Staycation: Fun Things to Do Around Austin

Year of the Staycation - Austin @ponderthepath

If you don’t live near Austin, no problem…come back tomorrow and I will be posting a list with staycation ideas for almost 100 different cities!

After having been away from Texas for almost 20 years, returning for good has become a staycation for our family. We are very blessed to live smack dab in the middle of Austin and Houston, which provides up with a variety of activities within driving distance.

I wanted to share some of our favorite places to visit near Austin, as well as many more that are on our bucket list. Both of my brothers live in Austin, so they have been a great help in pointing us to some really cool destinations!

Exploring the Hill Country

Zilker Zephyr @ponderthepath

Zilker Park

Zilker Park is one of the first places my brother took us when we stayed in Texas 2 years ago. It is also where we chose to spend Mother’s Day this year. Zilker Park is located in the heart of Austin. Within this 350 acre park, you will find a large playground with giant musical instruments, the Zilker Zephyr train that tours the park, Bartons Springs Pool, open fields, and a beautiful river meandering through the land. In the summer time, there are musicals and plays at the outdoor Zilker Theater.

xylophone Zilker Park @ponderthepath

We have flown kites here, went wading in the spring, had a picnic, hiked through the woods, and generally just relaxed and enjoyed our time at Zilker Park.  Next time we visit, we hope to explore Zilker Botanical Gardens located within the park.

Barton Springs

Barton Springs, the fourth largest natural spring in Texas, is located within Zilker Park, but is worth it’s own day trip. Barton Springs Pool is a 3 acre, natural, spring fed swimming pool with an average year round temperature of 68 degrees. Right outside the swimming pool, you can access the creek and wade in the beautiful crystal waters.

barton spring creek @ponderthepath

If you are looking for a little more adventure, there are canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats that can be rented from Zilker Park Boat Rentals for a day out on the water.

Austin Children’s Museum

children's museum @ponderthepath

Our visit to the Austin Children’s Museum may have been on accident, but it was one place the younger children thoroughly enjoyed! The children’s museum is a hands on learning adventure geared towards younger children. There is an area to make craft projects using recycled materials. My son loved the tool bench with all the nuts and bolts used to attach panels together.

The museum offers several discount days, including a free Sunday afternoon admission. We were able to get in free for military appreciation month. Check with the website to see what discounts are available.

Inner Space Caverns

When I was a kid, I remember touring Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and just being amazed at the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. I was excited to find out that there are several limestone caverns near Austin. We are hoping to visit Inner Space Caverns this summer and make a life long memory for our children. Inner Space Caverns offers several discounts including a military discount.

Enchanted Rock State Park

Photo Credits: Jujutacular

Photo Credits: Jujutacular

If you enjoy hiking and nature, I am told that Enchanted Rock is an awesome place to enjoy both. The pink granite rock formation offers many trails and places to climb. There are vernal pools to explore and rocks to climb. Make sure and bring plenty of water for a day out on the rock.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

bluebonnet @ponderthepath
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is number 1 on my places to visit this summer. I am an herbalist and enjoy learning to identify new species of plants. But even if I wasn’t, the beauty of the wildflowers themselves still captures my heart! The center offers several hiking trails with different plants featured on each trail. There are also many different types of gardens showcasing the beautiful wildflowers native to the Texas Hill Country. If you love the flowers as much as I do and want to bring them back with you, the center offers wildflowers for sale twice a year. I will be there next October!

Jourdan-Bachmann Pioneer Farms

Step back in time and experience life in the 1800’s on this 90 acre historical farm, Jourdan-Bachmann Pioneer Farms. There are 5 different areas that cover: an 1841 Tonkawa Encampment, an 1868 German Immigrant Farm, an 1873 Texian Farm, an 1887 Cotton Planter’s Farm and an 1899 Sprinkle Corner rural village. Costumed guides illustrate life on each of the themed farms. Children learn how daily chores were done, such as milking a cow, making candles, woodworking and much more. They can pick vegetables from the garden or taste a home cooked meal made on the farm. There are animals to pet and horses to ride. Lots of fun while learning about history at the same time!

Bat Viewing at the Congress Avenue Bridge

Photo Credit: Peter17

Photo Credit: Peter17

Over 1.5 million bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge every night from March to November. We had a bat in our house several years ago and seeing 1.5 million of them sounds a little creepy, but I am sure this is something the kids would absolutely love. If you are a photography enthusiast, this is also a great location to catch some beautiful shots of the capital.

Kiddie Acres

“Old school” meets “Preschool”…an amusement park geared towards families with younger children! Kiddie Acres is the classic amusement park offering carousel rides and pony rides. After playing at the amusement park, the family can spend time playing miniature golf or eating pizza, hot dogs, or cotton candy.

Austin Zoo

elephant at zoo @ponderthepath
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Typical animal fun never loses it’s appeal to both young and old. We love to just walk around and marvel at God’s creation and the Austin Zoo is the perfect place to do just that!

Texas Capital

Photo Credits: Kumar Appaiah

Photo Credits: Kumar Appaiah

A guide to visiting Austin just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the state capital. I remember the first time I visited the capital when I was in junior high, looking up inside the dome. It takes my breath away just remembering it’s grandeur. Free guided tours are offered daily, including an overview of the Capitol’s art and architecture, Texas history, and the Texas legislature.

Cool Websites to Find More To Do

Free Fun in Austin – information on finding free activities, free food, and free services

Austin Bored Kids – activities going on in Austin

Austin Texas – event calendar for Austin area

Comments

  1. Great article! I hope to get back to Kiddie Acres before it gets too hot. Thank you so much for mentioning Free Fun in Austin!

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