Some people are storm chasers, but in my family, we’re playground chasers. We’re not afraid of a longer trek, even to destinations outside of Austin proper, if it leads to a cool playground. We’re especially fans of playgrounds with unusual playscapes. Bonus points if it’s a more natural playscape, as those seem to hold our kids’ attention for longer.

We are truly spoiled here in Austin to have so many playgrounds that break the mold and encourage kids to explore, take risks, and develop their imaginations. If your kids are bored with the typical slide and swing setup at your local park, this list will inspire you to branch out.

Here are our favorite unique playgrounds in and around Austin.

Pease Park (Central Austin)

My kids love the innovative playscapes at Pease Park, which are more natural and open-ended and provide a challenge for a wide range of ages. You can also visit the Treehouse, a two-story, open-air structure with a huge net that is great for jumping, rolling, or just laying and cloud watching. The splash pad is simpler than some others in Austin, but the combination of rocks and water holds my 4-year-old’s attention for a long time.

Alliance Children’s Garden (Downtown Austin)

Every aspect of this playground was well designed in an innovative way. Even the slides are unique, including an extra-wide one for multiple kids to slide safely at the same time. My kids also love conquering the huge climbing net and playing hiding games in the tunnels under the astroturf mounds. The awesome view of the skyline is a bonus!

The Grove Signature Park (Central Austin)

This park is only a couple years old and boasts a not-so-typical playscape. My kids love challenging themselves on the balance beam/obstacle course and the climbing tower, which reminds me of a spaceship. The setting of the park is lovely too—the Grove is a mixed-use community with a beautiful pond that is reminiscent of Mueller.

Play for All Abilities Park (Round Rock)

My favorite part of this park is the racing track for bikes and scooters that is themed as an F1 pit stop. The miniature town also sets it apart, with working stop lights, a fire station, a grocery store, and a gas station. But perhaps the coolest part of this park is its accessibility, with ramps and transfer points for wheelchair users and plenty of elements for kids with sensory differences.

Joanne Land (Round Rock)

Renovated in 2017, Joanne Land reminds me of a (very safe!) ropes course. There are huge climbing towers with obstacles, slides, and tunnels, and much of it is surrounded by netting for safety. The standout is the Gravity Rail, which is kind of like a zipline but with up-and-down action for an extra thrill.

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park (North Austin)

This park was upgraded in the last few years, and it shows! The super-tall tube slide is a highlight; it’s so long my 4-year-old likes to bring a lantern into it to light her way down. Other cool features are the Fairy Pavilion, a former Fortlandia fort, and the nature play area.

The Kitty King Powell Lawn at Waterloo Greenway (Downtown Austin)

Photo via Facebook / Waterloo Greenway

This small playscape is nestled in the beautiful Waterloo Greenway, which winds along Waller Creek in downtown Austin. The setting alone makes it special, but the timber climbing structure and maze of giant grass are very cool too. The custom granite slide was designed to be comfortable even in the Texas heat.

Barkley Meadows Park (Del Valle)

Photo by Mikki S. via Yelp

We recently discovered this gem, which has a unique playscape that works great as an obstacle course or a “floor is lava” game. The setting is peaceful, with a pond nearby, shaded pecan groves, and access to Onion Creek.

Katherine Fleischer Park (North Austin)

The huge, green two-story playhouse/treehouse makes this playground well worth a visit. It’s full of fairy tale charm and definitely one of a kind.

Mary Elizabeth Branch Park (North Austin / Mueller)

Photo via Facebook / Mueller Austin

There are so many cool areas of this park. Kids can get into pretend play on the airplane structure, jump on the “ant hills,” explore the other climbing elements, or cool off in the big limestone splash pad. There is also a really unique little library structure where you can browse for new books.

The Children’s Park (San Marcos)

This accessible and inclusive park is worth the drive to San Marcos. With an extensive, maze-like wooden playground, there are places to hide and fun stuff to discover around every corner. The colorful murals at the entrance add to the uniqueness. On a hot day, it’s a short walk from the park to the San Marcos River if you want to cool off.

Creative Playscape in San Gabriel Park (Georgetown)

Photo via Facebook / Georgetown Parks and Recreation

Kids can follow the history of Georgetown at this playground, including Native American history, cows and wagon wheels to represent agricultural history, a train for the industrial period, and modern features like a ton of awesome slides.


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