From zoos to museums to water parks, Austin has attractions to keep the children entertained all year round. Here, we explore eight of the best child-friendly attractions in Austin.
1. The Thinkery
The Thinkery is a reincarnation of Austin Children’s Museum. It was created as a venue where children and their families can come together to enjoy play-based, hands-on learning experiences.
Established in 1983, local parents and educators founded Austin Children’s Museum as an innovative new educational center. Today, the Thinkery covers over 40,000 square feet, providing indoor and outdoor activities for children of all ages.
This non-profit facility greeted more than 460,000 visitors in 2018. Its mission is to equip and inspire the next generation through innovative learning experiences.
2. Typhoon Texas, Austin
This state-of-the-art waterpark is the perfect venue for a summertime family day out. It has 23 acres of pools and water slides.
Highlights include the giant wave pool. This area of the park encompasses over 10,000 square feet and incorporates a range of activities and water slides. There is also a 1,000-foot-long lazy river.
The Gully Washer features seven slides and more than 100 spray areas, as well as the popular Splashpad Playground.
3. Mount Bonnell and Mayfield Park
Boasting acres of award-winning historic parks, Mount Bonnell and Mayfield Park lie off 35th Street, next door to each other.
The summit of Mount Bonnell offers stunning views across Lake Austin as well as panoramic vistas of the downtown Austin skyline. This scenic location has won scores of accolades, including the Austin Chronicle’s Best of Austin Award. With trails and picnic tables, Mount Bonnell is the perfect spot to bring the children to get in touch with nature.
Situated adjacent to Mount Bonnell is Mayfield Park and Nature Reserve, a popular spot featuring a historic cottage, quaint gardens, and picturesque lily ponds. Peacocks roam free through 21 acres of painstakingly tended gardens.
Donated to the City of Austin by Mary Mayfield Gutsch in 1971, the estate retains its authentic charm, with many original features intact. For example, the peacocks wandering the grounds of Mayfield Park today are direct descendants of peacocks presented to the Mayfield Gutsch family in 1935.
4. Texas Memorial Museum
Founded in the early 1930s by A. Garland Adair and James E. Pearce, this state museum was created to conserve the state’s historic treasures and preserve local heritage and culture for future generations.
The Hall of Geology and Paleontology is a must-see for children interested in fossils and dinosaurs. The Hall of Biodiversity sheds light on Texas wildlife, past and present.
The Great Hall showcases the museum’s most valuable specimens, including a Texas Pterosaur skeleton. The flying reptile was unearthed in West Texas and, with a wingspan of 36 feet, is one of the largest airborne creatures discovered to date by paleontologists.
5. Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary
This sanctuary for rare rescued animals is a non-profit organization wholly reliant on public donations. Exhibits include African lions, marmosets, Bengal tigers, panthers, and prairie dogs.
Austin Zoo’s picnic area offers superb views of the surrounding Hill Country. The zoo itself features special interactive learning experiences to help educate young visitors on conservation and wildlife. There is also a petting zoo where children can get up close and interact with the animals, as well as a miniature train, gift shop, and concession stand.
6. Bullock Texas State History Museum
Situated in Congress Avenue, Texas, the Bullock Museum opened in 2001. Since then, more than 9 million visitors from across Texas and beyond have explored this celebration of Texan history and culture.
The Bullock State History Museum features several important collections spanning 4,000 years of local history. Highlights from the Bullock Museum’s rich treasury of artifacts include an Apache quiver and bow, an intricately adorned Spanish processional cross, and the original Adams-Onis Treaty.
7. Inner Space Cavern
Discovered by the Texas Highway Department’s core drilling team in 1963, the Inner Space Cavern lies 40 feet below ground. It was first opened to the public in 1966. Since then, hundreds of thousands of visitors have flocked to the attraction to see its beautiful rock formations.
Hidden for more than 10,000 years, Inner Space Cavern is one of the area’s best-preserved caves. There is plenty to entertain children of all ages, including fossil displays, a mining area, a playground, and a gift shop.
8. Volente Beach Resort and Waterpark
This seasonal attraction lies beside Lake Travis, covering 4 acres of private beach and parkland. Children aged 2 years or younger benefit from free admission.
Waterpark attractions include the high-intensity Texas Twister, the Sidewinder water slide, and the more sedate Flash Flood. Visitors can bring their own lifejackets, floats, and tubes to enjoy the courtesy swim area and lake. Sunbeds and parasols are available on the beach, which is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic beside tranquil Lake Travis. The facility also boasts a volleyball court and several cafes and restaurants.