Kids & Family
2017 Readers Poll
2017 Critics Picks

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Best Way to Jump-Start Your Kid's Stuntperson Career

If your kids are of the variety that, since birth, rolled, ran, and rode harder and faster than their tiny peers, training the little ninjas to do it safely isn't a terrible idea. Then again, parkour teaches efficient body movement, and that’s great for all ages. And what’s more fun than watching adults fling themselves off of high platforms onto foam mats?

BAM Academy
8222 N. Lamar
512/394-7434
www.thebamacademy.com

Best Team to Go Make Family Musicals

Wondering what Buford Biscuit and Tiny Scarecrow have been up to since the Emmy-winning series The Biscuit Brothers stopped production? They've turned to the stage and become the Rodgers & Hammerstein for the family theatre set. Allen Robertson (aka Buford) and Damon Brown (Tiny's "executive assistant") have been collaborating on musical adaptations of classic tales – Stone Soup, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, and The Elves and the Shoemaker so far – putting contemporary spins on them with smarts, wit, catchy tunes, and even a shot of Hamilton rap, and captivating audiences of all ages. We wouldn't miss one of their shows at Summer Stock Austin. We just wish they were on DVD so we could watch them over and over.

(l-r): David Peña, Megan Hudson, and Mariela Denson performing Summer Stock Austin's A Shoe Story

Photo by Jason Stout

Best Race to Be a Hero

There’s no better place to see superhero enthusiasts of all ages running while costumed than this annual race. With gear ranging from Hollywood-level latex to homemade capes, plus bounce houses and post-race treats from beloved local vendors, fundraising for an org that advocates for children who’ve been abused or neglected is really the best way to spend a September morning. Plus, the real-life Batmobile means seeing is believing.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Travis County
7701 N. Lamar #301
512/459-2272
www.casatravis.org

Best "My Other Baby Is a Bunny" Resource

In addition to being endearing and affectionate companions, house rabbits also make exceptional pets to teach your kids how to become responsible caretakers. This nonprofit, run completely by volunteers, has at any given time more than 100 furry friends that need loving homes. With names like Jasper, Wozzy, and Bun-oncé, you're sure to find the bunny best suited for snuggles and vegetable consumption, and the staff offers help in education and training to make sure your human and fur babies get off on the right foot.

House Rabbit Resource Network
PO Box 2381, Pflugerville, TX 78691
Pflugerville
512/444-3277
www.rabbitresource.org

photo by John Leach

Jana Birchum

Best Brunch Kids' Show

Already kid-friendly all week long – dog- and yogi-friendly, too! – the ample outdoor seating at Cherrywood Coffeehouse allows for plenty of space for kids to run around, and the menu offers plenty of all-ages enticing food. But it's on the weekend that the real childhood spirit emerges. At brunch time every Saturday and Sunday, Cherrywood offers live children's music for every tiny dancer in your life to move and groove while you leisurely eat a taco or two.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse
1400 E. 38th 1⁄2
512/538-1991
www.cherrywoodcoffeehouse.com

Best Way to Get Kids to Say "Cheese"

More than just teaching kids the basics of using a camera, Shutter Bugs helps the budding photographer develop their own vision. Pro picture-taker and father of two Jon Chamberlain teaches three age groups (5-8, 9-12, and 13 & up) in his South Austin studio.

Shutter Bugs
2311 Thornton
www.shutterbugsatx.com

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Photo by Bobby Scheidemann

Best Horn Blowing

Benefiting SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone) at the Austin Children’s Shelter, May’s annual convergence of city vehicles and the demographic fascinated by them remains a show, tell, and touch for all ages. Clamber aboard a school bus, or climb in the back of an ambulance or APD patrol car. Backhoes, fire engines, cranes – you name it – big and small. Better still, when the fam needs a break from the stationary vehicular ride-alongs, all those mounted Air Force jets glimpsed off MoPac are there for closer inspection. Be warned, however: If you’re adverse to horns, better skip it, because up from the fields of Camp Mabry rises a honking symphony to make yearly brass gathering Honk!TX sound like a kazoo festival.

The SAFE Alliance
4800 Manor Rd., Bldg. A
512/267-7233
www.safeaustin.org

Best LemonAID Stand

When Mother Nature gives you lemons, you make lemonade. So when Hurricane Harvey devastated Rylee Dill's hometown of Corpus Christi, she and her best friend Eva Sanderson set up shop at the entrance to the Greenbelt. In just two days, their operation raised over $400, which the fifth graders donated to hurricane relief efforts.

image via mtplaymore.com

Best Playscape To Let Kids Be Gerbils

When they're scaling the walls at home, save your brain and take the little rascals to weave through a floor-to-ceiling gerbil cage. The largest indoor playground in Central Texas boasts a playscape big enough to fill a 3,000-square-foot house, a huge arcade, a restaurant, and live reptile shows on Wednesdays. Parents can crawl around, too, or just savor deep breaths in the central seating area.

Mt. Playmore
13609 N. I-35
512/989-8886
www.mtplaymore.com

Best Dog

He’s held over 340 different job titles at the Chronicle (see staff box), but still finds time to host an annual SXSW party and maintain an active social media presence. No others need apply.

Hank the Chrondog
www.fb.com/hankthechrondog
www.instagram.com/tripawhank/
www.austinchronicle.com/day-party/

photo by Jessica Nesbitt

Image via facebook

Best Upsizing

Our 3-year-old rode tall in his mother’s arms at the swag stock exchange and ordered decisively: Scooby-Doo. He choked, knew it within days, not exactly preferring daddy’s plush Grave Digger pillow, however. A birthday Zombie proved corrective, and the Randall’s on 38th stocks minis. Because even though his ’rents have taken in Sade, the Gorillaz, and Fleetwood Mac at the Erwin Center, every spring’s Monster Truck Jam now headlines. A youthful production from its charismatic drivers to the local arena crew, the death-defying feats over multiple race heats and configurations – megas and their dune buggy counterparts – deliver every promise those radio ads of your childhood (“Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!”) bellowed. Collect ’em all come April 21-22, 2018.

Frank Erwin Center
1701 Red River
512/471-7744
www.uterwincenter.com

 
Critics: Food & Drink
Critics: Nightlife