Lions, tigers, bears- and three legged wolves- are some of the many animals you will find at the Austin Zoo. This is a non-profit rescue zoo, funded by donations and private funds, with most of the animals saved from unfortunate circumstances (think laboratory research centers and circuses). What you won’t find at the zoo are paved trails and stands selling hot dogs and junky souvenirs. What you will find are natural paths through cedar trees, a variety of beautiful animals in various outdoor enclosures, a petting and feeding area, a reptile house and kiddie train, and a morning or afternoon’s worth of entertainment. Being both educative and fun, Austin Zoo really is the perfect place to spend time with the whole family.
- Address: 10807 Rawhide Trail
- Website: http://austinzoo.org/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/austinzooarescuezoo/
Barton Creek Greenbelt
There are many access points along this 7.9 mile trail that runs along Barton Creek. Bring some chairs and drinks to the waters edge and the kids will likely spend hours exploring. The creek stagnates or even dries up in some spots during the summer, so spring is the best time for splashing. Obvious choice for those who love to wander around at beautiful scenery outside of the hectivity of everyday life.
- Address: 3755 S Capital of Texas Hwy
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barton_Creek_Greenbelt
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barton-Creek-Greenbelt/112390482111359
Austin Nature and Science Center
This “living museum” features wildlife exhibits (owls, hawks, and a coyote to name a few), a trail that leads to a wet weather creek, and (the main attraction for most young kids) a dino pit. The dino pit contains fossil replicas within what is basically a gigantic sand box. Digging tools and buckets are strewn about but it doesn’t hurt to bring your own. Educative action for future historians!
- Address: 2389 Stratford Dr
- Website: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/austin-nature-and-science-center
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ATXnaturecenter/
The main draw here is the fountain area. Kiddos of all ages enjoy running through the fountain show, which is programmed with different timing and heights in the morning, afternoon and evening (colored lights add to the fun at night). There are several mini pools along the edges, just right for toddlers who enjoy splashing but might be intimidated by the fountains. The park also has an observation hill overlooking Lady Bird Lake and a children’s garden.
- Address: 1000 Barton Springs Rd.
- Website: https://www.austinparks.org/parks/butler-park-formerly-town-lake-park/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Butler-Park/145122315511504
Central Market, North Lamar
This unique grocery store has a tasty cafe with outdoor seating and an adjacent, large playscape. Live music adds to the fun on Friday and Saturday nights. A grocery store is not not necessarily the most attractive location specifically for children (unless you are looking for tasty treats of all kinds!) but if you want to choose one where they most likely won’t get bored immediately then the Central Market is a safe pick.
- Address: 4001 N. Lamar Blvd.
- Website: https://centralmarket.com/stores/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Central-Market-23298700957/
Zilker Park is the pride of Austin, and within its 351 acres there is plenty to offer children ages 0-90. For the younger set check out the Zilker Zephyr. This narrow-gauge rail begins near Barton Springs Pool and takes you on a scenic ride past the deliciously cool and clear Barton Creek, past Lady Bird Lake, and through the park. Just a few steps from the train depot is a large play scape nestled in the trees. Across Barton Springs Boulevard you’ll find Zilker Park’s “Great Lawn”. Take a ball, blanket and picnic lunch with you to this 46 acre grass expanse for a few hours of entertainment.
- Address: 2100 Barton Springs Rd
- Website: http://zilkerpark.org/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zilkerparkaustin360/
Deep Eddy Pool
Deep Eddy, Texas’s oldest swimming pool, is filled with fresh well water (no chlorine or chemicals) and features an expansive wading area. The pool area is not shaded so, along with your pool toys, bring plenty of sun block.
- Address: 401 Deep Eddy Ave
- Website: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/deep-eddy-pool
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Deep-Eddy-Pool/108529015837567
What are your favorite things to do in Austin with kids? Leave a comment!