Need late night tacos for your late nights on Austin’s wild 6th Street? Choose from a variety of delectable flavors, all packed with mouth-watering ingredients, like brisket, Mahi Mahi, pulled pork BBQ, carnitas, chicken BLT and also veggie-only. You can also get nachos, quesadillas and some deliciously-drippy chips and queso dip.
More info: tacobabyaustin.com
Turf N’ Surf Po Boy
Definitely one of the best food trucks in all of Austin, Chef Ralph Gilmore currently serves up yummy tacos, po’boys and salads at Lavaca Street Bar downtown. The surprisingly large menu of seafood and chicken can be prepared in a variety of ways: fried, grilled, or blackened. They use the highest quality seafood available, typically wild-caught from the Gulf of Mexico. Don’t miss this Austin gem!
More info: lavacastdowntown.com/turf-n-surf
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
This food truck offering a unique blend of traditional Texas-style, mesquite-smoked BBQ and Tex Mex flavors has become an Austin favorite. The sauces and salsas here are especially tasty! Located in South Austin, a bit further south than the action, this place proves totally and completely worth the drive. Just make sure they haven’t sold out for the day.
More info: valentinastexmexbbq.com
Formerly found in the bumping Rainey Street district, La Fantabulous had moved to a new spot at ATX Tiger on Old Bee Caves Rd. Though the menu seems on the smaller side, it still packs a powerful punch with delicious traditional ingredients. They’re open limited hours, so you’ll need to go early.
More info: lafantabulous.com
Opened in 2009, Tony Avila and Axel Beverido faced tough competition with a taco truck in Austin, but managed to succeed and now have multiple locations including a food truck located at Little Woodrow’s in Downtown on West 6th Street. Their delicious traditional Mexican street tacos have been featured in Food Network’s Diners with Guy Fieri.
More info: onetaco.com
Now available through their sister, brick-and-mortar restaurant called Cruzteca Mexican Kitchen, Mellizoz means fraternal twins and so far, the owning-family has been blessed with 9 sets of twins. Started in 2006, the menu includes tacos, tortas, hand-cut garlic fries and made-to-order guacamole. The food truck can be booked for parties and special events. Though not a taco, their pork soup will amaze you!
More info: mellizoztacos.com
Not all playgrounds prove great for toddlers and preschoolers. Some have dangerous platforms they can fall from, while others are located too close to a busy road where cars drive too fast. Yikes!
Here are my top five favorite playgrounds in Austin for toddlers and preschoolers.
Alliance Children’s Garden
1000 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX 78704
Located in the Butler District Park just south of Lady Bird Lake with a beautiful view of downtown Austin, this 2-acre playground features several play areas like the sand pit, the grass mounds with tunnels and the large rope climbing structure. The slides also prove an appealing attraction for little ones and are under shade cover. Parents will enjoy the swinging benches along the paved pathway and watch out for the giant ant sculptures. Usually, people of all ages and backgrounds frequent this playground. Don’t miss the pond with turtles nearby and the refreshing Liz Carpenter splash pad, which has lovely lights at night.
Little Stacy Neighborhood Park
1500 Alameda Drive, Austin, TX 78704
Wonderful playground for toddlers, almost completely hidden in shade. Little ones love the long slide built into the side of the hill. With a climbing structure for toddlers and another for the bigger kids, plus very close basketball and tennis courts, everyone in the family will be entertained. The best part about this playground is the wading pool under the giant oak tree, though it hasn’t been open since before the pandemic.
Play for All Abilities Park
141 N A.W. Grimes Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78664
An impressive 51,000 square feet of outdoor fun, this handicap-accessible playground boasts more play areas than anyone could ever expect in a public park. Tulsa’s Gathering Place is only thing that comes close but that’s a park for another post. Play for All has a covered sand pit, several different climbing structures, tunnels, zip lines, swings, slides, seesaws, merry-go-rounds, a musical section and more! Don’t forget to bring your ride-on toys for the race track and pretend town with interactive features. This playground was built to accommodate special-needs kids but is truly wonderful for everyone.
Kingsbury Commons in Pease Park
1100 Kingsbury Street, Austin, TX 78703
Newly renovated playground and facilities in Pease Park offer a lovely place to play for kids and adults. Kids will enjoy lots of swings, a massive log climbing structure, a climbing fort for toddlers and a delightful splash pad that’s open earlier and later than other city splash pads. Everyone will love going inside the unique treehouse orb and relaxing on the stretchy inside floor surrounded by a glorious natural environment.
Katherine Fleischer Park
2106 Klattenhoff Drive, Austin, TX 78728
Kids will love this shaded playground with an awesome climbing structure and swings, but the crown jewel of this park is the giant, wooden playhouse with several stories and nooks, plus small slit windows to look out. Though it’s a tight squeeze, moms and dads might even fit inside. The music features at this playground also garner a lot of attention.
Introducing new foods to kids and celebrating yummy flavors can be so much fun for the whole family! Check out these family-friendly food festivals happening in or around Austin.
Hot Luck Live Food & Music Fest
Thursday-Sunday, May 26-29, 2022 / 2023 Dates to Be Announced
Created by James Beard award-winning Aaron Franklin of world-famous Franklin’s BBQ, Mohawk-owner James Moody, and Mike Thelin, co-founder of Feast Portland, Hot Luck takes place at various locations around Austin, and also pops up in various other US cities.
A unique festival in which big chefs serve up their own delicious dishes and their own live music selections. The festival is partnered with and benefits the Southern Smoke Foundation.
Available online, tickets for this event range from $15 to $550 but sell out fast, so don’t delay. Sign up for the mailing list now!
More info: www.hotluckfest.com
Austin Oyster Festival
February 2023 / Specific Dates to Be Announced
2023 will mark this yummy festival’s 10th year and will be held at the beautiful, historic French Legation Museum in East Austin overlooking downtown.
Enjoy oysters in numerous ways from raw, grilled, roasted, fried in combination with spectacular seafood sides, cocktail pairings while listening to live music.
This festival generously benefits the Central Texas Food Bank.
More info: www.austinoysterfestival.com
Saturday, April 8, 2023 @ 11am-6pm
Created by Texas Veg Foundation “to bring the benefits of vegan food to Texas from all walks of life,” the festival features a wide array of vegan food selections, vendors, cooking demonstrations, educational lectures and live music. The youth area with games and activities will keep kids entertained. Go meatless!
This is a free event held at Fiesta Gardens in East Austin. Registration may be required so check their website for details.
More info: www.texasvegfest.com
Soul Food Truck Fest
June 18, 2022 @ 1pm / 2023 Dates to Be Announced
Brought to you by Favor, this flavorsome festival happens on Juneteenth and features Texas Black-owned food trucks on the campus of Huston-Tillotson in the center of East Austin. Explore a bunch of food trucks, Black-owned vendors, live music, games and other festival activities.
Prices start at $15 online and will be more at the gate. Kids up to 12 years old are free.
More info: www.soulfoodtruckfest.com
ATX Food Truck Festival – Buda
September 25, 2022 @ 1-5pm
Held at Buck’s Backyard in Buda, just south of Austin, this festival promises to give attendees a taste of the world and will feature food straight from the trucks, of course, live music, bounce houses, games, a pop-up petting zoo that kids will love and more!
Tickets range from $5-12 and are available online through Eventbrite.
More info: www.atxfoodtruckfest.com
Austin Ice Cream Festival
Saturday, June 23, 2022 / 2023 Dates to Be Announced
An Austin tradition held in the middle of summer, this festival celebrates the refreshing world of ice cream and frozen treats at just the perfect time. Come to Fiesta Gardens for delicious food, games, contests and live music. You could even get buried in popsicle sticks!
H-E-B-sponsored features two parts, the first for the whole family and the second at night for adults only features booze-infused concoctions.
Tickets available online.
More info: www.austinicecreamfestival.com
The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
Sunday, September 11, 2022 @ 3-9pm
In its 32nd year, this spicy event returns to Austin and will be held at the Far Out Lounge and Stage on South Congress. The blind-tasting competition for hot sauce creators including restaurants, commercial bottlers and individuals will be enjoyed by chefs, food writers and other popular food personalities. Categories include red, green, pepper and special variety. You will even find fruit, dried-pepper and purple salsas. The public can vote on the “People’s Choice” award. A feast for your tongue!
Tickets are available for $10 online and $15 at the door with $5 of each ticket sale going directly to Central Texas Food Bank.
More info: www.austinchronicle.com/hot-sauce/
Festival Beach Food Forest
Various dates. See website for details.
A truly unique kind of food fest, this event explores an edible forest garden along the shores of Festival Beach at Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. Learn more about permaculture, openly forage and enjoy fresh food like fruits, nuts, vegetables and medicinal herbs. By working with nature, we can work less.
More info: www.festivalbeach.org
Hispanic Heritage Festival
Near Cinco de Mayo / 2023 Dates to Be Announced
This 40-year-old festival pays homage to Hispanic history, culture and tradition and is held in Fiesta Gardens in the heart of East Austin. Typically held on or near the Cinco de Mayo holiday, you can expect many new and traditional Mexican dishes, dancing, live music and mariachis! Kids will have fun with arts and crafts, games, and getting their faces painted.
Advance tickets are available online. Expect to pay more at the gate. Free entry for everyone until 12pm and children age 12 and under get in free all day.
More info: www.fiestaaustin.org
CelebrASIA Austin – Asian Pacific American Food & Heritage Festival
Saturday, May 2, 2022 @ 11am-3pm / 2023 Dates to Be Announced
At Asian American Resource Center, attendees will enjoy voting for a winner in the Battle of the Asian Food Trucks. Celebrate with cultural performances, a ukulele choir, hula and drumming. Kids will love crafts, games, moon bounces and balloons.
Admission is free but buy tickets if you want to vote.
More info: www.austintexas.gov/department/asian-american-resource-center
The Austin Powwow & American Indian Heritage Festival
November 12, 2022 @ 9am-9pm
This fest offers a valuable opportunity to experience the rich culture and heritage of Native American people including a traditional dance competition, a native market and of course, a food court. Be sure to taste and ask about the history of fry bread. This year’s event will be held at the Travis County Expo Center.
As a family-focused event, there will be no drugs or alcohol allowed.
Tickets are $7 online and $10 at the gate. Kids 12 and under are free. Parking is also free.
More info: www.austinpowwow.net
Sazon Latin Food Festival
Saturday, September 17, 2022 @ 11am-6pm
Taking place at Ani’s Day & Night, this outdoor, Latin food festival will feature curated food vendor with tempting dishes from all over Latin America including Puerto Rico, Peru, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and even Jamaica. Dance to the beats of a live DJ spinning music from and inspired by Latin America.
This event is free with RSVP.
More info: www.anisdayandnight.com
Saturday, October 8, 2022 @ 12-3pm
An annual queso event held at Mohawk in downtown Austin, offers attendees the chance to try a wide variety of queso cheese dips in four categories: Meaty, Spicy, Veggie and Wild Card. The “Best in Show” will be crowned and the event benefits the Central Texas Food Bank.
Tickets available soon.
More info: facebook.com/quesoff
Austin Food + Wine Festival
Friday-Sunday, November 4-6, 2022
Unfortunately, not for families, all attendees must be 21 years of age or older. However, this might be a good time for parents who can get a babysitter or ask the grandparents to step in for the weekend.
Three-day organized celebration of all kinds of food and beverage. Relish an all-star lineup of chefs, food and wine tastings, live music, hands-on grilling demonstrations, book signings.
Though the ticket price isn’t cheap, it’s worth every penny as this festival delivers a top-notch experience for true food and wine lovers.
More info: www.austinfoodandwinefestival.com
Have you been to any of these festivals? What did you think? Tellus about your experience and if you think they were good for families.
Do you know of any other fun, family-friendly food festivals in the Austin area? Please, tell us about it!
Finding the right water park for the little ones in your life can be a challenge. Many water parks slides and rides require riders to be taller than most toddlers and even preschoolers. It leaves parents wondering which water park is best for their little ones? And is the ticket price worth it?
Our family absolutely loves Aquatica San Antonio for all the reasons below, and even more that I didn’t mention. Hopefully, this list will help you decide whether or not to take your baby or toddler to Sea World Aquatica in San Antonio, Texas. My vote is yes!
#1 – Aquatica Actually Has Shade
Before I took my three small children to Aquatica San Antonio, my biggest concern was ample shade. Texas summers, and even spring time, can be brutally hot and sunny. Unfortunately, the risk of skin cancer is real and we all know sunscreen doesn’t always last or gets washed off. Plus, little kids can overheat much more easily than adults, and some are more sensitive than others. Mine are pretty sensitive.
Thankfully, Aquatica offers more shade than I ever expected. Most water parks don’t put trees around the play areas and ride lines, probably due to the need to clean debris from the water constantly. Usually, available shade has been limited to seating areas, and often the covered seating areas are restricted to cabanas that must be rented for an additional fee.
So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to find several shaded areas including spots in the water. Both the tiered pools and tall fort structure at Aquatica provided delightful little pockets of shade where my kids could play while covered.
#2 – Aquatica Has Sting Rays You Can Touch
By far my favorite perk of this water park, the stingrays provide a hands-on educational experience for your little ones. You can also buy food to hand feed them, which you have to admit, is pretty darn cool! There’s also a family ride that passes through a tunnel where you can see into the stingray aquarium for riders 39” and above.
#3 – Aquatica Has Pools and Slides for Toddlers
While some water parks only have one main area for little kids, Aquatica offers a variety of pools and small slides only for little kids.
Tucked in the trees on the hillside, Kata’s Kookaburra Cove provides 3,000 square feet of super shallow pool just perfect for babies and toddlers. It features sea creatures and fountains and lots of seating, even some umbrellas.
Directly overlooking the wave pool, Cutback Cove provide a lovely spot for families with both small and big kids. The 3,360 square foot pool for the bigger kids offers two slides: a corkscrew slide for kids and adults 48” and above and a short but very wide slide perfect for any size fun seeker. The pool is perfect for walking around but too deep for littles to sit in. However, directly adjacent to this pool is another very shallow pool with some spraying features that is perfect for the toddlers. Ample seating surrounds the pool.
Kids love the crashing waves of Big Surf Shores, a 400,000-gallon wave pool with swells up to 5 feet and graduated beach entrance. Everyone in your family will enjoy the motion of this faux ocean.
Slippity Dippity® offers fun fountains, several spraying water features and four kid-sized slides that dump into the 30” deep pool.
Walkabout Waters boasts three stories of interactive play with seesaws and dumping buckets.
Naturalistic rocks border Whanau Waters where guests will find waterfalls and two more small slides.
#4 – Discovery Cove is Right Next Door
Be sure to hit Discovery Point, located outside the waterpark and right next door. Watch bottlenose dolphins play from the shores of Dolphin Lagoon or check them out via the underwater viewing area. You can Explorer’s Reef features a variety of aquariums including one very large tank with several species of sharks and coral reef. Don’t miss the sea horses, clownfish, dart frogs and more. You can also opt for an in-person in-water experience with the various animals for an additional fee.
#5 – Aquatica Allows Re-entry
Sea World allows you to leave the park and come back without paying again, but they don’t allow outside food and beverages. So, pack some healthy snacks and head to the car for lunch time. This might be a great time to sneak in a little nap, too, before heading back inside the park for more fun!
#6 – Aquatica Allows Strollers and Wagons
It’s awesome, and it’s not, depending on what works best for your family.
The pros: strollers are great! Of course, you want it if you have a baby that you’d otherwise have to carry, and for toddlers, strollers can be incredibly helpful when your little one gets tired. They’re also great for lugging around the loads of stuff that can go along with having little people in your group.
The cons: On a busy day, having our stroller wagon proves kind of a navigation nightmare because pushing it through the sea of people can slow you down quite a bit, especially when people often dodge in front of you.
We take our Wonderfold wagon to Aquatica and we’re always glad we did!
#7 – Aquatica Isn’t Too Big
Sometimes less is actually more. Only 18-acres, Aquatica water park is the perfect size for toddlers and that’s great, because if your little people tend to run off, it’s never that hard to find them.
#8 – Sea World Is Only a Few Steps Away
Who can resist the allure of orcas, walruses, sea lions and penguins? It’s just too easy to walk over to Sea World and visit our water-bound friends. Thrill seeking big kids and adults can enjoy the roller coasters, too.
#9 – Sea World Offers Free Passes for Preschoolers
This year, and maybe previous years too, Sea World has a promotion offering free season passes for preschoolers. If you live close, or if you don’t, and depending on the ages of your kids, it can be a great deal. You have to pay a very reasonable fee to add the Aquatica passes, and will need to pay for adult passes, but the passes pay for themselves pretty fast. For our family of five it ended up being totally worth the money!
What do you think?
For us, Sea World’s Aquatica Water Park feels like the jackpot of water parks for my baby, toddler and preschooler. I hope you’re able to enjoy it as much we did. Have you been to Aquatica San Antonio? Let me know about your experience and what you think: is Sea World Aquatica San Antonio good for babies and toddlers?
One of my goals is to visit all of the states in the United States at least once. In order for a visit to count, I must visit some place within the state boundaries other than the airport or train station. Pretty simple.
Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve made almost no progress on my travel goals in the past few years and it’s time to change that. My travel bucket list is admittedly huge, but it’s the journey that counts. So, I’ve decided just to focus on the U.S. list for the next year and cross some of these local places off the list.
To be honest, I’m far less excited about visiting any place in the United States. Europe is where it’s at for me right now. Plus, I admit, some U.S. states have actually managed to completely turn me off with their politics and/or culture. For example, some of the Southern states still run rich with racial tension. The air is thick with hate, and honestly, I don’t like being around it.
However, I do still have an overall goal of visiting all of the United States and have quite a few to go. So, why visit those places first and get them out of the way.
Here’s where I’m at… I’ve visited 22 of 50 states so far and I’m hoping to hit Colorado next.
U.S. States I’ve Visited
Visited 22 out of 50
Visited States in Pink
States Not Visited in Green
Denali National Park
Gates of the Artctic
Glacier Bay National Park (UNESCO)
Katmai National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park
Lake Clark National Park
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park (UNESCO)
Take an Alaskan cruise and see the glaciers
Grand Canyon National Park (UNESCO)
Petrified Forest National Park
Saguaro National Park
Hot Springs National Park
Channel Islands National Park
Death Valley National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Pinnacles National Park
Redwood National Park (UNESCO)
Sequoia National Park
Yosemite National Park (UNESCO)
Explore the Denver Zoo
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Mesa Verde National Park (UNESCO)
Rocky Mountain National Park
Biscayne National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
Everglades National Park (UNESCO)
Kayak to Mound Key Archaeological State Park, a Native American-made shell island
Haleakala National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (UNESCO)
Yellowstone National Park (UNESCO)
Ride the world’s largest water coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana.
Mammoth Cave National Park (UNESCO)
Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point (UNESCO)
Visit Acadia National Park
Isle Royale National Park
Voyagers National Park
Play at St. Louis’s whimsical City Museum
Dive in the Bonne Terre Mine in Missouri
Glacier National Park
Yellowstone National Park (UNESCO)
Death Valley National Park
Great Basin National Park
Participate in Burning Man
Carlsbad Caverns National Park (UNESCO)
Taos Pueblo (UNESCO)
Chaco Culture National Historical Park (UNESCO)
Niagara Falls, New York
Statue of Libery in New York (UNESCO)
Attend a broadway musical, Manhattan, New York, New York
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (UNESCO)
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Visit Independence Hall in Pennsylvania where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776
Conagree National Park
Badlands National Park
Wind Cave National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (UNESCO) (also in Tennessee)
Big Bend National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Visit the Missions of San Antonio, including the Alamo (UNESCO)
Arches National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Zion National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Monticello and the University of Virginia (UNESCO)
Visit Williamsburg, Virginia
Mount Rainier National Park
North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park (UNESCO)
Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park (UNESCO)
US National Parks Not Located in the 50 United States:
American Samoa, Virgin Island, Reef, Islands, Congaree, Lake, Valley, Isle Royale, Tree, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Kings Canyon, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, National Park of American Samoa, North Cascades, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, Saguaro, and the Virgin Islands