Definitely one of hardest things to do as a parent is entertain a young teen. What’s cool these days? Or better yet, what can *I* endure that they will enjoy as well??? If the days are dragging on and you’re running out of fun excursions for your teen, make sure you hit a few of our top picks below. These are our top 5 FREE and cheap (not lame) hangout spots for teens in Austin.
1. Hope Outdoor Gallery
The graffiti park at Hope Outdoor Gallery is a top destination for the youngsters since it’s probably one of the most instagram-able places in the whole ATX. You can pose in front of the ever-changing murals created by local street artists or take an epic shot overlooking the skyline. 11th & Baylor Sts, Austin.
2. Barton Springs Pool
It’s hot–crazy hot–here in Austin, so no “best of” list would be complete without a place to cool off. Since the 1970s, Barton Springs Pool has been one of the hippest places to do just that. The spot is especially popular with teens and is a great place to meet-up with a group of friends and spend the day on a super low budget. Admission for residents 12-17 years old is only $2 and the pool hours are from 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (closed Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. for cleaning), so there’s plenty of time to swim. Once there, you can always walk up Barton Springs Road to grab a smoothie, hop across to Zilker Park for a friendly game of soccer, or go for a leisurely stroll on the hike and bike trail. 2201 Barton Springs Rd, Austin.
3. Sprinkles Cupcake Shop
While not an Austin original, Sprinkles is definitely a teen favorite. The Beverly Hills-based decadent sweet shop has a location at The Domain Northside and plenty of admiring fans. What makes this hangout spot extra worthy of mention is the tons of photo opportunities located nearby. Teens can grab a cupcake and then go on a Snapchat frenzy with the art installations and creative murals scattered throughout the Rock Rose area. Can’t get there during their regular hours? No worries! Sprinkles has a cupcake ATM that’s open 24/7 to ensure your sweet tooth is always satisfied. 3120 Palm Way, Austin.
4. Blue Cat Cafe
Bored with the usual coffee shops in Austin? Then head over to Blue Cat Cafe. Not only can you and your teen get caffeinated and munch on yummy food, but you can also play with the cats in residence. It’s the purrrrfect place in Austin to make friends with some adorable furballs and do good by helping raise money for their care. Bonus: If you find a cat you absolutely fall in love with, the cats are all up for adoption as well! 95 Navasaota St, Austin.
5. Mount Bonnell
A must-see freebie in Austin, Mount Bonnell is home to some of the most spectacular views of the city of Austin, Lake Austin, and the surrounding hills. It’s been a tourist attraction since the 1850s and even had a movie-star moment in the Austin cult classic movie, Slacker. The spot is especially popular for majestic sunsets, early morning yoga snapshots, and evening hikes climbing up the 100+ steps. Most will tell you it’s the highest elevation point in Austin at 785 feet, but it’s actually the second highest–Jollyville Plateau has it beat with 1100 feet. Nonetheless, it still reigns as one of the coolest spots to take in Austin’s beauty. 3800 Mount Bonnell Rd, Austin.
Bonus: Also Awesome, But Not Free…
Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in is both retro and oh-so-Austin. The folks at Blue Starlite only allow about 30-50 cars a night, so it’s a fun and cozy place to hang out with friends. The theater mainly showcases pop-culture favorites and indie classics, which allows for an education in cool for the youngsters who weren’t born when some of the flicks graced the big screen. You’re welcome to bring your own picnic and snacks or buy some tasty concessions at the show. 12419 Lowden Ln, Austin.