Danielle lives in Austin’s Bouldin Creek neighborhood with her husband and kids (ages 5 and 3). We asked this native Austinite to share her favorite places to explore the city with her littles.
Not only is Austin the capital of Texas, it’s also been named the “The Live Music Capital of the World,” with more than 200 music venues you can find everything from country to hip hop. When you’re in Austin consider taking advantage of the thriving short term rental market and find a place to stay via HomeAway, Airbnb or Vrbo. And if you have a rental car, Waco and Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market is 90 minutes north.
Austin is known for its breakfast tacos, which are tasty, portable, and kid friendly. Austinites are locked in debate about the best breakfast tacos – you will find those loyal to either Torchy’s or Tacodeli, two local chains that have locations around the city and are also sold in various local coffee shops around the city. Valentina’s, which has a tex-mex barbeque take on breakfast tacos, is a newcomer that has garnered high praise. You’ll have hard time finding a bad breakfast taco around town, and may be a convert by the time you leave! Oh, and if you prefer tacos of the lunch/dinner variety, these places fit the bill as well.
The Salt Lick
There are plenty of places to get fantastic barbeque in town, but for the true Texas experience I recommend heading out to The Salt Lick. The Salt Lick is in Driftwood, which is about 30 minutes outside of town. There is usually a wait, but it’s worth it, and there is a huge outdoor waiting area where you can buy popcorn and lemonade, and listen to live music (on the weekends). Don’t worry about missing out and just get family style, which is all you can eat. It’s BYOB and cash only.
Barbeque and Tex-Mex
Austin’s most famous local cuisines also happen to be very kid-friendly! There are endless options for Tex-Mex in Austin, but two reliable choices are Chuy’s, and Maudie’s. For more interior Mexican food, we love Polvo’s. My kids are happy as long as the chips and queso keep coming!
If you are here in late March to late October, check out the 1.5 million bats that take to the sky at dusk from the Congress Avenue Bridge. This is an unusual and very cool tourist attraction that kids love – the bats streaming out from under the bridge are quite a sight! You can watch from various vantage points around the bridge, or take one of the many river cruises that are offered which give you the best views.
The Thinkery is Austin’s children’s museum, and it’s a real gem. It’s located about 15 minutes Northeast of downtown, in the Mueller development. It’s worth a trip out to the development, where you can easily spend a full morning or afternoon. In addition to the Thinkery, the development has a huge playground, a lake, and a walking trail. There are plenty of places to eat in the development, such as J.T. Youngblood’s for fried chicken and other southern far, and be sure to sample some of Austin’s own Lick Ice Cream.
Zilker Park is a 361-acre park nestled in the heart of downtown, right off Lady Bird Lake (and the hike and bike trail). The park is great for kids of all ages and has picnic facilities, bike/canoe rentals, and a very large playground for children. Small children will enjoy the Zilker Zephyr train, which is a 20-25 minute train ride around the park. Depending on the weather, you can also swim in Barton Springs Pool, a huge spring-fed pool which is always a cool 68-degrees.
- Get coffee and a family photo you’ll ‘love’ at Jo’s Downtown
- All aboard! Check out the Austin Steam Train Association for a 66 mile round trip excursion journey through the Texas Hill Country
- Tour the Texas State Capitol
- Follow the dinosaur tracks at the Austin Nature & Science Center
- Peter Pan Mini Golf has been a favorite pastime of Austinites since 1948
- Learn the history of the Lone Star State at the Bullock Texas State History Museum
- Visit the beautifully designed, new Austin Central Library
- Ride the road and the waves at Austin Duck Adventures
Photo credit: Facebook