Planning to head out to some of the events happening during SXSW? There’s a ton of free, family-friendly parties & showcases. (See our big list!). As fellow parents who have done this with our own kids, we wanted to share some of our tips and suggestions to help make the experience even better for you. Because truly, we just want you and the kids to have a great (meltdown-free) time!

10014954_779334888784261_1012527325_n–> Which events to choose? If you’re planning to take young children, you know that there are a gazillion things to consider when picking an event to attend.

  • Does it fall anywhere near nap time or meal time?
  • Is it something “all ages” or something that is truly focused on kids?
  • Is there room to run around?
  • Are there things for kids to do besides stand and listen to music?
  • Can I get in and out quickly if my child starts to fall apart?

Safe bets on kid-focused fun:

Do512 Family Picnic @ Midway Food Park
March 14, 3-7 p.m.
If you’re going to take the kids to any party during Spring Break & SXSW, we hope it’ll be ours! We’re so excited about our 3rd Annual Do512 Family Picnic, presented by Howdy Honda. Join us for a magic show, puppets, face painting, awesome food trucks and a great line-up of bands, including Mama K & the Shades and Kupira Marimba. FREE with RSVP!

5th Annual Music Showcase @ The Little Yoga House
March 13-17, 1 p.m.
For five days in a row the kids-only yoga studio will host a variety of interactive musicians for kids to play, sing and dance along to. In addition to music, the studio will have complimentary snacks, beverages and local health and wellness brands set-up with hands on displays for kids & parents. This will take place at the Clarksville location. Click here for the lineup.

Family Music Meltdown @ Pan Am Park
March 15, 3-6:30 p.m.
Check out this free family-friendly concert with a stellar lineup of artists such as El Tule, Strumero and Riders Against the Storm, as well as activities for the kids. FREE with RSVP.

— MyMusicRx + YOU WHO! Rock Show for Kids @ Fader Fort
March 16, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Presented by Toyota, this annual rock show for kids features music from Shakey Graves, Sara Watkins, Y La Bamba, Baskery, Sky Katz and Red Yarn.  100% of show proceeds will help support MyMusicRx’s music medicine programs for seriously ill kids across the country. Get tickets here for $25/adults (or $30/day of show). Click here to enter to win a VIP pack of tickets.

We Are One Kids @ TOMS Austin
March 16 – March 18
TOMS Austin is hosting 3 days of parties , A Festival Celebrating Freedom of Expression, with early afternoon (1-3 p.m.) events specifically geared towards kids, including fun activities like drumming, yoga, and special music performances. (Evening events start at 5 p.m. and feature live music and is open to all ages.) Be sure to RSVP for each event you wish to attend and fill out a waiver before you take the kids.

Willie is for Everyone @ Austin Scottish Rite Theatre
March 17, 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Enjoy a family-friendly tribute to Willie Nelson! Treat your family to live music, food, and lots of activities–including a professional hair-braiding station to honor Willie’s unique style. Tickets are $3 for adults and $1 for kids 12 & under, available online here.

Tacos & Tunes @ Whole Foods Domain
March 18, 8 – 11 a.m.
Bring the kids over to the Whole Foods Domain for Hat Creek’s annual event during SXSW. Arrive early, as Hat Creek will be giving away 1000 FREE breakfast taco and presenting live music.

World Music, World Stories @ Hill Country Science Mill
March 18, 1-6 p.m.
The Science Mill and OUTSIDE VOICE TV present a backyard concert that is free with admission to the Science Mill: under 3, free; ages 3-18, $8.50; adults, $10; seniors (65+) & military, $8. Click here for tickets.

Rock + Read @ The Domain
March 18, 2-5:30 p.m.
Head over to the lawn at the Domain to hear kid favorites such as the Que Pastas and Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam Band, enjoy storytime with local authors reading their own books, a craft-making station, and a trampoline for jumping, too. FREE with RSVP.

Makers, Technology & Food:

— For the bigger kids who are into technology, games & tinkering, you should check out all of the cool stuff happening at the official events such as SX Create & SXSW Gaming Expo. SX Create is free to attend with a SXSW Guest Pass. SXSW Gaming Expo requires a wristband for $25, which you can purchase online here.

— Be sure and swing by the Southbites Trailer Park if you have a chance. Satisfy all appetites with food from 13 different trailers, all in one place. Park is located at 604 Driskill St. and is open to SXSW registrants and the general public.

—> How are you going to get there? Of course you know this, but just as a reminder, you cannot easily drive into downtown Austin during SXSW. What a traffic headache! And parking? Oh man, no way. Click here for a map of street closures to see what we mean. (You can also see a list of street closures here, if easier to read.)

Use Cap Metro. Park outside of town and take the train. Ride bikes. Think about getting a ride with one of the many local rideshare companies. Check out this awesome, detailed Guide to Getting Around the Fest from Do512.

–> What are you going to bring with you? You don’t want to be weighed down by a huge bag, but you don’t want to forget anything important. Here are some basics to keep in mind when taking the kids anywhere.

  • sunscreen
  • hats
  • antibacterial wipes
  • tissues
  • water
  • blanket
  • mini first aid
  • jacket/rain poncho because Texas weather can be all over the place over the course of a day
  • ear plugs or sound-blocking headphones — In case the sound gets to be too much for the kids (or you)
  • Patience. For real. If/when the kids get tired, hungry, cranky, just go with the flow. Enjoy the experience together. Know that you won’t get to see ALL the bands that you might want, but you can still have an awesome time!
  • A back-up plan. (Related to patience.) If you get to a venue only to discover a HUGE line that isn’t doable, be ready for something else. Maybe you forgo the plans and head to your neighborhood park or ice cream shop or something that is an easy win.
  • A realistic plan. Don’t expect to be able to hit up several events in one day. You know your family and what they’re capable of but keep in mind that the city is flooded with people and this can be stressful and very stimulating for little ones, tiring them out pretty quickly.

10401942_10155772212100131_8523148123179830294_n–> Getting out without the kids? Heck yeah! Good for you. Check out Do512’s awesome list of SX parties and events for everything you want to know about best parties, RSVPs, bands to watch and more.

Have fun out there, y’all!