Family-friendly ideas of where to stay and where to play during your visit to Austin, TX with young kids.
We recently made our second trip to Austin, TX with the kids. Our first visit was two years ago for a conference I attended. The whole family came and we had a great time venturing our way to different restaurants in the area. We couldn't wait to return some day! That day arrived in November - a weekend trip. Our kids are young (1 year and 5 years) so we knew we'd have to make the trip kid-friendly.
Kid-Friendly Place to Stay
Since we now have a minivan, road trips are much easier for us. We drove the 8+ hours to Austin and arrived late at night to our hotel, the Omni Downtown Austin. We chose this hotel because of it's reputation for being kid-friendly, yet elegant.
The Omni Hotels offer a complimentary Sensational Kids program where your kids receive a backpack of activities upon arrival. Then, the first night of your stay, cookies and milk are delivered to your room for your tots! You can also request more toys to borrow during your stay.
Did you know there are select Omni Hotels that offer kid suites with an attached bedroom for the kids that includes children's bedding, bean bag chairs, an art tables, books, games, etc.?? This isn't offered at the downtown Austin location, but I next time we visit Austin, we might try to book the Southpark Omni location and test it out! 😉
Omni is also kid-friendly for the views. Judah and Simon were both thrilled with the view from our room, staring at the architecture that decorated the outside entrance through to the inside lobby area.
They were also entertained with the elevator rides... being able to look out through the clear elevator wall as we traveled up and down. Watching the elevators from the lobby was one of Simon's favorite past times that weekend, too! HA!
Kid-Friendly Places to Play
Before leaving for Austin, I researched a few recreational ideas for the kids, but we ended up finding other unexpected activities, instead! It was unusually cold for Austin, and a little rainy, so the gold mine we found for our kids was an indoor playground called Mt. Playmore.
We took our kids to Mt. Playmore TWICE during our weekend visit because we loved it that much. They both could run wild in the huge, screened-in playscape. Even though Simon is just 1 1/2 years old, he was able to crawl through on his own. Parents can comfortably fit through and follow their kids, too! But, when we tired out, we were able to grab a table in the center of the room, still see our kids, and just RELAX. Happy kids, happy parents.
There are also arcade games, a toddler center and a restaurant in Mt. Playmore. Fun for all! The above video is an example of one of the floor video games that Judah and Simon both loved. Soccer, at that! I didn't get it filmed, but the floor game also included Hungry Hippos played with your feet. Really fun!
The price at Mt. Playmore was right. Simon was free since he's under 2 years, Judah was about $10, but parents are only charged $1.00 each. I strongly dislike when places charge parents the same price as kids (like Children's Museums) so this was a pleasant surprise!
Another fun place for us was shopping at IKEA. We were dying to go to IKEA and pick up some toy storage baskets and shelves we had been wanting since last summer. Plus, IKEA is simply FUN! Not only do kids love to play in the numerous playhouses throughout the store and the toys in the toy department, but the food court is a great place for kid-friendly meals. It even has a separate area in there for kids to sit at a table and watch a movie!
We didn't eat at IKEA this time, but we did take advantage of Småland, a free supervised children's playground for kids who are potty trained. Judah wanted to play there while we shopped. Simon had to stay with us, since he is still in diapers. But, it was nice to just have one kid while shopping! Plus, since we are member of IKEA FAMILY, we were granted an extra 30 minutes of playtime.
Another idea for entertaining your young children during a weekend trip is to find a toy store. We came across Terra Toys, a local toy store. Simon was sleeping when we arrived, so instead of waking him, Ben took Judah inside the store while I stayed in the van with Simon and took a quick power nap of my own. So, I didn't get to see the inside of the toy store, but Ben and Judah were able to go in and play with a few toys for a quick break. They bought a little table-top football game that was perfect for playing in the hotel room later that evening and the next day.
This next place to take your kids is also somewhere I'd recommend for a good ice cream treat, so it'll appear in the next post about "where to eat", too. It's Amy's Ice Cream...I think the one on Guadalupe, if I remember correctly. It has this pretty cool outdoor playground which automatically makes it kid-friendly. We didn't play on it because it was dark and cold by the time we arrived, but I noted it for next time when the weather is right!
Speaking of weather, this trip was all about indoor activities since it was unusually cold in Austin that weekend. When researching ahead of time, I found many ideas for kid-friendly outdoor activities, like the farmers market, bat bridge, children's museum, outdoor parks, etc. but they all will all have to wait for next time when the weather is better!
Do you travel with your kids? We love having them along and think it's a great way to educate them! At this young age, though, it's imperative you make your trip kid-friendly and not force them to do all adult/boring things! 😉 Be on the look-out for my next post about family-friendly places to eat in Austin. Because, we all know we're not going to wait in line 3 hours with young kids for Franklin Barbecue. Not.gonna.happen. BUT, there are other delicious and worthy barbecue joints in Austin with little or no waits and VERY kid-friendly.
Have you been to Austin with your kids? What are your favorite kid-friendly things to do?