There are so many reasons to visit Austin, Texas, as there is so many fun things to do in the Texas Capital. While the city is growing in leaps and bounds, new and exciting activities have opened up along with it. Our family has recently visited a few of these new spots in Austin that we wanted to share. Read on for top 7 Weird Things to do with Kids in Austin, Texas.
Being a native Austinite, I am constantly asked if Austin is “family-friendly.” Without hesitation, I say YES! Since Austin has some unique nicknames – Live Music Capital of the World and Keep Austin Weird – most parents think that it’s not the best place to travel with kids. But with beautiful parks, unique history, and cool outdoor activities, there is more to do with kids in Austin than I can list in one article.
And the best time of the year to visit Austin is Spring time as the average temperature is 75 degrees – not too hot to get outdoors and check out some fun things to do. We recently tried a few fun things as a family that we wanted to share. All of these items received two BIG thumbs up from my kiddos (they are 7, 14, & 15) but are fun for all ages – even if you wanted to try them kid-free!
1. Weird Things to Do with Kids in Austin: HOPE Outdoor Garden
Take a can of spray paint with you and leave your own mark at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery in downtown Austin. What originally was a failed condominium plan, turned into a well-known outdoor art canvas for both aspiring artists and random tourists. Every time you go, it’s a different experience, as you never know when the “art” will change. My kids love to roam the multiple levels of the free gallery, and yes, we have even painted our own masterpieces here.
Texas TravelingMom Tip: Parking is a bit of a challenge, so we recommend visiting in the morning.
2. Weird Things to Do with Kids in Austin: Franklin BBQ
What’s so weird about BBQ? How about standing in line for the best BBQ in Texas? At Franklin BBQ in East Austin, people wait in crazy, long lines just to get BBQ – like 2+ hour waits. This unbelievable, melt-in-your-mouth brisket and ribs is absolutely line-worthy. It’s one of those meals you will remember the rest of your life, and the experience of sitting at the wooden picnic table, eating off of butcher paper while smelling the smokey BBQ air makes it so unique.
Texas TravelingMom Tip: Don’t worry, we are not suggesting you wait 2 hours to try it – here are some tips for beating the lines.
3. Weird Things to Do with Kids in Austin: Austin Water Bikes
Town Lake cuts right through downtown Austin. There are many ways to enjoy these calm waters – paddle around in a kayak, balance on a stand-up paddle board, take a quiet walk along the new boardwalk, or enjoy a dinner cruise. One of the newest ways to enjoy the lake in on a water bike with
One of the newest ways to enjoy the lake in on a water bike is with Austin Water Bikes. For an hour, we cruised the lake on a bike. Easy to maneuver, we burned some calories while getting outside. It was totally fun and even my 5-year-old enjoyed it.
Texas TravelingMom Tip: Make sure to wear shoes that tie or strap on so they don’t fall off into the lake.
4. Weird Things to Do with Kids in Austin: Cypress Valley Canopy Tours
Head a little outside the city and spend half a day in the trees. Cypress Valley Canopy Tours in Spicewood offers a 90-minute zip-lining tour through the trees that included 5 zip lines, 2 suspension bridges, and a rappel at the end. This tour is only for ages 10 and up and it makes for a really fun family day. And if you are brave enough, you can sleep in a treehouse here too.
Texas TravelingMom Tip: Wear jeans/pants or longer shorts so the harnesses don’t hurt to wear.
5. Weird Things to Do with Kids in Austin: Hamilton Pool
Located less than 20 miles southwest of Austin, Hamilton Pool Preserve is a lush, cool oasis who’s main highlight is the collapsed grotto that includes a pool and waterfall. We had seen the pictures, but nothing prepared us for the beauty of Hamilton Pool. When your surroundings look like something out of Hawaii, you have to shake your head to remind yourself that you are actually in Texas.
Just a quick hike down to the grotto and you feel like you have entered a tropical rain forest. You can hear the roar of the waterfall before you even see it – not a Niagara Falls kind of a roar, but one that definitely heightens your excitement to get there. Once the clearing opens up and you see the gorgeous blue of the pool, you can’t help but think, “is this real?”
In addition to swimming, visitors can climb down behind the waterfall, clamber over the rocks, sun themselves on the rocky beach, or explore more of Hamilton Creek along the trail that runs beside it. You can easily spend the whole afternoon here.
Texas TravelingMom Tip: Make a reservation to visit Hamilton Pool Preserve so you won’t get turned away due to overcrowding.
6. Weird Things to Do with Kids in Austin: Austin Scavenger Hunt
For my daughter’s 14th birthday, I created a fun way to hit all her favorite spots in Austin. Murals, buildings, and more, the Austin Scavenger Hunt was built for teens but would be fun for anyone. It’s a great way to see lots of fun culture, art, and history in Austin in one afternoon. Check out our whole Austin Scavenger Hunt here.
Texas TravelingMom Tip: If you have 2 drivers at different locations, the hunt goes much faster.
7. Weird Things to Do with Kids in Austin: Cathedral of Junk
In the backyard of a home in South Austin sits a 2-3 story pile of junk – excuse me, Cathedral of Junk. A passion project of the home’s owner, for years people have visited the Cathedral and even brought more junk to be added to the masterpiece. My kids loved exploring and finding “artifacts” they had never seen before like a rotary telephone, a VCR, and a VHS video camera. The Cathedral is free to visit, but a donation is highly recommended.
Texas TravelingMom Tip: Call in advance on a weekday to see if the owner is home.