Tuesday, June 24, 2014

a Fun Mom list for Austin

Last week I wrote about being Fun Mom. The truth is it's pretty easy to be Fun Mom here in Austin, because our city has so many fun things to do.

This is a list of some of our favorite spots in the ol' ATX. It isn't an exhaustive list, but if you're looking for some things to do this summer with your kids, I can personally vouch for every one of these. Some are free, some cost money, some take an hour, some are all day. It's a mixed bag. If you click on the link for each one, you will go to various maps and websites about each place.

Being Fun Mom is really more about the spirit you carry as you adventure through bad attitudes, injuries, setbacks, and other unfortunate circumstances. In the end, your kids will remember you more than the details of the day. So open your arms wide, smile super big, and announce it loudly so they'll all know:

"Today is going to be a GREAT DAY!!"

Then get busy being Fun Mom!

1. Texas Natural Science Center
This is a free museum, easy to get through in a couple of hours, and full of cool bones, rocks, and animal displays. Plus it's on the UT campus, so you can show your kids the Tower and the football stadium while you're there, and inspire them to go to college one day.

2. Mozart's Coffee and Hula Hut in Oyster Landing
These two yummy places are right on lake Austin. While you sit and sip your latté or eat massive amounts of Hawaiian/TexMex fusion you can watch the boats, feed turtles and ducks, and generally feel fantastic.

3. Mt. Bonnell
This is one of the best views in Austin. It's high above the water, you can see downtown in the distance, and after climbing the steps to the top your kids will feel like they have conquered the world. Pack a picnic and enjoy the short trails that meander through the small park.

The Mt. Bonnell Steps
4. The Thinkery
There is so much fabulousness in this children's museum, I can barely stand it. For the same cost as a movie, your kids can spend ALL DAY discovering the joy of stop motion animation, painting on plexiglass walls, experimenting with magnetic objects, making machines, pretending to make tamales, climbing the big playscape for hours, and more. I lost my big kids there repeatedly because there is so much cool stuff to do, so come prepared if your children are little and like to wander. Pack a picnic and eat at the amazing park across the street, or go eat at one of the hip East Austin restaurants like Blue Dahlia or Eastside Cafe. Great day!

5. Twin Lakes YMCA trail
This is the Y that we belong to, but anyone can enjoy its lakes and ducks (bring popcorn and make them happy, happy, happy!) You'll find a small waterfall on the property that is lovely, and a ravine to climb around in and scout for rocks. There is also a small climbing "rock" and a playscape for the kids. The Cedar Park trails go on forever from the property, so bikes and strollers are a great idea of you're so inclined.

Yes, this is at the Y

6. Kawaii Shaved Ice
This is in Round Rock's cute old downtown, and isn't far from the library, so you could spend some time reading books first. After you get your icy treat, be sure to pick up a dozen of those famous Round Rock donuts for breakfast the next day. You wouldn't want to sugar crash, now would you?

7. The Laguna Gloria
This historic property/ home of The CosmopolitAn museum is our latest Austin love. The grounds are sprinkled with sculptures and the trails are filled with serene stops along Lake Austin. At one there is an old boat dock where my kids waded and eventually "fell" in the water. So much fantastically free fun.

Wading at the Laguna Gloria
8. Inner Space Cavern
Yes, it's touristy. Yes, it's pricey. Yes, it's fun and your kids will love it.

9. Amy's Ice Cream
Because ice cream. Because Austin. Just because.

10. Bob Bullock Museum
A good Texas State History binge is a great way to spend the day. If you're a big spender, see an IMAX movie, too. Fun and educational!

11. Veteran's Memorial Pool
Great slides, climbing structures, a diving platform, and everything you want in a pool. It's definitely worth the price of admission. We love that place.

12. Phil's Ice House (Burnet road location and 183 location) and Hat Creek Burger on 360.
These are our favorite restaurants that have playgrounds that keep the kids happy while you chat with your husband. It's like a date night with the kids. Just the best.

13. Zilker Park 
I don't think there is a better place in Austin than Zilker. There's a train, a great playground, a real rock formation to explore, a botanical garden, places to to rent boats, Barton Springs to swim in, and more. This is Austin.

The Zilker Train

14. The Austin "Zoo"
It's really a rescue, and even though my kids have been to better zoos in their lives, they still love it there. Don't expect too many big animals, but do expect monkeys, peacocks, lions, and more. Pack your ice chest and picnic onsight.

15. Brushy Creek Sprinkler Park
We bring water guns and buckets and stay wet all day. Bring a blanket to sit on, snacks, and towels, of course. Sprinkler parks make Texas bearable.

16. The Cows at the Arboretum and the Armadillo at the Domain
We have been to these two spots so many times that my kids think we own them. They're familiar and fun and seem special to us. Plus, I can get some shopping done when we visit them. (Bonus!)

A Vintage Cows Photo with Grandma and Grandpa

17. Peter Pan Mini Golf
Do you like old creepy statues of rabbits in a quaint 1950s miniature golf setting? Do you like to school your kids in mini golf? Then you'll live this place just as much as we do.

18. Austin's bats
Don't cringe, just go. It's a unique sight to stand under the Congress bridge and watch the bats fly out at sunset in search of dinner. They really look like butterflies, so if you feel squeamish about it pretend that's what they are. It is memorable for everyone who goes, and an Austin must-do.

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