Free, Kid-Friendly Outings for the #AustinMom
I am so happy you are here!
Now that we are in my son’s toddler years, I have now gained the excitement (& let’s be real, the courage), to venture out of our North Austin suburb & start to introduce Elijah to our thriving city.
What I love so much about Austin is the fact that it has become such a kid-friendly place, with so many things to do! Even though I still have so many areas of Austin to explore, I have compiled a list of our favorites we have come across over the years - and to make it even better, they are all F R E E.
Vic Mathias Shores
@ Lady Bird Lake Metro Park
Vic Mathias Shores is located near the intersection of Riverside and 1st St, across from Parmer Events Center and The Long Center of Performing Arts. From this area, not only do you get views of Lady Bird Lake and the Downtown Skyline, but you also have direct access to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike trail, the 1st Street and Pfluger Pedestrian bridge, as well as a gorgeous, lush lawn overlooking it all. This spot is our absolute favorite - we even shot a family photo session out here last summer! There is so much going on, and the perfect place to be on a gorgeous Austin day for a walk around the trail, a picnic, or just to let you kids run wild. You’ll find Elijah & I out here running the 3-mile loop, or relaxing on the Shore lawn watching the dogs in the dog park.
Pro-Tip: Bring along a blanket or yoga mat, snacks + water, along with your kids favorite outdoor activity (soccer ball, frisbee, etc.). The lawn seriously has so much space to spread out and enjoy the view.
Mueller Lake Park
This is the newest addition to our outings list, and I am so glad we stumbled across it! Located in Central Austin, Mueller is one of the newest, most recently developed areas in the city. Although the main focal point is the residential and retail areas (which are almost all kid-friendly), Mueller ATX is home to Mueller Lake Park, a scenic, man-made lake and walking trail with amphitheater-like seating overlooking the water, as well as picnic tables, benches, and many other areas to take in the view.
You’ll find families BBQ-ing, picnicking, or taking photos of the gorgeous scenes, as well as food trucks during select hours. Our favorite thing to do is make our way around the entire walking trail - typically a 20-30 minute walk - and make a stop at the amphitheater staircase overlooking the water. We then end the walk at the Mueller Children’s Playground, where Elijah can burn off the rest of his energy going up and down the slides and swinging on the swings.
Pro-Tip: After the park/lake walk, head to Lick Honest Ice Creams to pick-up your little ones a treat, then walk over to Halcyon for a coffee or glass of wine on the patio - the perfect balance!
Play for All Abilities Park
This place is such a gem! Located in Round Rock near AW Grimes & 79, the Play For All Abilities Park is not your typical playground. With multiple playscapes, a music-creation section, a sand-pit, race track, & a kid-size replica of Downtown Round Rock, this extremely interactive and engaging place is suitable for children of all ages, and all abilities - wheelchairs, and all! If you venture behind the park, you will find a walking/running trail that displays scenic, woodsy views. We love this place!
Pro-tip: This park is very popular, and can get very busy. If the front parking lot is full, no worries! Keep driving towards the back of the park to find another parking lot that usually has plenty of open spaces.
East Austin Succulents
Kids are such curious creatures, so why not fuel their curiosity with the natural elements that Austin has to offer? We make several trips to East Austin Succulents in the Spring and Summer time, and Elijah is such a fan! The nursery has the funnest retro-vibe, blasting music of the 80’s & 90’s, full of color, textures, and plants of all kinds - making for the best, Insta-worthy photo-ops! There are several tents, sections, and closed-off plant rooms & houses to explore, all containing different flowers, cacti, & succulents. On various weekends, you can even find local vendors towards the back of the nursery
Pro-Tip: As much fun as this place can be, please make sure to keep an eye on your little ones! Especially watch them around the cacti, wall of plant pots, or random hoses on the ground.
Also located at Mueller ATX, Thinkery Austin is a children’s museum focusing on science-based activities in the most interesting, colorful, and engaging environment! Although normal admission to the Thinkery is $12 a person - which can get very pricey, very quickly, with large families - the Thinkery offers Community Night to the public every Wednesday from 4PM-8PM, where admission is based on a donation amount of your choice. Although the activities and brain-power your little ones gain from this amazing place is well worth normal admission, Community Night is a great time to try out the museum if you’re on a budget, or considering a family membership!
Pro-Tip: Although there are parking garages in the area that are a short drive away, there are plenty of close street parking spots right at store front of the retail, restaurants, and the Thinkery. Download the Park Austin app on your phone to make parking at Mueller ATX a simple process! From this app, you can automatically apply a $10+ credit to your Park Austin account, so you can literally park & go!
I hope your families enjoy these Austin spots as much as mine does!