Austin, the Live Music Capitol of the World, is well known for its music, its food, and its laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. But is it fun for kids? YES! There are a ton of fun things to do in Austin with kids, making it the ideal place in Texas to visit. Located a few short hours south of Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin is near the beautiful Texas Hill Country. So in Austin, you get culture, history and outdoor fun. And for those of you traveling into Austin the next few weeks for SXSW, here’s some fun things to get you outside and enjoying what the city has to offer.
7 Fun Things to do in Austin with Kids
When the world emerges on Austin for 2 weeks every March for South by Southwest (SXSW) – the annual interactive, film, & music conference, most of their time is spent indoors at presentations, symposiums, and more. But what they don’t realize is that March is the best time of year to be visiting Austin and there is so much to offer families that may be visiting for the conference, or just to get to know one of the best cities in Texas a little better.
Thinkery: The Austin Children’s Museum caters to children of all ages. With modern activities such as constructing and flying your own airplane and making a stop-action movie, kids are kept busy for hours here. Our favorite is the water music area where you can make music with different water play activities. We also love the hands-on experiments everyone is invited to enjoy in the kitchen lab each day. This is definitely one of the best children’s museums in Texas.
Cathedral of Junk: In a small backyard of a South Austin home, Vince Hannemann created an amazing work of art out of ordinary junk – TVs, bicycles, glass bottles, toys, and more are strategically placed about in the 3-story wonder. Take your time meandering through the ‘junk”, take a few pictures, and talk to the artist who is on hand. Some people are so dedicated to the Cathedral, they have gotten married there! The Cathedral of Junk is open on the weekends and by appointment on weekdays. It is absolutely free, but donations are welcome.
Stroll Down So Co: South Congress Avenue is alive with weirdness. Where else can you find a HUGE costume shop right next to Allens Boots? Musicians line the corners, ready to play their latest hits. You can find the perfect weird treat in the funky shops; from chocolate dipped bacon in the Big Top Candy Shop to the perfect vintage necklace from Uncommon Goods. And there are terrific murals all around South Congress for some great photos. We honestly love to stroll up and down for an afternoon. It’s a great place to get lunch too with burgers, pizza, Mexican food and more.
Barton Springs: Where else can you take a dip in March and be perfectly comfortable? The Springs are always 68 degrees allowing for a warm swim in the winter and a refreshing dip in the summer. Located at Zilker Park near downtown Austin, Barton Springs is the fourth largest natural spring in the state. Because it is so large, it hardly ever feels crowded. Take some time to visit the Austin Science and Nature Center and Dino Dig in Zilker Park while you are there. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a ride on the famed Zilker Zepher too (minimal cost).
Austin Murals Tour: Some of the best art in Austin can be found on the sides of buildings. For free. Hop in a pedicab and tour all the murals within a 10 block radius of 6th Street. Get your family’s picture taken in front of the famous “Greetings from Austin” sign. And give your sweetie a smooch at the “I love you so much” mural. Here is a listing of several fun murals in Austin to find.
Texas State Capitol: Alright, alright – we do actually have some historical sites to see as well here in the ATX – one of the most prominent being the Texas State Capitol. Built entirely out of Texas pink granite, it is one of the tallest state capitols in the nation. You can catch a free tour with a docent, play in the whispering hall, or visit one of the 17 memorials that cover the grounds. There is also a great museum with lots on hands-on exhibits for children to enjoy.
Salt Lick BBQ: There are lots of great choices for BBQ in Austin, but if you are looking for an authentic, Texas location to enjoy some amazing Que in, then you must take a drive out to the Salt Lick. Located in Dripping Springs (about half an hour south of Downtown) on a ranch, the scenery is worth the drive alone. But once you taste the tender, sweet goodness of long-smoked beef brisket, you won’t want to leave.
While in Austin, if you want to check out some live music, there are lots of venues that are child-friendly and play earlier in the evening. Check with your concierge at your hotel and they will be able to recommend a few locations.
The weather is terrific year round – ok, you might want to skip July and August when it’s simply too hot to move – and the people are welcoming and friendly. It’s a great place to visit in Texas with the entire family. There really is a lot to do in Austin with kids.