Last year I wrote a guide to having an Austin-centric spring break. Today, as parents are into Day Four of a very long nine days, I offer you an updated version.
There’s so much to do. Walk the trails, rent a canoe, ride the Zilker Zephyr train, play on the playground and throw breadcrumbs at the ducks. Make a whole day of it and picnic in the park. Nearby is the Zilker Botanical Garden and Hartman Prehistoric Garden. Don’t forget the Austin Nature & Science Center, with its dinosaur dig, aviary and wildlife sanctuary, plus trails to explore. The Zilker Botanical Garden just opened its Woodland Faerie Trail, which is open late Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Things are starting to bloom. If you haven’t yet been to the Family Gardens, this is a great time. Don’t forget the meadows, butterfly garden and the arboretum. The arboretum has all kinds of different tree swings to try out. The center also has two programs for kids: Sprouts. 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays and Friday, through May 29 for a weekly preschool program with story time, nature walk and more. Nature Play Hour. Enjoy a guided nature tour and activity 10 a.m. Saturdays, through May 30.
Spend a day at Rodeo Austin, but really see the rodeo
Skip the rides and carnival for the livestock shows, pig races, mutton bustin’ and bull riding.
We have several caves to choose from in Central Texas. We’ve tried Inner Space Cavern, Longhorn Cavern, Natural Bridge Caverns and the Cave Without a Name. For beginners, start with Inner Space Cavern in Georgetown. For something spectacular and off-the-beaten path, go for the Cave Without a Name. For beauty and the nearby wildlife ranch, choose Natural Bridge. For a fun, historical tale, go for Longhorn Cavern.
Pitch a tent and go camping nearby
Between state and LCRA parks, you’ve got a lot to chose from, but if this is your first time, try McKinney Falls. It’s close enough to home that if you need to abandon ship for your own beds, you can. We’ve also loved Pedernales Falls and Inks Lake, also not far.
Take in a show and read a book
Zach Theatre has “The Three Little Pigs on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Scottish Rite Theatre has “Jack and the Beanstalk,” 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays and 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Either before or after, you can head to BookPeople to explore some actual books. Saturday story time is at 11:30 a.m.
Go museum-hopping all week
Go on a tour of Texas history at the Bullock Museum, with its artifacts from settlers to modern politicians. Then dip into art at the Blanton Museum of Art and the Contemporary Austin. Round out your week at the Thinkery children’s museum, but don’t forget to buy your tickets online for the Thinkery and the IMAX at the Bullock to make sure you get to go when you want to go. You can also head out of town for two science experiences. We highly recommend the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City, especially for older children. The new Texas Museum of Science & Technology opens on Friday in Cedar Park with the “Body Worlds” exhibit of cadavers.
Eat your way through Austin
The food trailers close to downtown might be busy, but there are other spots away from downtown like the Midway Food Park off Loop 360 and Mueller Trailer Eats. This is also your chance to check out the local farmers markets on the weekdays.
Tour de playgrounds
If you’re always going to the same park, try something new. We’ve loved Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park and Dick Nichols District Park for a while now, but we South Austin folks could head north for Beverly S. Sheffield Northwest District Park or Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park. You might even get some young adventurers to go on a hike with you.