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Best for Kids in Austin

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Bar K Park is a small green space located at Lago Vista. A local park, it mostly sees visitors coming in to take a walk or play sports. With nicely marked trails, one can also go jogging, or simply sit under the trees and have a small family picnic. The park proves to be a great choice to relax or play outdoors.

Located inside Austin’s Central Fire Station No. 1, this hidden gem is an interesting museum about the history of the Austin fire department. Learn about how the department used to be run by volunteers and see historic artifacts chronicling how firefighting has evolved over the years, including exhibits with old uniforms and a Hook and Ladder No. 1 lantern. Although this small museum doesn't feature flashy interactive displays, this is a fun place to bring the kids if they're interested in learning more about fire fighting and want to see part of a working fire station along with the historic exhibits.

Austin's largest park, Zilker Park, houses Zilker Hillside Theater, a beautiful outdoor theater. During the summer, catch free musicals, concerts and "Shakespeare in the Park". Large crowds often line the grassy hills with blankets. During the rest of the year, enjoy a variety of performances (call ahead for seasonal schedules). Bring a picnic lunch, or perhaps just some wine and cheese for a snack and watch the stars come out, in the sky and onstage. Admission is free for most events.

A reservoir of the undulating Colorado River, Lady Bird Lake lies nestled in startling contrast with the cosmopolitan buildings that fringe it. Originally known as 'Town Lake', this reservoir was created in 1960, with the construction of the Longhorn Dam. For a decade, this lake was left in a derelict state, until it was transformed into a beautiful recreation zone in the 1970s. In 2007, the lake was given the name Lady Bird Lake, honoring the memory of the former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Its glassy waters a wonderland for recreation, the lake is skirted by lush, emerald droves, winding trails, the sprawling Zilker Park and the rejuvenating Barton Springs. The lake enables an array of exhilarating activities like kayaking, canoeing, rowing, paddleboarding and recreational fishing. Lady Bird Lake has been host to a string of sporting events, while its bank is popular for musical performances.

Pinballz Arcade features more pinball games than you'll be able to play in a day. This huge arcade is spread out over 13,000 square feet (1207 square meters) and is a great hangout for kids and adults alike. Their BYOB policy is a big draw - they even have cup holders next to some of the games. Most of the games you can play are also for sale, so you can take some of the fun home with you!

The amazing Zilker Botanical Garden overlooks the Zilker Park fields bordering Barton Springs Road. The garden is actually comprised of several different gardens, including the Cactus and Succulent, Xeriscape, Herb and Fragrance, Rose, Azalea, Butterfly and Taniguchi Gardens. Taniguchi is a beautiful Japanese landscape with a waterfall, running stream, lily ponds and wooden bridges. The lush, peaceful grounds are commonly perused by artists and writers searching for inspiration, and by others just looking for solitude amid the city.

This museum has grown into one of the most fabulous experiences for children in Austin. Find out about the development of children from birth to adolescence, climb a "time tower," and learn about everything from dinosaurs to computers. Special programs for children and their parents are regular parts of the museum's curriculum. Take tiny tots to the 2-and-under special explore time, or learn about multimedia with your teen. With excellent specialty programs and wonderful exhibits, this is a museum the whole family can enjoy.

TopGolf is a fun entertainment and recreation spot for people of all ages, from kids to adults. This golf course guarantees a lot of fun, with visitors being able to book bays for themselves. They also have membership and VIP passes available, in addition to organizing golfing summer camps for kids. The center is also home to a bar and restaurant that plays host to some fun and happening parties from time to time.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center was established by Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States from 1963-1969. This fabulous garden bearing her name brims with native Texas plants in courtyards, terraces, arbors and meadows. Along with a fantastic children's center, visitors can explore a visitor's gallery, observation tower, café, gift store and nature trails. Enjoy award-winning architecture and fabulous scenery in this wonderful garden spot.

The Zilker Zephyr is a mini-train that takes visitors around the scenic and beautiful Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek area of Austin. Suitable for people of all ages, this train is equally popular among kids and full-grown adults too! After all, who wouldn't like to get onto a green toy train and admire the wonders of the Zilker Metropolitan Park at a leisurely pace, along with some fun tunnels along the way? The ride lasts for approximately half an hour; call ahead for details.

Ever wondered what life was like on a 17th-century farm? Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms is where you can relive all of those days gone by at the carefully simulated theme areas. Whether it is an 1860s German Immigrant Farm, an 1880s Cotton Planter Farm, or an 1870s Texan Farm, all of these can be revisited thanks to the brilliant reconstruction of the architects. Check their website for more information on free admission days, site tours, exhibitions, historical reenactments and special days. The farms are partly wheelchair accessible.

The Scottish Rite Children's Theatre aims to introduce children to the vibrant world of theater and also provide entertainment for these young ones. Since 1869, this theater has been showcasing brilliant enactments of fairy tales and other favorite children's stories. Apart from this, they have also been hosting social and cultural events. The winner of the 2006 B. Iden Payne Award for "Outstanding Production of a Play for Youth" and the Austin Family Magazine Poll: "Favorite Live Theatre For Children" 2005, 2006 and 2007, this theater is truly incomparable with other children's theaters.

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