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Daytrippin’ with Kids
Thursday, August 11, 2011 • Posted August 11, 2011

The lazy, hazy, HOT days of summer carry on. I hope this newly revised list of Daytrippin’ with Kids will give you parents and grandparents some fresh, cool

ideas for family adventures before the school bell rings and also for creative fun in our beautiful Texas Hill Country throughout the year.

Have a picnic…HSB residents are welcome to use the unique stone picnic tables behind Quail Point. Have a picnic under the trees, then wade or take a swim in Lake LBJ. The HSB campground also has picnic tables beside Slick Rock Creek. Martin Park, behind the HSB City Hall, also has a covered picnic area.

Playground fun is now a reality for HSB residents at Martin Park, with beautifully designed and sturdy equipment under towering shade trees. Plenty of parking is available in the lower parking lot behind City Hall. The park includes a covered picnic area and clean restrooms. Marble Falls also has an excellent playground at Johnson Park, 230 South Avenue J.

Take a hike…HSB residents are encouraged to walk the Hiking Wilderness Trail. This trail starts at the HSB campground (park there) and ends at the old stables on Hi Circle South. Park a car at each end or make the three mile round trip. There is also a short trail at the HSB Mausoleum. Both of these trails have some uneven terrain and require good balance and sturdy shoes. State parks with great trails abound in our area. Find information at Pedernales State Park, east of Johnson City, has several miles of trails and a lovely waterfall. Enchanted Rock, a magnificent granite batholith, is best tackled in early morning since the solid rock gets very hot. Don’t forget the 4 mile loop trail beside the mighty rock. Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge in Burnet County boasts thousands of protected acres and several hiking trails. My personal favorite state park is Inks Lake State Park. The rangers give you a map when you check in, the trails are well marked and the views are unrivaled. Inks has a large variety of wildflowers blooming year round. For LCRA area parks, check

Take a train ride on the Hill Country Flyer or Bertram Flyer. The Austin Steam Train Association offers round trips starting in Cedar Park and visits Bertram and Burnet, every Saturday and Sunday. Call 512-477-8468 for schedules, but beware that these trains are sometimes visited by bandits.

Explore a cave…

Longhorn Caverns on Park Road 4 is a geologic wonder with its magnificent rock formations, sparkling crystals and mysterious sink holes. Children should be old enough to walk by themselves on the mile and a quarter guided tour. The constant 68 degree temperatures are a big draw for summer visitors, so try a weekday tour for smaller groups. For older children, a Wild Cave Tour and Geology Tour are also available. 830-598-CAVE or

Natural Bridge Caverns, near San Antonio, is a thrill for kids of all ages as you walk down 180 feet during a three quarter mile walk through ancient rock formations. 210-651-6101 or

Westcave Preserve is another cool place, shaded by 25 varieties of trees as you make your way to the cave. This is a truly delightful walk, enhanced by songs from the nearly 200 types of birds in the preserve. Tours begin in the learning center with a solar demonstration that will thrill aspiring scientists. Reservations are required., 830-825-3442 or

Inner Space Cavern in Georgetown is a popular cave tour through one of the best preserved caves in Texas. After your tour you can relax under a canopy of Live Oak trees in the picnic area while you watch your children on the playscape. 512-931-CAVE or

Join a bat watch as three million bats emerge from the Old Tunnel at the Wildlife Management Area 11 miles south of Fredericksburg, May to October. Educational programs presented Thurs. thru Sun. 866-978-2287

Create your own art masterpiece in pottery, clay or painting classes, or learn woodworking or comic drawing at Burnet’s ArtHaus, 208 E. Jackson. Classes available until August 19, then after school program Tuesdays 4 to 6 p.m. or contact Heike Jost at 830-613-0692 Also see Facebook.

Take a cool dip in Hamilton Pool with its 45 foot waterfall cascading into the clear water. The surrounding nature preserve has several hiking trails. Come before 11 a.m. to avoid waiting in line for a parking spot. 512-264-2740

Krause Springs in Spicewood is one of the prettiest swimming holes in Texas. Towering cypress trees line the banks of a spring fed pool, where you can grab a rope swing and jump into the 70 degree water beside a waterfall and grotto. Children under 6 years need to be watched carefully due to steep steps and mossy areas around the pool. 830-693-4181 or

Climb an iceberg, then fall in the cool waters of Lake LBJ before shooting down the double slides at Lake LBJ Yacht Club and Marina at Granite Beach, located on 2147 next to HSB. Water park open Sat. and Sun until Labor Day. 830-693-9172 ext, 2 or Boat rentals are also available.

Hear a story told and find a good book at Marble Falls Public Library, 101 Main Street MF, Thursday story hour for preschoolers. 10:45 a.m. year round.

Bowling is good family fun at Lake Country Lanes in Marble Falls. 830-693-4311

Miniature golf, bowling and a video arcade can be found at Rockhoppers, 1501 281 North in Marble Falls, where there is entertainment for kids of all ages.

830-693-4386 or

Beach volleyball…

Johnson Park in Marble Falls has a beach volleyball pit.

Take a wild ride on your skateboard at Marble Falls Skate Park on Yett St. at Main St.

Pick a berry or pet a goat at the Sweet Berry Farm, on FM 1980 just outside Marble Falls. Children can experience a real farm experience here and pick their own berries, run through a corn maze, take a hay ride, stuff a scarecrow and much more at the Harvest of Fall Fun, September 24 to November 14. Don’t miss the homemade ice cream and strawberry lemonade. 830-798-1462 or A visit to the website is like a day in the country with its newsy journal of farm happenings.

Jump for joy at Austin’s Jumpoline Park, 13801 Burnet Rd. on the 10,000 square foot trampoline. One reviewer suggested jumping with your children for their safety. 512-310-1420 or

Visit a Zoo...Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary assists animals in need through rescue, rehabilitation and education. There are currently over 300 animals from over 100 different species at the Austin Zoo. It is located on 10807 Rawhide Trail or 512-288-1490, 2 miles from Hwy. 71 E.

The Capital of Texas Zoo has over 500 animals including lemurs, wallabies, prarie dogs and wildebeests. Come to the BBQ Sat, Aug. 13, 6 to 9 p.m., for pony rides, parrot shows and much more. or 512-303-6675.

Feed exotic animals from the comfort of your vehicle at Natural Bridge Widlife Ranch Call 830-438-7400 or go to


The Exotic Zoo Resort, 4 miles north of Johnson City has over 500 creatures roaming their 137 acre habitat, including zebras, buffalo and giraffes. You will be given treats for the animals and taken on a guided safari tour in a tractor drawn trailer with high sides. Expect large animals to stick their heads through the bars for treats. 830-868-4357 or

Talk with a parrot or smaller birds, hosted by “the bird lady” Tish Walker on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. at Whitewater, behind the Marriott Hotel in HSB.

Cruise Lake Buchanan on the Vanishing River Cruise party boat with trained guides giving interesting current and historical facts about the area. Presently featured is a “drought cruise,” which includes a visit to the ruins of the once submerged town of Bluffton. Wed., Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m. Check website for bald eagle and fall foliage cruises. One of the most popular VRC cruises with kids is the once a month Freedom Flight cruises, where rehabilitated birds of prey are released. 1-800-474-8374 or

Ride and cruise on a big yellow duck with Austin Duck Adventures. Tour buses begin at the Austin Visitor Information Center on 6th Street, roll by historical Austin landmarks and then splash into Lake Austin in the amphibious vehicle. 512-477-5274 or

Dip an oar in Inks Lake. Canoe rentals are available, plus lessons and guided tours. Join a Moonlight Paddle, Owl Prowl or go fishing with Inks Lake park rangers. 512-793-2223 or

Horseback riding is fun for everyone at Colbert Ranch, between Bertram and Marble Falls, which features rides for every ability on their 250 acres. 512-355-3225 or

Segway through Austin, gliding by the Texas State Capitol and other landmarks with insightful commentary by professional guides. Children must be 12 years of age. 512-495-9250 or

Fly through the air on a zipline. Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, located 25 miles east of HSB, offers a beautiful trip through tall trees. Closed Nov. thru March. 512-264-8880 or Try the Wimberley Zipline for a breathtaking fifteen mile view of hills, valleys and canyons with Dripping Springs in the distance. 512-847-9990 or Both of these operations are run with a high regard for the safety and comfort of their clients. Both ziplines require children to be 10 yrs. old and weigh 70 lbs.

Paintball enthusiasts (age 12 and up) can rent equipment and have a blast at Hidden Falls Adventure Park, seven miles east of Marble Falls on Hwy. 1431. Campsites and four wheelers trails available. 830-798-9820 or

Visit a museum and join your children in fun, fascinating hands-on experiences:

Austin Children’s Museum, in Austin at 201 Colorado St. is a wonderful hands-on learning experience. or 512-472-2499.

The Bob Bullock History Museum is a great way for kids to learn about Texas history. It features three floors of interactive exhibits, an Imax Theater and two more theaters featuring historical programming with thrilling special effects.



The Austin Nature and Science Center, located on 80 acres, on Zilker Park’s west side, has been popular as a family excursion since the 1960’s. Explore hands-on exhibits, interactive nature and science trails. Uncover evidence of pre-historic life in the Dino Pit. View live Texas wildlife including a coyote and a red-tailed hawk. 512-974-3888 or

The Texas Memorial Museum on the UT Campus gives future scientists an opportunity to view the famous Glen Rose Dinosaur tracks on display outside the museum, then come inside and marvel at the huge ancient Texas Pterosaur, suspended from the ceiling on the first floor. Visit the Paleo Lab and ask questions of a paleontologist while seeing first-hand how fossils are properly prepared, catalogued, and studied. Several fossil “touch specimens” are available. 512-471-1604 or

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