Things To Do In Austin With Elementary Schoolers (Ages 7-12)

fun for elementary schoolers (1)

Got an elementary school child and are looking for an excuse to get out of the house? Here are our ideas of things to do in Austin with your 7-12 year old:

  • Austin Nature & Science Center – The ANSC provides hands-on exhibits and activities to increase awareness and appreciation for the natural world. Elementary school kids enjoy bringing items from the natural world to the Trading Counter and answering questions to earn new items.
  • Austin Public Library – The library is a great resource for free fun and great reads. For this age group, you can head to the library to enjoy movies, gaming tournaments, mother-daughter book clubs, tween book clubs, Crafternoons, Night Crafters, Lego Lab, Minecraft Club and Book Circles, along with other one-time events.  Check the calendar for more details.
  • Austin’s Park N Pizza – There is an indoor and outdoor component to this entertainment destination. You can bowl, play games, play laser tag, do go karts, play mini golf, take a swing in the batting cages and ride small amusement park rides.
  • Austin Steam Train – Take a ride on a piece of history as you watch Central Texas through your window.
  • Austin Zoo – This rescue zoo is a great place to take kids of all ages.
  • Barton Springs – When your neighborhood loses its allure, Barton Springs is always an option, year round. Whether it’s diving off the diving board, searching in the shallow end for creatures or seeing how far you can swim with one breath, it’s a winner.
  • Blanton Museum of Art – The Blanton has great programming for kids and is a very accessible art museum. Check out the current exhibit, as some are more kid-friendly than others. Keep in mind that Thursdays are free to the public.
  • Bike riding – You can do this around your neighborhood, on Walnut Creek or the Violet Crown Trail or at the Veloway.
  • Boardwalk – Enjoy the scenery and get some fresh air with a walk on Austin’s Boardwalk.
  • BookPeople – Elementary schoolers enjoy attending author events. Subscribe to the newsletter or check the calendar for upcoming appearances.
  • Bowling – You can try for a strike at one of these fine establishments.
  • Bullock Texas State History Museum – In addition to exploring the museum’s hands-on exhibits, your elementary schooler might enjoy watching a movie on the big screen – the IMAX.
  • Camping – Once your kids are older and more independent, camping becomes much easier. Here is one list of places to go as a starting point.
  • Canoeing and kayaking – Seeing Lady Bird Lake via a canoe or kayak is a lot of fun. Here is a list of places to rent one if you don’t have one.
  • Capital Cruises – Watch the bats emerge downtown from the comfort of a boat. No paddling required!
  • Cathedral of Junk – Here’s a place Austin can truly embrace – a monument to Austin’s weirdness and DIY culture. Read more about it here.
  • Central Market – Central Market’s North Lamar location is not only a place to shop, eat and listen to music. Elementary schoolers can enjoy walking on the path to the east of the play structures, climbing on the heritage oak (carefully) and looking for other wildlife.
  • Classes – There are too many classes to list here, but your elementary schooler can explore interests in art, dance, sports, yoga, creative writing, robotics, building and almost anything his or her heart desires.
  • The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria is a magical place to walk around and explore the gardens and sculptures in the Sculpture Garden (just keep in mind that some cannot be touched).
  • Crowe’s Nest Farm – Located in Manor, this working farm helps cultivate a conservation ethic in children. In addition to open houses in the fall and spring, you can book a tour of the farm. Younger elementary school kids will enjoy this better than the older ones.
  • The Dinosaur Park – This outdoor museum, located in Cedar Creek, is lots of fun for dinosaur lovers in younger grades. Walk by replicas, dig for fossils and enjoy a picnic on the grounds.
  • Explore UT – Technically, this is a one-day event to see all that the University has to offer, but you can explore UT year-round at the Ransom Center, touring the football stadium, heading to the LBJ Library, touring the UT Tower, checking out the Landmarks public art pieces or spending some time in the Turrell Skyspace.
  • Fishing – Experience the thrill of reeling in a big fish at one of these recommended sites.
  • Fly a kite – You can fly a kite with thousands of your friends at Zilker Park in March, but you can also go to Zilker another time, or head to Mueller Lake Park, Brentwood Park and Circle C Park to watch your kite go up, up, up.
  • Flying Theater Machine – Younger elementary school kids can get their first taste of improv at these weekly shows.
  • Footgolf – For a totally different experience, book a tee time for some footgolf, which is just like what it sounds – a mix between soccer and golf. Read about it here.
  • French Legation – You can explore the grounds of the French Legation or check out one of the events.
  • Garden stores – It’s empowering making something grow, so head to your local garden store to get started.
  • Hiking – There are so many places to explore around Austin, but one great place to start is the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
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  • Hill Country Science Mill – If you feel like your kid has aged out of all the kids’ museums in town, you should head to the Science Mill in Johnson City. There are a bunch of hands-on exhibits to stimulate your kids’ interest in STEM careers.
  • Indoor skydiving – iFly is an experience that kids are young as 3 can do, but my guess is that older kids would get more out of it. Read about it here.
  • Jumpoline – Trampolines, as far as the eye can see. Loud pop music. A dodge ball court. This might be elementary school heaven. Two locations, north and south. Urban Air is another fun place with an American Ninja-style obstacle course inside.
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – Your elementary schooler can swing in the Arboretum, have a picnic on a shady table, explore the family garden, spot turtles and fish in the Wetland Pond, walk on the trails, look for butterflies and, of course, enjoy the flowers. Check here for other ideas.
  • Laser tag – Your kid will have a blast (literally) at Blazer Tag.
  • Little Helping Hands – This local nonprofit offers hands-on volunteer opportunities for children ages three and up. Register on the organization’s website to receive emails when opportunities are available. Act quickly, as spots fill up fast.
  • Lucy in Disguise – This fun and very Austin costume shop has all kinds of fun hats to try on in the side room that is essentially stocked from floor to ceiling. In case you need to dress up any time of year, this is your place. Not all items in the store are PG, but you can steer your elementary schooler around anything questionable.
  • Main Event – Honestly, this place reminds me of a casino for children. But, truthfully, they love it. They can do the climbing wall, bowl, play glow in the dark mini golf, do laser tag, play games and more.
  • Meadows Center – This is technically San Marcos, but close enough…right? Take a tour of the San Marcos River on a glass-bottomed boat.
  • Move Your Tale’s What’s The Story, Steve? – These weekly improv shows take kids through a journey of their own choosing.
  • Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch – Head down to New Braunfels for this fun, drive-through zoo. Read about our experience here.
  • Parks – This is a big one! There are so many parks to choose from in Austin. Our favorites for preschoolers are Bartholomew, Zilker, Northwest, Mayfield, Pease, Perry and Reed. During the summer months, enjoy swimming at neighborhood and municipal pools.
  • Peter Pan Mini Golf – Spend the morning teeing off at Peter Pan, an Austin tradition since 1946. See other ideas for where to play golf here.
  • Pump It Up – Another indoor inflatable playground for when you want fun indoors.
  • Schlitterbahn – The older your child is, the more he or she will likely be able to do at this popular waterpark in New Braunfels.
  • Skating – Whether it’s roller skating, ice skating or on a skateboard, your elementary schooler will have fun at these places.
  • Sweet Berry Farms – Pick berries with your crew in the spring and enjoy the annual pumpkin festival in the fall.
  • Sporting events – Cheer on the home team by getting tickets to one of our hometown teams.
  • Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) – Depending on your kid, you may have a blast trying out stand up paddleboarding! Here is our article about trying it for the first time. You can rent a SUP at many of the same places you can rent canoes and kayaks along the hike and bike trail.
  • Swimming holes – Once kids are older and more confident swimmers, visits to swimming holes aren’t nearly as anxiety-inducing for parents. Some of our favorites are Blue Hole in Wimberley, Hamilton Pool and Krause Springs.
  • Texas Capitol – You can take your preschoolers to explore the state capitol building at your own pace. A picnic on the grounds is fun and for extra credit, you can roll down the grassy hill!
  • Texas Memorial Museum – This natural history museum, located on the UT campus, has dinosaurs and fossils, Texas wildlife and gems and minerals on display for visitors.
  • Texas Military Forces Museum – This free museum at Camp Mabry is huge and has lots of eye-catching exhibits, as well as space to walk around outside. Read more about it here.
  • Thinkery – Austin’s children’s museum offers several exhibits which appeal to elementary school kids, including the Innovators’ Workshop, the Spark Shop, Space 8 (for kids 8 and up), Currents, Light Lab and Our Backyard and Light Lab. Kids 8-12 can attend a special after-school program called Spark Club, where they can cook, experiment and explore, as well as workshops and classes.
  • Toy stores – It can be a fun outing to head to a local toy store to check things out or for a little treat. A few of our favorites are Terra Toys, Toy Joy and Over the Rainbow.
  • Umlauf Sculpture Garden – This museum is different than many in that the outdoor bronze sculptures has been washed and waxed for gentle touching. Climbing is prohibited, as is touching works of art inside the Gallery.
  • Video gaming – Your kids can earn fun prizes playing video games at Pinballz and Dave & Buster’s.
  • Volunteer at the Capital Area Food Bank – The Food Bank requires youth volunteers to be ages 8 and up to work in the warehouse. If you can’t get a coveted spot in the activities run by Little Helping Hands, this a good alternative. Learn more here.
  • ZACH Theatre – ZACH Theatre’s Family Series presents top-notch productions for kids.
  • Zilker Botanical Garden – Stroll through the grounds to find your favorite flower. Dinosaur lovers will enjoy visiting the Hartman Prehistoric Garden.
  • Ziplining – Talk about an adrenaline rush! Lake Travis Zipline Adventures requires participants to be at least 70 pounds. Read about it here. Wimberley Zipline Adventures is another option for kids 10 and up and over 70 pounds.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your elementary school children in Austin?

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

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