One of the trendiest cities in the United States, Austin offers a lot to attract visitors, from music festivals like SXSW and Austin City Limits to an incredible arts scene. While the city may have become famous for its music, artistic communities, and festivals, there is a lot to see and do for people of all ages, including children.
Some of the most obvious choices include the zoo and children’s museum, as well as the city’s many parks, but for families that want to get off the beaten path, there are many more intriguing options, including the following:
1. Inner Space Cavern
Children with a natural fascination for caves and rocks will be fascinated by Inner Space Cavern. This massive underground cavern was discovered accidentally by construction workers who were digging to build the I-35 freeway.
Today, families can explore the cavern to see stalagmites and stalactites up close, as well as some preserved Ice Age animal fossils. The cavern offers a variety of tours for guests of all ages and abilities.
2. Mount Bonnell
Covert Park at Mount Bonnell is a 5.1-acre linear park that features the highest point in the city of Austin. While some parents may worry whether their kids can make it to the top, the entire trail is only a third of a mile and includes about 100 stairs. Even very small children do not have much problem getting to the top. Once there, the family will be rewarded with a sweeping view of the city, including the beautiful greenery of the area and the surrounding water of Lake Austin below.
3. Science Mill
Located in one of the suburbs of Austin, Science Mill is a fun and engaging space for all children. The attraction features various interactive learning experiences that teach visitors basic scientific concepts. (Parents may want to check ahead about which programs are happening when to figure out the best time to visit.)
Even the building is a point of learning. The exhibits are housed in a historic mill that dates back to the 1880s, and the space boasts many of the mill’s original features. In addition to more than 50 hands-on exhibits, Science Mill also has a 3D theater and a café for grabbing a bite to eat before making the trek back to Austin.
An Austin institution, BookPeople has been voted best bookstore in Austin for more than 15 years. It offers a regular kid’s story time featuring various guests who read to younger children. However, even older children will have a great time. The store frequently hosts young adult authors for signings and readings, and teens can check out the gift shop, café, and teen book club. Parents can learn more about the story time event on the BookPeople website.
5. Austin Bouldering Project
More adventurous children will have a great time at Austin Bouldering Project, the largest bouldering gym in the entire world. The facility spans 50,000 square feet with boulders and other interesting climbing features of all shapes and sizes. The facility has a no-harness approach, which means that kids of every age will be able to find a place in the building to have fun. This attraction is an especially good option on the off chance that the weather in Austin is not perfect.
6. Austin Toy Museum
One of the newer museums in Austin, the Toy Museum will hold the attention of both kids and their parents. The museum houses more than 20,000 pieces, from vintage toys from the early 1900s to arcade games from the 1980s. Not just for adults who wish to enjoy the nostalgia of toys they played with when they were young, the museum places an emphasis on child education and aims to teach kids through hands-on activities that include the use of retro toys.
7. Cathedral of Junk
The whole city operates under the motto “Keep Austin Weird,” and the Cathedral of Junk may prove to be one of the best examples. The structure was the vision of a single man who started building a structure out of discarded junk in his backyard in 1989. Construction on the Cathedral of Junk has continued to this day with various wheels, electronics, toys, and more added to it throughout the months. The structure has evolved into a massive labyrinth that kids will have a great time exploring.