Hot days and warm nights in Austin means that summer is here! If you’re looking for something fun to do in Austin this summer with your family, the 2018 Summer Fun Guide has 35+ activities and events for kids of all ages, so that you are never at a loss when it comes to things to do in Austin, Texas. Many thanks to Springfree Trampoline for sponsoring the 2018 Summer Fun Guide.
Springfree Trampoline is the world’s safest, highest quality and longest lasting trampoline that is supported by a 10-year warranty to create exceptional value for getting kids outside and active while giving parents peace of mind. The innovative and patented safety design features no springs, a flexible safety enclosure, a SoftEdge™ Mat that eliminates hard edges on the jumping surface, and a hidden frame, making it the only trampoline on the market that helps eliminate significant risks associated with trampoline injuries. Springfree is the only trampoline proven safe and recommended by two independent bodies, including CHOICE® in Australia and Consumer NZ.
General Anytime Fun
Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp
The Alamo Drafthouse’s annual Summer Kids Camp is a film series of screenings, designed specifically for families, that is affordable and fun for all with a mix of new favorites and classic kid-friendly films. Enjoy classic and family favorite films all summer long for just $1, $3 or $5 with all proceeds benefiting local non-profits.
Austin Public Library’s Summer Reading Program
The Austin Public Library is your free ticket to a summer full of reading and loads of fun activities this June through August. You can also win prizes for reading! Pick up a reading log at the Library or print one at austinsummerreading.org. For every 20 minutes you read, color in a section. Color sections by number to display a hidden picture! Return your completed log to any of the Austin Public Library’s 21 locations between July and August, 2018. Congratulations, you did it! You’ve earned a prize book. You can earn one prize book per summer. Be sure to check the Library’s calendar for ongoing events all summer long.
Full of shade-packed trees, the Austin Zoo is a sanctuary to animals that are rescued and, many times, rehabilitated. Set on 15-acres on the southwest edge of Austin, the zoo allows Austin families to get a close-up look at over 300 animals, representing more than 100 different species. Read more about the Austin Zoo here.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
Explore the 12+ miles of greenbelt on a hike while getting some fresh air. A splash in some water in the process is a bonus to cool down in the heat of summer.
Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day. Some people are a bit intimidated by the 68-70 degree water, and you will observe shouts and squeals as swimmers take the plunge. But, whether you prefer to inch your way down the steps or to cannonball in, you will emerge from the water rejuvenated and a little more comfortable soaking in the 100 degree heat outside. Read up on some tips on visiting Barton Springs Pool here.
When was the last time you saw 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats bats emerge at dusk? One of our town’s best arguments that we’re still keeping it weird are the huge crowds which assemble in downtown Austin to watch these winged mammals head out to get their dinner.
Austin’s local Indie bookstore is a definite must-do on your summer to-do list! Air conditioning, books on multiple levels, a giant kids’ space, and events, too! You can’t go wrong with a visit to BookPeople.
Strike! There’s nothing quite like the look on your little one’s face when he or she finally knocks all the pins down after watching countless gutter balls roll down the lane. Bonus: in the summer, bowling is a great way to beat the heat!
Sometimes, to beat the extreme Texas heat in the summer, it takes going down hundreds of feet into the earth to cool down. In Central Texas, we have many options for exploring caves, most within a short drive of the Austin area.
Cathedral of Junk
If “Keep Austin Weird” was a religion, the Cathedral of Junk would be its premier place of worship. It’s a multistory structure made out of all kinds of stuff, from concrete-filled tires to old CDs, street signs, glass bottles and toys. It reminds you of a post-apocalyptic urban setting in a video game or a movie, where survivors have created life anew using fragments of the old world. Extreme upcycling? Whatever the term, it’s gorgeous.
In Texas, we’ll do just about anything to escape the heat of summer. Why not have fun while you’re cooling down? At Chaparral Ice, there are always friendly and helpful staff and good music. If you feel like taking it a step further, they offer ice-skating classes for a wide range of ages.
Deep Eddy Pool
When it comes to pools, there are few out there quite like Deep Eddy. Once a swimming hole on the Colorado River, Deep Eddy is a freshwater swimming pool, similar to Barton Springs. Each night, one of the two sides of the pool is drained and refilled with fresh well water, so you practically have a new pool to swim in every other day. Summertime fun includes watching movies in the pool! Check back here for the 2018 Splash Movie Nights schedule, soon to be announced.
Dig in the Sand
Lakes, parks and more offer kids a chance to get a little dirty in a sand pit…. some may also have some hidden dinosaur bones, too!
Just outside of Austin in Cedar Creek, the Dinosaur Park is a must-see for any dino lover. This outdoor museum boasts life-size exhibits of dinosaurs on an easy to navigate trail, complete with a pre-printed scavenger hunt. There is a playground, picnic tables, a dino dig pit (small), and a gift store. Make it a day trip: read more about exploring Cedar Creek, Texas here.
Summer is a great time of year to go fishing with the kids. Find a shady spot, pack an ice chest with some cold beverages and wait ’til the fish bite.
Hat Creek Burger Co.
Beer, burgers, milkshakes, salads…. and a playground! That’s right, a visit to one of the 9 Austin area locations of this local favorite will satisfy everyone in the family.
Kayak or Canoe on Lady Bird Lake
Summer in Austin is all about finding creative ways to cool off. One way to do this is to take a canoe or kayak out on Lady Bird Lake. Yes, it can be a little dicey with younger kids and no, giving them their own paddle is not required. But, if you try it, it’s a great vantage point to check out turtles and resident waterfowl, and catch a nice breeze (of course, the earlier you go, the cooler it will be).
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Don’t miss these beautiful grounds located in South Austin. Be sure to visit during the month of June on their special Nature Nights – it’s FREE and possibly a little cooler than visiting during the day!
Visit with the peacocks at Mayfield Park and Preserve, an urban oasis in the center of town. In addition to the feathered friends your children will make, they can explore the shaded trails and ponds. Tip: Combine activities by visiting Mount Bonnell and the Contemporary Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria – they are all very close to Mayfield Park.
Hiking up to the top of Mount Bonnell is definitely an activity best done in the early morning or late evening during the summer months. But the view at the top is well worth the sweat you’ll work up to get there. Read more about what to expect and some tips for climbing with kids here.
Museums in Austin
Whether you’re looking for art or science, history or all things presidential, Austin has a plethora of museums to choose from. Here’s a great list of museums to visit in the Austin area. Make a hot summer day an art day by visiting a couple of art museums with the kids, then lay out paint and canvas at home so the kids can create their own masterpieces.
Parks in Greater Austin
For parents, a great way to get out of the house is by exploring parks with our kids. That said, it can be easy to go to the same parks over and over again. Why not mix it up and try out a new park? We’ve visited a whole lot of parks in and around Austin, and we’ve laid out our favorites from north to south, east and west in a special parks series. If it’s an extra steamy day, check out these favorite parks that offer lots of shade in the summer.
Peter Pan Mini Golf
An Austin institution since 1948, this mini golf course has two 18-hole courses and is a popular spot during the summer months. Go early to avoid wait times and to avoid the heat of the day. Note that only cash and checks are accepted. You can bring a cooler, but no glass.
Playland Skate Center
Playland Skate center is open every day during the summer! Beat the heat and get some exercise in at Playland, in a fun, safe, friendly environment for the whole family! Discount Night every in Thursday for June and July starting at 7pm. Check out their website for daily schedule and other special events. Summer Hours start June 1st!
If your kids are climbing the walls, take them to one of Austin’s indoor rock climbing locations for a new twist on getting their energy out. Whether it’s rock climbing or bouldering (rock climbing without the use of ropes or harnesses), kids as young as toddlers can learn the art of climbing at both indoor and outdoor locations located throughout the Austin area.
Round Rock Express
Visit Dell Diamond for a few Round Rock Express games this summer. The Express have a varied promotional schedule, including nightly specials like $1 Hot Dogs on Monday games, ½ Price Tickets on Tuesday games, free tickets with canned food donations on Wednesday games, drink discounts on Thursdays, fireworks on Fridays, giveaways or post-game concerts on Saturday, and free kids inflatables pre-game and run the bases post-game on Sundays! Full promo schedule here.
Check out the new 30-foot-tall stainless steel robotic hand at the Science Mill! With a remote joystick mimicking the robot hand, kids can easily operate this exhibit to make each of the giant fingers move, much like their own. This exhibit is a powerful, interactive icon of creativity, engineering and design. Plus, explore the museum’s 50+ interactive indoor and outdoor exhibits and watch a 3D movie!
Pools are great, but sometimes, splash pads are even better. Often adjacent to playgrounds, you can get a twofer by playing on the playground and then cooling off in the water. They are almost always free. If you have littles who are still learning to swim, a trip to the splash pad is a lot less stressful than a visit to the pool.
When kids have the wiggles and lots of energy, head to the Domain to visit the Austin Springfree Trampoline store. With several trampolines set up, your kids will have a blast jumping and testing out all of the cool accessories. Bonus: there’s air conditioning!
Stroll South Congress Avenue
Exploring the stores and restaurants on South Congress Avenue is always a big hit, especially if you have some out of town visitors this summer. If you get hungry, there are plenty of restaurants to satisfy your hunger. Have some extra cash to spend? No problem! There are plenty of cool, eclectic stores to shop at. It’s a mecca of hipsters and an area that’s quite enjoyable for everyone in the family. Be sure to head down to Congress Avenue on the first Thursday of each month (weather permitting) to enjoy vendors, local artisans, live music and more
Texas State Capitol
Who says you can’t combine fun and learning while on summer break? Not us! Take the kids to explore the Texas State Capitol – they’ll learn all about Texas history, politics, and you can even grab a bite to eat in the basement cafeteria. Read more about taking a tour of the Capitol here.
Topgolf is an entertainment venue in north Austin offering point-scoring golf with over 100 climate-controlled hitting bays, with an on-site restaurant and bar. If your kids love golf, Topgolf Austin is once again hosting Summer Academy, a week-long half-day program for kids ranging from 6 – 12. Summer Academy is a fun way to stay physically active, mentally active and engaged with the community all while learning a great skill.
Zilker Botanical Gardens
When you think botanical gardens, you think plants and flowers, right? But the Zilker Botanical Garden is much more – ponds, dinosaurs, wildlife, butterfly habitats and more! Kids of all ages love this beautiful space.
No trip to Zilker Park or Barton Springs Pool is complete without a ride on the iconic Zilker Zephyr. Kids and adults take delight in this train ride across Zilker Park, offering great views of Austin as well.
Blues on the Green
Austin’s favorite summer tradition is back. 93.3 KGSR’s Blues on the Green invites music lovers out to Zilker Park to enjoy a family and pet friendly night of homegrown music in a relaxed atmosphere. Grab your family, friends, dogs, and blankets, and join us for Austin’s largest FREE concert series. Read some tips on attending Blues on the Green here.
When: May 23, June 13, July 18, August 8, 8 p.m.
Where: Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin
Together We Can Get Them Outside Celebration
Celebrate the beauty of playing outside at this special event. Stop in at the Springfree Trampoline store in the Domain to pick up some seed planting kits from Burpee seeds, refreshments including GoGo Squeez, take part in some games, and free test jumps, of course! Cool off from the summer heat while celebrating the spirit of going outside to be active!
When: Saturday, June 2, Noon-4 p.m.
Where: Springfree Trampoline, 3220 Amy Donovan Plaza in the Domain
A Spoonful of Sugar
This summer, Austin Scottish Rite Theater and the Hideout Theatre present a delightful, family-friendly improv show: Spoonful of Sugar! The Sugar family is in trouble. Their parents are overworked, their children misbehaving and neglected. When they are finally forced to hire on a nanny, the children are pleasantly surprised to discover that their new nanny is magical. ready to infuse their lives with a little bit of whimsy, mystery, and fun! Join us as the Sugars’ new nanny takes us on a series of fantastical adventures, exploring the hidden, magical world behind the every day, which we bring to life with suggestions and help from the kids (and their parents) in our audience.
When: Saturday and Sunday, June 3 – July 1, 11 a.m.
Where: Austin Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St., Austin
Cost: $12 for ages 12 and up, $8 ages 12 and under
Summer Kids Series
The youngest animal lover in your life has more reason to celebrate this summer, as our Summer Kids Series gets underway with hands-on activities for kids of all ages as they learn more about the world of animals and the Austin Humane Society. Along the way they’ll find out what it means to care for a pet of their own and be inspired to help animals in need.
When: Tuesdays, June 5 – August 14, multiple times and sessions
Where: Austin Humane Society, 124 West Anderson Ln., Austin
Austin Symphony’s Children’s Day Art Park
The Austin Symphony Children’s Day Art Park offers FREE concerts for kids in June and July at a brand new location, the Austin Central Public Library. In addition to the music, there will be arts and crafts, an instrument zoo and more.
When: Wednesday mornings, June 6 – July 25, doors open at 10 a.m.
Where: Austin Central Library, 710 W Cesar Chavez St., Austin
Bubblepalooza, the Long Center’s official start to summer returns on Saturday, June 9, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The kick off to their All Summer Long series of free community events, this annual celebration of open play on the Long Center’s front lawn is perfect for families of all ages, with live music, games, arts + crafts, trailer food, and of course—tons of bubbles!
When: Saturday, June 9, 2018, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W Riverside Dr, Austin
Second Saturdays are for Families at Contemporary Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria
The Contemporary Austin offers FREE hands-on art-making workshops each month, inspired by the exhibitions on view. Join us to see family-friendly performances, meet local artists, and make art to take home. Recommended for ages 2–11. Reservations are requested to participate in art-making workshops due to limited space; please reserve your spot at the links below beginning the 1st of each month.
When: June 9, July 14, August 11, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: The Contemporary Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St., Austin
Too Many Stories
Too Many Stories! is a Scottish Rite favorite, back by popular demand for weekday matinees in summer 2018. Kallie catches Sam and Bogus getting away with loot they’ve stolen from a department store. With the help of the kids in the Scottish Rite Theater audience, a smart little girl outwits and exhausts the bad guys through story, music, and improvisation. All ages.
When: Wednesday, June 13 – August 1
Where: Austin Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St., Austin
Cost: $6 for adults and children, under 2 free
Fans From Fans Summer Fan Drive
The Summer Fan Drive provides new box and oscillating fans to seniors, adults with disabilities, and families with children in Central Texas. Take part in a day of fun with activities for kids, live music, a Pancake Pileup and more at this annual event.
When: June 15, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Where: Threadgill’s World Headquarters, 301 West Riverside Dr., Austin
Cost: Suggested donation of $20 or a new fan
Taste of North Austin
Calling all foodies! Restaurants from The Domain and North Austin are teaming up again for Taste of North Austin, the 11th annual all-day family food festival that features delectable tastes, beverage sampling, free live music, children’s entertainment, and of course, fabulous shopping. Complimentary children’s activities throughout the day will also include balloon twisting, glitter tattoos, crafts and more. Taste tabs will double as “votes” for a restaurant’s partner charity. The winning charities will receive a Simon Giftcard donation.
When: Saturday, June 16, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: The Domain, between Macy’s and Neiman Marcus, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin
Cost: Children’s entertainment and music will be free. Food samplings and VIP access will require wristbands. Beer and wine will be available for purchase at select restaurant booths. Wristbands include 10 tastes will be available for $20 at The Domain’s Simon Guest Services or at the event. VIP experience will be offered for an additional $15.
Central Texas Juneteenth Celebration
Watch a parade that kicks off the Juneteenth festivities and then celebrate in the park afterwards with live music, food, activities and vendors.
When: June 16, parade at 10 a.m. and event begins at noon
Where: Chestnut House, 1183 Chestnut Ave., Austin
Movies in the Park (Wells Branch)
Wells Branch MUD presents Movies in the Park Summer Series at Katherine Fleischer Park. Bring your blankets and chairs and enjoy a fun filled night with your family and neighbors. All movies will be rated PG with free admission.
When: June 16, July 21, and August 18, 8 p.m. concession sales, movie at twilight
Where: Katherine Fleischer Park, 2106 Klattenhof Dr., Austin
World Refugee Day
Commemorate the United Nations’ World Refugee Day at the Bullock Museum with a naturalization ceremony, free samples of world cuisine, live music, and activities for families with kids of all ages. Master of Ceremonies, Greg Ciotti, is representing KOOP Radio‘s Community Council whose charter is to highlight individuals and organizations that are giving back in our community.
When: June 16, 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave., Austin
Movies in the Park
Movies in the Park is a series of free films brought to you by Austin Parks Foundation in partnership with Alamo Drafthouse and presented by Whole Foods Market. Each year, APF and the Drafthouse bring you free movies in parks all over Austin. Bring a blanket and get ready to see Moana on the outdoor screen. Food trucks will be onsite.
When: June 21, 9 p.m.
Where: Patterson Park, 4200 Brookview Rd., Austin
Pollyanna Theatre Company’s If Wishes Were Fishes
In Hepp-Galvan’s hilarious new play, these friends (and our young audience) learn to be grateful for what you have, to always appreciate the wonderful people in your life, and to be wary of talking fish. Sarah, Johnny, and Felicia are best friends. They can’t wait to get together every day! They play the best games and always support and encourage each other. One day, when they’re playing, they find a magic fish tangled in a net. The magic fish says that if they free him, he’ll grant them three wishes–one wish each. And that is when the trouble starts. Best for ages 4-9 years old.
When: Saturday & Sunday, June 23 – July 1, 2 p.m.
Where: Long Center for Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Dr., Austin
Zilker Hillside Musical
Pack a picnic and come out to the Zilker Hillside Theatre to enjoy a live performance of All Shook Up! This summer, Zilker Theatre Productions journeys back to the 1950’s — the era of the first Zilker Summer Musical — with the Elvis-inspired All Shook Up!
When: Thursday – Sunday, July 6 – August 18, 8:15 p.m.
Where: Zilker Hillside Theatre, 2100 Barton Springs Rd., Austin
Family Cooking Workshop
Cooking is an activity the entire family can enjoy together! When little chefs cook and help select their food, they not only learn healthy habits and expand their palates, but they also are exposed to scientific exploration as they combine different ingredients and see how temperature affects food. Bright horizon’s very own Chef Darrell will be leading families in a cooking workshop where they will prepare an appetizer, main course, and dessert. All children who attend will receive a Bright Horizons apron. This workshop is geared towards children 2 – 6 years old. Spaces are limited! Please RSVP to Westlake@brighthorizons.com with your name and number of attendees.
When: Saturday, July 21, 10:30 am – noon
Where: Bright Horizons at Westlake, 4613-B Bee Cave Road, West Lake Hills