Family Activities in Austin, TX
Take to the waters with the help of Zilker Park Boat Rentals and canoe or kayak around Town Lake. Choose between a reasonable hourly rate or an equally affordable all day rate, bring cash and provide a picture ID and the boat is yours for as long as you want it, until dark. Town Lake marks the heart of Austin, constantly bustling with activity. Spending a day on the water will allow you to closely examine all of Austin’s inhabitants, from turtles and snakes to hippies and college students. See fish swim along your boat, watch the joggers run the trails and even make friends with nearby fellow rowers. Zilker Park Boat Rentals does not take reservations, and dogs are allowed, although life jackets are not provided for animals.
Austin is first and foremost the capital of Texas, a fact boldly trumpeted by the impressive Capitol building. With the largest gross square footage of any state Capitol, the Texas Capitol rivals only the White House in terms of size. In fact, the Texas landmark actually rises higher than the White House by almost 15 feet. Learn about this historic building and the workings of the government of the largest state in the union by exploring the structure and the grounds by either a guided or self-guided tour. Guided tours run 45 minutes in length and are available every day of the week, with reduced times on the weekends. Start your visit at the Visitors Center to see which tour is right for you.
The serene landscape of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin provides families with the right environment to learn about nature firsthand. The center’s dedicated staff educates visitors about conservation practices, native plant gardening, nature education, and native plant resources. Traveling art exhibits and installations further add to the beauty of the center’s vibrant gardens. Trails through the grounds take full advantage of Texas Hill Country, showcasing native trees and shrubs and stunning wildflowers in the spring. During the summer, children can attend Nature Nights, guided hikes which not only highlight plant varieties, but also local animals and insects. Another popular children’s event is the Halloween Goblins in the Garden festival.
The Austin Children’s Museum boasts 2,500 square feet of gallery and program space to inspire learning and fun for children. With exhibits such as En Mi Familia (In My Family) influenced by artist Carmen Lomas Garza as well as Global City, kids learn about community and multiculturalism through play. In addition to rotating exhibits, the museum also has programs that allow for more concentrated areas of learning, such as Engineering Saturdays, where on specific dates, students from the University of Texas’ Cockrell School of Engineering present concepts to children. Because the museum’s line-up of exhibits and programs does change with time, it is best to check the website before your visit.
Treat your tots to Amy’s Ice Cream and you’ll leave with a happy bunch. Amy’s is an Austin staple, from the delicious ice cream to the welcoming atmosphere. At the location on Burnet Road, children can use their newfound energy to climb on a colorful playscape while parents watch, relaxing on chairs close by. Everyone can find an ice cream to fit their craving here with a seemingly endless choice of toppings and “crush’ns” that include a long list of popular candies, cookies, fruits and nuts. During the summer months, Amy’s on Burnet screens popular children's movies at night. Amy’s Ice Cream has several locations in Austin, and while not all of them provide a kid-specific play area, any Amy’s will serve up a delicious experience to share with your family.