With its funky and eclectic arts scene, legendary live music venues and famous bat population, Austin, Texas is a hip, modern city on the rise. Austin's cool factor doesn't take away from its family-friendly atmosphere either, as children's attractions can be found in nearly every part of the city. If you are planning your toddler's next birthday party, many of Austin's kid-friendly locations are ideal venues, depending on what activities your child is most interested in.
Major Children's Attractions
Austin Children's Museum, austinkids.org, features more than 12,000-square feet of educational, interactive exhibits for children of all ages. Many of the exhibits and play spaces are toddler-friendly, including the Rising Star Ranch room for children younger than 2, which includes soft toys and a toddler-sized Texas ranch house and barn. The museum offers birthday-party packages that include admission, a private party space and assistant, invitations and a t-shirt for the birthday child. For the animal-loving tot, celebrate her birthday at the Austin Zoo, austinzoo.org, where she can see exotic and native wild animals such as lions, monkeys, bears and foxes. It also features a train ride and farm animals that the kids can feed. The zoo offers picnic areas for birthday parties that you can rent, allowing you to bring in your own decorations, food and birthday cake for the party.
Celebrate your toddler's birthday at Zilker Park, one of the premiere, kid-friendly parks in the heart of the city. The 351-acre park includes plenty of picnic tables, open green spaces for play and a large playground area with three different play areas, including one for toddlers. Take the kids for a ride on the Zilker Zephyr train, a small train that takes passengers around the park. Zilker Park is also home to the Austin Nature & Science Center, which offers programs for kids of all ages to teach them about nature, animals and the environment. The nature center includes exhibits of local wildlife, as well as a large Dino Pit, where kids can explore and dig for fossils. The center offers themed birthday parties for kids 4 and older, but you can still enjoy the center's attractions with your toddler bunch, then later celebrate under one of the picnic pavilions.
Indoor Play Centers
Play centers offer myriad play options for toddlers, and Austin has plenty to choose from. One place to check out is Austin Stay N Play, austinstaynplay.com, run by certified teachers, offering mommy-and-me classes, art classes and open play for infants, toddler and preschoolers. Its party package includes crafts related to the theme of your choice, decorations, games and music activities. Another place to consider is Safari Champ in the Austin suburb of Round Rock, which features a giant jungle-themed playscape with multiple levels, slides and climbing apparatuses. It also features a separate toddler area so that little ones can play safely on smaller-sized play features. The center also features a cafe offering pizza, sandwiches and even coffee for the parents. You can choose from several themed party packages, which include a party space, food, tableware, decorations, animal character visits and organized games.
Arts and Crafts
The Art Garage is a walk-in art studio where kids of all ages can paint pottery and make clay creations. It offers themed birthday parties based on your child's age, but you can also customize your own art party. Party activities for toddlers include making and painting handprint tiles. You can also check out Lupine Lane, a creative enrichment center for everyone from toddlers to adults. Toddlers can participate in art, movement and cooking classes. Art party activities for toddlers include decorating picture frames, painting canvas totes and splatter painting. You can also opt for a cooking-themed party. Optional party additions include a customized cake, pinata and decorations.