If you’re like me, summer camp is a welcome, albeit short, break from the kids. But what do you do to entertain them the rest of the summer? Family day trips are an excellent way to spend time with family. We have compiled a list of day trips and other activities in and around Austin that your family can try out.
When you think of family, the first thing that often comes to mind is getting together with your parents and siblings and getting memories of you as a kid back for the family album. Family trips can be an amazing experience for everyone involved.
The Austin area has so much to offer for its visitors and residents that no one is ever bored – there are things to see, people to meet, music to enjoy, food and drinks for every taste, beautiful places to see, and fun activities at every turn.
Family Hiking in Austin
Hiking is a great way to spend time with your family while enjoying nature. Hiking can be a great family bonding experience, as it is an activity that strengthens relationships and builds memories. It helps you explore the world around you and have an adventure together. It also gives you the opportunity to teach your children how to be outdoor-savvy, and how to enjoy nature responsibly.
- Shoal Creek Trail – Austin’s oldest hike and bike trail, built in the early 1960s. One of the trail’s highlights is a small canyon near the trail’s northern end, visit for a quick and easy nature walk.
- Trails at Enchanted Rock – Fredericksburg – The massive pink granite dome that serves as its centerpiece is breathtaking and visible for miles.
- Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail – runs through west Austin and is a haven for urban outdoor enthusiasts. In the summer, the park takes advantage of the shaded banks and limestone bluffs of Barton Creek by offering hiking, biking, climbing, and a plethora of swimming holes.
- Bull Creek Preserve – Austin – steep-sloped canyons, closed-canopy woodlands of oak and Ashe juniper, and meandering creeks provide excellent habitat for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.
- Spicewood Valley Trail – Austin
- Walnut Creek Trail – a 1.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail near Austin, Texas that features a river and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.
- Onion Creek and Homestead Trail Loop – Austin – a 6.5-mile adventure that’s great for the whole family and full of surprises around every corner.
- San Gabriel River Dinosaur Tracks – Leander – 12 dinosaur footprints are embedded in the riverbed. Few people are aware of the dinosaur tracks. This is not a marked trail; no fences or signs, which adds to the mystical feel of the experience.
Hiking is the best outdoor activity to do with kids in Austin. There are numerous trailheads, many of which begin in neighborhoods and lead to greenbelt parks and creeks. Families interested in hiking in Austin have a plethora of options! Hiking trails can be found throughout the city and its surroundings. Hikes are a good way for parents and their kids to get exercise together, which promotes health and reduces stress levels in both the parent and child.
Great Austin Day Trips
Not all trips are created equal when it comes to making memories for the future. There are quite a few things to consider before booking your next family trip so that it’s one of those incredible ones. What does every parent want? Their children’s childhood memories to last forever and be cherished by future generations!
- Port Aransas – a new and salty adventure awaits! Fishing, shopping, iconic festivals, great birding, delectable dining, and miles of shoreline are all available.
- Dripping Springs – combines some of Texas’ best outdoor activities with food and craft beverages typically found only in urban centers.
- Fredericksburg – easily among the top day trips from San Antonio, with plenty of vineyards to choose from, as well as a ton of great restaurants, shops, distilleries, and nearby hikes.
- Wimberley – Known for its quirkiness, painted boots that adorn the town, numerous art galleries, and outstanding swimming holes (two of which, Jacob’s Well and the Blue Hole, are the famous swimming holes in central Texas.
- San Antonio – a distinct location in that it is a synthesis of two cultures The southern Mexican influence is evident in the city’s food, festivals, and traditions. Of course, it’s still Texas. Cowboy hats, country music, and BBQ are also plentiful.
- New Braunfels – a fun destination with activities for everyone. There’s a 70-acre water park and two rivers with dozens of tubing operators, as well as plenty of antique shopping.
- Georgetown – located thirty minutes north of Austin, has one of the most beautiful town squares in Texas. The historic facades of downtown Georgetown are made up of local shops and restaurants that sell everything from baked goods to antique collectibles.
Austin Swimming Holes
As any Texan can attest, one can only stand the sweltering summer heat for so long before needing to fully immerse themselves in a lake or river. We are fortunate in Central Texas to have one of the most extensive networks of lakes and rivers in the state, which happen also be home to some pretty spectacular swimming holes.
- Lake Pflugerville Park – Pflugerville
- Deep Eddy Pool – Austin – Deep Eddy has a beach entry, a graduated shallow area, and a large area for swimmers of all ages. The other side has lap lanes and a deep end for older children to play.
- Barton Springs Pool – Austin
- West Lake Beach – a charming lakeside marina in North Austin with a swimming hole that doesn’t require a rocky hike but still offers a variety of other activities.
- McKinney Falls State Park – Austin – The Upper Falls are ideal for floaties. Without one, there are still places to enjoy the water at Upper Falls. Adults and kids can both stand on submerged rocks in various locations.
- Hamilton Pool Preserve – Dripping Springs
- Emma Long Park – Austin – When you want to put your toes in the sand, swim, and let the kids splash and picnic, here’s a perfectly lovely play day.
- Blue Hole – Wimberley – well-known for its lovely blue-green color, clear waters, excellent swimming, and family-friendly atmosphere.
If all of the Austin spots are just too busy for you, take a drive out to the Blue Hole in Wimberley for a tranquil tree-lined sanctuary. Swimming has long been considered an excellent way for children to boost their self-esteem. Teach your child essential skills that they will need if they ever fall into the water, such as rolling onto their back, treading water, and floating with assistance. Not only that, but swimming also helps build social skills by teaching children how to interact with others while in the pool.
Water Parks near Austin
Water parks are great places to spend your summer. They are full of fun activities such as water slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and splash pads. All of these things make a typical day at the water park a memorable one.
- Pirate’s Bay Water Park – Baytown – simulate surfing on a bodyboard on a continuous wave, a zero-gravity wall tube ride, a 4-lane headfirst slide, and a two-person raft ride with a thrilling 40-foot drop. There are also tube slides and body slides at the park.
- Rock’N River Family Aquatics Center – located within Old Settlers Park and, along with the pools and splash pads, is another fantastic amenity that Round Rock has to offer.
- Typhoon Texas – Pflugerville (Review)
- Swim Splash and Slide Indoor Water Park at Great Wolf Lodge – Grapevine
- Volente Beach and Water Park – Leader – For the kids, there is a water park with slides, a sandy beach, a pirate ship, and a wading area.
- Schlitterbahn Water Park – New Braunfels
- Sea World Aquatica – San Antonio
- North Richland Hills Family Water Park – North Richland Hills
- Hurricane Harbor SplashTown – Spring TX – more than 24 water slides, pools, and attractions, including a half-million-gallon wave pool, lazy river, and children’s water play areas.
- Splashway Waterpark – Sheridan TX
Spend a memorable day with the family in fun-filled water parks that feature towering slides, large swimming pools, wave simulators, thrilling water rides, kid-friendly splash areas, and much more.
Kid-friendly Texas Museums
Austin is a great city for families with many museums that welcome children of all ages. Think of this as your guide to family-friendly Austin museums.
- Museum of the Weird – Austin – From a stuffed cyclops pig to a notorious frozen caveman, has an eclectic array of monsters and freaky stuff.
- Thinkery – Austin’s hands-on children’s museum, is a favorite of both kids and parents, with science, engineering, technology, arts, and math (STEAM) exhibits that keep kids learning and laughing.
- Texas Memorial Museum – kids learn the natural history of TX. This museum is especially enjoyable if your family loves dinosaurs.
- Bullock TX State History Museum – Austin – brings Texas’ past to life through its incredible exhibits and public activities.
- Cockrell Butterfly Center – Houston
- Texas Toy Museum – Austin – Everything from Alien vs. Predator to Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby is represented in custom-built dioramas and free video arcade games.
- The DoSeum – San Antonio
- National Museum of the Pacific War – Fredericksburg
- TX Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum – Waco
McNay Art Museum – San Antonio
Theme Parks near Austin
Many people in the Austin, TX area are looking for great theme parks to visit. Luckily there are plenty of them that are not too far from Austin.
- SeaWorld – San Antonio
- ZDT’s Amusement Park – Seguin – is a popular amusement park with 12 attractions, three of which are water rides. The amusement park also has a video arcade, a climbing wall, and go-karts.
- Six Flags Over Texas – Arlington
- Six Flags Fiesta – San Antonio – more than 50 attractions include everything from roller coasters to slides to pools to go-karts.
- Morgan’s Wonderland– San Antonio
- Kemah Boardwalk – Kemah, TX – overlooks Galveston Bay, has themed restaurants, retail shops, and amusements for the whole family.
You don’t have to leave Central Texas to visit some of the best theme parks in the country. Get in your car and take a family-friendly road trip to one of these theme parks this weekend.
Kid-friendly Outdoor Adventures
Austin is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With the Texas Hill Country nearby, several rivers and lakes in the area, and state parks within easy driving distance, there are plenty of opportunities to spend your days outside with your family. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best ways for your family to have a memorable adventure near Austin.
- Lake Travis Zipline Adventures – Volente – A lakeside location for 3-hour zipline tours during the day and night, as well as a private beach with hammock seats.
- Inner Space Cavern – Georgetown – was discovered accidentally during the building of I-35 by a construction worker. One of the best things to do for the children is the Inner Space Cavern in Austin. It’s a good way for your children to learn about different rock formations.
- Cypress Valley Canopy Tours – Spicewood – Fly through the canopy of 100-foot-tall old-growth cypress trees. Glide from one platform to the next high in the treetops.
- Zip Lost Pines – Cedar Creek – This zipline adventure in the Austin area includes 6 dual zip lines, 3 suspension bridges, and access to McKinney Roughs Nature Park.
- Mount Bonnell – To enjoy spectacular views, go to Covert Park on Mount Bonnell, the highest point of the city. Even younger children can easily climb the 102 stairs, so we certainly recommend that.
- Scuba Diving at Mansfield Dam Park – Charters are available, and visibility averages 8-10 feet. This is a great place to spend a day or make several dives over the course of a long period of time only 14 miles from downtown Austin.
- Texas Climbing Adventures – fully insured climbing guides servicing Austin Greenbelt, Milton Reimer’s Ranch, and Enchanted Rock.
- Wonder World Park – Small San Marcos theme park with cave tours, an anti-gravity house, a wildlife petting zoo, a train ride, and other attractions.
Zoos & Animal Encounters
Get wild at a drive-through safari and zoo — it’s a fun family activity! Here are some in and around Austin:
- Austin Zoo – a pleasant small Hill Country zoo where visitors from all over the world can come to learn about animals up close, get some exercise, and have fun. Review
- Austin Aquarium – Small, family-friendly aquarium with many varieties of sea life, plus touch tanks & frequent events.
- Crow’s Nest Farm – Manor – a 100-acre working farm with hundreds of domestic farm animals and a diverse collection of Texas wildlife, gardens, and educational exhibits.
- Fry’s Fun Farm – Lockhart
- Fort Worth Zoo – More than 7,000 native and exotic animals, as well as several indoor and outdoor exhibits.
- Cameron Park Zoo – Waco – 52 acres of natural habitats recreated, include a 50,000-gallon coral reef saltwater aquarium. Giraffes, lions, white rhinoceroses, and elephants live in the African Savanna, while orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and Komodo dragons live in the Asian Forest.
- Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch – San Antonio – a Texas-style Africa safari. Over 450 acres are home to animals such as southern white rhinoceroses, lemurs, and Damaraland zebras.
- San Antonio Zoo – see over 3,000 animals from all over the world. World’s largest collection of birds; large animals such as tigers, hippos, zebras, and elephants; a variety of monkeys.
- Texas State Aquarium – Corpus Christi – Experience dive shows, animal feedings, training sessions, and “hands-on” programs with sharks and stingrays.
- Sea Life Aquarium– Grapevine – At this 45,000-square-foot aquarium, you can see everything from starfish to seahorses and sharks to jellyfish.
Austin Toy Stores
Toy stores were first created in the 1800s as a way to sell dolls and other children’s items in one place. As time went on, toy stores continued to evolve into more than just a physical space for selling toys; they also became an integral part of American culture. Here are some good old-fashioned stores to visit with the kids.
- Toy Joy – Austin – named the World’s Best Toy Store by USA Today and Travel Leisure Magazine for their unique, fun, crazy, and classic toys.
- Over the Rainbow – Austin
- Monkey See, Monkey Do! – Austin – Kitsch gifts, Funky toys, Vintage action figures, and Designer vinyl abound!
- Lions and Tigers and Toys – Austin
- Terra Toys – Austin
- Anna’s Toy Depot – Austin
Play appears to be the “work” of almost everyone in Austin, which makes the kids happy. And what would you expect from a city that thrives on play? Of course, there are toys!
Austin Ice Cream Destinations
Some people say that ice cream is only for the hot summer days, but it really can be enjoyed in any season. That is because ice cream is a great way to cool down and it tastes good no matter what time of year.
- Sweet Ritual Vegan Ice Cream – Austin- Dairy-free ice cream from scratch in small artisan batches.
- Cool Haus – a welcome addition to Austin’s ice cream scene, with flavors like potato chip and butterscotch cookies and candied bacon ice cream.
- Cow Tipping Creamery – Austin
- Teo Gelato – Austin
- Lick Honest Ice Creams – Austin – Ingredients that are sourced locally, are sustainable, and have delicious, creative flavors.
In the summer days, we all love to eat ice cream when we are out and about in the sun. The kids love it too. They don’t care what flavor they get as long as they get some with sprinkles on top.
Texas History Attractions
There are many interesting facts about Texas history for kids to learn!
Texans have a rich and colorful history. The Lone Star State has been home to some famous people, and it even has its own star on the flag. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting facts about Texas history for kids.
- San Antonio Missions – Explore the Missions along the River Walk’s Mission Reach, an eight-mile stretch that includes recreational trails, pedestrian bridges, pavilions, and portals to four Spanish colonial missions.
- Pioneer Farms – Austin – a unique working farm spread over 90 acres depicting life in the 19th century.
- The Alamo – Even if you aren’t interested in military history, you can’t visit San Antonio without seeing the Alamo, an 18th-century mission and site of one of the country’s most famous losing battles.
- Charles S. Cock House Museum – Cottage Kitchen is housed in the oldest remaining residential building in San Marcos, a modest vernacular Greek Revival structure.
- Frio Pioneer Jail Museum – Pearsall
- Austin African American Cultural District – District landmarks include the Huston Tillotson University, Victory Grill, Dedrick-Hamilton House, George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, and the artistic Reflections Mural.
- Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead – Dripping Springs
Things to Do in Austin with Kids
As an Austinite, I do not have to travel more than 20 minutes in any direction to experience something new, unique, funky, and fun. Whether my family and I choose something with a city vibe, outdoor exploration, community-based, or even a small drive to a winery, the options are never-ending. Austin has so much to offer, that we don’t need to travel to have a wonderful vacation this year.
On this list, no doubt you found a variety of things to do in Austin with kids! There’s a lot to love about visiting Austin, from indoor activities to hiking to animal encounters! We are confident that with so many kid-friendly activities in Austin, you will be able to keep your children happy and entertained. Whatever you decide, one thing is certain: you will be able to make plenty of family memories in one of Texas’s coolest cities!