5 Tips For Visiting Zilker Park & Barton Springs With Kids

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Yes, it is still blazing hot outside, but we all know how it goes when you stay cooped up inside too long. This weekend check out one of Austin’s OG spots that have many an Austinite’s childhood memories. End with an invigorating cannon ball into Barton Springs!

  • The Zilker Park Miniature Train just across from Barton Springs Pool is cash only. The train depot does have an ATM machine if you forget.  Children are Free under 1 year old.  Adults are $3 and Children are $2. This is a fun 20-minute train ride when temperatures are much cooler in Austin.  All you need for the kids is a hat and sunglasses as the train cars are not covered.  Be sure to check the website prior to visiting as the train may be undergoing repairs.
  • Austin Nature and Science Center is a FREE educational center, though donations are accepted. The center has indoor and outdoor exhibits.  It is located on the northwest corner of Zilker Park off of Stratford Drive.  My kids love digging for dinosaur bones in the sandpit at the very back of the trail.  Open Monday-Saturday 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm.  I suggest packing snacks.  There is only a vending machine for drinks.  Go ahead and have a change of clothes (your kid may accidentally jump in the stream of water across the bridge on the way to the Dino pit)
  • Barton Springs Pool is a natural spring (cold water) Bring a rashguard type swimsuit for the kids. Credit cards are accepted but the cash line moves quicker.  Bring water bottles or a small food bag.  Ice coolers are not allowed.  Get there early to lay your towels out on the grassy hill under a tree covered shady spot.  Parking is $5 for the entire day.  Admission for Austin residents is $1 per child ages 1-11 years old, Adults is $3.  Open 7 days a week from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

  • Zilker Park Playscape is located near the miniature train. The playground is fenced in which is great for runaway toddlers.  My kids love the musical instruments and the vintage fire truck area.  Sometimes a balloon artist is there in classic Austin fashion.  I recommend packing a Target dollar section toy in your bag to avoid a meltdown if purchasing a balloon is not going to happen. A covered picnic table shelter is nearby for lunchtime or snacks.

  • Zilker Botanical Garden is a short 5-minute drive from the miniature train on Barton Springs Road. Garden hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Pay cash for admission into the garden $1 for ages 3-12 and $2 for Adults (Austin Residents) The best time of year to visit is during the Fairy Trail from the end of May to early August.   Check the website for maintenance week when the garden may be closed.  The hills can be slippery especially after rain.  Have the kids wear sneakers or shoes that are no-slip.

What is your favorite tip for visiting Austin’s

iconic Zilker park?

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