Laguna Gloria is a beautiful Italian style villa located on 18 acres of beautifully designed shorefront land. It’s the former home of Austin Museum of Art and currently one of two locations of The Contemporary Austin. Interactive art installations are brilliantly incorporated into the landscapes and there is no shortage of wildlife to observe and enjoy. The grounds are open to the public to park and explore for free. When I was there with my son, we encountered a bridal photo shoot! Whether you’re familiar with Laguna Gloria or not, thanks to the new Action Pack program, launched May 4, you have a whole new reason to visit and take the kids!

Laguna Gloria

As a homeschooler, I am always looking for fun, educational, enriching experiences to share with my first grader, Zack. So when the opportunity to try out the Laguna Gloria Action Pack experience to share with you guys presented itself, I was more than excited to accept. I’ll tell you all about our experience and give you an idea of what you can expect when you embark on your Action Pack adventure at Laguna Gloria.

The Blue Action Pack Backpack

Laguna Gloria Action Pack

Zack reading about the history of gargoyles in architecture before finding the gargoyle on the villa with binoculars.

Awesome guide with activities, educational materials and map.

Awesome guide with activities, educational materials and map.

Since we went on a day the museum was closed, our backpack was given to us upon arrival by our host, Abby. During museum hours, the packs can be checked out with your paid admission. Zack wasted no time trying on the blue backpack for size. We set out on the closest trail and found a shaded bench to sit on and inspect the contents of the Action Pack. The backpack contains everything needed for an art, architecture, history and wildlife-filled self-guided nature walk through the grounds: binoculars, a magnifying glass, a pack of Crayola crayons, an activity sketch pad, an assortment of pipe cleaners should your little one be inspired to create their own works of art, a copy of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree (so appropriate, and Zack, as The Boy, totally asked one of the trees if he could climb him), and a random piece of rope. There is also a flip fan guide with ideas for exploring and interacting with the grounds.

The Adventure

Zack said this was a sleeping dragon and we should be careful not to wake him.

Zack said this was a sleeping dragon and we should be careful not to wake him.

Zack's discovery, "the secret bridge".

Zack’s discovery, “the secret bridge”.

Zack found the explorer activity that taught him about the architectural structure, gargoyles, and followed the suggestion to use his binoculars to find the gargoyle on the villa. From that moment on, it was his adventure and I was just along for the ride. We explored Laguna Gloria for almost three hours. We saw a red cardinal, a whole family of geese, complete with a fuzzy baby gosling, lizards native to Texas and turtles. We observed dragonflies up close, watched bees climb into flowers in pursuit of nectar, watched ants up close with our magnifying glass and identified types of plants and spider webs thanks to the guides in our Action Pack. The peacocks weren’t out when we were there, but we hear there may be babies soon!

"Mom, am I the key?" His imagination ran wild the whole time we were there.

“Mom, am I the key?” His imagination ran wild the whole time we were there.

My favorite thing about our amazing day at Laguna Gloria was how chatty my son was. Most six year olds talk non-stop anyway (please tell me it’s not just mine), but he was so conversational. Not only did we talk about the art and animals we encountered on the trail, we reminisced about past trips and outings and he shared his fears about certain bugs and challenged himself (without my urging) to observe bees and spiders in their natural habitat up close, which he did fearlessly. The place is enchanting and the Action Pack totally brought out the adventurer and the artist in my son. Before we left, we found a shaded area to sit and drew a picture on our Action Pack sketch pad summarizing our experience that day:

Laguna Gloria

More photos and descriptions are on HomeGirlBlog and Facebook.

Laguna Gloria is enchanting all on it’s own, but the blue backpack adds a sense of exploration and adventure to the visit that totally wakes up a little one’s imagination. Go when you have plenty of time to explore. There are a limited number of Action Packs available for check-out, and they are only available during villa/museum hours.

Hours and Admission

Grounds Hours:

Monday–Saturday 9 am – 5 pm
Sunday 10 am – 5 pm

Museum Hours:
Closed Monday
Tuesday & Wednesday noon – 4 pm
Thursday – Sunday 10 am – 4 pm

Members, Children under 18 and Military families- Free
Adults $5
Seniors and Students over age 18 $3
Tuesdays are Free for all