Any parent of a toddler has asked this question with a sigh of soul-crushing dread: What are we going to do today? Coloring books? All scribbled on and ripped up. Watch “Moana” for the 80th time? He’s over it. Play with the dozens of toy cars he’s acquired in two short years of life? Either stuffed under the couch or tossed in the toilet.
Luckily, Austin has dozens of outings designed with little ones in mind. From splash pads, to parks, to trails lined with towering dinosaurs, here are 10 things to do with toddlers in Austin.
1/ Austin Nature & Science Center
Located on the western edge of Zilker Park, Austin Nature & Science Center is an entertaining and highly educational look into the wonderful world of nature.
Why Kids Will Love It – Tactile toddlers are all about hands-on activities. Attractions like the Fossil Dig and Human Sundial are great ways for kids to get their hands dirty. I defy any two-year-old to not gawk in wonder at the Birds of Prey exhibit.
Why Adults Will Love It – Kids are playing and learning at the same time. Admission is free, which is a joyous thing to anyone with a little dude in daycare.
2389 Stratford Dr. – Website
2/ Austin Zoo
A rescue zoo home to over 300 animals from 100 species, Austin Zoo is a wonderful day trip for both toddlers and parents.
Why Kids Will Like It – If your little one is anything like mine, he loves animals. From massive brown bears to a variety of awesome tortoises (my son’s favorite), the zoo is as enthralling as it is educational.
Why Parents Will Like It – Big enough to while away a full day, but small enough to finish between naps, the zoo is a one-size-fits-all outing.
10808 Rawhide Trail – Website
➡ Keep reading: What to Expect During Your Trip to Austin Zoo
3/ The Dinosaur Park
A statue park containing a world of dinosaurs of every variety, Dinosaur Park in Cedar Creek near Bastrop is a haven for every kid who’s ever stomped around the living room yelling, “RROOWWRR!”
Why Kids Will Like It – One word (converted into three by my toddler): DI. NO. SAAAUURRRS. Staring up at life-sized statues of creatures typically seen only in books will be a jaw-dropping experience for your little one.
Why Parents Will Like It – The trail is easily digestible in a couple of hours, allowing ample time for naps, feedings, etc. And, let’s face it, you still love dinosaurs, too.
893 Union Chapel Road – Website
➡ Keep reading: 5 Reasons to Get Jurassic at Dinosaur Park Near Bastrop, Texas
4/ Mommy Mondays and Kids Camp at Moviehouse
With a double feature of Mommy Mondays and an excellent Kids Camp, Moviehouse has two ways to keep your kids engaged and entertained.
Why Kids Will Like It – Moviehouse’s kids programs feature a variety of youngin’-friendly films like “Shrek” and “The Wizard of Oz,” all played at a volume suitable for young ears. Seeing their favorite movies played on a giant screen is enthralling to toddlers.
Why Moms Will Like It – Kids get fed and entertained in sweet, blessed air conditioning. Moms also get to enjoy a mimosa while Little Johnny jams out to “Trolls.”
8300 N FM 620, Bldg B – Website
5/ Play For All Park
A heart-warming wonderland of play elements appropriate for all ages, levels, and abilities, this incredible facility is a must-visit destination for your active little one.
Why Kids Will Like It – Unlike other playscapes that have age restrictions, there’s no limit to what your toddler will be able to explore here. More independence equals more confidence, which equals more productive play.
Why Parents Will Like It – Less supervision means a more relaxed afternoon for everyone involved. This play area is also massive, allowing your child to play all day or head out when the schedule dictates.
151 N A.W. Grimes Blvd., Round Rock – Website
6/ Quarry Splash Pad at Williamson County Southwest Regional Park
If Schlitterbahn is too grown up for your early walker, Quarry Splash Pad at Southwest Regional Park is an age-appropriate place for your toddler to giggle and play.
Why Kids Will Like It – Featuring slides, fountains, and sprinklers, Quarry allows toddlers to splash to their hearts’ content without dousing the entire bathroom in sudsy water. #bathtimefails
Why Parents Will Like It – Fun without the risk of serious aquatic injury, this spot is a place for kids to get some fresh air with a decreased risk of heat stroke. There’s lots of covered picnic areas and Cedar Rock Railroad is within walking distance when it’s time to dry off.
3005 County Road 175, Leander – Website
➡ Keep reading: Where to Swim in Austin: Pools, Splash Pads, and Swimming Holes
7/ Thinkery Baby Bloomers Program
Curated for early walkers who may be intimidated by crowds of older kids, Thinkery’s Baby Bloomers program provides early access for 0- to 3-year-olds and a curated learning experience.
Why Kids Will Like It – Toddlers will experience a little learner play hour that will not only entertain them, but nourish their constantly expanding curiosity.
Why Parents Will Like It – Allows your little one to enjoy an interactive, age-appropriate play time without the fear of a pack of 8-year-olds trampling him like a gang of marauders from “The Road Warrior.”
1830 Simond Ave. – Website
8-10/ Pick a Park, Any Park
For those of us with active toddlers and light pockets, Austin has an incredible park system. While a quick Google search will reveal the closest park to you, here are three of my favorite toddler-friendly locations:
- Mueller Lake Park – Next-door neighbor to The Thinkery, Mueller Lake Park features a wonderland of age-appropriate play areas. It also features live music on occasion, as well as a weekly farmers’ market.
- The Grove at Southpark Meadows – While most come for the big kids park, the younger kids playscape is fine and should keep toddlers occupied for awhile. Be aware that it’s easy to loose your little one, so be prepared to follow them around.
- Trailhead Neighborhood Park – Giving a shout-out to my local park. The playscape is completely covered, which makes life comfortable for our heat-sensitive two-year-old. The playscape requires supervision, but not too much once toddlers gets used to it. Swings are covered, as well, and have toddler-friendly seats.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Where do you take your toddler to burn energy and have a great day in Austin?
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!