• September 8, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Unleash the Adventure: Your Ultimate Guide to Kid-Friendly Outdoor Activities in Austin

Welcome, fellow adventurers! As locals who know and love Austin, we’re here to reveal that it’s not just famous for its lively music scene, impressive culture, and breathtaking beauty, but it’s also a paradise for kids. This bustling Texan city is an exciting fusion of engaging attractions, nature-inspired activities, and bustling parks. Thus, we’ve created your ultimate “Guide to Outdoor Activities for Kids in Austin” to ensure your little explorers have a truly unforgettable experience.

Walk on the Wild Side at the Austin Nature and Science Center

Does your pack of wildlings have an insatiable curiosity about the world? Then, a trip to the Austin Nature and Science Center nestled in the heart of Zilker Park is a must! This is the place for kids to dig into the world of nature and science in an interactive, free-of-charge, and super fun way.

Key points of attraction: – Dinosaur Dig Pit: Children get their hands in the sand to find fossils, igniting their imaginations of prehistoric times. – The Eco-Detective Trail: This outdoor scavenger hunt educates your pint-sized explorers about the ecosystem while having loads of fun. – Human Sundial: Strolling around this sundial, kids can discover how shadows can tell time with a human gnomon—that’s them!

Live Wildlife: Kids get to meet a variety of creatures from hawks, owls, foxes, snakes, turtles, and more!

Nature Programs and Activities: Download their Explorer’s Guide offering loads of age-specific activities to do within the center— from discovering nature with binoculars to identifying bird sounds, the possibilities are endless.

Hours: The center is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and on Sunday, from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Seize the Day at Zilker Park

There’s barely any recreational activity you can’t enjoy at the city’s “most loved park” — Zilker Park. Over 350 acres of land for endless outdoor activities, Zilker Park is a living testament to the spirit of Austin, Texas.

Zilker Park Kite Festival: The park hosts the annual Zilker Kite Festival each spring—a sky splashed with kites of all designs and sizes–a spectacle that definitely delights the little ones!

Zilker Botanical Garden: A beautiful amalgamation of various garden “rooms”, including the tranquil Japanese Garden, mystic Prehistoric Garden, fragrant Rose Garden, and of course, the magical Children’s Garden.

Zilker Hillside Theater: Don’t miss the free summer musicals under the stars—an Austin tradition since 1959.

Barton Springs Pool: Kids (and adults!) love this three-acre, spring-fed pool, a natural paradise right in the heart of the park.

Zilker Zephyr Miniature Train: Your toddlers would absolutely love a ride on this mini-train (check their website for updates regarding COVID-19 restrictions).

Hours: Open daily from 5 am to 10 pm.

Austin’s Night Flight at Congress Avenue Bridge: Bat Watching

Imagine witnessing North America’s largest urban bat colony taking flight into the dusk—1.5 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats! We promise you, this spectacle with Austin’s famous bat colony is something you and your little ones shouldn’t miss.

Best Time to Visit: Plan your visit from late March to early fall, precisely from dusk to dark.

Spectacular Sight: Witness 1.5 million bats as they traverse the night skies—a sight your children will remember for years.

Bat Fest: Held annually around late summer, join in the festivities full of bat-related activities, live music, and unique bat-themed merchandise.

Educational Kiosks: Visit the informative kiosks on the bridge to enrich your bat-watching experience.

One with Nature: McKinney Falls State Park

Unwind from the city rush with a visit to the serene McKinney Falls State Park, located in South Austin.

Trails: Let your kids burn off energy by exploring nine miles of jogging, hiking, and biking trails.

Camping: An adventurous night under the Texan stars awaits you at the various campgrounds.

Water Fun: On warm days, families love to swim in the Onion Creek or engage in a spot of fishing.

Historic Sites: You have the added bonus of teaching your kids some history – explore the old homestead and the rock shelter.

Entrance Fee: Free for kids under 12, $6 for adults.

Unleash the Superhero at Quest ATX: Wakeboarding

Your kids will be thrilled to enjoy an active day at Quest ATX, Austin’s finest wakeboarding park.

Wakeboarding Lessons: No experience? No problem! Quest ATX offers beginners lessons with all the necessary equipment.

Aquapark: Considered absolute fun for the little ones, the floating obstacle course offers endless fun.

Paddleboarding: If wakeboarding seems too extreme, paddleboarding offers a relaxed option to enjoy the water.

Hours: Please check the official website for operating hours.

Conclude with a Bang at the Cathedral of Junk: Where Creativity Meets Recycling

End your Austin tour with the city’s quirkiest and most creative attraction: the Cathedral of Junk. This spectacular structure created from discarded items stands monument to the artistic soul of the city and is bound to inspire your kids. It’s best to call and confirm before visiting though!

There you have it: your ultimate guide to outdoor activities for kids in Austin. This city is an ocean of experiences waiting to unfold. So take a deep breath, pack your bags, and let the kids lead the way to a fun-filled time in Austin, Texas. You’ll thank us later!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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