Riding from one of their amphibious Hydra Terra vehicles, Austin Duck Adventures offers tours of downtown Austin from a different perspective. You will be treated to a 75 minute sightseeing tour including Historic Sixth Street, the State Capitol Building, Bob Bullock State History Museum, the Governor’s Mansion, and Lake Austin, from both land and lake! Advance reservations are recommended, and they are also available for corporate charter.
Departing from the front porch of the Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill, Austin Ghost Tours will take you on a walking tour of some of Austin's spookiest places. Having extensively researched Austin's history, the tour guides will tell you the real stories behind some of the most chilling moments in the cities past and present. In over 10 years they have never canceled a tour due to weather, so if it's rainy and stormy, consider yourself in for an atmospheric treat.
Austin Overtures specializes in providing "Austin in 90 minutes", an Austin sightseeing tour that familiarizes you with over 30 major historical, cultural, and and significant points of interest in just 90 minutes. The tour van is equipped with satellite activated narration, and is designed and powered by Mercedes Benz, so your wide will be smooth and safe.
Boarding in Austin at Saltillo Plaza and in Cedar Park off Highway 183, the Austin Steam Train Association operates a variety of train rides on vintage passenger trains through historic neighborhoods in the heart of Austin and in the Texas Hill Country. Staffed by a dedicated group of volunteers, the trains operate most Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. Special entertainment excursions include holiday trips, murder mysteries for adults and story book specials for kids. No charge for children under 3 years old, however, each child must ride in the lap of an adult. Advance reservations are recommended.
With more than 300 animals across more than 100 different species, Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary is a private, non-profit zoo rescuing animals and serving the Austin community. Located just outside of town, the Austin Zoo provides a beautiful, relaxed, experience up close with the animals to hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. The Zoo is always having special events or receiving new animals, so no two trips will ever be the same.
One of the iconic fun free things to do in Austin is to watch the world's largest urban bat colony fly out from under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. The Congress Avenue bridge is one of three bridges linking the downtown area to South Austin across the Colorado River or what is sometimes referred to as Town Lake or more recently renamed Lake Lady Bird. Each night from mid-March to November, approximately a million or more Mexican free-tail bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk to blanket the sky as they head out to forage for food. The bats generally emerge before dark, but may fly late as the time of year and weather conditions affect bat emergence times. July and August are the best times to see the most dramatic flights when new born pups first begin to forage with their mothers. It is possible to view the bats from the bridge, but the bridge itself is a high traffic throughfare. The best way to see the bats is to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to the free Austin Bat Observation Center located at the Austin American Statesman offices at 305 South Congress Avenue on the southeast side of the bridge where there is a viewing area and an educational kiosk. If parking is not available at the Austin American Statesman, additional parking after 6 PM is located at Texas Department of Transportation offices located around the corner off Riverside Drive. Bat Conservation International Bat Interpreters are present Thursday through Sunday nights in the months of June, July and August. Please remember to look, but DON'T TOUCH THE BATS. Bats are free wild animals and like all free wild animals, they may bite in self-defense if handled.
Situated within an old movie theater, Blazer Tag offers massive laser tag games inside of a three story, ten thousand foot arena. With party rooms, a high tech video arcade, and food, Blazer Tag has been the host of many a child's birthday parties. They also offer occasional all night lock-ins, and are available for corporate or birthday rentals.
Deep under the heart of the University of Texas is the Texas Union Underground, a recreational facility open to the general public featuring bowling at the Texas Union Underground. The bowling alley at The Underground has 12 bowling lanes and shoe rental is available. A special feature of bowling at the Texas Union is "Glow Bowl" nights, bowling with black florescent lights, lasers and music. Reservations are accepted and league bowling is available. The Texas Union Informal Classes also offer five-week bowling lessons to learn etiquette, proper equipment and the fundamentals of the game including ten free practice games.
Capital of Texas Zoo offers children and families an affordable zoo experience in Cedar Park. They feature things from a nocturnal animal house with over 30 Fruit Bats, a European Boar exhibit, and over 100 Quaker Parrots, families can spend an entire day there learning about various animals and their habitats. They also offer to bring the party to your child's birthday party with a Zoo Show with exotic reptiles, mammals, or just a gentle animals petting zoo. For reservations please call (512) 303-6675.
Located inside Northcross Mall, Chaparral Ice is a family owned business seeking to share their passion of Ice skating with the Central Texas area. Their mission is to promote their passion by offering a fun, safe, service oriented experience to skaters of all levels. If you don't know how to skate, they offer a free 30 minute introductory lesson. Children interested in Hockey or Figure Skating can apply for their off-campus physical education program to receive PE credits.
Dinosaur Park is an educational and fun place, where people can learn about the majestic creatures that ruled our earth millions of years ago. Unlike most museums, Dinosaur Park doesn't just show skeletons, but actual life sized dinosaur replicas, ranging in size from the 6-foot velociraptor to the 40-foot T-Rex, all in their natural habitat. Other activities include a fossil-dig, playground, picnic area, and a wonderful Dinosaur Store stocked with a variety of gifts sure to please any dinosaur fan!
Jourdan-Bachmann Pioneer Farms is a working farm showing what life was like in the 1800s. There are five historic sites spread over 90 acres to explore including an 1840s Tonkawa Encampment, an 1860s German Immigrant Farm, an 1870s Texian Farm, an 1880s Cotton Planters Farm and an 1890s Sprinkle Corner rural village, There are special events on a regular basis including a Halloween hayride.
An oasis of classic days gone by amusement located on five acres in north Austin, Kiddie Acres is geared toward younger children under ten years old. This amusement park is open year-round with free admission and is a long-time favorite for birthday parties. Tickets must be purchases for rides and activities. Family owned and operated since 1979, Kiddie Acres features carousel rides, a ferris wheel and pony rides, as well as an 18 hole miniature golf course. Concessions including popcorn and cotton candy are available.
Lone Star Riverboat is a family owned business, operating the largest electric paddle wheel boat in the nation, as well as several smaller boats. They are available for private rental, as well as public tours and bat-seeing trips. They are also a city-concession, meaning that a portion of their gross sales go to preserving the park system.
Millenium Youth Entertainment Complex is a facility with a 154-seat movie theater, a 16-lane bowling alley, video arcade area, a food court, and a 12,500 square foot roller skating rink. Serving as a safe place for east Austin youth to go, the complex hosts special events, job fairs, private receptions, and movie festivals on a regular basis.
Nestled under the trees at the top of a hill close to Zilker Park, family owned and operated Peter Pan Mini Golf has been the scene of birthday parties, teen outings and family fun for generation after generation of Austinites. Peter Pan's 36 holes are divided up into two courses and though the 15 foot Peter Pan and the 20-foot T-Rex are hard to miss, every hole features some kind of obstacle or character to put around or through. Many of these fiberglass and concrete characters have been on the course since it was originally built in 1948 by the Dismukes family. Often open till midnight, Peter Pan Mini Golf is also a great date destination.
Playland Skate Center has been offering skaters a safe, fun experience in Austin for the past 20 years. They are Austin's largest skating rink, 27,500 square feet! They also feature an impressive light show, fog machine, and state of the art sound system. Available for private rentals, they also offer public skating at an affordable rate, and if you are looking to get away from the kids for a while, Tuesday is 18 and up only.
Texas Memorial Museum is part of the Texas Natural Science Center at the University of Texas and admission is always free. Texas Memorial Museum has exhibits featuring dinosaurs and fossils, Texas wildlife and gems and minerals. Texas Memorial Museum also has a working Paleontology Lab where visitors can observe and ask questions as scientists work with real fossils. Exhibits of dinosaur fossils found in Texas include the largest flying creature ever found, the Texas Pterosaur, with a wingspan of nearly 40 feet, and the 30-foot Mosasaur that swam the shallow sea that once covered most of the state. The Texas Memorial Museum also has a gift shop with lots of fun and interesting gifts for kids.
Closed for almost 25 years, the University of Texas currently offers tours of UT's landmark Tower atop the old Main Building on the UT campus. Accompanied by a UT student guide, tours are self-guided with approximately 45 minutes to view Austin from the observation deck. The schedule varies depending on the time of year, but generally tours take place Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Advance reservation of tickets is strongly recommended. Reservations can be made by phoning 475-6633 or in person at The Texas Union building on campus at 2247 Guadalupe Street. Tickets are $6.00 per person and tours are frequently booked a week or more in advance. Unclaimed tickets are sold to a waiting list 10 minutes before each tour time. You may sign up on this list on a walk-up basis at the Texas Union Information Center starting one hour before a scheduled tour. Bags and purses are not allowed on the tour, but lockers are available to rent for $1.
A traditional free thing to do in Austin every summer is to take the family out to the Zilker Hillside Theatre summer musical. The Zilker Hillside Theatre is located in Zilker Park across the parking lot from Barton Springs swimming pool. The stage is located in a natural amphitheater under a stand of 100 year old pecan trees and in addition to the summer musical features numerous locally produced musical and dance oriented events including the Austin Symphony and Shakespeare in the Park. Admission to events at the Zilker Hillside Theatre is always free but there is a $3.00 fee to park in the Zilker Park parking lots. Most events start at 8 PM and blankets can be placed on the hillside after 6 PM. Theatre goers may bring a picnic or other refreshments, but alcohol is not permitted in the park. The 2011 Zilker Theatre Production Summer Musical is "Footloose." The free summer musical will open on Friday, July 8 and will be presented on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Saturday, August 13. Performances of the free Zilker summer musical start at 8 PM.
Hundreds of kites fill the sky the first Sunday in March at the Zilker Park Kite Festival. This annual event is free to enter and categories include the smallest kite, the largest kite, the highest flying kite and the most creative kite with both adult and children's divisions. Only homebuilt kites are eligible for competition, however you don't have to enter the competition to fly a kite during the festival. Admission is free. Free parking and shuttle rides are available from the state parking garage at 17th and Colorado. Sponsored by the Exchange Club of Austin, concessions are available and proceeds are donated to local children's charities. The Zilker Park Kite Festival always takes place the first Sunday in March. The date for the 2013 Zilker Park Kite Festival is Sunday, March 3, 2013.