Known as the Live Music Capital of World, Austin is also a prime destination for family vacations. From the food, outdoor activities and arts, discover plenty of kid-friendly things to do any season in family friendly Austin, Texas.
Although years ago, I remember my first visit to Austin like it was yesterday. Road tripping from a business meeting in Houston, the moment I entered this friendly Texas town, I relaxed. The vibe was welcoming, fun, and exciting. Austin may feel like a little Texas city, but nothing in Texas is small, so you’ll find tons of things to do in this 2-day family friendly Austin itinerary.
Family Friendly Austin
Start your Austin family vacation at the affordable, landmark Austin Motel, just 15 minutes from the airport. Family owned and operated since 1938, you’ll feel right at home at one of the 41 affordable rooms or lounging at the 50’s style pool. You’ll have a view of the State Capitol and the famous bat bridge.
Bump in the Night Austin Bat Bridge
Yes, you read that right – bat bridge. From March to November, Austin is home to the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tail bats in North America. Around dusk, walk to the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge and your kids will giggle at the amazing insect-eating bats’ nightly flight for food.
Family fun on South Congress Avenue
You’ll work up a hunger then, so continue a couple blocks south to the hip and trendy South Congress Avenue (called SoCo by the locals). This strip offers a variety of eclectic shops, dining, and entertainment.
Time your vacation for the First Thursday of each month when businesses stay open late. Mingle with hundreds of others and listen to the live music that keeps Austin famous. No matter the night, be sure to order from the block of food trailers and try the chicken cones. Other worthwhile eats are Zen Japanese Food Fast and Guero’s Taco Bar.
Outdoor Family Fun at Lady Birk Lake
Just south of downtown flanking the southern shores of Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park invites the family for outdoor fun. From kite-flying and Frisbee tossing to kayaking and canoeing, there’s plenty to do in this 400-acre park. Zilker Playground features a miniature train, a fire engine made for climbing, along with a playscape full of bridges, ramps, chutes and slides, and picnic tables too. Jump in! When the Texas heat rises, the 68-degree water is refreshing at Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed swimming hole at the park.
Along Barton Springs Road, choose from quick lunch options, such as the best TexMex restaurant in town, Chuy’s. Try the Chuychanga, a chicken and green chile concoction. Then, sit back and view the tributes to Elvis Presley, from images to hubcaps.
Finger Lickin’ Good at Salt Lick Bar-B-Que
Finish off your evening at the Salt Lick Bar-B-Que, named as “31 Places to Go This Summer” by the New York Times. You’ll be lickin’ your fingers and digging into some the best Bar-B-Que you’ve ever had. The kids will love standing by the open pit to watch how they smoke their meat. Located a short drive from Austin, Salt Lick is set among rolling hills, abundant wildlife, century-old oak trees and native wildflowers. You’ll see the locals carry in coolers filled with beer, so remember to B.Y.O.B.
Explore Austin with the Family
Spend your second day exploring Austin. From the diverse selection of animals at the Austin Zoo to the Austin Children’s Museum, day two will be as fun as your first day in Austin.
Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary
Begin the morning by visiting the 300 animals and 100 different species at the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary, just outside of town. It’s not your typical zoo, as it’s also an animal rescue with a diverse selection, from lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), and lots of monkeys, birds, wolves, deer, and wolves. You can also feed the goats, alpacas, and sheep.
On the eastern edge of the Second Street District, give your family a fun, hands-on learning experience at the Austin Children’s Museum. Permanent programs include an Austin Kiddie Limits stage, complete with TV monitors playing back performances; a three-level Funstruction Zone for construction; and En mi familia/In My Family, an interactive exhibit on cultural family traditions inspired by nationally acclaimed artist Carmen Lomas Garza.
Festivals, So Many Festivals
Plan your Austin vacation to coincide with the city’s many festivals. From celebrations of music to ice cream festivals, you’ll find fun in Austin festivals.
No matter when you visit, two days isn’t enough time for all the things to do in Austin.