Five Austin Activities for the Whole Family

Got a house full of guests this holiday? Here’s how to entertain ’em.

Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin installation at the Blanton Museum of Art (Photo by John Anderson)

The fam’s in town for the holidays, which means you must act as their own personal tour guide. Here are five things to do with the whole crew this winter season.

Cruise Around Downtown

Sightseeing in the heart of the city is fun on its own, but sightseeing on wheels … that’s a whole different story. Rent a bike from an Austin B-cycle station or grab one of those damn electric scooters off the sidewalk and zip your way through the city streets. Get a quick taste of Sixth, swing by the Paramount Theatre’s vintage marquee, and – if you’re not on a scooter – hop on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail for a stunning view of Lady Bird Lake.

Book It to BookPeople

This local institution – the largest independent bookstore in Texas and perennially voted the best in Austin by Chronicle readers – is a must-visit for any lover of the literary. Bright and colorful books on most any topic fill the wonderfully organized shelves, which are accentuated by handwritten, illustrated recommendations from staff members. The second floor of the two-story building boasts a charming children’s corner, while the first hosts a coffee shop where you can cozy up with a cup of joe and your latest find. It’s also a great place to pick up last-minute gifts and kitschy stocking stuffers.

A Stroll Down South Congress Avenue

A necessary stop for any tour of Austin, a stroll down SoCo is enjoyable for visitors and residents alike. Your family can take photos with the simple yet sweet “i love you so much” mural and the iconic Austin Motel sign, and shop for souvenirs at one of the many eclectic gift shops (check out Parts & Labour, a personal favorite, for cool prints and quirky pins). Then dine on some quintessentially Austin grub at local staples Home Slice Pizza and Amy’s Ice Creams.

Get Your Culture Fix at the Blanton Museum of Art

Located on the UT campus, the Blanton’s lauded and extensive collection includes works in everything from the Italian Renaissance to the Post-Minimalist era. Recently installed outside is Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, a stripped-down, igloo-like building featuring stained glass windows that beautifully light up the simple interior. And if you’re still in the mood for culture, you’re within walking distance of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (home to the largest IMAX screen in Texas) and the Harry Ransom Center, a research library and museum that hosts regular exhibitions drawn from its archives.

Work Off the Holiday Feasting With a Hike

If you’ve somehow exhausted the city limits and are itching to get out of town for a while, take your family on a day trip to a nearby state park such as McKinney Falls or Pedernales Falls for some fresh air. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department annually hosts “First Day Hikes,” guided hikes on Jan. 1, perfect for those of you with “Be more active” and “Get in touch with nature” on your list of New Year’s resolutions.

Remember: Regular hours might be affected by the holidays – call ahead if you’re planning a trip.

Still looking for activity ideas? Check out our daily events calendar for hundreds of listings in and around Austin.

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holidays, BookPeople, Hike & Bike Trail, SoCo, Parts & Labour, Home Slice, Amy's, Blanton Museum of Art, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Harry Ransom Center, First Day Hike

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