Ready or not, summer has arrived in Austin, Texas! But, never fear. Even if you have no plan at all for navigating the coming months with the kids out of school, there are endless possibilities for budget-friendly family fun in Austin and beyond.
Here are 75 ideas to get you started:
1. Explore Austin and win prizes with the I Love Austin – Summer Fun Checklist for Kids!
2. Take the Texas Nature Challenge! Form a team with family and friends and explore the outdoors in Central Texas! Caving, flint knapping, fishing, geo-caching, and hiking are just a few of the adventurous outings awaiting you and your team. It is free to participate in the 2014 missions, but some locations on the list have an admission cost.
3. See a free Alamo Kids Camp screening at Alamo Drafthouse locations around town. These movies are for age 3 and up, except on Baby Day (Tuesday) when all ages are invited to attend.
4. Check out 50 fun things to do in Round Rock and win prizes with the Round the Rock Instagram Summer Challenge.
|Brushy Creek Lake Park|
5. Frolick in one of 24 local splash pads.
6. See a free movie under the stars at Lake Kyle.
7. Visit the new Family Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center during Summer Nature Nights. Admission is free all day on those select Thursdays this summer.
8. Go for a swim in one of Austin’s 27 free pools or a nearby community pool. ($)
9. Check out the $1 movies playing at Cinemark and Regal theaters all summer long. ($)
10. Skate for free at Playland Skate Center.
11. Take in a free Austin Symphony concert, Sunday evenings on the Long Center lawn. The Long Center will also host Bubblepalooza, free movies, and more!
12. Explore Natural History at the Texas Memorial Museum, then stop to visit the turtles in the UT Turtle Pond.
13. Go on a family-friendly hike with the kids.
14. Head to Zilker Park for a free Blues on the Green concert.
15. Participate in a summer reading program.
16. Enjoy a free game of bowling… or two!
17. Dress up like cowboys and explore Ghost Town in Manor.
18. Head into the Hill Country to climb Enchanted Rock. ($)
19. Enjoy performances by local children’s entertainers on Friday Family Fun Nights at Kaleidoscope Toys in Round Rock.
20. Take an urban trek along the Barton Creek Greenbelt to discover Twin Falls.
21. Try a new coffee shop, like TOMS on South Congress or in.gredients in East Austin. You can also check out our list of reader recommended coffee shops.
22. Head to Symphony Square for a morning of entertainment at Children’s Day Art Park. (¢)
23. Enjoy live music while the kids conquer the playground at Central Market North.
24. Stock up on veggies at the Downtown Farmers Market.
25. Catch tadpoles in Walnut Creek Park.
26. Watch the bats emerge from under Congress Avenue Bridge.
|HOPE Outdoor Gallery|
27. Give the Summer Family Programs at The Blanton Museum of Art a try. Admission is free on Thursdays and is always free for kids age 12 and under.
28. Explore Austin’s street art, murals, and mosaics.
29. Enjoy story time at BookPeople and then head over to the neighboring Whole Foods Market flagship store.
30. Check out the planes, tanks, and helicopters at the Texas Military Forces Museum.
31. Spend the day at the beach! Try Bob Wentz Park ($), or head north to swim in Lake Pflugerville.
32. Explore Austin’s new children’s museum, the Thinkery. During Community Nights on Wednesdays from 5 – 8 p.m., admission is by donation (suggested $1). Admission is free on Sundays, from 5 – 6 p.m. ($)
33. Visit Shady Grove on a Thursday night for KGSR’s free concert series, Unplugged at the Grove.
34. Take your dog on an adventure at Red Bud Isle.
35. Have a picnic atop Mount Bonnell.
36. Visit the peacocks at Mayfield Park.
37. Check out Nature’s Treasures, a super cool rock and fossil store in central Austin.
38. Navigate the Little Stacy-Blunn Creek Greenbelt-Big Stacy Super Park.
39. Give skateboarding a try at one of these free skate and BMX parks.
40. Attend a free artist demo at Wimberley Glassworks.
41. Arrange a field trip for you and some friends!
42. See the exhibits at the Capitol Visitors Museum.
43. Tour the Texas Governor’s Mansion.
44. Swim inside a collapsed grotto at Hamilton Pool Preserve and hike the neighboring Reimers Ranch. ($)
45. Take in a free play: Oklahoma! at Zilker Hillside Theater, Romeo and Juliet in Round Rock, the Austin Summer Musical for Children, The Wizard of Oz, or a new musical for children being performed in Pflugerville called Too Many Stories.
46. Relive history at the Texas State Cemetery.
47. Pack a picnic and plan for story time at the French Legation Museum.
48. Sign your child up for a free week of Vacation Bible School at a church near you.
49. Stop by the Bullock Texas State History Museum on the first Sunday of every month, when admission is free.
50. Feed the ducks at The Arboretum (and then have Amy’s Ice Cream of course!).
|Liz Carpenter Fountain|
51. Stay up late to see the light show at Liz Carpenter Fountain downtown or the one at the fountain in Round Rock’s Main Street Plaza.
52. Head to Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress to load up on treats!
53. Visit Upper Falls and Lower Falls at McKinney Falls State Park. Free for kids age 12 and under. ($)
54. Take a bike or trike to ride the mini town streets in Round Rock’s Play for All Abilities Park.
|Barton Springs Pool|
55. Swim in the cool, spring-fed waters of Barton Springs Pool and Deep Eddy Pool. ($)
56. Interact with the sculptures at the Bee Cave Sculpture Park.
57. Take the trails that connect Indian Grass Prairie Preserve and the Sunset Valley Nature Area.
58. Discover 10 fun things to do at Crowe’s Nest Farm in Manor. ($)
59. Enjoy an improv show for kids with What’s the Story Steve? (pay what you wish) and Flying Theater Machine (free on the first Sunday of each month). ($)
60. Cross the brand new boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake, following its grand opening on June 7, 2014.
61. Take the kids to hear some live music at family-friendly venues around town!
62. Bike ride on the Veloway at Circle C Metro Park.
63. Schedule a fun morning for your cowpokes at Little Buckaroo Ranch in Dripping Springs. ($)
64. Climb the UT Tower for a bird’s eye view of Austin. ($)
65. Check out the New Braunfels Railroad Museum. It’s free!
66. Tour Westcave Preserve in Southwest Travis County. ($)
67. Ride the rails on the Cedar Rock Railroad in Leander. ($)
68. Play in the past at Pioneer Farms. ($)
69. Explore the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. Admission will be free on July 4th and August 27th (LBJ’s birthday). Children 12 and under always get in free. ($)
70. Test out the waterslides at the newly revamped Bartholomew Pool. ($)
71. Cool off in the refreshing waters of Krause Springs. ($)
72. See a free movie under the stars in Republic Square Park. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is showing on June 12, 2014.
73. Feed the donkeys at Berry Springs Park and Preserve in Georgetown.
74. Keep cool at Chaparral Ice, once it reopens for public ice skating on June 5, 2014. Kids 5 and under skate free with paid admission, during the Monday-Friday afternoon public sessions. ($)
75. Collect items to exchange at the Trade Counter in the Naturalist Workshop at the Austin Nature and Science Center.