How Families Have Fun in Austin
Austin sits in the heart of Texas and is considered by many to be the cultural center of the state. There is a familiar phrase in town, “Keep Austin Weird,” that is also the motto by which this free-spirited, eccentric and intelligent community lives. Young Austin families are active yet laid-back. They are avid sports fans, live music lovers, pet owners, museum fanatics and festivalgoers! Folks in this capital city are loyal citizens committed to causes within their community. For example, it is not unusual to find a family unit spending weekends volunteering, and parents help Austin businesses thrive by shopping locally. In addition, a healthy lifestyle is essential for Austinites, who pay close attention to physical fitness and the meals they put on the table. You’ll see moms pushing baby joggers on the downtown area’s 10-mile running trail and father/son teams cycling on bike-friendly streets. Austin residents frequently stop by the farmer’s markets and fill their fridges with locally grown, organic foods. Says Austinite Angela Stroud, mom to four-year-old twins and a teenager, “Austin has amazing produce, which makes it easy to introduce young kids to fruits and veggies. No picky eaters here!” Need an ideal place to raise a family? Look no further than Austin. The events listed below offer a glimpse of what activities might be on the weekly calendar for the average family of Austinites.
ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Knee-High Chess at Wooldridge Square Park
Capital City kiddos keep their minds sharp even on Saturdays. School may be out, but you’ll find a battle of the brains at Wooldridge Square Park’s Knee-High Chess Tournaments. The chess pieces may be taller than the players, yet that doesn’t stop these scrappy four- and five-year-olds from drawing a crowd and proudly declaring “Checkmate!”
Wooldridge Square Park – 900 Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX 78701
Watching the Bats Emerge at Dusk on the Congress Avenue Bridge
Many U.S. cities have zoos, but Austin kids prefer their wild animals uncaged. Every evening at dusk, families gather on downtown’s Congress Avenue Bridge to watch 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from underneath the structure and fly out into the night. Welcome to the largest urban bat colony in the world!
Congress Avenue Bridge – Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78701 AND Austin American-Statesman Bat Observation Center – Congress Avenue and Barton Springs Road, Austin, Texas 78701
ACTIVITIES FOR PARENTS
Austin Roller Moms at Playland Skate Center and Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex (*)
As the saying goes, “don’t mess with Texas,” and don’t mess with the Austin Roller Moms Roller Derby League. Any Austin matriarch can join these roller-skating mamas, who make time for frequent matches and thrice-weekly practices at North Austin’s Playland Skate Center and South Austin’s Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex. True of parents everywhere, these tough domestic divas are bruised but not broken.
Playland Skate Center – 8822 McCann Drive, Austin, TX 78757 AND Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex – 1156 Hargrave Street, Austin, TX 78702
Baby Day at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas ($)
A longtime Austin favorite, Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas actually encourage parents to bring their babies to the movies! Both Alamo Village Theater in North Austin and Alamo South Lamar Theater in South Austin leave the lights up and turn the noise down at designated midday screenings, which makes tending to a newborn while watching the newest Coen brothers flick . . . you guessed it . . . like taking movie theater candy from a baby.
Alamo Village Theater – 2700 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757 AND Alamo South Lamar Theater – 1120 S. Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX 78704
ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES
Fall Family Swimming at Barton Springs Pool (*)
Polar Bear dips may be popular in colder climates, but Austinites have the luxury of outdoor swimming year-round. Barton Springs, a cement-poured, spring-fed swimming hole in downtown’s Zilker Park, is a beloved haunt for Austin families. The natural springs keep the water at a cool 68 degrees – a perfect match for the hot Texas sun.
Barton Springs Pool – 2101 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704
Live Music on the Patio at Central Market Café ($)
Austin families live for live music, fresh food and the great outdoors. Located in the heart of Austin, Central Market’s Café gets crowded on weekend evenings as families sprawl out on the patio to eat locally grown grub, mingle at the CM Playground and listen to live jazz, bluegrass and Latin beats.
Central Market Café – 4001 N. Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX 78745