Central Market Playscape + Turtle Pond

Although I rarely venture inside for some groceries, Central Market North Lamar is one of my favorite places in Austin to visit. I admit, I have a soft spot for Central Austin, having lived on West Campus for a few years and then working off North Lamar for several more after that.

Central Market (4001 North Lamar Blvd) is a great family outing, play date meet up, and fun place to hang out. It features a huge, shaded deck, tons of tables and chairs, a delicious cafe, and a very large, very fun playscape for the kiddos. And the best part? It’s practically all shaded.

I didn’t get any pictures of the deck! Why didn’t I get any pictures of the deck?

We showed up around 10:45 to beat the lunch crowd, and while the deck wasn’t too busy with cafe patrons, the playscape was hopping. At 5, 5, and 3, I didn’t worry about my girls too much. Most of the other kids were about their age, so I wasn’t afraid of them getting bowled over by bigger kids. They can hold their own.

The large playscape is a climbing kid’s dream. It’s huge! Lots of climbing apparatus, slides, and tunnels, which also became the “let’s take our shoes off because Mom can’t see us in here” station. Ahem.

There’s even a smaller playscape with smaller slides and ramps, a little house, and some fun sensory activities.

After we had exhausted the playground, we hit the trail behind the shopping center to go hunt for some turtles. It circles the big pond that’s just east of the playscape, and is a nice quarter mile or so walk when it’s not a thousand degrees outside.

The best place to spot turtles and ducks is from a bridge on the far end. We were able to see a snake, a few turtles, two large ducks, and a smaller mama duck with her baby.

View from the bridge looking towards the back of Central Market and the playground.

We also found this massive tree along the way. Perfect spot to stop and rest and take a photo or seven.

I love Central Market for the outdoor area, but it’s so much more than a playground. The Central Market Cafe serves up delicious food and is a favorite of mine for when we’re caught out and about in Central Austin at lunch or dinner time. I was going give a big thumbs up to the Margherita sandwich (mozzarella, tomato, and fresh basil), but it looks like they don’t have it anymore! So it’s anyone’s game. It’s all delicious, especially the sweet potato fries.

Just past the cafe you can also pick up a coffee and a yummy gelato, which is a nice treat after getting all of your energy out on the playground.

Central Market also hosts fun events on the patio and inside the store. Check out their events calendar for live music on the weekends and various workshops throughout the week.

Central Market North Lamar
4001 North Lamar
Austin TX 78756

Leigh Ann Torres is a freelance writer and blogger living in Austin with her husband and three girls. She’s a pretty good cook, a mediocre photographer, and a horrible housekeeper. She writes about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous of life with twins plus one at Genie in a Blog.

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