Preschoolers are so much fun to take on family outings! At this stage, kids are so eager to learn and explore, they can be super silly and joyful to pal around with, and they have boundless energy to get out and go. Along with our friends at Bright Horizons — who are experts in childcare and enriching young, curious minds — we put together this list of Best Places for Preschoolers in the Austin area. There’s so much to see and do for some fun adventures around town with your children!

Parks & Playgrounds
While this might be an obvious place to start, we know that you simply can’t beat the ease and satisfaction of a few hours running around a fun playground. Bonus that it’s free fun! But we want to point out that there are so many awesome parks in the Austin area. While you may have a neighborhood favorite, it’s great fun to branch out and try something new to you. We can’t say enough great things about the Play for All Park in Round Rock. And you can’t beat the antique fire truck at Zilker Park or zooming around on the Zilker Zephyr mini-train. (Read about our experience on the train.) And take a look at this list of playgrounds for some ideas of places you haven’t been before.

Photo from the @roundrock Facebook page

Austin Nature and Science Center
One of our go-to spots for free fun is the Austin Nature & Science Center (ANSC), located on the western edge of Zilker Park. It appeals to all ages, from toddlers to adults, and it’s a great place to take the family and visitors to get out for nature walks, see wildlife, explore fossils and more. Plus, it’s open year-round and always free! Preschoolers can spend hours in the Dino Pit and investigate artifacts in the Naturalist Workshop. Read all about it.

Photo by Heidi O.

Thinkery offers a guaranteed good time! Austin’s favorite museum for children, Thinkery offers a place to play and explore science themes, launch rockets, go shopping in a pretend farmer’s market, enjoy water play, painting, crafts, climb on their ultra-cool outdoor playscape, and even experiment in their kitchen. Visit Thinkery’s calendar of events to help you plan your visit.

Photo from Thinkery’s Facebook page

Austin Zoo
Meet the animals and walk the trails at Austin Zoo! Did you know that the Austin Zoo is a rescue and rehabilitation zoo? Their mission is to assist animals in need, which is a happy cause to support. Plus, kids just love spying all of the feathered and furry creatures big and small. The zoo also features a fun mini-train ride and petting zoo in which you can feed animals. Visit the zoo’s website to check  the zookeepers daily schedule of training and enrichment activities before you go.

Photo from the Austin Zoo’s Facebook page

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Kids of all ages have had a blast exploring and playing in the Luci and Ian Family Garden. Go for nature walks, swing in giant swings, look for butterflies and view all sorts of beautiful native plants. Take note that if you go this winter, your kiddos will love the current Fortlandia exhibit where they can play in GIANT FORTS! Read more info…

Photo by Roger Ho

Mayfield Park
Mayfield often tops the lists of best parks in Austin with its picturesque gardens full of ponds to spy koi and turtles, and it’s also home to many beautiful and exotic peacocks. But behind the gardens, you’ll find are short hiking trails perfect for a great starter-hike location for little legs. Read more…

Photo by Hannah B. from the Keep Austin Thankful Photo Contest

Austin’s Central Library
Named one of TIME Magazine’s 2018 World’s Greatest Places, the downtown library is quite a cool building. It features six floors full of natural sunlight, a variety of cool reading nooks, rows and rows of reading materials, technology, art and more! The children’s porch is completely screened in for safety, with seating for over 60 kids and their grown-ups to read and enjoy the outdoors. Kids can even check out binoculars from the Children’s Information Desk to use as they look out over the city and the lake. Click here to view the events calendar for storytimes and events.

Photo by Roger Ho

Indoor Fun Centers
If you want to let the kids bounce around indoors, there are PLENTY of great spots in the Austin area to choose from. Our own preschoolers have been known to beg to go to Mt. PlaymoreCatch Air, and Epic Fun, and Little Land Play Gym for some playtime (in which they won’t have a fear of getting trampled by big kids). We also think Toybrary Austin has a sweet playroom and great events for young children. For something for your preschoolers who literally love to climb the walls, check out Austin Bouldering Project and Crux Climbing Center‘s children’s areas. Click here for even more indoor play places to consider.

Photo from Mt. Playmore

— Looking for a Preschool Program for Your Child? We know it can be tough to find just the right fit. Bright Horizons has programs in Austin, West Lake Hills, and the surrounding area, and they have kindly offered these for tips for finding the right preschool for your child’s needs. Bright Horizons invites you to go see for yourself why they offer such a great place for your preschooler to learn, explore, and get ready for school! Take a FREE tour during one of their upcoming Open House events taking place Jan. 22 and then Feb. 4-8. Click here for the Open House schedule and details.

Photo from Bright Horizons

At each tour, you can…

  • Discover how Early Education that paves the way to elementary school
  • Explore preschool classrooms and see Signature Practices in action
  • Learn more about their play-based approach to curriculum and learning
  • Meet their engaging preschool teachers

Learn more about the Bright Horizons programs in the Austin area and click here to find a location close to you!