"He's like a kid in a candy store." How many times have you heard this expression? Probably, countless times. But how many times have you really watched your kids in a sweet shop? Seen their eyes widen, their mouth agape with wonder, their back straighten, hands glued to the glass. Try, for a moment, to disregard that voice in the back of your head about dentists, sugar lows and tantrums and enjoy the moment with your child. Whether it's a birthday, a holiday or simply a Monday, here are some of the best local establishments to get your sweet on.
Big Top Candy Shop
This is the real deal. If there is one place in Austin to get overwhelmed by the different types of candy, this is it. Located on South Congress and featured on the Food Network, Big Top is like taking a trip back in time. Grandparents will love finding their favorite candies from their childhood (Necco Wafers, anyone?) and your little ones are bound to see something familiar. In addition to candy, Big Top has a soda fountain and an assortment of chocolates (including the popular chocolate-covered bacon). Remember that parking is scarce on South Congress, so you should arrive prepared to walk a bit. But, in fact it might be good to have a way to burn off at least some energy after your visit.
Austin has coffeeshops and bakeries aplenty, but Quack's is a great place to take the kids. Originally located on the Drag but now in Hyde Park, close to other neighborhood favorites Julio's and Hyde Park Grill, Quack's is often buzzing with activity. The large bakery cases—just at your child's eye level—are full with a vast array of sweet goodness, from adorable animal-shaped decorated sugar cookies to oversized chocolate chip cookies to tasty muffins and breads. Quack's also offers vegan and gluten-free baked goods, sandwiches, and coffee drinks for the grownups.
Nau's Enfield Drug
Step back into time as you climb onto a seat at Nau's and see the soda fountain in action. Order a cherry Dr. Pepper, a vanilla malt, or even a banana split and imagine who might be sitting next to you, reading one of the magazines on display beside the counter, when "the Drugstore" opened in 1951. Seats fill up quickly during mealtimes, so consider going at off hours if you want a coveted booth. If nothing on the menu tickles your fancy, you can choose from an impressive display of candies up front or even an ice cream treat from the cooler. There is even a small part of the store stocked with small stuffed animals, games, and retro toys.
Technically a burger joint, Sandy's on Barton Springs (just south of the Long Center) is the best place to get frozen custard in town. When the temperatures sizzle and you can't bear to leave the air conditioned comfort of your car, Sandy's drive through is a lifesaver. When it is tolerable outside, you can enjoy your sweet treat on the tables located behind the restaurant after your order from the walk-up window. This is a no frills establishment, but the upside is that you can probably feed your crew with the change at the bottom of your purse.
The grandaddy of them all, Lammes Candies has been around Austin since 1878. Now with locations on Airport, Lakeline and Barton Creek Malls and in Lamar Village (across the street from Central Market), Lammes is perhaps best known for its pralines, Texas pecans surrounded by shockingly sweet buttery caramel. There are also all manner of things dipped in chocolate (including Longhorns, which are pecans, caramel and chocolate), taffies, barks and chocolate morsels to choose from out of the cases. There are always Texas-themed candies on hand and sugar free items.
Don't forget, parents always need to sample!
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