Mommy Daughter Dates In Austin
Growing up I hid my love for unicorns, flowers, and even pink to make sure folks took me seriously in the chem lab, in AP math, so on. At some point, it dawned on me that a love for glitter and Taylor Swift didn’t negate my love of science.
So now that I’m raising a little girl, our mommy-daughter time fully embraces unicorns, flowers, pink, glitter, and of course T Swift.
Here are my favorite ways to bring whimsy and wonder to dates with my best friend.
- No organization better embraces science and authenticity than Girlstart. In addition to their annual STEM conference (come see me!) they also host a monthly mini-planetarium for all ages, Starry Nights. Austinites can support Girlstart’s efforts through this campaign!
👑Princess Dinner Date
- Donning princess gowns, Princess Poppy and Princess Buttercup (from Lucy in Disguise) my husband, served us dinner at her kid’s table. We gabbed and traded crowns before watching Trolls on the couch!
📽Day at the Movies
- Of course, movie nights at home are the best, but a day movie at Alamo Drafthouse is a close second. Recently we attended the Family Party for Ralph Breaks the Internet and caught Mary Poppins Returns. Dress up and enjoy the bottomless popcorn.
- Seeing Tuck Everlasting at the theatre with my family is a fond childhood memory, so we go all out for theatre dates. We prep days before with a trim at Cookie Cutters, a manicure, and even get a new dress. On the day of, we get dolled up, arrive early to scope out the set, and stay after to meet the actors. The family-friendly plays are full of whimsy and music. The latest one, Tortoise and Hare portrayed a beautiful (and relevant) message with major Moana vibes.
- As a lifelong nail-biter, I’m not usually into manicures, but Henley’s enthusiasm for having her nails painted made me a believer. Our fave joint is Coated. They make her feel special, don’t scoff at having a kid in the salon, and have clean-air tech.
- When our nails aren’t freshly painted, we love creating art together. Whether it’s at home, at a local event, or studio – Hen’s happy place is with a paintbrush in hand. Figment Creative Labs launched with an amazing event last year, so keep an eye out for their events and classes, Smudge Studios as well if you have a flexible schedule.
☕Tea for Two
- As a working mom, most of our dates are early pickups from school! On the way home, we pop by Crema and order a vanilla cupcake for her and a green tea for me. (They also make a killer chai latte.) We settle in on the couches by the library to read Pete the Cat. Our go-tos for breakfast dates are Nate’s Baked Goods & Coffee and Juiceland Brodie.
📚Books, on books, on books
- We love the Austin Central Library (and our home base Hampton Branch at Oak Hill!), BookPeople, + Barnes and Noble. They all have regular story times or you can make your own! Book People even had Tiny Tails To You petting zoo on our last trip!
- Speaking of zoos, I love the Austin Zoo and that it’s an animal sanctuary. It’s a small zoo making it easy to visit the animals with plenty of time to feed the goats and deer. Keep an eye out for their feeding times and educational talks.
🌳The Great Outdoors
- Not all of our dates are fancy. We love picnicking at Zilker Park. Visit the playground, ride the train, Zephyr, walk trails, and even view exhibits at the Austin Nature and Science Center. Pro-tip: On the weekends, bring cash for face painting and balloon artists! We also love the Play for All Abilities Park in Round Rock and Dick Nichols Playground.
- During the heat of the summer, you might find us at a splash pad, like the one at Dick Nichols, or Barton Creek Square Mall. In addition to air-conditioning, they have The Lego Store! With milder weather, we’ll head up to The Domain to enjoy the playscapes, people-watching, and for Henley, Sprinkles Cupcakes!
- We love the locations at the Barton Creek Square Mall and Sunset Valley for the ample parking and variety of things to do. We bring our Yorkie, Levi, and enjoy live music while eating Tacodeli breakfast tacos. You’ll also find a play area and kid-friendly vendors. On our last visit, she helped make a wooden top and purchased a drawing from another child for five cents. (Cue my heart-melting.) And for mommy, there’s tons of fresh produce.
- Music is something Henley, and I quickly bonded over. We love to sing, make up songs, and of course, dance. The Farmers’ Market is an easy weekly option, but we also keep our eye on the Austin Chronicle and Do512 for kids’ shows, and she’s totally been to Radio Coffee & Beer for some jams.
- Music Together has programs across Austin including free demo days. We’ve been in the same class for years, and I love the regular time just the two of us. We sing the songs in the car on the way there, on the way home, and really all the time.
- What my daughter really loves though is a good dinner date! Her go-to spot with daddy is Maudie’s, but I prefer Mandola’s Italian. We have a whole routine – She eats a ton of bread, some spaghetti, and a spoonful of gelato, then we play on their playground, and end the night by walking to Whole Foods for Skull and Cakebones cupcakes.
- Our other favorite spot is Via 313 for take-out or sit-down. They’ve accepted my daughter in every princess costume under the sun. They provide coloring books + crayons AND pizza dough for play. Homeslice on SoCo is another option, but I’m biased toward Via 313 for their vegan cheese.
- For a sweet fix, there’s a slew of ice cream joints in Austin (my favorite is Lick!), but Amy’s Ice Cream at Southpark Meadows is our go-to. They boost a friendly staff, photobooth, and The Grove, a playground and live music spot.
🥞Princess Pancakes at Kerbey Lane Cafe
- Many a Sunday morning, you’ll find me or my husband working the menu at Kerbey Lane Cafe to create Princess Pancakes. Usually strawberry pancakes with sprinkles does the trick. Don’t worry they play along!
For all the things we’ve tried, here’s my growing list of what I’d still like to explore with Henley.
- We recently nabbed a unicorn yoga mat from Wild Arrow to follow along with online videos and yoga pretzels. She’s honestly way better than me. It’s my to-do list to take her to a parent and child yoga class at Little Yoga House or Yoga Yoga.
🎾Get the Energy Out
- Henley used to take weekly classes at The Little Gym (highly recommend!), so she’s been missing her bounce time. We’re eyeing Catch Air, Mt. Playmore, and Epic Fun. The latter has a three-story playground!
- Perhaps as a stop before we get the energy out, I’ve been dying to take my little candy-lover to Big Top Candy Shop on SoCo.
- I love art. I studied art. So I’m patiently waiting for Henley to be ready for the Blanton and art museums ‘round the world. At three, she still wants to touch the art. Please enjoy this date with your older gals! For other moms of littles, the Texas Memorial Museum is a great starter.
- As a former science clubber and science fair competitor, I’ve already taken Hen to The Thinkery and other science museums in our travels, but I’d love to take her to a Think Labs event once she turns four!
- My daughter loves trains, and I still remember my first train ride with my family. This will probably end up being a full family date, but I can’t wait to take her.
- For the past year, I’ve volunteered with Central Texas Food Bank. They’re so organized and welcoming, I highly recommend their family nights for children 8+. Generation Serve also has opportunities for children as young as three.
🌻Lady Bird Wildflower Center
- After five years in Austin, I have still not been to the Wildflower Center (eek!). It’s high on my to-do list with Henley especially with Fortlandia happening through February ‘19.
Honestly, a date with my daughter could literally be anywhere (dancing in the kitchen to T Swift) all I need is to be present and embrace my inner free-spirit to let her pull me into her world of wonder and whimsy.
Oh, a princess dress doesn’t hurt either. More ideas on making memories here!
What’s your favorite way to bond with your daughter in Austin?