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Austin Weekend Travel Guide – 2 Day Itinerary with Kids

    Austin is a huge city and you could spend a month here really getting to know the city and annoying all the amazing food it has to offer. But you could also hit the highlights in just a weekend. Here are our favorite things to do in the city (some of them are free!) and then we’ll share a 2 day itinerary to see Austin as a family.

    Free Things To Do in Austin

    Bike, Walk, or Run on the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk – We found free street parking along South Lakeshore Blvd. This portion of the boardwalk gives a beautiful view of the skyline.

    Mural Hopping – The absolute must-do is of course the Greetings From Austin postcard mural, but keep an eye out as you’re driving or biking around, because Austin is full of murals.

    Doug Sahm Hill Summit – View the skyline and stand on a giant map of Texas. It’s called a summit, but it’s a fairly small hill with a path that circles up it. This is one portion of a larger green space with a dog park, splash pad, children’s garden and playground, and performing arts center.

    Pennybacker Bridge Overlook – Short hike to a rock overlook of 360 Bridge and the Colorado River.

    Leander Dinosaur Tracks – Take a short drive out of Austin and walk about half a mile along the riverbed to see a trail of dinosaur tracks indented in the rocks. Quick tip: filling the tracks with water helps the indentations stand out. If there’s been a lot of rain lately, the tracks might be underwater. Parking is located between North and South lanes of 183. Wear water shoes.

    Mount Bonnell – Scenic viewpoint of Lake Austin and the Austin skyline in the distance.

    Other Things To Do in Austin

    Visit Mckinney Falls State Park – Lower and Upper Falls are both very short walks from the parking area but the park has several hiking options as well. Two of the most popular are the Rock Shelter Trail and the Homestead Trail.

    Zilker Botanical Garden – Home to a variety of different gardens, including prehistoric garden with dinosaur sculpture, herb garden, hummingbird garden, children’s garden, rose garden, Japanese garden with tea house and koi pond, and succulent garden as well as a pioneer village with blacksmith shop, school house, and log cabin.

    Barton Springs Pool – Enjoy a dip in the spring-fed pool in the middle of Zilker Park. This is another very popular spot, so arrive early if possible.

    Peter Pan Mini-Golf – Children will love the brightly colored fantasy theming of these two 18 hole courses. Choose the west course to see the giant T-Rex and Peter Pan.

    Austin Nature & Science Center – Interactive exhibits about wildlife and dinosaurs and an outdoor forest trail and pond walk.

    Mayfield Park – Visit the beautiful peacocks in this 21 acre nature area.

    Pedernales Falls State Park – About an hour from Austin, where the Pedernales River flows over layers of limestone rock. A fun place to climb and explore for the whole family. Pedernales Falls Trail is .6 miles and ends in a set of stairs down to the river.

    Hamilton Pool – Take a short drive out of town to this beautiful swimming hole with waterfall and hiking trails. Reservations required May to September.

    2 Day Itinerary in Austin

    Day 1

    Bike the Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake down to the Doug Sahm Hill Summit. Then stop by the Greetings from Austin Mural and grab a donut at Gourdough’s. There are dozens of restaurants on South 1st Street and South Congress, so find a lunch spot that appeals to you.

    If you choose to bike this as a full loop, getting back to your car will bring your total distance to about 8 miles. If not, you should be able to find parking at each stop.

    In the afternoon, drive out to the Leander Dinosaur Tracks or visit the Nature & Science Center.

    Finish the night with dinner at one of Austin’s many amazing restaurants.

    Day 2

    Spend the morning at either McKinney Falls State Park or Zilker Botanical Garden.

    Enjoy lunch and keep an eye out for nearby murals.

    Drive to the Pennybacker Bridge Overlook.

    Watch the sunset at Mount Bonnell. We recommend arriving early with a picnic dinner since it’s a popular overlook.

    Extend the Trip

    3 Day Austin Itinerary

    A third day in Austin is the perfect opportunity to visit Pedernales Falls State Park. This was our hands-down favorite spot when visiting Austin. (This may have been because an ice storm kept us from exploring for 2 days of our trip and made Mckinney Falls look like mud. And our days at Pedernales had much sunnier weather.) But even if the water wasn’t so beautiful, climbing out on the rocks and being able to experience the Pedernales River from multiple vantage points made for a unique and fun experience. We wanted to spend the entire day exploring it!

    4 Day Austin Itinerary

    With a fourth day in Austin, I’d recommend a trip out to Hamilton Pool. Take a picnic lunch or stop on the way back at one of the restaurants along Hamilton Pool Road.

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