Wednesday Nights at the Thinkery

If you haven’t taken the family to the Thinkery yet, you are really missing out on one of Austin’s most amazing go-to places.  The Thinkery will evoke the child in you to come out and play, with it’s amazing and rotating display of large and small manipulatives, old favorites like the wax machine and light bright room, water splash room and more.

Around every corner of the Thinkery you will find friendly employees wearing a badge and a smile.  They are there to help keep you and your child motivated on the word of the day: play!  And if things inside of the Thinkery get a little overwhelming, or you need a little change of pace, take a step outside to a fabulous natural playscape with mariner-inspired netting and a lookout tower reminiscent of your wildest under the sea dreams.  Climb aboard this gorgeous two-story high tower of fun and get a bird’s eye view of one of the most amazing playgrounds that Austin can offer.

By far a favorite of children is the airplane creation station, which enables kiddos to build a variety of planes with “traditional” plane bases as well as silly alternatives like shark planes or duck planes.  What’s not to love?  Once built, children can load their plane onto the air compressor and send their magic creation into flight, taking aim at rings that hang from the ceiling.

I can’t speak for all parents, but I can tell you for sure that I am absolutely in love with the giant light bright room.  Not only can you take a trip down memory lane with a huge light bright board, but there are all types of light-related activities for you to enjoy with the budding scientist in your life.

Don’t forget to listen out for the loud speaker, which will announce story time for all.  You’ll delight in tales told by engaged readers, who bring The Thinkery pride with the obvious joy they have in their work.  There’s something really rich about the sensation that a person loves his or her job.  The Thinkery is the kind of place parents love to bring their children, because one creation at a time, parents know their children are happy, engaged, and motivated by the amazing people who work at this master minded creative environment.

Visiting Austin on a budget?  Make plans to visit the Thinkery on Wednesday evenings when admission is by donation.

 

 

Top 25 Things to Do in Austin

 

 

Everyone thinks of New York as the city that never sleeps, but as anyone from Texas will tell you, Austin puts it to shame.  With festivals, music, parks, and events all year round, there is never a dull moment in Austin, and there’s absolutely no reason to hear every child’s favorite summer phrase, “I’m bored”.

 

  1. Safari Champ

Whether you want to drop your kids off or stay and play with them, they’re sure to love their time at the many playgrounds and activity centers.

 

  1. Zilker Park

With a playground, a mini train that circles around the park, themed botanical gardens, and plenty of space to take a break for a picnic, Zilker Park is the perfect place for children to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

On top of the normal activities that Zilker features, they also host a variety of events throughout the year from music festivals, to light shows, to cultural festivals.

 

  1. Austin Children’s Museum

The Austin’s Children Museum features innovative learning experience in areas of science and art that inspire creativity and provide hours of entertainment.

 

  1. Let them play their hearts out at Mt. Playmore.

At Mt. Playmore, there’s no need to wait around while your kids, have all the fun. With the largest indoor playground in Central Texas, Mt. Playmore features an 18 foot tall, 3000 square foot playscape designed for both kids and their parents! The company also has a toddler area and restaurant.

 

  1. Take the dogs to Barking Springs.

Just because your dogs aren’t allowed at Barton Springs doesn’t mean that man’s best friend can’t enjoy a nice swim as well! Just downstream from Barton Springs, the fence and ends and it opens up to a sandy beach welcome to all your furry friends.

 

  1. Get them jumping at Hop n Happy.

Hop n Happy is the perfect place for your kids to play on their many jumpy castles and dive in to the foam pit! Whether it’s for a birthday party or just an afternoon of fun, your kids are sure to be jumping with joy.

 

  1. Satisfy your sweet tooth with some ice cream.

What better way to cool down than some ice cream?

 

Amy’s Ice Cream

Amy’s is an award-winning ice cream shop that has fourteen locations all over Austin and an endless selection of flavors and mixes.

 

Lick Ice Creams

Lick is known for it’s unique flavors. If you’re feeling adventurous, head out to try their cilantro lime, goat cheese thyme and honey, or Texas au lait. (If these aren’t for you, not to worry, they have some normal flavors too.)

And for vegans, they have dairy free options, too!

 

  1. Go go-karting.

Satisfy your need for speed at K1 Speedway where go-karts go up to 40mph.

 

  1. Check out some of Austin’s natural springs and pools

Krause springs

Krause springs has 32 springs on the property and over 115 acres to camp on as well as a butterfly garden, waterfalls, and a natural grotto for a nice weekend getaway or just a fun day trip.

 

Barton Springs

Barton Springs is located on the grounds of Zilker Park and is filled with natural spring water that will definitely cool you down in the Texas heat. Take a break from swimming for some delicious snow cones or head over to enjoy all the activities Zilker Park has to offer.

 

Hamilton Pool

Hamilton Pool is a gorgeous natural swimming hole where Hamilton Creek spills over the limestone to create a 50 foot tall waterfall.

 

Jacob’s Well

Jacob’s Well is a deep rock well that’s known for being a cliff jumping spot. So if you’re a daredevil, head out to Jacob’s well and get your adrenaline rush as you jump off of a rock into the hole that’s 7 feet in diameter and 135 feet deep.

 

McKinny State Park

The state park is known for its swimming hole, hiking trails, and picnic areas as well as the small nature center that’s open on the weekends.

 

  1. Take a hike

Mt. Bonnel

It’s only a short five minute hike to one of the most beautiful views in Austin; Mt. Bonnel offers an amazing view over Lake Austin.

 

Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls

Bring your dogs out for this nice hike that ends at a beautiful waterfall.

 

  1. Enjoy Lady Bird Lake (aka Town Lake)

From sail boating to kayaking to paddle boarding, Town Lake has it all. We recommend SUP to rent your paddle boards and Austin Sailboat Rentals for a fun day of sailboating.

 

And if you’re not a fan of the water, you can bike or hike on the 10 mile loop around the lake.

 

  1. Trailer Food Tuesday.

Take a break from the week’s busy schedule and head out to Long Park for trailer food Tuesday where there’s endless amounts of delicious food and live music to enjoy!

 

  1. Go bowling at the Texas Union.

The University of Texas puts a unique twist on bowling with their underground, black light bowling.

 

  1. Play mini golf at Peter Pan Mini Golf.

Have some good ole’ family competition with a game of mini golf, featuring statues of some of your favorite fantasy characters!

 

  1. Go back in time with Austin’s steam train

 

  1. Check out the Cathedral of Junk.

The Cathedral of Junk is the epitome of keeping Austin weird.  With over 60 tons of junk making up its frame, the cathedral is the ultimate backyard toy house.

 

  1. Take a Duck Tour

There’s no better way to see the city of Austin and learn about its hidden gems than to sit back and relax while this car-boat hybrid takes you on a tour of the city before splashing in to Lake Austin.

 

  1. Visit the zoo

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

The Austin zoo is home to nearly every type of animal you can imagine. As if that didn’t give you enough to look at, the zoo also has weekly shows like alligator feeding, bear cub training, and children’s story time.

 

  1. Check out the kite festival once a year

Every March, Zilker Park hosts a kite festival with food, booths, contests, and of course, kites!

In 2016, the festival is happening on March 6, so be sure to head out and enjoy the lost art of flying a kite.

 

  1. Go geocaching.

Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?! Take out your GPS or cell phone and track down one of the hundreds of hidden treasures located all over the world. You can find the locations online or on an app on your phone, and get ready for a surprise – people will leave all sorts of treasures, so you never know what you’re going to find!

 

  1. Watch the bats.

Seeing thousands, possibly millions, of bats swarm from under the bridge truly is an amazing sight that your kids will never forget! The “show” starts every night at dusk, so bring a blanket and some snacks and relax for some free entertainment.

 

Also, the city of Austin hosts the Austin Bat Fest every year in August (this year it falls on Saturday, August 22, 2015). It costs $10 for adults and is free for kids, who will love the crafts, activities, and bat costume contest.

 

  1. Pick some local fruit.

Fun, and healthy!

Sweet Berry Farms is located just outside of Marble Falls and offers family fun with picking deliciously fresh strawberries and blackberries as well as a hayfield maze and a petting zoo.  The best time to go is in the spring from as early as March to as late as June.

 

  1. Have a blast from the past at Pioneer Farms.

The farm has five themed parks; an 1840s Tonkawa Encampment, an 1860s German Immigrant Farm, an 1870s Texian Farm, an 1880s Cotton Planters Farm and an 1890s Sprinkle Corner rural village. Each park has tons of activities, shows, and shops that take you back to the 19th century and make you feel like a real pioneer.

 

  1. Get in the Christmas spirit with the Trail of Lights.

Every year when December rolls around, Zilker Park transforms in to a winter wonderland with thousands of lights that are sure to put even Scrooge in a Christmas spirit.

 

  1. Horseback riding, of course!

It doesn’t matter what age your kids are, we would be more than happy to accommodate them on our trail rides or host a pony partywhere kids can paint one of our horses!

Best Three Things to Do in Austin with Kids

Volunteer Nicholas Vacula shares some of his Austin pastimes with families looking for something to do on their vacation.  Nicholas is an Austin high school student who volunteers with ag programs, with Austin Family Activities and works as a vet tech.

Austin is one of the most lively and spirited cities in the state of Texas bringing thousands of families each year to experience the cultural melting pot we call Austin. There is an endless amount of activities to experience in Austin that the kids will love and the parents will have just as much fun as the children.

Zilker park is a must in the city of Austin, located in south Austin this 350 acre park is home to many different things to do to entertain the kids. Zilker Park offers hike and bike trails that expand around the whole park allowing you to take in all the wonderful sights, sounds and experiences that can be discovered here in Austin. A very fun activity I remember from my childhood was riding the Zilker Park Mini Train with my parents giving us a chance to relax and get out of the sun and look around the whole park. Picnic tables are located all around the park near the playgrounds that children are guaranteed to have fun playing on and getting all their energy out.

Peter pan mini golf is a place that I have gone to as a child and a place I have continually gone to even as a teen. This mini golf course has 36 different holes to put on so the children will never get bored. Located in the heart of Austin, Peter Pan Mini Golf is everything you would expect in Austin with vintage and hilarious sculptures all around the course that will for sure make the kids laugh. This golf course will be fun for the parents as well as children with cold drinks and food available at the main office.

Horseback riding is something that brings smiles to young children and elder adults and Maverick horseback riding is one of the only horseback riding facilities in the area.  Located on the edge of Austin in the Round Rock area, Maverick Horseback Riding is the perfect way to experience rural country fun in the exciting city of Austin, Texas. Here you will get the full experience of horseback riding, safely learning how to prepare and groom your horses for the hour and a half long ride you will take them on. The trails stretch for miles across and parallel to the Brushy Creek River and on country and suburban roads. Maverick Horseback Riding is a great way for the whole family to have fun loads of fun in the Austin area.

Things to do in Round Rock

1. Cool off at the Rock’n River Family Aquatic Center.  The small water park is perfect for a relaxing day floating down the lazy river, with a few water slides for fun for the kids.  It’s located smack dab in Old Settler’s Park, so you can always take a stroll over to one of the several playscapes after your swim.

 

2. Go for a horse ride at Maverick Horseback Riding.  It’s located one mile from  Old Settler’s Park.  There are pasture rides and trails that go into Brushy Creek, beautiful meadows and some fun farm critters running around the barn.

 

3. Practice your golf game at Teravista Golf Club, Star Ranch or Forest Creek Golf Club. Spend a nice day relaxing on the green and perfecting your golf game at one of Round Rock’s best golf courses.

 

4. Old Settler’s Park. The park has space for nearly any sport you can imagine. Cricket, soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball, disc golf – they have it all. And when you get tired of playing you can head back to one of the pavilions for rent and cook up some good ‘ole barbecue.

 

5. Climb on at Boulders Sport Climbing Center. Just because there are no mountains in Austin doesn’t mean that you should miss out on the mountain climbing experience!

 

6. See the Round Rock itself! Located in the middle of Brushy Creek at the Chisolm Trail Park is the rock that inspired the name of the town. Nearby are several historical markers that tell the story of the Chisolm Trail and how Round Rock came to be.

 

7. See a game at Dell Diamond. Dell Diamond is home to the Round Rock Express, a minor league baseball team. So buy some peanuts and cracker jacks and head out to see America’s sport at a good ‘ole baseball game.

 

8. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Round Rock Donuts. The Texas sized Round Rock Donut weighs in at a whopping two pounds of sugary deliciousness.

 

9. Cruise through downtown Round Rock.  Have a burger at Juniors out on the patio while the kids play a claw machine that actually dishes out prizes, or stop into The Louisiana Cafe for some Cajun fair.  The candy store is on main street, perfect for dessert.  Stop by the Round Rock art center and on your way out, run through the downtown Round Rock splash pad.  Pop into “Bless this Nest” around the corner to see some unique antiques, trinkets and doo dads.

Check out the local bouncy houses

Here’s a quick and simple list of the bouncy houses in the area.  These places are fabulous.  Let the kids jump around like kangaroos trying to kick off a bad case of fleas while you enjoy some ac time and a book or get some work done with their wifi.

 

Name

Number

Jump USA Park

(512) 838-6200

Jump! Gymnastics

(512) 593-6226

Jumpoline Park

(512) 310-1420

Pump It Up

(512) 832-1110

Jumpstreet

(512) 506-8583

Urban Air Trampoline Park

(800) 960-4778

Hop N Happy

(512) 215-0898

Mt. Playmore

(512) 989-8886

Inflatable Wonderland

(512) 377-5867

 

Personally, we have been to Jumpoline Park, Mt. Playmore and Jumpstreet.  All have unique offers, and we’ll leave some commentary on each, below!

 

Four children pictured in Austin bouncy house and one of the indoor play centers.  You can see they are having a blast, with grins from ear to ear.  There are so many things to do in the Austin area with your children, and this is one of them!
Bouncy houses in Austin are the best way to get out some energy and beat the heat!

 

 

Mt. Playmore is fabulous.  It hosts way more than simply tigger-iffic bouncing fun.  Children will have a ball as they scramble, dash, jump and leap their way through a giant indoor playscape with rope swings, slides, inflatable bouncy house obstacles and if that doesn’t take the cake, then they can… well… take the cake.  Mt. Playmore has food available, and it’s not bad.  There are salads for those of you looking for a lighter fare, pizza and goodies for the kiddos.

Looking for even more fun?  They’ve got video games, air hockey and some prizes that win the hearts of the children in all of us.  Check it out!

Pro Tip: You’ll have a blast running through the playscape with your kiddo.  C’mon, mom and dad!  Give it a go!