Baby and Kid Activities in Austin


My friend Nicole, who is 37 weeks pregnant, and I just met for lunch at Wahoo's Fish Tacos (I swear I could eat a Banzai Bowl every day of the week). I'm 26 weeks pregnant, so naturally all we talked about was babies, pregnancy, labor, maternity leave, and what the hell we're going to do with ourselves once the kiddo arrives.

Luckily I remember a few things I did when I was a stay at home mom with my first child. Frankly, a newborn will probably have as much fun at a storytime as a lecture on geophysics, so new moms may not have much use for this list yet. These are good things to know about when the kids are a little bit older:
  1. Friday morning storytime at Family Connections. You can also check out books and sanitized toys, and take parenting classes here. This is a good place to meet other moms - I found this storytime to be the easiest place to strike up conversations. Very newborn friendly.
  2. The public libraries around town also have story times, and you can generally find one for every day of the week. Not as fun with a newborn - because they seemed to be a lot more focused on quietness (as opposed to the Family Connections one, which is a total mad house).
  3. Book People, our fabulous independent book store, has a lot of story times as well.
  4. The Austin Children's Museum is great for toddlers and up, and Mondays is Baby Bloomers, where kids 3 and under have the run of the place.
  5. Wednesday mornings there's a farmers market at Boggy Creek Farms. Lots of moms bring their kids to let them play in the dirt and ogle the chickens. Grab a cup of coffee and a croissant and enjoy the sun. This was one of my favorite activities. Also newborn friendly, especially if you have a sling for your petit cher.
  6. Zilker Park has an excellent playground, and a choo-choo train. Bring your jogging stroller and go for a hike on the nearby Town Lake Hike & Bike.
  7. Butler Park, a new attraction near downtown, has a really cool water feature for kids to run around in when the weather is nice. See photo above.
  8. Wednesday afternoons there's a farmers market at The Triangle, where they also have a water feature for kids to play in, plus live music and tasty treats.
  9. Austin has a tiny zoo down south. Great for kids who are fascinated with animals.
  10. Central Market (the one on Lamar) has a great playground next to their grocery store, with lots of shade under huge oak trees. I met many moms here - it really became the center of my social universe there for a while. Friday and Saturday nights they have live music and the place is packed with families.
  11. Austin has a lot of great parks with playgrounds. My son and I had a regular rotation between the ones in Central Austin, just to mix things up. My favorite is the one near my neighborhood, Brentwood Park, with Shipe Park a close second.
  12. You'll notice I'm not mentioning shopping because I HATE TO SHOP. But you might like it, so you should know that the mall in Northwest Austin, Lakeline Mall, has a play area and a bouncy-house place.
  13. Speaking of bouncy-house places, there's a kiddy gym down south called Going Bananas which is all bouncy structures.
  14. I'm an organizer at heart, so I formed a play group with other moms that were in my birthing class, and we met once a week. This was such a treat for me, especially when my son was really young and I didn't feel like there was much point to going to a storytime. But you don't have to be the one to organize, you can find existing ones at meetup.com, or Austin mama. Find walking groups at SeeMommyRun.
  15. Yoga Yoga has post-natal classes, where you can bring your infant and get back into shape. Personally I never found this class much use because my son just wanted to nurse the whole time, and who needs to pay $10 to sit next to a wall in the dark and breastfeed? But, again, it's great place to meet other mamas.
  16. Check out the local family magazines, like Austin Family. You can pick these free publications up all over town, like at Whole Foods, HEB, Central Market and kid-friendly places like the ones mentioned in my above list. They have calendar sections of the various events in town and are quite handy.

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