Museums & Galleries
- The Blanton Museum of Art – Children under 12 are FREE everyday! All visitors receive FREE admission on Thursday.
- Bullock Texas State History Museum – Mark your calendar for the first Sunday of every month, when admission to the Bullock Museum is FREE! There is also special programming for families on these Sundays, including storytime in the upstairs lobby at 2 p.m.
- The Contemporary Austin – The Jones Center on Congress Avenue is always FREE for kids under 19, plus admission is FREE for all visitors each Tuesday. Check out current and upcoming exhibitions here. Note that the museum is closed on Mondays.
- Texas Military Forces Museum – Have a young history buff? Learn about The Battle of the Alamo, both world wars, The War on Terror, and more in this interactive museum at Camp Mabry. Kids can get up close and personal with tanks, try on army gear, and see a piece of the Berlin Wall. Be sure to ask for the scavenger hunt at the front desk! Read about visiting with kids here. Admission is always FREE. Note that the Museum is closed Mondays. Also, adults need to present photo ID to enter Camp Mabry.
- Museum Row – Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum, the O. Henry Museum, and the Austin Fire Museum are located next to each other. All three museums offer a small taste of Texas history. Note that the museums are only open Wednesday to Sunday, from noon – 5 p.m.
- George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center – FREE admission for adults and kids! The museum offers exhibits featuring African American historical and cultural materials. Read about visiting the Museum with kids here. The Museum also offers events for families throughout the year.
- Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center – Two gallery spaces feature local, regional, and national Latino and Latina artists. Admission is always FREE and parking is FREE if you request a temporary parking pass from the main office.
- Elisabet Ney Museum – Visit the oldest art studio in Texas. The Museum is small, but peaceful with picturesque grounds. Read 5 fun things about the Museum here. FREE! Closed Monday and Tuesday.
- Austin Nature & Science Center – Explore the indoor Naturalist Workshop and bring something to swap at the Trade Counter. There is also a small, man-made cave to walk through, inside the visitor’s pavilion. Read more about the Trade Counter here. FREE!
Splash! Exhibit at the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center – Take kids to the Aqua Theater in this Zilker Park center to learn about Barton Springs pool, the history of the aquifer, and the endangered salamanders who make their home here. Read about visiting the exhibit with kids here. FREE! Closed on Mondays.
The Williamson Museum – For Austinites who rarely venture north of 620, get your adventure hats on and head up to this little museum in Georgetown. Kids can delve into local history at one of the many FREE programs the museum offers, including courthouse tours, a Colonial Scavenger Hunt, and monthly Hands on History events.
- Austin Public Library – Storytimes, puppet shows, concerts, movies, video game tournaments and more… all FREE! See the youth calendar of events.
- Whole Foods Market – Several locations of Whole Foods have weekly, FREE storytimes with crafts for kids. See the store calendars for details: Lamar (Wednesdays), Arbor Trails (Wednesdays), Gateway (Saturdays), Domain (Tuesdays), and Bee Cave (music class for kids on Mondays).
- The Fish Gallery – Kids can enjoy an interesting array of display tanks.
- Austin Aqua-Dome – The Aqua-Dome sells all kinds of fish — rainbow-hued, striped and spotted; fish with exotic, nonsensical names like Bushynose Pleco and Harlequin Rasboras and Albino Cory Cats; fish ordered straight from Bali, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. They also sell corals from places like Jakarta and Kupong. You can find shrimp as small as your pinkie nail and as bright-blue as cobalt glass, and plants and statues to turn an aquarium into a watery diorama with any theme imaginable.
- BookPeople – Visit Austin’s favorite independent book store for a marvelous, FREE storytime! Choose from Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday morning. See the store calendar here.
- All Things Kids – Visit the play zone in the back of this fun toy store in The Domain and stay for a FREE storytime. For storytime updates, visit the All Things Kids in the Domain Facebook page.
- Kaleidoscope Toys – This toy store in Round Rock offers FREE signing storytimes on Monday. See the store calendar here.
- Strange Brew Lounge Side – Catch a FREE show with the littles, Saturday mornings at Strange Brew. A different children’s entertainer performs each week. See the event calendar here.
- Cherrywood Coffeehouse – Grab a cup of joe and let kids jam to a band performing just for them at FREE Sunday morning shows. See the event calendar here. You may want to call ahead as some shows are scheduled for outside and may be canceled in poor weather.
- Brilliant Sky Toys and Books – Join Mr. Will at this Westlake toy store, Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. He will sing songs to get kids up and dancing. Check the Facebook page for updates.
- Austin Fire Department Tours – This would be a great group activity for neighborhood kids to learn about Austin’s finest! Normal hours for station visits are 9-11 a.m., and you must contact them a week in advance. Click here for more info. You may also enjoy Fun Ideas For Austin Kids Who Love Fire Trucks.
- Amy’s Ice Creams Tour – You need to plan a month ahead, but this FREE half hour tour of the ice cream facility on Northland Drive is a fun one that ends with a cool treat!
- Blue Baker Tour – Tour the Arboretum bakery facility, then let kids make their own loaf of bread, and snack on a cookie! FREE! Read more about the tour here.
- Texas Capitol – Join a FREE tour of our red granite Capitol building, where Texans meet to enact laws for the state. Read about exploring the Capitol with kids here.
- Governor’s Mansion – Schedule a FREE 20-minute tour of the fourth oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence in the United States. Read about touring the Governor’s Mansion with kids here.
- Lakeshore Learning – Drop in to make a FREE craft every Saturday!
- The Home Depot – Visit your local Home Depot on the first Saturday of every month to make a FREE project. See the schedule here.
- Lowe’s – Sign up for Build-and-Grow Clinics happening at a Lowe’s near you. Keep an eye on this page because once posted, the FREE clinics fill up in a hurry!
- Michaels – See a store associate to sign up for fun $2 crafts.
Nature’s Treasures – This store is best for older kids, who won’t be tempted to grab all the small rocks and stones within arm’s reach. You may also want to set a budget before heading inside, because everything looks so appealing to young rock-lovers! Read about exploring this store with kids here.
- Zoo Keeper Exotic Pets – Check out this unique pet store with a sloth and other unusual animals! It’s small, but interesting to see the exotic pet selection. You may leave with your child begging for a ferret.
- Lakeline Mall – Just in front of Dillard’s (on the north side of the mall) is an enclosed, carpeted play area with a clubhouse and lots of low play structures. Great for tiny tots, but beware nearby exciting attractions that are not free (a train!). See a map of the mall here.
- Trader Joe’s – This could be a great indoor adventure for your little one, as they have miniature-shopping carts! While you do your grocery shopping, your child can push around a mini cart and “help you shop.” Also, ask about finding a stuffed cow in the store to get a FREE lollipop.
- IKEA Round Rock – FREE childcare and fun for your kids. Go shop and enjoy yourself, maybe grab a drink and find a chair to “test out” for a good twenty minutes while your kids enjoy the indoor playscape and numerous planned activities throughout the week. Just be sure to arrive early because the play area, Småland, fills quickly. See the store calendar here. Kids eat FREE on Tuesdays in the IKEA Restaurant. Also, if they complete a scavenger hunt from Småland, kids can get a $1 off frozen yogurt coupon (which costs $1, so it’s FREE).
Bonus Fun on the Cheap
- Texas Memorial Museum – Head to the UT campus and step back in time. Way back. Exhibits at this Museum focus on dinosaurs and fossils, prehistoric Texas wildlife, gems and minerals. There is also a Paleontology Lab, where visitors can interact with scientists as they prepare fossil finds. Read about exploring natural history at the Texas Memorial Museum here. The Museum started charging admission in 2014 ($1-$4; children under 2 are FREE).
- Thinkery – If you haven’t checked out Austin’s newest children’s museum, this is a must. On Wednesday afternoons admission is by donation (suggested $1) from 4-8 p.m.For even more, check out 25 FREE Places to Play Indoors in Austin and Free Indoor Fun for Babies!
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