Austin is the state capital of Texas and has a unique vibe from the rest of the state. We’ve been to Austin several times, both without and with kids. You can easily find something for everyone to do. This family-friendly Austin itinerary guide is a collection from multiple trips, and additional things still on our list for the next time we return.
Before you dive into the guide, you may want to first read Understanding a Quick Itinerary Guide. This will provide you with details on our trip planning philosophy, why it’s a quick guide, and what resources we use to plan. It also details what we mean by family-friendly, and further explains each of the sections included in a Quick Itinerary Guide.
Our trip details
- Length of stay: 1-3 nights
- Accommodation: Native Hostel (not for families), Hampton Inn Austin/Airport Area South & Omni Austin Downtown
- Type of trips: couples trip, weekend getaway, trip with 6 week old baby, trip with 1.5 year old baby
- Months visited: April, March & September
- How we got in/out: fly in, fly out; drive in, drive out
- How we got around: walking and rental/personal car
Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas for Austin, TX
- Hope Outdoor Gallery – art park, cool creative space dedicated to community street art
- Murals – don’t miss checking at least some of the fun street murals all over town
- State Capitol – largest state capitol in the US, impressive architecture, free tours available
- University of Texas at Austin – esteemed public university, one of the largest in the US, see the Littlefield Home, Dorothy L. Gebauer Building, UT Tower, and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- The Driskill – historic hotel with a beautiful stained glass lobby
- Walk along Sixth Street – the most iconic street in Austin where it became known as the “capital of live music,” restaurants, bars and live music flank the street, more rowdy and crowded at night
- Lady Bird Lake – a reservoir formed along the Colorado River used for flood control and recreation, rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, pedal boats and more, walk along the boardwalk or take a river cruise
- Mount Bonnell – hike up for beautiful views of the city and beyond
- Austin Nature & Science Center – hands on facility geared toward kids, free entry, reservations now required
- Zilker Park – 350-acre city park with hiking and biking trails, sports fields, playgrounds, Barton Springs Pool, botanical garden, boat rentals and more
- With young kids, don’t miss the Zilker Train and playground
- Barton Springs Pool – a man-made public pool that’s naturally filled with underground spring water, located in Zilker Park
- Walk South Congress Street – a vibrant neighborhood with creative eats, boutique shops, the famous “I love you so much!” mural, and more
- Mt Playmore – a huge indoor playground for kids
- Inner Space Cavern – one of the best-preserved caves in TX, about a 30 minute drive outside of downtown
- Dinosaur Park – outdoor interactive dinosaur museum and play park, about a 30 minute drive outside of downtown
- Hamilton Pool – unique natural pool with waterfall, reservations required, about a 45 minute drive outside of downtown
- Longhorn Cavern State Park – explore this unique cavern which was formerly used by Native Americans, soldiers and even as a speakeasy, a little over an hour outside of downtown
- Turkey Bend Recreation Area – over 1,000 acres of outdoor recreation, a beautiful spot for admiring bluebonnets if in season (about end of March to April depending on the year), about an hour drive outside of downtown
Food Ideas for Austin, TX
- Foods/drinks to try: barbeque, brisket, tex-mex, queso, breakfast tacos, pecan pie, sweet tea
- Kerbey Lane Cafe – Tex Mex and Southern classic comfort food, popular for breakfast
- Magnolia Cafe – great American and Tex Mex breakfast spot
- Last Straw – good for brunch and cocktails
- La Barbeque – classic TX barbeque and small market shop, expect to wait in a long line
- Franklin’s BBQ – the most famous barbeque in Austin, expect to wait multiple hours, they only serve until the meat is gone, so lots of people line up hours before they even open
- Veracruz All Natural – authentic Mexican food, try their migas taco, female-owned, now with 5 locations
- Torchy’s Tacos (at the Trailer Park) – delicious creative tacos in a mini food truck park
- Hoover’s Cooking – southern soul food, try the fried chicken
- Gelateria Gemelli – modern gelato with traditional roots
- Ramen Tatsu-ya – authentic Japanese ramen shop
- Rainey Street – various restaurants and bars in historic homes, can get rowdy at night
- Black’s BBQ – oldest BBQ jointed owned by the same family in Texas, original location in Lockhart (about a 30 minute drive outside of downtown) opened in 1932, no frills, additional new location in Austin
- Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden – fun, casual environment great with groups
- Sway – modern Thai food in a trendy setting
- Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ – barbeque + tex mex, does it get any better?, known for their smoked brisket tacos
- Salt Lick BBQ – featured on Man vs. Food, open fire pit cooking, expansive beautiful property, about a 30 minute drive outside of downtown
Top Tips for Austin, TX
- Don’t leave without trying some BBQ!
- Think outside the box of a typical restaurant and don’t miss all the great food trucks and trailers, many provide picnic tables to eat outside.
- “Keep Austin Weird” is the city’s slogan, and it certainly lives up to this.
- Be sure to catch some live music, even if only on the street.
- Summer is generally not the best time to visit because of the extreme heat.
- Bike-sharing or bike rentals are a great way to get around and see more.
- Despite the sometimes rowdy nightlife, Austin is full of families and is a great place to visit with kids.
Austin is such a fun city to visit, one of our favorites that I’m sure we’ll return to again. Have you been to Austin? What other things should we add to our list?
- Understanding a Quick Itinerary Guide
- How to make an awesome family travel bucket list
- Must have travel items for all travelers
- Best tips and favorite toys for entertaining babies and toddlers on a plane
- 10 travel websites you should be using
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