Kelly Ryerson Takes Austin By The Horns

Written and Photographed by Kelly Ryerson

As our official travel correspondent and member of The Flock, Kelly Ryerson has the lowdown on the coolest places to go with your lil' ones that don’t only revolve around giant mouse ears or a lukewarm pool. Next up, she’s tackling Austin, not the likeliest town for the under-10 set, but she supplies an awesome itinerary for family travel that will be sure to keep things weird, and of course fun!

I am originally from Austin but I haven’t lived there for over 25 years. So every time I go to visit my parents, I feel like a tourist. I’m always asking my friends what’s what.  Austin has always had a reputation for “cool,” which generally makes me roll my eyes.  Austin is way more than SXSW (South by Southwest Festival), pop-ups, and the hottest new restaurants. So I’d like to share what is truly cool about Austin...

Nature, man.

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I never realized how much hiking I did growing up in Austin.  It was just what you did to get to the next watering hole (and no, I don’t mean bar). Austin is now ‘the ATX’ and Town Lake is now ‘Lady Bird Lake.’

My son and I spent Spring Break there and we were very lucky to not have the scorching heat so I do recommend this one for early summer, as it gets hot real fast.

I also wouldn’t dream of making an itinerary for this trip. Most of the spots we visited in our short time there are for full days of relaxing.  Word of warning - these swimming holes are natural springs so they are very cold, but a perfect break from the Texas heat. There are a few that are top of my list to visit but require a short drive out of town to Dripping Springs and Wimberely, TX.

We were also very lucky to be taken out by my dear old friend Joedy, who gave us a special tour of Colorado Bend State Park in Lampasas, TX. The kids loved looking for birds, bugs, and snakes on the way to Gorman Falls.  We even did a little cave tour.  These tours are available through their website.


While in Drippings Springs, it is worth going to Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood or Pig Pen BBQ on 290. Wimberley, TX has plenty of good vintage shops where you can score some fabulous cowboy boots.  I bought my son a pair at Allen’s Boots on South Congress in Austin. 

Since I was with a 7 year old with “special” taste buds, I can’t say we indulged in all the incredible BBQ that Austin is known for but I will pass along the hot list from friends.  We did eat breakfast tacos, queso and migas every time it was offered.  Yes, queso for breakfast and breakfast tacos for dinner.


A few extra little spots for kids -

Lucy in Disquise in Diamonds (Halloween shop)
Big Tom Candy Shop on South Congress
Amy’s Ice Cream (the South Lamar location has a playground)

other amusements to note

Congress Avenue Bridge

The bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge, excuse me, the “Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge” is definitely a sight to see. It’s the largest bat colony in North America. When the sun sets, they swarm.

Hope Outdoor Gallery

Hope Outdoor Gallery is a graffiti park in Castle Hill area of Austin.  There are plenty of local events on their site too.

Food Trucks

East Side King | Juice Austin | La Barbecue | Micklethwait Craft Meats

Paperboy | Picnic Food Trailer Park | Torchy's Taco's | Veracruz All Natural


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G’Raj Mahal | Gueros | Magnolia Cafe (Austin classic)

Odd Duck | Polvos | Sawyer & Co. | South Congress Cafe | Uchi

* If you are looking for Austin’s hot list check our Eater’s list here.

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Swimming holes (in austin)

 Sculpture Falls

It's a small hike but a great
place to spend an afternoon
and Rudy’s BBQ is across the street.


Barton Springs

Barton Springs is a natural
spring pool located in Zilker Park.
I spent many days there as a teen.

Deep eddy pool

There are lanes for laps on one side,
free swimming in the middle, and
a shallow end for kids. (Pictured above).

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Jacobs Well

Wimberley, TX -
This one requires a fee for a wristband if you want to swim.  

Hamilton Pool

Dripping Springs, TX -
This one you have to make a reservation. It’s a sweet little hike and oh-so beautiful.     

Blue Hole Regional Park

Wimberley, TX -
I would recommend this spot for a hot day since it is surrounded by trees.

for more information

check out 

the city of austin,TX website


As modern mamas living in the over information age, (where everyone is an expert and parenting opinions are shared as freely and easily as an Instagram post) it can be tough to filter through the white noise to find the facts. Naturally, we’d love to consider ourselves wise in all sorts of ways, but the truth is sometimes we’re scrawling SOS in the sand. Good thing we’ve got the guidance and expertise of our own personal rockstars: the people who inspire us on the daily. Our rockstars (our flock) are enthusiasts, professionals and influencers in the fields of wellness, travel, education, style—the list goes on. Each one brings a profoundly different perspective to the table, one informed by their own experiences and outlooks. And that perspective is priceless.

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