Teens are in that oh-so-delicate balance of needing independence but still needing their elder, wiser parents to guide them. And let’s not kid ourselves, it can be somewhat of a struggle as they get into the older phase of teenhood to get them to spend any quality time with you. But show up armed with a list of fun things to do in Austin – things that appeal to them as well as you, and you will be cool mom or dad for the day. Alright, maybe not a whole day of being cool, and you may even get a dozen eye rolls when you first suggest a fun outing, but I bet you a smile will appear at some point while on your adventure.
We’ve created a list of things to do in Austin with teens that is largely based on teen tested and approved activities. If we’re missing something on our list, please feel free to leave a comment below with more suggestions.
Sup – Kayak
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. 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.
Try for a strike at one of these fine establishments.
Austin Panic Room
Are you a team player that’s up for a challenge? Find out in Austin’s Panic Room. Ages 10 and up!
Exploring the stores and restaurants on South Congress Avenue is always a big hit with my teen. 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 teens and their parents. 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.
Restaurants and Food Trailers
With many foodie parents in Austin, there are also lots of Foodie Teens who are enrolled in Foodie Clubs at local high schools! Below are some of my son’s favorite places for grub. If your teen is not so into the food scene, perhaps some food tastings may create special bonding moments as you try out new foods together. It’s worth a shot, eh?
– Polvo’s Mexican Restaurant (try their breakfast tacos!)
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.
– Driveway Austin (minimum age is 16)
– Aqua Fly
Indoor Sky Diving at iFly
Read about Nicole’s Bucket List experience here.
– The Austin Public Library has teen book clubs and some events periodically that would appeal to teens. Check the calendar here for more details.
Tour the UT Tower
Read tips from Lisa here.
Exercise Indoor or Outdoor
– Play soccer and walk around Zilker Park
I recently took my son to a concert at Stubb’s – a great location that offers many all ages shows. Seeing performances at smaller venues in Austin is a more cost effective option compared to the larger venues that bring in the big acts. It’s also nice to be able to find new favorites that are not so well known. Of course, if your teen is interested in seeing acts like Adele or Selena Gomez at the Frank Erwin Center, that’s an option, too! Check out the event calendars at these all ages venues for some great local and national musicians:
- Stubb’s (Sunday Gospel Brunch is a nice way to spend a Sunday!)
- The Broken Spoke (offers free shows every Tuesday through Saturday, 6-8 p.m., in the restaurant)
– ACL Live
My son and I have seen many ballets and plays together. It’s an outing we both enjoy since we get to dress up and leave the smaller kids at home. It’s a nice little mom and son excursion. Some of our favorite places to see live theatre:
– Sam Bass Community Theatre in Round Rock
Going to the mall is still a thing with teens these days. No matter their gender, teens of all ages enjoy a trip to the mall, even if parents come along. My son’s favorite places to shop are The Domain and the Round Rock Outlet Mall. When you’re comfortable enough dropping your teen off to shop alone, that’s a good option. Until then, malls are great places to let the kids spread their wings while you either shop or have a relatively quiet cup of coffee while people watching. Pick a meeting spot and a time to meet, let the kids wander off and then enjoy some quality time with them after they get a little taste of independence.
Cars and Coffee
If you have a car enthusiast in your family, head over to Cars & Coffee, a once a month car show that happens on the second Sunday of each month at the beautiful Oasis. We enjoy lunch on the deck with a nice view at the Oasis after a stroll around to look at all of the cars.
Train ride to downtown
If you live in the ‘burbs or slightly outside of downtown, hop on the MetroRail for a fun day or evening spent in downtown Austin. If you live in downtown, hop onto the MetroRail to explore the ‘burbs. No really, that’s a joke. You’d need a car for that. As a suburbanite, we hop on at the Howard station and enjoy taking in the different scenes throughout Austin. What to do once downtown? Coffee, hot chocolate, restaurants, people watching, and even some live music… if you’re lucky!
My teen son has inherited his mother’s love of coffee shops. There are plenty in Austin to choose from and many that offer great food options in addition to coffee. If you get a hankering for s’mores, Halcyon is the place to go all year long! You can read all about local Austin coffee shops in LiveMom’s Bullet Point Coffee Shop Review Series here.
Year-round swimming is available at Barton Springs Pool, but it’s quite cold in the dead of winter. Still, it might be a fun experience to share with your teen, especially the Polar Bear Splash that happens on New Year’s Day. 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.
Golf – Mini Golf
- 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.
Cheer on the home team by getting tickets to one of our hometown teams.
– Alamo Drafthouse (under 18 must be accompanied by a parent, so hey… good excuse to tag along, right?)
– Flix Brewhouse in Round Rock
Austin Ghost Tours
Think it may be too scary? Austin Ghost Tours was a mild enough version of scary for my then 13-year old son to handle.