City guide: Austin

Your one-stop city guide, packed with information on family-friendly hotels, restaurants, and local and unique attractions.

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This capital city in the heart of the Lone Star state is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, drawing international crowds for festivals like South by Southwest and Austin City Limits. Whether you’re there to see a band or just explore the city, Austin is full of “weird” surprises!


Four Seasons Hotel Austin
98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX
(512) 478-4500
Price: Rooms starting at $349/night

This luxury hotel is located in the heart of downtown Austin, close to its most popular attractions. Four Seasons Hotels are known for their comprehensive kids programs, which offer welcome gifts and babysitting services.

Barton Creek Resort & Spa
8212 Barton Club Drive, Austin, TX
(866) 572-7369
Price: Rooms starting at $189/night

The Barton Creek Resort & Spa is perfect for a relaxing vacation to Austin. It offers family package discounts like the “Sunny Side Up” package for just $189 a night for a family of four. The resort offers golf, tennis, pools, a spa, and family friendly activities. Though downtown Austin is a 30-minute drive, the beautiful grounds at Barton Creek may be worth it.

Wyndham Garden Hotel
3401 South IH-35, Austin, TX
(512) 448-2444
Price: Rooms starting at $89/night

At the Wyndham Garden Hotel you can reap all of the benefits of downtown Austin without the high price tag of downtown hotels. Located less than 4 miles from both downtown and the airport, you’ll be close to all of Austin’s attractions without having to deal with the chaos of staying downtown.

The Driskill Hotel
604 Brazos Street, Austin, TX
(512) 474-5911
Price: Rooms starting at $280/night

The Driskill Hotel was built in 1886 as the showplace of cattle baron Jesse Driskill and remains one of Austin’s most legendary landmarks. Your grandchildren will feel like royalty, receiving fresh baked cookies every night from the hotel bakery. The hotel is also one of the few pet friendly hotels downtown and provides pet beds, treats, and toys for furry guests.

Holiday Inn Austin-Town Lake
20 North IH-35, Austin, TX
(512) 472-8211
Price: Rooms starting at $114/night

The Holiday Inn Austin-Town Lake has breathtaking views of both Lady Bird Lake and Downtown Austin. It’s located close to tourist attractions and tons of outdoor activities. Find places to hike, bike, Segway, and kayak right inside of the lobby!


407 Colorado Street, Austin, TX
(512) 494-6916
Monday-Wednesday: 8am-10pm
Thursday-Saturday: 8am-2am
Sunday 11am-10pm
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Who doesn’t love a good hot dog? At Frank, you can choose from a long list of “artisan” dogs like the Nacho Dog with refried beans, cheese, sour cream, pico, and jalapeño or start from scratch and create your own! The kid-friendly menu is filled with hot dogs, waffle fries and desserts like chocolate covered bacon. And for vegetarians, any hot dog on the menu can be substituted for a vegan dog!

Barbecue PitDennis Crowley  –  Barbecue Pit

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
303 Red River Street, Austin, TX
(512) 236-9599
Monday-Thursday: 11am-10pm
Friday-Saturday: 11am-11pm
Sunday: 9:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-10pm
Price: $$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Some say Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill is Austin’s favorite brunch spot. For $16.95 you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat brunch on Sundays until 2:00pm. It’s a great place for empty stomachs, serving dishes like egg scrambles, grits, chicken fried steak, potatoes and plenty of buttermilk biscuits. Though the $16.95 deal may not be worth it for younger patrons, older grandchildren and adults will think it’s a steal.

Home Slice Pizza
1415 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX
(512) 444-7437
Monday-Thursday: 11am-11pm
Friday-Saturday: 11am-12am
Sunday: 12pm-11pm
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Home Slice Pizza serves authentic New York style pies and slices in the heart of downtown Austin. You can sit down and eat a pie at Home Slice, or visit More Home Slice Pizza right next door for take-out and slices to go.

Franklin Barbecue
900 East 11th Street, Austin, TX
(512) 653-1187
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 11am-4pm, Monday: Closed
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Franklin Barbecue started as a modest travel trailer selling BBQ in an East Austin parking lot. In 2010, Bon Appetit named Franklin Barbecue the best in America. No trip to Texas would be complete without BBQ favorites like pulled pork and slaw, so why not try the country’s best?

Hut’s Hamburgers
807 West 6th Street, Austin, TX
(512) 472-0693
Hours: 11am-10pm (daily)
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Hut’s Hamburgers, which opened its doors in 1939, is a Texas favorite. In 2011, its signature food was named “Texas’ Best Burger” by The Austin Chronicle. All of Hut’s, hamburgers are made from locally raised beef — you can also substitute beef for chicken, buffalo, longhorn or veggie burgers — and come dressed in a variety of ways. From the Big Bopper (mayo, lettuce and tomato) to the Beach Boy’s favorite (pineapple, Swiss cheese, mayo, lettuce and bell peppers), there’s something on the menu for everyone. On Wednesdays Hut’s offers Hamburger Happy Hours with 2-for-1 burger specials.


Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
320 East 6th Street, Austin, TX
(512) 476-1320
Hours: Open daily, check for show times
Price: $10 per person
Age Range: Elementary, Tween, Teen

Want dinner and a movie under one roof? Check out Austin’s most famous theater, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which has been named the “#1 Theater in America” by Entertainment Weekly and the “Coolest Movie Theater in the World” by Before your movie begins, you can order from a large menu of food and specialty drinks, served during the movie. The dinner and a movie combo might not be ideal for messy eaters or grandchildren who need your help eating, but older grandchildren will think you’re the bee’s knees for bringing them to Drafthouse.

Austin Zoo
10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX
(512) 288-1490
May-September: 9:30am-6pm (daily)
October-April: 10am-5:30pm (daily)
Price: Children (ages 2-12): $5, Adults (ages 13-64): $8, Seniors (ages 65+): $6
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Austin Zoo is home to move than 300 animals across more than 100 different species, most of which have been rescued from around the world and brought to the non-profit zoo and sanctuary. See exotic animals like tigers, bears, and panthers, or pay a visit to the domestic animals pen and feed a real Texas Longhorn.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
1800 North Congress Ave, Austin, TX
(512) 936-4639
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9am-6pm, Sunday: 12pm-6pm
Price: Children (ages 4-17): $6, Adults (ages 18-64): $9, Seniors (ages 65+): $7
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween

The Texas State History Museum has a little something for the Texan in everyone—whether it’s the three floors or interactive exhibits or the special effects shows or Austin’s only IMAX Theatre. Come explore the history of the Lone Star State from the beginning. Austin’s rich history is sure to provide an entire day’s worth of fun and learning.

Barton Springs Pool
2101 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX
(512) 867-3080
Hours: 5am-10pm (daily), closed Thursday 9am-7pm for maintenance
Price: Children (ages 11 & under): $2, Juniors (ages 12-17): $2, Adults (ages 18-64): $3, Seniors (ages 65+): $1
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

On a hot day you’re likely to find most Austinites at the city’s watering hole, Barton Springs Pool. This three-acre pool is fed from underground springs and is, on average, 68 degrees year round. Barton Springs Pool attracts a diverse crowd—from children to legislators and everyone in between. A fun fact for Robert Redford fans: this is the same pool the actor learned to swim in when he was five-years-old.

Austin Ghost Tours
303 Red River Street, Austin, TX 
(512) 853-9826
Hours: Open daily, check for tour times
Price: Tours start at $20 per person
Age Range: Tween, Teen

For a city that’s home to one of America’s first serial killers, it’s only fitting that Austin offers spooky ghost tours every night. Learn—if you dare—about the ghosts or the Governor’s Mansion, the spirits that haunt the warehouse district and the tale of the Servant Girl Annihilator. This tour is great to take around Halloween time, but be warned that it’s not for the faint of heart.

Texas State Capitol
1100 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX
(512) 463-5495
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9am-6pm (daily), Sunday: 9am-5pm
Price: Free
Age Range: Elementary, Tween, Teen

Visit one of the nation’s most distinguished state capitol buildings in Austin; the breathtaking design is an extraordinary example of late 19th century public architecture. Once inside, take a free tour of the grounds and the 22 acres of monuments that surround it.

The Children’s Museum
201 Colorado Street, Austin, TX
(512) 472-2499
Monday: 12pm-5pm
Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Price: Children (ages 12-23 months): $4.50, Children (ages 2+): $6.50, Adults: $6.50
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler

The Children’s Museum in Austin was designed to educate and entertain children with over 12,000 square feet of exhibits! It’s filled with fun activity rooms like “Ready, Set Roll!” which teaches your grandchildren the basics of physics through hands-on play with golf balls.

Austin Museum of Art—Downtown
700 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX
(512) 453-5312
Monday & Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 12pm-11pm
Thursday-Saturday: 12pm-9pm
Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Price: Suggested Donation ($5)
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Congress Avenue location of AMOA is a great place for grandchildren of all ages, whether or not they’re artists themselves. But you won’t find your typical classical paintings at AMOA, they’ve featured mostly contemporary modern art of all different mediums: from altered analog televisions to modified karaoke machines. Your grandchildren will love seeing all of the different ways people make “art”!

Museum of the Weird
412 East 6th Street, Austin, TX
(512) 476-5493
Hours: 10am-12am (daily)
Price: Children (ages 8 & under): $5.00, Adults (ages 9+): $8
Age Range: Elementary, Tween, Teen

Austin is a city that prides itself on its oddness. The city’s slogan, which appears on stickers, T-shirts, hats (and anything else you can imagine), is “Keep Austin Weird”, so it’s only natural that the weirdest museum in the country is located right in the heart of the city! At the Museum of Weird you can see unbelievable exhibits like the Fiji Mermaid, shrunken heads, and other out of the ordinary creatures.

Umlauf Sculpture Museum
605 Robert E. Lee Road, Austin, TX
(512) 445-5582
Hours: Wednesday-Friday: 10am-4:30pm, Saturday-Sunday: 1pm-4:30pm
Price: Students (ages 4-17): $1, Adults (ages 18-64): $3.50, Seniors (ages 65+): $2.50
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

What’s better to do on a beautiful day than walk through the natural oasis of the Umlauf Sculpture Museum? Unlike traditional museums, touching is totally encouraged at the outdoor gallery. Each of the sculptures has been treated with a special wax that protects it from the oils and salts in exploring fingers.

Local uniques:

Café Monet
4477 South Lamar Blvd. Ste. 560, Austin, TX
(512) 892-3200
Sunday-Monday: 12pm-6pm
Tuesday-Wednesday: 11am-8pm
Thursday-Saturday: 11am-9pm
Price: Pieces starting at $5
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

This paint-your-own pottery and mosaic studio is a great place to let your grandchildren flex their creative muscles. Choose from hundreds of pieces of pottery, and the staff at Café Monet will even give you a few painting lessons before you begin. If your stay in Austin is short, keep in mind that it takes about five days for the pieces to be fired in the kiln (Quickfire is available for an additional cost, but still takes about three days).

Congress Avenue Bridge’s Urban Bat Colony
305 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX
(512) 416-5700 (ext. 3636)
Hours: Open daily
Price: Free
Age Range: Elementary, Tween, Teen

See the world’s largest urban bat colony at the Congress Avenue Bridge. This Austin original is awe-inspiring, amazing, and of course a little “weird”—but where else can you see 1.5 million bats emerge for their nightly quest for food? Check out the Bat Observation Center’s website for updated “emergence” times and show your grandchildren (if you don’t think they’d be afraid of 1.5 million bats!) something they can’t see anywhere else.

Cathedral of Junk
4422 Lareina Drive, Austin, TX
(512) 299-7413
Hours: By appointment only
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Travelling to see 60 tons of junk may not sound like an ideal afternoon at first, but once you lay eyes on this popular roadside attraction you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The Cathedral’s builder and owner, Vince Hannemann, is your typical Austin resident with a day job and a small house in a quiet neighborhood. But in his backyard is a magical wonderland built exclusively of… junk… from all over the country.

Zilker Metropolitan Park
2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX
(512) 974-6700
Hours: 5am-10pm (daily)
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Zilker Memorial Park is Austin’s most beloved green space. This 351-acre park is home to a wide variety of activities, attractions like Barton Springs Pool, and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, with plenty of space to enjoy a picnic or take a walk through the Zilker Botanical Gardens. Year-round activities like the Zilker holiday tree and the Zilker Park Kite Festival guarantee that there’s something to do here, no matter the season.

Graffiti Park
Baylor Street and 11th Street, Austin, TX
Hours: Daily
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

There are plenty of great photo ops in Graffiti Park, an urban art installation of murals featuring work from local artists and talented visitors.