Looking for some fun things to do with your parents when they visit Austin? I got you! When your parents are in town and you’re talking about what to do, and they’re are saying “oh, we’re fine with anything,” they’re not telling the truth! Everyone has opinions. Next time your parents visit Austin, be prepared with a selection of activities to present to them so that you can soak up that valuable time and make some good memories.
Nate’s parents are from Colorado, and my parents are from Dallas, and we’ve had lots of practice hosting parents and creating schedules. Both of our sets of parents are super easy to get along with. They’re all foodies, wine/beer drinkers, active and athletic, and just really fun to be around. We love exploring new restaurants, being active by going hiking/swimming/biking, going to events, and visiting breweries, but I’ve found that it’s best to have some sort of general plan ahead of time. I like to have one food event (restaurant or brewery) and one activity (active or touristy, or something at home) planned per day, and then let the rest of the day flow freely.
My list of things to do with your parents when they visit Austin will give you lots of ideas from free activities in Austin to booze-filled adventures to day trips and more! You can splurge on nice restaurants and scheduled events, or you can fill the day with epic (free!) adventures, but there’s no need to sit around on the couch all morning wondering what you should do with them while they’re in town.
Here are a bunch of ideas of things to do with your parents when they’re in Austin:
– Go on a distillery tour (Still Austin, Treaty Oak Distilling, Garrison Brothers, and Deep Eddy are all great)
– Explore some of the outlying communities: San Marcos, Wimberley, Bastrop, Fredericksburg.
– See a movie at Alamo Drafthouse or Violet Crown (book tickets in advance so you can all sit together)
– Walk around UT Campus, and then go shopping/eating on The Drag
– Go to state park: Balcones National Wildlife, Refuge, Pedernales State Park, Enchanted Rock, Canyonland Refuge, Hamilton Pool (here’s all you need to know about visiting the pool), McKinney Roughs Nature Area, and McKinney Falls are all fantastic on a pretty day. (And if it’s raining, here are 23 things to do in Austin on a rainy day.)
– Watch a Round Rock Express baseball game
– Spend the afternoon at a winery. Infinite Monkey Theorem and Austin Winery are urban wineries in town where you can taste Texas grapes, and Becker Vineyards, William Chris, and Duchman Family Winery are all in the Hill Country and make for a gorgeous afternoon of touring/tasting.
– Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
– Watch the bats fly out from under the Congress bridge in the summer months. Here’s how to see the bats in Austin.
– Drive about 90 minutes south and take a day trip to San Antonio; if your parents are from out-of-state, the Riverwalk and The Alamo would be fun for them to see.
– Explore state capitol building. They offer free tours year-round.
– Go eat BBQ. If you go to a popular place like Franklin or La Barbecue, this can take up half of a day from waiting in line. (How long is the line at Franklin BBQ?
– Rent SUPs or kayaks in Lady Bird Lake.
– Get bbq at Salt Lick and then head to Driftwood Estate for a wine tasting afterward.
– Visit a local brewery. Here are 22 craft breweries in Austin for you to visit!
– Walk through the Botanical Gardens and then go to Chuys for Tex-Mex afterward
– Visit the Bullock museum and go to the IMAX. I mean, really….when was the last time you went to the IMAX?
– Challenge yoru parents to a competitive game of bowling at Highland Lanes (it’s even funnier if you’re all really bad at bowling…) and eat a burger at Lebowski’s Grill, located inside the bowling alley.
– Go on a taco crawl (here are the 18 best tacos in Austin – how many can you try in one afternoon?)
– Visit the famous Lockhart bbq trail. It includes 4 famous stops: Kreuz Market, Smitty’s Market, Black’s BBQ, and Chisholm. Can I be honest with you? These used to be the best BBQ places in Texas, but with Austin’s BBQ scene booming in the past decade, I don’t think they’re the best any more… But they’re still iconic, and it’s really fun to say that you’ve done the bbq trail with your parents.
– Spend a morning getting brunch on South Congress and then wandering the shops. Here’s a quick guide to SOCO.
– Go hiking. Here are 5 awesome hiking spots in Austin.
– Spend an evening two-stepping at the Broken Spoke. No idea how to two step? They offer lessons!
– Drive out to The Oasis to watch the sunset. (I don’t particularly love The Oasis restaurant, but The Oasis brewery is fantastic…they’ve won a couple GABF gold medals for their beer!)
– Spend an afternoon at Texas Keeper Cider. Last year, we drove down there, got flights of cider, and spent a few hours sitting outside and playing board games together (they have a bunch inside that you can borrow) and had a lovely time.
Hope that helps you plan some fun things to do with your parents when they visit Austin! Again, the key to planning a fun, memorable time is planning ahead and offering a few options to your parents, and then collectively choosing a couple (not too many!) activities for each day so that you’re not sitting around bored all day.
One last little tip, because this is something I’ve learned lately: be sure to plan at least a few things that aren’t food-related. Haha! I’m such a foodie, and Austin is a great foodie town, so most activities (festivals, day-trips, food trucks, bbq, tourist zones like Rainey, brewery tours, patios) involve food and it’s a bummer to only have food stuff planned for the day, and then no one is hungry. Right? So a nice hike, a walk around the lake, or an interactive activity like a museum is a nice way to break up the day.
Have fun in Austin! And check out my Austin Index if you’re looking for more activity ideas.