Austin Local Highlights

Published on January 24, 2022 - Updated on February 23, 2022

Bats, dinosaurs, freshwater springs, and the best BBQ this side of the Mississippi? Yep, it must be Austin. A trip to the Texas capital is full of fun and surprising finds that are just waiting to be explored!

One of the best parts of Austin is the sheer amount of large parks and green space that they've intertwined into the city. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a great spot to get outside into nature and enjoy the natural scenery. There are multiple areas for kids to run around and play, such as the Family Garden!

Austin's first-ever public park is also a fun place to visit with your kids. Pease Park (1100 Kingsbury St.) has running, walking, biking, public art installations to enjoy, and lots of open grass. If you're looking for something to do in the evening and aren't afraid of critters, head to the Congress Street Bridge to watch the bats fly at sunset. All the bats fly out in one large hoard and are a sight to be seen. Kids love it!


McKinney Falls State Park (5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744) is a great place to visit with your kids on a hot day. They can swim in the cold and clean water, and there are great hiking and biking trails as well as camping spots. Bastrop State Park (100 Park Road 1A, Bastrop, TX 78602) is also a great stop for swimming, hiking, biking, and camping. The landscape at the park is especially interesting as it is recovering from a wildfire burn in 2011. 


Definitely visit the Austin Zoo (10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX 78736) if you get a chance as well! It's a relatively small zoo, but they rescue animals from bad situations and give them a good home. You'll see everything from bears and lemurs to goats and deer. Another favorite stop in Austin is the Dinosaur Park (893 Union Chapel Road, Cedar Creek, Texas 78612). It's a nature walk a few miles outside Austin with life-size dinosaur replicas placed around the trails. The park offers I-Spy activity sheets for kids to fill out while they are walking and holds events for kids daily. 


Looking to cool off somewhere in the state capital? Barton Springs is a great spot to do just that! Located inside Zilker Park, it is smack dab in the middle of downtown Austin. The pool stays cool all year round (averaging 68-70 degrees!) and is a great spot to take the kids on a hot summer's day. Barton Springs pulls water from the 4th largest spring in Texas and is a popular family spot, so be prepared for it to be busy on weekends.


If you are looking for some of the best Texas BBQ around, take the short and scenic drive out Driftwood, about 25 minutes south of Austin. Not only are there some pretty tasty wineries out there, but there is also the world-famous Salt Lick BBQ, which will have your mouth watering the minute you drive up and smell the BBQ that's been slow cooking all day long. Enjoy casual dining picnic-style, and be sure to BYOB if you want some adult beverages.

Less of a hills type of person and more of a lake lover? Head north to Lake Travis and enjoy a tasty meal at one of the best spots to watch the sunset. The Oasis is a massive restaurant that sits at the top of Lake Travis, giving its patrons gorgeous views of the lake and surrounding countryside. The food is tasty, and the kids' menu has all the good stuff kid's crave, but honestly, it's the view that makes this spot!


Looking for some sweets closer in? Lick Honest Ice Cream is made using local ingredients and is always delicious. Everything in the ice cream is made by Lick Honest in their shops and many of their flavors, like Cilantro Lime, are Texas-inspired. Amy's Ice Cream (1301 South Congress, Austin, TX 78704) is a local favorite that is sure to please everyone in your group. We recommend their Mexican Vanilla. If you're looking for soft-serve, Cow Tipping Creamery (4715 S. Lamar Blvd, Sunset Valley, TX 78745) is always a crowd-pleaser. Their flavors are super fun, and they offer a wide variety of toppings to try. 

Have you been to Austin? What are some of your favorite spots? Let us know in the comments or tag us on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!

Planning a quick weekend getaway? Check out our Spring Break Travel article for Austin as well! We also have a ton of other cities with great local ambassador intel that will keep you "in the know" wherever you are headed next. Check out Nashville, San Diego, Grand Rapids, or perhaps Richmond!

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Thoughtfully captured by:
Natalie Proctor
Natalie Proctor is what some would call a “Southern transplant” in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She grew up in Memphis, Tennessee before attending the University of Arkansas to pursue a degree in advertising and public relations with a minor in marketing logistics. Natalie attributes her love of the outdoors to her parents always encouraging her to have a deep appreciation for nature and all that the world has to offer. As a family, they spent many years growing up going on camping trips, skiing, rafting, and traveling together. While Natalie loves the seasonal lifestyle in Jackson, she was ready to become a part of something bigger and challenge herself. She found Happy Active Family at the perfect time, upon meeting Caitlin and Thomas, and strives to help other families spend meaningful time together, just as she has been able to with her own.
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