Downtown Austin and the Austin Children’s Museum

Kelsey P. Gonzalez October 25, 2010 3 Comments

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Austin Children's Museum TexasOn day one of our eight-day trip to Austin, TX, we loaded up our three-year old son and three-month old daughter and headed for the city’s downtown.  Our plan was to visit the Austin Children’s Museum (ACM) located on the corner of 2nd and Colorado Street.  From the information my husband found before leaving for our vacation, it looked like something our son would really enjoy.  With a number of restaurants and shops in the 2nd Street District where the museum is located, we figured we’d make a day of it.  

We were fortunate on our little day trip to be able to leave our car in the parking structure of a family member’s office because parking in downtown Austin can be a hassle.  Generally you’re forced to park either in a metered spot on the street or in a paid parking structure or lot.  Both of these options can take you several blocks away from your destination so you can end up having quite a walk.  Admission to the Austin Children’s Museum will provide you with a somewhat discounted rate at certain parking garages so be sure to check out their website (www.austinkids.org) for details before you visit.  On this occasion it was nice to be spared the frustration of finding a parking spot and our short walk to the Children’s Museum gave us a chance to look around a bit.  

Mexic-Arte Museum Austin

Photo courtesy of mexic-artemuseum.org.

 

We were sidetracked almost immediately by a museum we stumbled across about a block from the ACM.  Called the Mexic-Arte Museum, it featured Mexican/Mexican-American fine art and looked so interesting we couldn’t help but stop for a minute to check it out.  The art on display was created by Latino artists from all over Mexico, Central and South America, and the United States.  Although unfortunately, we didn’t have time to enjoy all of the exhibits, we did go through the gift shop which had a variety of items both on display and for sale including authentic clothing, art work, jewelry, and pottery.  The art we could glimpse on the other side of the shop looked truly beautiful and we plan to explore it more fully on our next trip to Austin.  

Downtown Austin Texas Art

Our son in front of his favorite piece of art in downtown Austin, TX.

 

As we left the Mexic-Arte Museum and continued to the ACM, we passed a number of large street sculptures created by local artists.  Our son’s favorite was a giant, brightly painted guitar.  Although it took us a couple minutes to drag him away from it, he was quickly distracted once we entered the doors of the Children’s Museum.  The first thing he saw as we walked in was a huge wooden train table and miniature city.  It was just his size and he loved playing with all the other kids gathered around it!   

Austin Children's Museum Train Table

Our son playing at the train table at the Austin Children's Museum.

 

When he was finally ready to move on, we headed upstairs to check out the attractions there.  On the second floor we found a room full of large, wooden blocks along with bright orange safety vests and hard hats.   

Austin Children's Museum Construction Worker

Our son dressed up as a construction worker at the Austin Children's Museum.

 

Our son enjoyed dressing like a construction worker and playing with the blocks for a while before dragging us into another room where he got to operate a miniature crane and bulldozer.  Then we were off to the “Tinkerer’s Workshop.”  Though this area was designed for children a little older than our son, he still enjoyed building his own car and racing it down a ramp, making a parachute drop, and creating his own robot out of cardboard and brads (all with the help of daddy of course)!  

After spending well over an hour on the second floor, we eventually found our way downstairs again and began to wander through the rest of the exhibits.  On the first floor we found a series of hands-on displays centered on motion, a little farm (The “Rising Star Ranch” designed for children under two) and the miniature “Global City.” This last exhibit seemed to be the most popular with the kids.  Our son quickly joined in the play and was soon dressed in an apron, serving us food in the little kitchen.  Then he ‘worked’ the cash register in the grocery store before heading to the veterinarian’s office to help make all the (stuffed) animals feel better.  He loved dressing up in all the different rooms and interacting with the other children as they played too!   

Austin Children's Museum Kitchen of Global City

Our son playing in the kitchen of the "Global City" at the Austin Children's Museum.

 

Once he found the small train station above the grocery store though, he was hooked.  A real train was running around the track, passing through the station and through a make-believe countryside before emerging on a raised platform over the exhibit floor.  He spent the rest of the time at the museum watching its progress and running along beside it for as long as he was able!  He enjoyed his day at the museum so much that even now that we’re home again, he still talks about wanting to go back and this time, taking grandma and grandpa too!  He was so worn out by the time we left that we barely kept him awake for our lunch at a little outdoor café around the corner.  He did perk up a bit when he got to throw bread crumbs to the waiting birds, but he was asleep almost as soon as we put him in his car seat for the drive home.  

Austin Children's Museum Family

My husband and son at the Austin Children's Museum.

 

Now for a few museum tips…  The Austin Children’s Museum is quite popular and can get very busy.  For parents who don’t want to fight through crowds of school-age children on field trips and tours, the museum does offer “off” days and times when there are no tours scheduled.  Also, while there is a storage rack with hangers for diaper bags and purses just off the museum’s entry way, there are no lockers so be careful of what you leave unattended.  Though there is room for stroller parking beneath this rack, space is limited so you might not get a spot if it’s crowded; I wore my three-month old in a front pack all day instead and she seemed quite content!  Finally, the museum offers a variety of story times and guided activities each day of the week; a calendar of these events can be found on their website.   

For more information on the Austin Children’s Museum including hours, pricing, exhibits, and activities, please visit their website at www.austinkids.org.

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avatarAbout the Author:

Kelsey lives in Southern Utah with her husband, their 3-year old son, and their newborn daughter. They enjoy the adventure of exploring new places together and love building memories through family travel.

Tags: Reviews, Travel Excursions
3 Comments to “Downtown Austin and the Austin Children’s Museum”
  1. avatar San Antonio Texas - The River Walk and the Alamo says:

    [...] [...]

  2. avatar Leanne Birchfield says:

    Was the “Rising Star Ranch” something you would expect a 1 year old to enjoy, or get bored with quickly? My daughter is about to turn one, and we were thinking of having her first birthday party there.

    • avatar Kelsey P. Gonzalez says:

      Hi Leanne,

      From my experience at the museum, the Rising Star Ranch is a great place for a one-year old to play and explore! It’s an area specially designed for children two and under which means they won’t get run over by the older kids. Just inside the entrance to the museum there’s also a large train table that little ones love so that might be fun too. It looks like most of the birthday parties last about an hour and half and I think there would be plenty to keep a one-year old and friends occupied during that time. The whole museum was a great experience; my son loved it!

      Hope your daughter has a wonderful First Birthday! Have fun!

      Kelsey