Travel With Kids: Austin

Austin is a tree-lined city, alive and bustling with young people (I read somewhere that the average age is 34).

Zilker Park is probably the most "famous" park in Austin...and for good reason. It's HUGE and features great playscapes, a miniature train, a sculpture garden, and running paths.

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We also spent an afternoon at City Park, adjacent to Lake Travis. We walked along the path, touched the shimmering water, and went sliding down tall slides. You'll notice our 4-year-old's wounds. She fell off the top of a picnic table and face-planted the cement at our campground one afternoon. (Scared me to death).

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As soon as I heard that Whole Foods Market was based in Austin, TX, I e-mailed and asked for a tour of the gigantic flagship store (That's what you would do too, right? Tim thought it was a little weird that we were touring a grocery store). Parking was a bit of a nightmare, but it really was a site to behold. Incredible selection...delectable eye candy for foodies...plus, free fruit for kids at the entrance (every grocery story ought to do something similar).

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Central Market, a grocer chain that is local to Texas, has a similar feel to Whole Foods. Beautiful displays...delicious food...a giant playscape. Don't you think all grocery stores should have a restaurant and playground on-site?

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I also had tea at The Steeping Room with a classmate from high school (over ten years ago). The spiced apricot scone I had there was the best I've ever tasted.

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Have you ever been to Austin? What did you like/dislike about it?

Also - do you ever shop at Whole Foods? Why or why not?

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28 comments on “Travel With Kids: Austin”

  1. I love the playgrounds at Central Market stores! And glad you enjoyed Zilker Park. I grew up in Austin so I have a definite fondness for that area.

    Now where is your feature post on Lafayette?? (I tease...) Hopefully you can come back someday and enjoy some wonderful Cajun food and hospitality! :)

    1. I know! The CM playscape is seriously awesome...and so safe too! It was nice to be able to enjoy lunch, while watching the girls play.

      We only stayed in Lafayette overnight so we didn't really get to "experience" the area. What are your favorite kid-friendly parks and attractions there?

    1. Me too...although I'll take cookies over nothing (for sure). Our girls always look forward to stopping at the bakery for a cookie at Safeway and Fry's.

  2. I loved Austin when I visited there. I would love a chance to spend more time there. We call whole foods "whole paycheck". It is great but too expensive. We have a store called central market here in WA that sounds just like the one you visited. I looked at the website but it doesn't look like they are linked. Interesting though, maybe a franchise or something?

    1. "Whole paycheck." Ha - that is very clever (and kind-of true). ;)

      I wonder if it is a franchise. When we eventually settle down somewhere, I'd love to have a Central Market or WFM near my house! So many fresh, delicious foods to choose from!

  3. I think those are wonderful ideas. Do all Whole Foods have free fruit?

    Sorry about the face plant. I swear when my son gets hurt, I physically feel his pain. I'm glad she didn't break her glasses.

    1. Good question. I don't know the answer. I'm going to tweet WFM right now to ask them.

      Her glasses actually were scratched up a little bit from the fall. We may need to get her a new pair soon.

  4. We always take visitors to the grocery store as one of our tourist stops. I don't travel much but always find the differences in grocery stores one of the most interesting parts (in Japan the seafood on ice was still alive!)

    We don't have whole foods here yet but since we get one veggies delivered from a local farm I don't know that U see the appeal.

    That park looks like a lot of fun, especially the train. Really enjoying traveling vicariously through your column.

  5. So glad you enjoyed Austin, Steph. Even with a tumble and near-heart-attack! I love Whole Foods and Central Market - both are great. Austin has such a cool vibe. it's too bad you couldn't be there during SXSW - the music doesn't get much better!

  6. My husband has been to Austin, but I have not. I have heard great things though, such as they offer free (good) health insurance to musicians because music brings in so much money to the city! That alone has tempted me several times to move there...

    I do like whole foods, but it's a bit pricey for us.

  7. Austin sounds like a great city to raise a family. Hmmmm. Anyway, I love Whole Foods. It's a great place to shop for kiddos that have food allergies.

  8. My parents live about 45 minutes from Austin in Killeen, TX...Home to Ft. Hood the largest military base in the nation. Not sure how long you guys will be there...but I'm sure there is ample opportunity to serve military families in that area...there is always need in that area.

    I never really shop at whole foods because it's so expensive!

    1. I hear you! Whole Foods is expensive...probably too expensive for our weekly grocery shopping. I do love the brand's organic, natural, and gourmet food selections though. I appreciate the high standards they set for what is sold in their stores.

  9. Oh, your poor girl! And, you poor mama! That would have scared me to death too.
    Whole Foods looks gorgeous, but there's not one close enough to us. Wish there was!

  10. I LOVE Austin! I went to college at The University of Texas, and while I was there, I thought Austin was going to be my "forever city". Upon graduation, my husband got a job back in Houston (where we're from) and now we're here. I'm dreaming of a weekend getaway to Austin sometime soon!

    1. Austin IS a fun city - active, young, alive, bustling. Plus, there are lots of great parks there!

      My one hesitation: the humidity in the summers. How miserable is it on a scale from 1 to 10? Tell it to me straight. ;)

  11. Oh that poor baby's owies!!!! I'd imagine you were terrified. It looks like it was painful!

    I've never been to Texas and have never shopped at Whole Foods, but would like to do both. Why? Honestly? I'd love to see where one of my favorite presidents was raised, yes that is George W., and I like eating healthy whole foods!

    How fun to visit with a classmate! I'm sure it was a great time.

    PS - You've mentioned that you took only a few shirts with you - your orange one is my favorite. It looks fabulous on you!

  12. We went to Austin once when we lived in San Antonio. We went to Zilker park and the botanical gardens across the street.

    We do shop at Whole Foods. There isn't one that close (about 30 minutes away), but it is the only place to get a good amount of stuff organic. Our local grocery store doesn't have a very good selection and I try to at least buy the dirty dozen fruits and veggies organic unless it isn't available. My husband also works kind of near Whole Foods so we love to go 'meet Daddy' for lunch there. Our Whole Foods doesn't give our whole fruits, but does almost always have a few different fruit and veggie samples out.

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