Austin, as we all know and love, has an energy and spirit different from anywhere else in the world. Here are some one-of-a-kind ways to get out and celebrate awesome Austin – from A to Z – in the summer days ahead!
Bring your Pac-Man and Skee-ball skills for some old-school fun at the arcade. Head to the game rooms at entertainment complexes and laser tag venues, or visit Pinballz for a truly nostalgic ‘80’s experience.
How many cities can boast of 1.5 million bats under their bridges? Watch these fascinating mammals emerge from the Congress Avenue Bridge as they wake up and feed. Spot them from the sidewalk along the bridge, from viewing areas on the trail below, or from a kayak tour! Call the bat hotline at
512-327-9721 for expected emergence times.
Caves & Caverns
Cool off in the heat of the summer by heading underground! Take a scenic guided tour to peer into the grotto at Westcave Preserve. You can also hit the road for a day trip to Innerspace Caverns in Georgetown, Longhorn Caverns in Burnet, or Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio.
If you’re itching for new scenery, plenty of day trips are in easy reach. Hit up the hill country lakes, take a dip in cold spring water at Krause Springs in Spicewood or the Blue Hole in Wimberley, tube the San Marcos River that runs through town or the Comal River at Schlitterbahn, experiment and tinker at the Science Mill, take in Texas history at the Alamo, visit exotic animals in Johnson City or farm animals at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm in Stonewall … the options are endless!
If you’re looking to escape the heat, try puzzling your way out of one of these rooms. Can you complete a highly classified mission in time to save the country, find hidden gold before the mob arrives or survive a blizzard before your cabin collapses? These venues provide the perfect outing for kids who love teamwork and a good challenge.
Cool down with a frozen treat, loaded with healthy toppings (and maybe some sprinkles or gummy bears, for added color).
Buckle up and let the kids take the wheel for a change! They can race friends at Austin Park N Pizza, COTA Karting at the Circuit of the Americas or the indoor track at K1 Speed Austin.
On the outskirts of the city you’ll find several stables that specialize in teaching Western or English horseback riding, as well as caring for a horse. Some barns also provide summer camp opportunities, special “Mom and Me” weekends, educational programs and equine-assisted therapy.
Put on your coats and ice skates for Public Skate hours at Chaparral Ice’s two locations. Or, sign up for summer camps where they teach figure skating and ice hockey, among other activities.
A healthy treat to beat the heat, chill with a smoothie or a specialty squeeze at your local juice bar or ice cream shop.
Rental places for kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, rowing boats and pedal boats dot the shores up and down Lady Bird Lake. Pick one for a lake adventure!
You’ve likely heard of the lazy river at San Antonio’s Marriott and Hyatt hotels. But did you know you can float much closer to home? Kick back on a tube at Pflugerville’s Typhoon Texas Waterpark, Round Rock’s Rock’N River Water Park or the new Kalahari Resort.
It is Austin after all… You’ll find family-friendly shows at outdoor restaurants, coffeeshops, brewpubs, parks, grocery stores (see the lineup at Central Market North), theaters (the Long Center and Zach Scott are hosting summer concert series), farmers markets – oh, and live music venues too!
Get out into the great outdoors. Hit the hiking trails, play at parks, camp out under the stars at a nearby state park, go fishing, have a picnic, bike or just take it easy and relax in a hammock.
Visit a museum … outside! Wander shaded pathways at Laguna Gloria or the Umlauf Sculpture Museum to see exhibits worked into the landscape. Ask for a scavenger hunt map upon check-in. Take in history at Pioneer Farms. For the military-minded, visit Camp Mabry’s Armor Row where tanks line the lane outside the Texas Military Museum.
Keep your eyes peeled for peacocks at Mayfield Park and Preserve. Short, wooded trails, ponds and gardens make it a good place to wander or picnic.
The libraries have opened their doors again. Cool off at a storytime, movie night or one of the many librarian-hosted events. Join a summer reading program. Then stock up on books, movies and music to wile away the long days of summer.
This sport can take many shapes and forms. Join a rock-climbing camp or team and climb the cliffs along the Barton Creek Greenbelt and Milton Reimer’s Ranch. Hit the road to hike up Enchanted Rock for a fun day trip. Or head to a bouldering gym where high-energy kids can literally climb the walls.
Jump in! There is no shortage of swimming pools, splash pads, springs and swimming holes in the area.
Take a train ride aboard the Rawhide Rocket miniature train at the Austin Zoo or the Cedar Rock Train in the SW Williamson County Regional Park. For a bigger adventure, book a trip to the hill country with the Austin Steam Train Association.
Cheer on Austin’s own professional ultimate frisbee team, the Austin Sol. If catching a game sparks your kid’s interest in the sport, check out Sol Academy’s youth clinics and camps.
Vacation in Your Hometown
Austin is changing so much, it’s easy to feel like a tourist at home. Take advantage of it! Visit someplace new or fancy. Book a night at a hotel. Have fun on a Duck Boat, Bat Boat tour, Black Austin tour or Capitol tour. Rent an electric bike and cruise town. You’ll likely learn something new while on “vacation” and gain a whole new perspective of the city you call home.
Wildflowers bloom year-round at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, but there’s so much more to do after you’ve stopped to smell the flowers. Check the event calendar for storytimes and family yoga. Hit the hiking trails. Play in the creek in the Children’s Garden. Swing in tree swings at the Texas Arboretum. Then cool off with activities in the Little House or with a cool drink at the Wildflower Café.
The Ninth Street BMX trail is community-built by local riders and welcomes a range of skill levels. Beginners can roll and bob along a series of small dirt mounds while advanced riders catch air on higher, built-up ramps. Older kids might want to check out the nearby Skate Park on 12th Street or the Pflugerville BMX Park too.
Get strong and stretched with family or child yoga classes at a local studio, or follow ATX Yoga Girl for family-friendly classes held at parks and museums around town.
Visit the zoo! Austinites have a soft spot for rescue animals, and the Austin Zoo is no exception. With a goal of education and conservation, this zoo offers animal encounters throughout the day. You can meander the trails to visit primates, reptiles, amphibians, native Texas wildlife and lions, tigers and bears! Oh my.
Annette Lucksinger is a mother of two who writes and plays in Austin.