Ten ways to beat the heat in Austin (with kids)

We've hit the dog days of summer, and it's taking a lot to motivate me to get out of the house with the kids. We went from being super busy on the weekends in the springtime to having nothing to do. This list is a reminder to myself that we don't have to sit in front of the TV watching Shaun the Sheep on Netflix Instant.

Disclaimer:  my kids are younger (2 and 5), so this list is geared towards them.


  1. Swimming. This is obvious. Personally I find Barton Springs too cold, so we hit up the neighborhood pools a lot, especially the one at Northwest Park. A few weeks ago we went to a great pool up in Pflugerville (Mentzer) that has a slide and a small lazy river, plus splash pads and a neat kiddie area.  It's a 30 minute drive, but it was worth it. We have tons of natural spring-fed places, too (like Hamilton Pool, Blue Hole, Krause Springs, Barton Creek) but with this drought I've been too afraid to make the hike out only to find the spring has run dry.
  2. Picnic at the Capitol. There's something about the Capitol grounds that puts me at ease.  It's one of my favorite spots in the city.  With all of the trees and green space, it feels a good 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the city.  I like to go get tacos at Taco Deli, bring an old sheet to sit on, and try to remember to bring toys like frisbees to throw around.  My kids love running around on the grass lawn and chasing the squirrels and birds. After we finish lunch we always go inside the Capitol to cool off and to spin under the rotunda while looking up at the star. 
  3. Austin Children's Museum. I've been here too many times, so I'll admit that I get sick of the exhibits. My son can stand at the train exhibit for literally 2 hours while I die of boredom.  But it's air conditioned, and to make an even bigger day of it we sometimes combine it with the next entry...
  4. Take a bus downtown and back. If you can find a bus schedule and time it right, you can reduce your outdoor exposure before hopping onto the cooled bus.  Yes, there are crazies on there and yes, you want to bathe in hand sanitizer afterward, but your 4 year old will think it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him.
  5. Hill Country Flyer. We are going to do this for the first time in two weeks and I'm so excited!  You take a restored steam train out to the Hill Country and back. It's through Austin Steam Train and if you use the coupon code TWEET you get 15% off. 
  6. Dave and Busters. This arcade is a giant air conditioned space that has lots of blinky flashing lights.  We can spend minimal dollars here because the kids just like to press buttons and stare at screens.  Big plus is that they have a full bar, so my husband and I can drink while we cool off.  My family has a tradition of going every August and taking a photo in one of those cheesy booths.  We've got one from the past 3 years that shows the kids growing, and it's about time for our 4th one.
  7. Splash pads. Lots of public parks now have them, and they are a good way to let your kids run around while you sit in the shade and drink iced tea. Check out the City of Austin's website for all the available pools and pads. 
  8. Indoor jumpy places. The one near my house is called Kidz N Play.  Granted, these get nuts on the weekends, but sometimes you need options.  One parent per child seems to be the best way to handle the stress.
  9. Innerspace Caverns. It's underground, it's refreshingly cool, and it's got stalactites (and stalagmites!).  Plus you take a train down into the caverns, delighting any train-crazy kid you might have.
  10. Scottish Rite Children's Theater. We took my kids to go see Peter Pan a few weeks ago when my inlaws were in town. It was really adorable, and just the right length of time to keep them entertained. 

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