Kids & Family
2022 Readers Poll
2022 Critics Picks

photo by Zeke Barbaro

Best Homegrown Hangout

Situated in a former pharmacy in the Crestview Shopping Center, Violet Crown Clubhouse wasted no time in establishing itself as a neighborhood hub. From Andy K’s donuts and coffee on weekend mornings to kid-pleasing ice cream and video games to the beer and frosé for moms and dads, the Clubhouse meets folks where they are at every stage of life. Add to that a broad range of events like yoga, drag queen game nights, live music, and block parties and an owner/operator who lives right around the corner, and you’ve got the Platonic ideal of the perfect hangout for all neighbors.

Best Way to Inspire Picky Eaters

Look, we were kids once upon a time, and we remember how much we loved neon colors and flavors that tasted like neon, too. Subtlety is not the province of youth. But lollipops are, and that’s where Lollies by Leah comes in. Sold online in singles or a monthly subscription box, these small-batch, prettily packaged confections come in gently sophisticated flavors like yuzu coconut cheesecake, salted caramel, and lavender Earl Grey. A low-entry way for your tyke to try out new flavors and expand their palate? There’s a lot to lick like about that.

image via

image courtesy of

Best Premium Playground

Heaven-sent to babysitters, birthday parties, and beaming broods, Butler Park’s epic playscape – with its tunneled Hobbit hills, bouncy turf, musical installations, and slides wide enough for a whole gang of kiddos – feels like it should cost $20 admission, but it’s free. The four-section, 2-acre park, with a sweet view of the Austin skyline, has features fit for crawlers and climbers. The latter will especially enjoy the mini rock wall and the playground’s centerpiece: a tall, spiderwebby structure of blue rope that feels like Mount Everest for 5-year-olds.

Alliance Children's Garden
1000 Barton Springs Rd.

Best Spot for Beers, Bites, and Beach Soccer

Okay, we’re burying this in the family section because at least it’ll slow the inevitable invasion of mule-chugging jugheads from taking over Sunday brunch hours, but the Pitch is the best place to fútbol-and-chill in the entire region (maybe the entire state). Housed on the campus of Austin FC’s training facilities in Northwest Austin, the Pitch features four restaurants ranging from vermicelli bowls to fajitas to burgers, two bars, and a coffeehouse. But what makes the Pitch positively glorious is its dedication to he Beautiful Game on match days: plenty of sound-on screens in a variety of mood-fitting seating arrangements both indoors and out, plus an easily viewable sand pit for your little Lewandowsklings to toil around in with a soccer ball while you order cold beer right from your phone.

The Pitch
13000 Harris Ridge Blvd.

photo by John Anderson

photo by Jana Birchum

Best Tech & Media Mentors

As it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, the nonprofit org hasn’t let up on its mission to empower girls with technology and media mentorship and education, with programs like Code Chica guiding participants through web design and coding and Media Chica covering storytelling and journalism. Latinitas provides a wealth of opportunities all year between the afterschool club, summer camps, workshops, and the online community and magazine, meaning its team of professional mentors has passed the torch to countless members of the next generation.

1023 Springdale Rd. Bldg. 2C

Best Reason to Go Back to the Library

It stands to reason that library late fees would encourage readers to get their books back on time. Recent studies proved that assumption false, and the Austin Public Library listened to the science. And just like that, in February of this year, late fees were gone. If you damage or lose a book, that's still gonna cost you, but being a little late won't. Also, if you already have fines, the policy changes are not retroactive, so you still have to pay those before you check something else out. But all you slow readers out there can take a breath and just enjoy one of the city's finest services.

photo by Jana Birchum


Best Snowball's Chance in Texas

Just bowled 10 frames at Westgate Lanes and need a cool down? Conveniently parked outside is Rahul Kahol's island-themed shaved ice truck, blasting out cheery Hawaiian music and heat-busting deliciousness. Flavors range from traditional (we think a black cherry and blue coconut combo can't be beat) to gourmet (including Moscow mule, mango lassi, and Mexican rice pudding). Shaved Ice Island is a moveable feast: A truck is available to cater birthday parties and other events. For an additional fee you can add on a snowball fight, with four buckets of snowballs and a tray of loose snow to make your own icy ammo.

Shaved Ice Island
2701 W. William Cannon

Best Kid-Friendly Place to Sneak in a Li’l Parental R&R

Being a parent is hard. Treat yourself to a soothing break – and avoid the headache of finding a sitter first – at the criminally underrecognized West China Tea House off I-35. Sample a wide variety of teas served in the gong fu cha style of Chinese tea ceremony while your young’uns enjoy lounging on floor pillows and spying the occasional pet snake. Second Saturdays bring the monthly CommuniTEA, a donation-based event where “spontaneous music, dance, and collaborative expression are standard occurrences”; Sundays, meanwhile, are all about education, with gong fu cha classes offered for every level of expertise. But no matter when you go, West China Tea promises you’ll leave with newfound knowledge of the rich culture and ceremony of Chinese tea.

West China Tea House
4706 N. I-35

photo by John Anderson

photo by Jana Birchum

Best Brewery to Burn Off Kiddos' Vast Reserves of Energy

A parent’s ideal brewery includes three things: good beer, food that kids will eat, and most important of all, some kind of outdoor space where their kids can burn off energy and return home slightly more docile. South Austin’s Meanwhile Brewing has earned our favor for excelling in all three areas. They brew one of the best Pilsners in town; have food trucks offering barbecue, tacos, and pizza (plain cheese available for the picky eaters); and a vast backyard with two playscapes where the little ones can run their hearts out. If that doesn’t tire them out, parents can grab an iced coffee on the way out to refuel.

Meanwhile Brewing Co.
3901 Promontory Point

Best Place to Meet Your Baby

Austin Area Birthing Center has been helping Austin moms give birth with midwives since 1987. Three decades later, their North and South locations’ birthing rooms are equipped with tubs, stand-up showers, and stockpiles of birthing tools such as stools, bungee-style cords, and yoga balls of all sizes. The largest Texas employer of midwives with master’s degrees, AABC prioritizes immediate skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby. The team also offers mother-focused aftercare in the days and weeks following birth.

Austin Area Birthing Center
4100 Duval Rd., Bldg. 2 #101, 512/346-3224
2500 W. William Cannon #503, 512/243-8066

photo by Austin Sanders

Best Neighborhood Park With a Big Slide

The recently renovated Balcones District Park in Northwest Austin has been a boon for parents in the area. It has two playscapes, both of which have unique features fun for kids of all ages. Older kids will love the Big Slide. As they say, the journey is the destination, and making the climb to the top of the slide is great for building up kids’ courage. But who are we kidding? The real thrill here is in descending a Truly. Big. Slide.

Balcones District Park
12017 Amherst

Critics: Arts & Entertainment
Critics: Nightlife

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