shop of scientific and natural artifacts located in west Zilker Park, which has an old-school, natural history museum vibe. Unlike in most museums, though, kids are encouraged to touch stuff, rather than being prohibited from it. Major bonus: It’s free.

301 Nature Center Dr
Austin, TX

12. Republic Square

422 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701

Recently transformed from a dusty lot to a downtown oasis, Republic Square now boasts a lovely green lawn, lots of shade trees, and a nifty bird sculpture the little ones will enjoy climbing and sitting on. It’s a great place to visit in combination with the Central Library, and there are food trucks and a farmers market on weekends.

422 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701

13. Zilker Metropolitan Park

2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Sitting on Lady Bird Lake, with views of the city skyline, Zilker Park is packed with activities. Kayak around Lady Bird Lake, admire the waterfalls in the Botanical Garden, ride bikes, fly a kite, take the pups for a frolic, have a picnic on the grassy lawn, or all of the above.

2100 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704

14. Texas Toy Museum

314 1/2 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

A fine place to ogle vintage toys, action figures, retro toys, classic toys, or console video games of childhoods past or present. Though seemingly targeting fanboys/girls, the museum is in fact focused on childhood education and also has a lot of hands-on activities, like vintage video games.

314 1/2 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

15. Bats!

Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Austin is the seasonal home for the largest population of Mexican free-tailed bats in North America. They winter in Yucatan, Mexico (and sometimes further inland), then fly north each spring to nestle under the Congress Avenue bridge until late fall. Almost every night at sunset—but especially in April-May and late July/early August, they emerge from under the bridge to form a huge, mammalian cloud, heading east to scout for that night’s insect dinner. It is truly an amazing sight, and crowds line up on the east side of the bridge and on a designated watching area just southeast of it, to watch it.

Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

16. The Long Center for the Performing Arts

701 W Riverside Dr, Austin, TX 78704

Live entertainment might seem like more of an adult activity, but Austin’s Long Center boasts diverse programming that appeals to all ages. Head to the family section of the events calendar and get ready to expose your little ones to the arts.

701 W Riverside Dr
Austin, TX 78704

17. Epic Fun

7101 W, TX-71 Suite D, Austin, TX 78735

Locally owned Epic Fun is the new kid in town when it comes to family-oriented indoor recreation. The fun does indeed look epic, with things to do that appeal to all age groups (including adults). Laser tag, climbing walls, a ropes course, mini bowling, arcade games, and bumper cars are a few of the attractions, and there’s a real cafe with adult options including beer and wine. You can also book events there, from kids’ birthday parties to corporate events (see: ropes course).

7101 W, TX-71 Suite D
Austin, TX 78735

18. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin, TX 78739

The Wildflower Center is a wonderful place to visit any time of year, but the season when its namesake flowers are abloom is pretty special. Founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson and Helen Hayes with the mission of conserving native plants, creating sustainable landscapes, and conserve resources, it features nine acres of gardens, a 16-acre arboretum, a large and impressive rainwater collection system, 800 species of native plants, and landscapes that, as its website notes, “support a vast web of life, and have recorded more than 143 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, and 1,800 species of insects.”

4801 La Crosse Ave
Austin, TX 78739

19. McKinney Falls State Park

5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744

McKinney Falls is so close to central Austin, but people tend to forget about it. Even if the creek is dry during drought years, the pool at the end of the hiking trails most often offer a refreshing plunge. And it’s perfect for the mild, sunny days between summers, with hikes of varying length and difficulty.

5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy
Austin, TX 78744

20. Dinosaur Park

893 Union Chapel Rd, Cedar Creek, TX 78612
A large statue of a dinosaur stands in a clearing surrounded by trees. Courtesy of the Dinosaur Park Facebook Page

This outdoor museum boasts life-size dinosaur replicas, like a 2-foot-long Compsognathus and an 85-foot-long Brachiosaurus. A tree-lined path takes you on an educational trek, and the kiddos will also like participating in a fossil dig and playing at the playground.

893 Union Chapel Rd
Cedar Creek, TX 78612