If you’ve been reading C.R.A.F.T. for any amount of time, you likely know that I live in (& love) Austin, TX! You also probably know that we have a 4 month old baby girl, Mila. As much as we love to travel, Mila baby is not a fan of the car so road trips, at least this summer, are not in the cards for us. I teamed up with Marriott to do a little stay-cation, and bring y’all the low down on what to do in Austin, TX with kids for a weekend of fun for everyone.
What to do in Austin with kids for a weekend?
If you’ve got littles, you know a good hotel is key. We snuck away to the Renaissance Austin Hotel in the Arboretum. The Renaissance Austin is located in a very walkable area with restaurants, shops, and a Trader Joes. Morning stroller rides to Starbucks and breakfast at Modern Market are fun for everyone. There is also an indoor and outdoor pool and a hot tub! And then there’s this…
…glass elevators that face a large open lobby! Very exciting news for my 2 year old. I suggest spending a little extra on a suite so that you can put the kids to bed in a separate room and actually enjoy a beverage, cable tv, and/or a meal in the other room, ha! The hotel is situated in the middle of the Arboretum which is just 10 miles north of downtown Austin. Just exploring the Arboretum was a fun activity for us, there is a Barnes and Nobles (with a train table!), Gap, Gap Kids, T.J. Maxx, Starbucks, and a Pottery Barn Kids.
Kid Friendly Restaurants in the area:
- Modern Market: About a 5 minute walk across the street from the hotel. The walk even provides a decent amount of shade. We ate here twice in one weekend, it’s that delicious! Modern Marker serves an all American breakfast until 11am and lunch and dinner until 9:30pm. You must try the bacon and corn wood fired pizza. Oh and $2 glasses of wine on tap! Another tip, order online so that you don’t have to wait in a line, and either grab a booth in the restaurant or if kids are napping, pick it up to bring back to your hotel room!
- Zoe’s Kitchen: About a 3 minute walk from the hotel. Tons of healthy Mediterranean options for lunch and dinner.
- Maudie’s: This is not walking distance, but a fairly quick trip (7 miles) to an Austin icon. Enjoy delicious tex- mex favorites and margaritas. Best of all? The Maudie’s in the Triangle has a playground and splash pad!
- Hat Creek Burger Company: Also not walking distance, but only 6 miles from the hotel towards downtown Austin and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fried pickles are a must. And milk shakes. Plus a playground for the kids!
- Trader Joe’s Grocery Store: If you’re looking for snacks for the hotel room or quick, healthy meal options, check out Trader Joe’s. Tons of pre made salads, yogurts, juices, and snacks galore! Oh and samples. Great place to grab a picnic to take with you when you’re ready to venture out of the hotel.
Things to do in Austin:
I put together a list of 20 free things to do in Austin awhile back, here are 6 of my favorite things to do with kids. Depending on nap schedules, meal times, and weather… I would suggest picking one of these activities per day and do it as early as you can to avoid lines and crowds. (With the exception of the bats, that has to be done at dusk!)
- Mount Bonnell: Hike up the 100 steps for awesome views of the city. There are picnic tables at the top, free parking, and free entry. This is a great place to take that picnic lunch too!
- Barton Springs Pool: Barton Springs is a 6 acre spring fed pool that is a constant 68 degree water temperature. TIP: Barton Springs is located inside of Zilker Park where there is the Zilker Zypher, a 25 minute train ride that you can take around the park. It’s $2 for kids $3 for adults (cash only).
- Bats on Congress Bridge: Every summer night (May-September), 1.5 million Mexican Free Tailed bats fly out from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. The best bat viewing month is August when the young pups join their mamas for a night fly. I like the view from under the bridge especially with little ones since you don’t have to worry about them running into the street on top of the bridge. TIP: Bring a water bottle and a stroller and stroll around Lady Bird Lake while you wait. The bats have a mind of their own, so you never know exactly when they will fly.
- Liz Carpenter Splash Pad: It’s free and a fun activity to do before the bats. It’s a little less than a mile to walk from the splash pad to the Congress Bridge. We do it often, but good to be prepared. There is a dog park in between the splash pad and bridge which is always a hit with my toddler. TIP: Check the site to make sure it
5. Texas State Capital Building: You can wander around the beautiful, shady ground or take a free self guided tour of the building itself. If your family enjoys history, this is a must. Another great place for a picnic!
6. Graffiti Park at Castle Hill: A fun to place to explore and the art is always changing! You can even bring your own spray paint and add your own drawings to the walls. We did Max’s one year photo shoot here. There are no stairs, so be prepared to walk up steep hills. I wouldn’t wear flip flops. The views of downtown Austin are pretty incredible too.
It’s fair to note, that if you accomplish all 6 of these activities in a single weekend, you and your family are speedy and amazing! There is no way we could do all of this with both kids in one weekend. I suggest picking one activity per day. That way you can still fit in naps, meals, swimming at the hotel, and possibly a little realization! One hour with a new magazine, glass of wine, and no dishes/ laundry/ emails to worry about…. yes please! You’ll just have to take another trip to Austin to do all of the fun things!
So, it’s time to hit the highway and explore all of the participating Marriott properties in Texas. Houston’s NASA Space Center to Alamo adventures in San Antonio, you’ve got until September 5th, 2016 to stay at a participating Marriott property and Marriott Rewards® members can earn 2,000 Marriott Reward® points. It’s free to join the program and points are earned right away. Members also enjoy free standard in-room Wi-Fi. Click here for more information. Oh and by booking a room for 2 nights (or more) at a participating Marriott by September 2nd, you can also receive a $25 food and beverage credit. When booking online, use the code SPU to receive the $25 food and beverage credit. (More details here.)
Who is road tripping this summer? Andy stay-cations? I’d love to hear!