By Travel & Leisure
May 08, 2014

The Texas Capital is loaded with entertainment for the 12 and under crowd, and we’re not just talking about field trip pit stops. Along with the capitol building and state history museum, there are natural swimming holes, activity centers filled with trampolines, and even a hotel that gives you a front row seat to the famous Texas bats.

Barton Springs Pool

Three-acre watering hole has lifeguards and diving boards just like a swimming pool, but its 68-degree waters are fed by underground springs. Don’t forget your goggles: Kids can spot tangles of plants and the occasional fish under the water. Free swim, from 9 to 10 p.m., is particularly fun.

Alamo Drafthouse

The Alamo isn’t your average movie theater. Along with blockbuster hits, they play oldies and indies, and serve food and drinks during the show. The age minimum is usually 18, but select locations have Baby Day on Tuesdays before 2 p.m., when parents can bring their infants. Whether the kiddos are fussy or happy (or even breastfeeding), adults can settle in, watch a flick, and don’t worry about bothering their neighbors.


Catching Austin on a rainy weekend? Head to this indoor center filled with trampolines of all shapes and colors. Some rooms are set up as basketball and dodge ball courts. Best of all, even the most energetic little tikes are guaranteed to tucker out early after a day of jumps and tumbles.

Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin Downtown

This 413-room hotel is ideally located in the heart of downtown and overlooks Congress Bridge, where Austin’s famous bat population emerges every evening at sunset. Get a front row view of the action at the new Chavez restaurant, where mom and dad can sip Sazeracs and throw back oysters from the raw bar. Families should opt for one of the 99 one-bedroom suites for the extra space.

Phil's Icehouse

There’s no better place to go for burgers and shakes, especially since this casual joint with great outdoor seating and a big playground is connected to the Austin-born Amy’s Ice Cream (try the Mexican Vanilla). Order a mini burger basket for the kids while you chow down on the Violet Crown version, made with blue cheese and caramelized onions.