wholefoodscafeIf your kids are aspiring musicians or big fans of live music, you to take them to Austin, Texas. Austin, easily accessible from Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio, and worthy of a trip from anywhere in the country, also has a burgeoning food scene and a number of interesting museums.

Food and music co-exist at the flagship Whole Foods, near where my favorite specialty food store started in 1982. Don’t dismiss a trip here as ‘just another Whole Foods’. For one, there is live music every Thursday afternoon, outside if the weather is good.

rest stopIt was over 100 degrees when we visited Austin and still the musicians played outside. Inside, the store bustled, with tastings, in-store cafes and a huge wine and beer selection (with generous samples for adults). There was even a massage area. Definitely my favorite food store ever.

Despite the heat, we rented bikes from Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, owned by native son Lance Armstrong. The shop has a wide choice of bikes, including kids’ bikes, and a café. There are even showers for commuters.


Biking along the traffic-free Barton Creek Greenbelt is ideal for families. The trail has water fountains and ice-filled water coolers on extremely hot days.

Plan ahead and bring your bathing suits for a dip in the Barton Springs Pool (the public pool is open to anyone with $3).

We stayed at the Omni, which has a rooftop pool and a huge gym for those seeking an air conditioned workout.

Besides hitting bars and listening to music, a popular evening activity (and one more suitable to family travel) is heading to the Congress Avenue Bridge, to see the nightly bat migration.

We went the extra mile and booked a kayak tour with Live Love Paddle. My 14 year old loved being out on the water on the dark trip back (we were given lights so we could follow each other) but she ran out of energy and I wound up paddling the double kayak by myself. Still, it was a cool way to see the bats.

Austin has a new concert venue, Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater (the long running TV show used to be broadcast from UT Austin). Even if you are not in town for a concert, stop by for a tour of the LEED certified intimate space – you get to see backstage, dressing rooms and walk on stage. A thrill for kids who are fans of American Idol or The Voice.

barton springsThe theater is a couple of blocks from the Austin Children’s Museum, which has a design center where kids can create art from recycled materials. It is also near Jo’s (the original is in the hip shopping district on South Congress), a new-fangled diner with excellent coffee and plenty of vegetarian choices.

A bit father away, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a must for flower lovers. Kids can easily walk the short trails; one has a cave and a windmill. There is also an interactive area with a ‘secret’ little door for kids only. Be sure to check out the learning center, for kids and adults, where you can find out about the former first lady and even hear her speak.