Now you did it. Good for you to be a parent. The kids are part of the equation from now on, and your earlier route of spending the weekend looking for the best Bloody Mary bar or checking out waiting for a brunch line was made by your adorable brood’s irritable requests for one Afternoon replaces where you’ve spent a nervous house or, worse, an afternoon on laser tag.
Instead of giving in to demand, we can suggest some local, refreshing alternatives to family-friendly spaces that not only don’t shit, but have something for everyone.
Austin is a green, vibrant playground for parents – all you need is a few maps in your back pocket. Here are five favorite places to have fun and connect with your kids.
Blue Cat Cafe
Cats in cafes. Cats in cafes while you try to read the newspaper and have a latte? For sure. It’s a thing now (see Japan and New York). Your kids will love you when you take them to this new addition on the east side, and you can feel good about it too. Almost all of the local cats can be adopted by the Austin Humane Society. While you relax with treats from the vegan outdoor trailer or drink a cappuccino, your little ones can make new friends with the meandering cats. Do you already have a house cat? Buy them a new toy, a new collar or a new scratching post in the small shop front. It’s a perfect distraction.
ColdTowne Theater: What’s the Steve Story?
Perhaps the thought of spending the afternoon with a litter of cats will make your allergies flare up. What is the Steve story for families who count dogs as their favorite house lander? features a talented pooch who can improvise with the best. This Saturday morning performance is a popular destination for children who love to hear a big story and those who want to help create it. Each week offers a completely different story. Steve the poodle gets help from his cast mates and suggestions from the audience, and unpredictable hijinks ensue. After that, stick to the drop-in children’s improvisation class.
The Austin Aqua-Dome sits between a set piece from 20,000 miles under the sea and the architecture of the early 1970s and is a must-see, especially on those colder winter days. The dimly lit, cozy interior is the perfect backdrop for a variety of vibrant fish and coral reefs. While the dome is a for-profit operation, there is no pressure to buy. The owners are happy to share their space and extensive knowledge of fresh and saltwater fish with the next generation of Team Zissou.
This day trip to nearby Bastrop has it all for the budding paleontologist in your life. For those idyllic Texas winter days that are warm enough for outdoor fun, winding nature trails at Dinosaur Park have life-size replica dinosaurs peering through tree tops and plenty of activities to keep the little ones busy. Dig for fossils in the Dino Dig sandpit or go on a nature scavenger hunt using lists provided by the park office. Make an afternoon out of it and have a picnic in the designated areas, which are available free of charge subject to availability.
Cherry wood coffee house
This charming café in the Cherrywood neighborhood, overrun by childless people who are now cooler than you during the week, turns into a mecca for parents on the weekend. Sundays in particular are a big draw for exhausted parents looking for just a moment alone with a breakfast taco and mimosa. A regular cast of kid-friendly musicians from Staci Gray to Que Pastas will be happy to entertain your descendants while you hang out with a friend or read the paper.