There are seemingly endless opportunities for families to explore the city. In order to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 20 FREE and fun activities in Austin for your whole family to enjoy.
With the weather warming up we think it is the perfect time to escape into nature and hike along the Barton Creek Greenbelt. This hike is very easy (so the whole family can do it) and ends at Twin Falls. With sheer limestone cliff walls, dense lush vegetation, and popular swimming areas, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is truly a treasure for biking, hiking (Barton Creek Greenbelt is considered the seventh best hiking trail in Texas), swimming, climbing, and more. We suggest packing a picnic lunch and staying the day.
If your kids love animals a great place to take them is Mayfield Park. Here your kiddos will have a 100% chance of sighting a peacocks or peahens! There are also tons of fish to find in the pond and a terrific hiking trail.
Mayfield Park includes an historic cottage, two acres of colorful cottage gardens with towering palm trees, brilliant peacocks, and delicate water lilies, all blending in beautiful harmony. Mayfield Preserve is the 21-acre natural area that surrounds the park, containing walking trails and wildlife habitat.
Chess may be a little complicated for younger children, however we can guarantee the oversized game pieces will bring a smile to their face. Usually the games are scheduled on Saturdays, but the Giant Chess is weather dependent, so please check out their Website or Facebook page before heading down for the day.
The SFC Farmers' Market is held every Saturday year round from 9am to 1pm in Republic Square. Check out dozens of farmers and food artisans, and stock up on your weekly produce needs. There is also live music and lots of space to spread out a blanket and set up a picnic.
5. Austin Public Library
With one library in every community, this is the perfect afternoon indoor activity to do with your kids. Let them pick out a new bedtime story while you browse through new and old books and free magazines. There are also amazing youth programs at branches all over the city. We highly recommend that families with young children check them out.
If you are feeling a little artsy, we suggest hitting up the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum. The UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum is home to the largest collection of American sculptor Charles Umlauf’s work. The Museum and Garden welcome visitors, educators, artists, and friends from all over the world. Each month, UMLAUF opens up its gates free of charge on the second Sunday of each month for Family Day from noon to 4 p.m. A whole line-up of activities are planned just for families to explore and create.
Did you know you can find real dinosaur footprints just a short 20 minutes outside of the city? Here your kids can find 11 (or if they are lucky 12) dinosaur footprints embedded in the rocks of the river bed. Exploring these Tracks in Leander is a great family adventure with little-to-no crowds. If your family hasn’t taken a hike down there yet, we would highly suggest it.
In the spring and summer, every Wednesday night the astronomy department at the University of Texas sponsors a free Star Party. On these days head up to the top roof, which is on the 17th floor of the Robert Lee Moore Hall. All ages are welcome, however younger children must be supervised by an adult. The 16-inch telescope gives you an absolutely amazing view of the city and is must-do for all families in Austin to experience.
Stay tuned for upcoming dates for 2020.
9. Bridgepoint Elementary Playground
A fabulous kids activity, that is always free to do with your kids, is to take them to a playground to run off some steam. One of our favorite playgrounds in Austin is the Bridgepoint Elementary Playground, which is ADA accessible.
10. SoCo District
If you are looking for a super cool area, full of weird shops, fantastic food, and a vibrant vibe, the SoCo District is the place to go. SoCo is only a short walk from Downtown, so if you are already in the area with your family this could be a great place to end the day. Note: there is tons of free street parking in case you can’t walk!
The Cathedral of Junk is a perfect example of why we love the “keeping Austin weird” movement. Basically, this attraction is just carefully constructed junk arranged into weird pieces of art. It is a beautiful mess! However, you need to call 512-299-7413 and let them know your coming ahead of time. The Cathedral of Junk is located at 4422 Lareina Drive.
Photography By: Wikipedia
Lady Bird Lake is one of the biggest and most beautiful lakes in all of Austin. The park is full of amazing scenery, wildlife and water sports. A variety of of boat rentals are available around Lady Bird Lake. If the sun is shining, we suggest you check out this lovely lake.
Known as “Austin’s most-loved park”, Zilker Metropolitan Park is a place where locals and visitors enjoy 351 acres of land dedicated to running, jogging, biking, swimming, kayaking, and many other outdoor activities. The park features trails, gardens, volleyball courts, natural springs, a swimming area, and many more amenities. There really is a reason why Zilker Metropolitan Park is one of the crown jewels of the city.
Photography By: flickr
Another free and fabulous thing to check out in Austin is the Hope Outdoor Gallery, which was originally located on Baylor Street in downtown Austin, but a new location is opening up across from the Austin-Bergstrom Airpot. The street art scene is coming on strong and this is the center of it all. By the summer of 2020, you will be able to bring your kids and check out the new colorful creations at this outdoor street art gallery and creative centre.
Check out Laguna Gloria (for free on Tuesdays!) and pretend you are on a picnic in Italy. With amazing sculptures, groomed gardens and beautiful nature paths, Laguna Gloria is a go-to stop on a sunny Austin afternoon. Kids will get a kick out of all the abstract art, such as the “bunny fountain”, “stairs” and “Yoko Ono”.
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