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Fun for the Young and the Young at Heart
Written by Shannon Barrientes / Images Courtesy of Austin Zoo
F amily friendly can’t begin to describe warm, sunny Austin, Texas. Indoors, outdoors, educational (and yes, even weird), there is something for kids of every age around every corner. From infancy to age one hundred, there is fun for the whole family in a bustling city full of sights and sounds to enjoy.
Something every kid must experience at least once is the spectacular and unforgettable display of bat-watching on Congress Bridge.Home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk each night from mid-March to November.
It is an educational experience that children will delight in, and an experience that will mesmerize the adult as well. It costs nothing but time and you will find yourself within walking distance of the shores of Lady Bird Lake and local restaurants and shopping.
For more animal adventures, pay a visit to the Austin Zoo. The Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary uniquely doubles as an animal rescue and rehabilitation center, giving a home to 300 different animals of over 100 species. The Austin Zoo houses a delightful petting zoo for your little one to enjoy, which includes rescued deer and wild pigs as well as a donkey and plenty of goats. There are large cats, monkeys, reptiles and birds of all types for your viewing pleasure.
If you love festivals, you are in luck! Austin has several kid-friendly events throughout the year that are great for the whole family. These include Free Museum Day in September, the Trail of Lights at Zilker Park during December, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo in September and the Old Pecan Street Festival in the spring and fall. Two local kid favorites occur every August – the annual Ice Cream Festival, held at the peak of the hot summer, and the brilliant Bat Fest, which includes a costume contest. The beloved annual Kite Festival, which happens every spring in Zilker Park, is a can’t-miss event.
Most kids love to run in the outdoors and Austin’s sunny weather encourages a wide array of parks and recreational areas just waiting for little feet to explore. A popular favorite is Zilker Park on Barton Springs Road in downtown Austin. Zilker Park has 350 acres of fun activities including outdoor play areas and plenty of green grass for Frisbee, golf, football or tag. For a small admission fee, you can swim in Barton Springs Pool, an aquifer-fed spring that maintains a glorious year-round temperature of 67 degrees, or take a ride on the Zilker Zephyr, a kiddie-sized train that loops around the large park and is fun for adults too. Town Lake’s hike and bike trails, the Zilker Botanical Garden and the playground are all free, as are the many picnic areas. Be sure to visit to the Zilker Hillside Theater in the summer to watch free musical productions!
There are dozens of museums in the Austin area for those who want to learn and be inspired. Kids of all ages will enjoy the Thinkery, Austin’s newest children’s museum located in the Mueller Town Center. The Thinkery offers hand-on exhibits, workshops, birthday parties, and more, and will inspire, educate, and entertain little ones for hours on end.
The sunny weather and beautiful landscape offer a playground for children of all ages to enjoy the wonderful delights that are Austin, a city that is both fun and educational to explore.