Abandoned backpacks, rising temperatures, and the endless chorus of Mom, I’m bored. Soon it will be summertime in Central Texas. We are so fortunate to live in a city with so much to see and do! Summer is easily one of my favorite times of the year in Austin because my daughter and I are able to explore all that makes the Capital City beautiful and unique. Here are some suggestions for fun Friday field trips around Austin.

General Science


Amy’s Ice Cream Tours (Austin)– The 30-minute tour covers the history of Amy’s Ice Creams and its ice cream making process. Tours are offered at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Tours are free; however, attendees may purchase a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream with M&M topping for $2 per scoop at the end of the tour.

Thinkery (Austin)–Exhibits include Innovator’s Workshop, Kitchen Lab, Let’s Grow, and Spark Shop. Open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10-6 p.m. Free for children ages 0-23 months; $12 for all visitors

Outside Austin

The Science Mill (Johnson City)–Dance the cell phone disco, create an explosion, watch a 3D movie, and so much more! Open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free for children 2 & under; $8 for seniors & military; $8.50 for children ages 3-8 or students with ID; $10 for adults

Earth Science

Outside Austin

Inner Space Caverns (Georgetown)–Escape the Texas heat…and learn about Central Texas caverns! Tour skill levels range from beginner to intermediate to advanced. In addition, check out the playground, mining area, gift shop, and fossil displays. The beginner-level tour (Adventure Tour) is $12.95 for children and $20.95 for adults.

Mayborn Science Theater (Killeen)–Experience Super Volcanoes, observe Dinosaurs at Dusk, and survive Solar Superstorms! Show matinees are $5 for all ages. Laser (show) Friday happens every month and features musical favorites such as U2 and Metallica. Laser shows are $6 for children 3-12 and $7 for adults. Check website for times.

Life Science


Austin Aquarium (North Austin)–Interact with thousands of species of amphibians, birds, fish, reptiles, and marine wildlife throughout the 35-exhibit experience. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. $8.95 for children; $11.95 for military and college students; $13.95 for adults on weekdays.

Austin Science & Nature Center (Austin)–A hidden gem near Zilker Park! Enjoy bird watching, exploring wildlife exhibits, and digging for fossils at the Dino Pit. (Bring insect repellent!) Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free for individuals and families!

Austin Zoo (Austin)–The zoo focuses on animal rescue & rehabilitation. Bring a zoo scavenger hunt for fun. Pack a lunch or visit the concession stand. Feed the animals for $3. Open daily 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Train rides are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays for small fee. $8.95 for children 2-12; $10.95 for students and military; $11.95 for adults

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin)–284 acres of beautiful gardens and natural areas reflect the center’s mission to conserve native Texas plants. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $4 for youth and $10 for adults.

Zilker Botanical Gardens (Austin)–Gardens interlaced with streams, waterfalls, and ponds. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. $1 for kids ages 3-12; $2 for Austin-resident adults; $3 for non-resident adults. ONLY accepts cash or check.

Outside Austin

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch (Between San Antonio & New Braunfels)–Get up close to zebras and giraffes on 450 acres of natural, protected environment. Food and souvenirs are sold on site. Open Fridays in June from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and in July from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Free for children under 3; $13.50 for children 3-11 years; $22 for adults

Parks & Farms


Mayfield Park (Austin)–Described as an island of rest located in the middle of a city. Experience a historic cottage, acres of colorful gardens, and beautiful peacocks. Bring a picnic lunch. Explore the walking trails and wildlife habitat. Open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Free.

McKinney Falls State Park (Austin)–Camp at one of 81 sites, hike and bike the many trails winding through the Hill Country, geocache, go fishing, swim Onion Creek, and/or picnic. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Free for children 12 years and under; $6 for adults

Mount Bonnell & Zilker Park (Austin)–Race the kids up the steps of Mount Bonnell. Observe the way the river meanders through the hillside. Explore the various trails. Free. Head over to the playground at Zilker Park. Ride the Zilker Zephyr train. Zilker Park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is also free.

Outside Austin

Aquarena Springs (San Marcos)– Located at The Meadows Center at Texas State, explore Spring Lake by way of glass-bottom boats, paddling tours, and wetlands boardwalk. Open Monday through Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The 30-minute glass-bottom boat tour is free for children 2 and under; $6 for children 3-12; $9.75 for adults

Crowe’s Nest Farm (Manor)–Visit the 100-acre working farm teeming with beautiful gardens, farm animals, and educational exhibits. Guided tours by appointment only at 9, 10, or 11:30 a.m. from Monday through Thursday. Free for children under 2 and full-time school staff; $3 for 2-year-olds, $6 for children 3-16; $7 for adults

Dinosaur Park (Cedar Creek/Bastrop)–Dig for fossils, explore realistic life-size dinosaur exhibits, and walk though a tree-lined nature trail. Open Friday, Saturday, & Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free for children 23 months and under; $8 for children; $9 for teens and adults

Sweet Berry Farms (Marble Falls)–The pickin’ is good! Open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EXCEPT Wednesdays. No admission fee; however, there are small fees for experiencing berry picking, the Berry Bounce, sand art, the barrel train, and Pain-a-Pot. See website for more details.

Fine Arts


Blanton Museum of Art (UT Campus)–Current exhibitions include the works of Ellsworth Kelly, James Drake, Clarissa Tossin, and architectural spaces. Shops and cafe on site; Open Tuesdays through Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Free for children 12 & under, active military, UT Faculty/Students/Staff with ID, and teachers ID;  $5 for youth ages 13-21 and college students; $9 for adults

ZACH Theatre (Austin)–This theatre hosts plays and musicals for children of all ages–1 to 101! Summer shows include Sunday in the Park with George, the Phantom Tollbooth, Heisenberg, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Visit website for show times and ticket prices.

Zilker Summer Musical (Austin)–Come on out for this summer’s Zilker Theatre Production of All Shook Up, featuring Elvis’s top hits! Show begins July 6th and ends August 18th. Performed Thursday through Sunday at 8:15 p.m. Show is free, but donations are accepted online, by mail, or during the show’s intermission.

Outside Austin

Bee Cave Sculpture Park (Bee Cave)–In addition to the array of permanent and rotating sculptures is a spring-fed pond, beautiful oak trees, and 20 different native species of plants. Download and print the park brochure! Free.



Austin Duck Adventures (Austin)–Tour Austin by land and by lake! Tour lasts 75 minutes and includes 6th Street, Capitol building, Governor’s Mansion, and Lake Austin. Tours depart from the Visitor’s Center. Tours offered Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. Free for children 2 and under; $18.95 for children 3-12; $25.95 for military; $26.95 for students and seniors; $28.95 for adults

Bob Bullock State History Museum (Austin)–Explore Texas history and culture through artifacts spanning 4,000 years! Explore the Austin City Limits Theater and Mapping Texas exhibits. See an IMAX film. Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. $9 for youth ages 4-17; $11 for students, military, and senior; $13 for adults

Pioneer Farms (Austin)–Step back in time to 1886 to visit a cotton planter’s farm, to 1899 to visit a rural village, or to 1841 to visit a Tonkawa Indian Camp. Open Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free for children 2 and under; $6 for children ages 3-12; $8 for visitors 13 and over

Texas State Capitol (Austin)–The Texas State Capitol is easily one of the most beautiful in the country! Tours are offered Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tours last for 30 minutes and are free to the public.

Austin/UT Campus

Harry Ransom Center (UT Campus)–Current exhibitions include Vaudeville! and Stories to Tell: Selections from the Harry Ransom Center. Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with tours at noon; Admission is free but donations are encouraged.

LBJ Library (UT Campus)–Current exhibits include Get in the Game: The Fight for Equality in American Sports, The Civil Rights Act of 1968, and The 1968 Olympics: A Modern Design for the Ancient Games. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Free for children 12 and under, active duty military, and UT students, faculty, and staff with ID; $3 for youth and college students with ID; $5 for former military with ID; $7 for seniors with ID; $10 for adults

Texas Memorial Museum (UT Campus)–On a mission to educate young Texans and conserve Texas’s historic treasures, this museum has four floors of dinosaurs and prehistoric marine life, gems and minerals, Texas Wildlife, biodiversity, and cave life. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Free for UT Austin students and employees with ID; $4 for college students with ID; $5 for children ages 2-12; infants under 2 are free; $7 for adults

The sweet, sweet freedom of summertime is fleeting. There are only 12 Fridays between the end of this school year and the beginning of the next. How will you spend them?


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