Austin, the state capital of Texas, is a really cool and proudly weird city. The official city motto, “Keep Austin Weird,” perfectly sums it up. Consider a visit to these fun and funky attractions for families.
The Cathedral of Junk
Once upon a time in 1988, Vince Hanneman decided to build a clubhouse in his backyard — unlike any clubhouse anyone had ever seen! This clubhouse contains 60 to 100 tons worth of stuff. It has bicycle wheels, car bumpers, ladders, and everything you can imagine (and some you can’t). It has changed over the years as the creator’s taste has changed, and it serves as proof that art comes in all forms. After the shock of seeing this fantastic creation wears off, try a scavenger hunt! Look for skis, phones, Barbies, Maggie Simpson, a horseshoe, helmet, iron, snowman, rocking horse, crutches, set of 4 matching tea cups and more. Add anything to your scavenger hunt list.
This amazing artistic creation is in the backyard of a private home, so you must call (512-299-7413) to make sure Vince will be there to show you around. The cost is $10 per group.
Bat Conservation International
Hidden from view under the Congress Avenue Bridge is the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tail bats in the world. The 1.5-million winged mammals migrate here each year in the spring and fly out each evening to eat up to 10 tons of insects per night. The best time to see them is late summer when their babies go flying, too. The black cloud zooming out from under the bridge is something amazing to see!
South Congress Street
Only in Austin could a regular street be so much fun. There is so much to see and do in just a few blocks! Window Shop in the store Uncommon Goods — kiddos and adults alike find this store amazing. It has just a little bit of everything. Give each person a mission: Vote for your idea of the weirdest thing there and then take a photo next to it. What will you choose?
Visit a food truck, and be sure to stop at the lemonade stand that is shaped like — what else — a lemon! Be sure to visit The Big Top Candy Shop, too. You haven’t visited a candy store until you see this one. Not only is the decor fascinating, but the variety of candy is awe-inspiring. They have real soda jerks, too, that make a huge list of sodas.
Austin’s amazing children’s museum, The Thinkery, is a fun way for the kiddos to learn and explore using math, art, and science skills. Use computers to manipulate and display your photo. Build a foam plane and see how it flies in the wind lab. Paint with wax using magnets to make the wax flow. Prepare to spend half a day at this educational, hands-on museum, and plan ahead. Only a certain number of tickets are sold each day and while there are a few walk-up tickets available, we wouldn’t chance it.
Lake Travis Zipline Adventures
If your idea of fun leans towards an adrenaline rush, you need to see Texas’ longest zip line! Lake Travis Zipline Adventures has a 3-hour adventure that zips you five times all the while enjoying views of the Texas Hill Country and Lake Travis. The very last zip line experience is 20 stories high and takes you 2,400 feet over Lake Travis. This is an experience you can’t match anywhere else because “everything is bigger in Texas!”
Mt. Playmore boasts 3,000 square feet of indoor jungle gym fun. Think climbing tubes like the ones at McDonalds or Burger King, but on a much grander scale than you can imagine. It has to be the cleanest one around, too, as it is sprayed down with a hospital grade germ killer regularly. Climb with the kids or sit nearby to relax and watch the fun.
For more ideas for things to do in Austin, plus hotel and restaurant recommendations, visit Austin Family Vacations.
–Natalie Tanner, The Educational Tourist
Natalie Tanner, The Educational Tourist, has hundreds of thousands of miles under her belt — business trips with her geologist husband to places like Scottsdale, Jackson Hole, New York and Denver — and family adventures to far-flung destinations like Rome, Paris, Tangier, and Istanbul. When she isn’t traveling, The Educational Tourist stays busy planning the next adventure while being mom to two kids, three dogs, Sushi the fisand a hamster. Follow her adventures at The Educational Tourist.