Austin, Texas is an exciting, vibrant city offering tons of activities and popular attractions for visitors of all ages. Explore the city by heading to the renowned hands-on children’s museum The Thinkery; catch a local band at Austin Beer Garden Brewery; or glide along Lady Bird Lake in a riverboat. All this and so much more lies within a short distance of numerous accommodations. Book your vacation rental in Austin today. Start planning your vacation with a look at the top 10 things to do when visiting Austin with your children.
1. Cruise Lady Bird Lake
Austin has several lakes within the city, each offering cruises so you can see the skyline from the water. For a kid-friendly cruise on a riverboat, check out Lone Star Riverboat Cruises of Lady Bird Lake. The afternoon sightseeing cruises are perfect for little ones and give adults a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery. The entire family can also enjoy a sunset cruise along the lake. This cruise goes under the Congress Avenue Bridge, where millions of bats fly away each night.
2. Tour Downtown on a Duck Boat
For a quirky view of Austin combined with kid-friendly entertainment, hop aboard a duck boat with Austin Duck Adventures. The tour takes you to all the popular city sites, including the Texas State Capitol and Sixth Street, before splashing down into Lake Austin. While on land, kids love it when the captain tells them to quack at the locals on the street.
3. See Lions at the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary
Visit the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary for a day of meeting rescued wildlife, such as African lions and Galapagos tortoises. This sanctuary rehabilitates more than 300 animals from around the world in its space. Kids love petting the goats and llamas in the petting zoo or seeing butterflies land on their arms in the Butterfly Garden. Ride along the Rawhide Rocket to get a view of the entire zoo. Pack up some sandwiches at your vacation rental so you can stop by the picnic grove for lunch.
4. Listen to Live Music
Austin is called the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and you can find live music at any time in the city. During the day, check out the street musicians on Sixth Street or head to the park for an afternoon concert. There are several venues throughout the Austin that cater to families, so younger kids can enjoy the music. Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company serves pizza and sandwiches alongside local music, while Nutty Brown Cafe has a jazz brunch every Sunday. Head to Marias Taco Xpress or Gueros Taco bar for delicious tacos with music outdoors.
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5. Explore the Austin Thinkery
Formerly known as the Austin Children’s Museum, the Austin Thinkery wants children to ask “how” and “why,” with creative, interactive exhibits for even the youngest learners to explore. Toddlers can crawl through garden-themed Bloom, while older children launch gliders in Spark Shop or tinker in the Innovators’ Workshop. The Thinkery is in the heart of downtown, making it easy to reach from your vacation rental.
6. Take the Zephyr Through Zilker Metropolitan Park
Kids of all ages enjoy a leisurely ride through Zilker Metropolitan Park aboard the Zephyr, a miniature train that takes you on a 30-minute trip through the 350-acre park. The ride gives you an excellent overview of the park, passing through sites such as Barton Creek and Lady Bird Lake. There are plenty of other activities available in the park, so plan to spend the day here. Stroll through the botanical gardens, swim in Barton Springs Pool, check out the Austin Nature and Science Center, or watch a family friendly performance at the Hillside Theater.
7. Learn About Texas at Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
Older kids and history buffs love learning about the state at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Take a walk from your vacation rental to the UT campus area, and look for the building with the large Texas star. This three-story museum highlights the history of the region, including Native American life. There are several interactive exhibits that appeal to younger children, and adults can relax with a historical film in the IMAX theater.
8. Swim at Shore Club Volente Beach
For plenty of fun water activities, travel a few miles north to Lake Travis and Shore Club Volente Beach. This water park contains plenty of swimming pools and slides suitable for all ages. Adults can swim at the beach while the kids shoot water cannons from the pirate ships. A snack bar on site serves up favorites, such as pizza and ice cream, or you can bring along a picnic to enjoy lunch on the shore.
9. Climb Mount Bonnell
For a gorgeous panoramic view of the city and lake below, climb 190 feet to the summit of Mount Bonnell. The hike is an easy one-third of a mile to the top, with boulders and stairs for young kids to climb. This climb is perfect for those looking to spend time outdoors when the weather is nice.
10. Go Underground at Inner Space Cavern
For a unique adventure, head to Inner Space Cavern for a tour underground. Located under the I-35 freeway, this prehistoric natural cavern has animal fossils dating back to the Ice Age. Families with younger children can take the one-hour tour through the cavern to view the giant columns, stalagmites, and stalactites around every corner. Those with older children can choose a longer tour to hear about the caves history and how it was discovered by construction workers.
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