Pint-Sized Nightlife in Austin

Nicole Basham - Austin
April 10, 2012

Now that the rants of I-hate-daylight-savings have faded, it's time we appreciate what the time change does for our evenings. No longer is it pitch black when dinner is over. In fact, there is lots of time to take advantage of the later sunsets and explore what Austin's nightlife has to offer families.

Go Batty

Austin's favorite winged friends, Mexican free-tailed bats, make an annual trip to Mexico from November until mid-March. The rest of the year they call Austin home. During this time, throngs come to try to spot them them emerging from the Ann Richards Bridge at dusk. July and August may be the best time to see the bats stream out from under the bridge, like locusts, but congregating east of the Bridge in the Statesman's Bat Observation Center with hundreds of others is a rite of passage for all Austinites.

To time your trip, you can call 512-416-5700 (Category 3636) for the latest flight times. If you'd rather skip the crowds, you can book a bat watching tour on Capital Cruises.

Take in Some Tunes

Just because you have kids doesn't mean you are no longer able to listen to live music. There is plenty of music happening all over town and before the kids need to be tucked into bed. Central Market may be the town's worst-kept secret with its Friday and Saturday shows starting at 6:30. Arrive early to get a good table and so your kids can play on the playscape. Freddie's on South First has a playground and music and Nutty Brown Cafe has a large outdoor area with kids' nights. If your bedtimes are more fluid, you can try the seasonal music nights at the Hill Country Galleria, Southpark Meadows, and Shady Grove.

Tee it Up

An Austin tradition since 1946, Peter Pan Mini-Golf has been keeping Austin weird for generations. Peter Pan recently underwent a makeover, so it's even more of an excuse to get out there and practice your swing. A trip to Peter Pan is guaranteed to elicit some nostalgia. If you can't make it to this Barton Springs institution, you can check out the courses at Austin's Park or even check out the new exhibit on Laguna Gloria, Art on the Green, which is half off on Tuesday evenings.


Austin has gone totally bonkers for food trailers. From donuts to coffee to to crepes to kebabs, there is something to please nearly every palate. Granted, menu options at trailers are limited, so as a parent, you need to plan ahead to make sure everyone in your crew will be happy. You can visit Food Trailers Austin, Austin Food Carts and critic's picks (like this one) to check out menus in advance. In several locations, trailers are clustered together, so even if you have to divide and conquer, you will up your chances of making everyone happy. Since there is no table service, there are fewer worries about your child being too loud, too antsy or otherwise unable to handle a sit-down restaurant and people watching is generally pretty good.

To Market, To Market

The Triangle Farmers Market, which takes place on Wednesday afternoons and stretches into the evening, is a favorite meeting place for families in the surrounding neighborhoods. You can buy fresh produce, listen to music, have a picnic on the lawn or even splash on the splash pad. There are kid-friendly dinner options in the market and of course at nearby restaurants such as Mandola's and Galaxy Cafe. If you need to offer up a carrot to your kids (or your spouse), there is also a Yogurt Planet in easy walking distance with frozen yogurt.


From the Parents

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