Parents’ Travel Guide: What to Do in Austin
A renowned music city, Austin’s lively downtown and award-winning restaurants are only a short stroll from Four Seasons Hotel Austin.
A convergence of politics, music and the arts—that’s Austin. Like an island in the middle of Texas, the state capital is a hip escape for the entire family. It houses an abundance of amazing eateries (think: Tex-Mex and barbecue), plus has great shopping and outdoor activities. A renowned music hub and university town, Austin’s lively downtown and highly regarded restaurants are only a short walk from Four Seasons Hotel Austin.
- Historic landmarks and an active outdoor lifestyle (cycling, strolling on the extensive urban hiking paths, rowing, golf) offer ample opportunities for family fun.
- The music scene. You can’t miss events like live music in the grocery store and at city council meetings.
- The Hotel’s central location and setting on Lady Bird Lake offers great views of the city skyline.
- The weather. In January, while other parts of the U.S. are freezing, it might be a balmy 75 degrees F in Austin. Enjoy an annual average of 300 days of sunshine. (No mosquitoes, either.)
What the kids will love
- Swimming in the Hotel’s saltwater pool or nearby hot springs. (Barton Springs is a 68 degree F swimming hole.)
- Being outside. They’ll love the miles of walking paths, going kayaking, cycling and exploring the great parks.
- The Austin Ice Cream Festival in August or just licking a double-scoop while strolling around town. Tour the Blue Bell Creameries factory to learn how the frozen dessert is created and packaged. Located in Brenham, it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive from Austin.
- The Four Seasons Kids’ Scavenger Hunt is a fun way to learn about the Hotel, city and state. Kids who complete the list win a prize.
- Hotel pool and lawn games, a diving ring competition, giant Jenga, beach ball bonanza, corn hole, ladder toss, and freshly made s’mores make yummy snacks.
- Summertime outdoor music concerts, such as the Blues on the Green series.
- Bringing a piece of the Wild West back in your suitcase. Take home a hand-stitched, custom-made pair from at Allen’s Boots.
- The food. French-Vietnamese? Sweetbreads, barbecue, Tex-Mex, pecan-wood smoked Angus rib eye? It’s all available.
What you will love
- For Mom: Spa Happy Hour (Sunday to Thursday, 4 to 8 pm) at Four Seasons Hotel Austin. Includes a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and light spa bites.
- A nap in the hotel’s large hammock (fits for two) overlooking Lady Bird Lake.
Bats. At sunset (March through November), millions of these creatures zoom out from their home under the Congress Avenue Bridge near Four Seasons in search of dinner. These are Mexican-free-tailed bats, America’s largest colony. Grab a front-row seat on the Hotel lawn 15 minutes before the sundown.
- Try TRIO for its lake views and great steak-and-seafood menu. Kids can have their pick of two different menus, plus a complimentary finger food appetizer.
- The Lobby Lounge is good for sandwiches and other light fare, including a traditional afternoon tea. Sip on creative cocktails or a selection from the extensive wine list as you enjoy live music.
- In-room dining is easy, especially since the menu includes more than just chicken nuggets and burgers. Choose from healthy dishes, such as grilled fish or petite filet, salad and fresh fruit cubes.
- Just next door to Four Seasons, The Coffee Stop is good for a quick bite (think banana bread, yogurt with granola and juice) and morning beverage.
- When you’re in the mood for something more substantial, try chicken and waffles and other comfort food staples at 24 Diner.
- The Whole Foods Market headquarters is across the street, which is quite a sight to see.
- For gourmet casual downhome cookin’, try Moonshine, walkable from the Hotel. We recommend the corn dog shrimp appetizer and skillet apple pie. It’s all about barbecue at The Salt Lick (a 20-minute drive); it’s hands-down the best in state. Try County Line on the Lake, where the kids can feed the ducks.
- The biggest don’t-miss: noshing at Austin’s popular food trucks on South Congress (SoCo).
5 family to-dos
1. Try a few water activities behind the Hotel on Lady Bird Lake, such as canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. You can rent equipment by the hour.
2. Cosmic Cowboy Tour: The bus morphs into a boat and then continues the sightseeing along Lake Austin.
3. Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum: Learn a little about Texas history on your vacation. This large museum has a 3D Imax theater, too.
4. Inner Space Cavern: This natural underground cavern features enormous stalagmites and stalactites, giant columns and animal fossils dating back to the Ice Age. The hour-long tour is by foot or cable car. Construction workers building the I-35 freeway first discovered the underground network.
5. Segway Tour: Take a guided or unguided tour of downtown Austin on these fun electronic vehicles. The guides outfit you and your family with safety gear, and give lessons on how to drive. This is a great option for preteens and older kids. The company also rents bikes.