The great thing about homeschooling is the flexibility. We had a family wedding in Austin and instead of rushing down to the state capital, staying in a cramped hotel for three nights and then fighting the traffic back up to DFW, we hauled the trailer down the back roads, parked in a well-appointed RV park and spent a week exploring the educational wonders that Austin offers.
We stayed at the Austin Lonestar RV Park in south Austin. While it has some interesting neighbors, the gated park is roomy and nicely landscaped. It also offers a heated swimming pool, dog park, kid park, and bathhouses with individual locking shower/restrooms. The location of the park can’t be beat…only a few exits to everything interesting and close to shopping, entertainment and food. The proximity to movie theaters proved important since the second installment of Captain America released the day after we left home;)
We spent a day at the Bullock Texas State Museum, which offers great exhibits for all ages. No one complained about being bored, a miracle when you have such vast age ranges and interests. The museum offers free admission the first Sunday of each month with hours from 12 to 6 pm. There are lots of extra programs going on, plenty of parking in the garage, and a small enough crowd that allows for roaming.
|Outside the Texas State Museum.
A visit to the state capitol building was next. The Capitol is open seven days a week and offers both guided and self-guided tours. I highly suggest the guided tours with youngsters and they leave the main entrance about every fifteen minutes. Don’t forget to snatch up a brochure for the self-guided grounds tour on nice days.
The Capitol Visitors Center is situated on the Capitol grounds and offers lots of hands-on activities for all ages. This museum is small and really helps kids connect the Capitol building to the history of Texas. We visited both of these places in the middle of the day during the week and didn’t find either crowded. Definitely make the trip when the Texas Legislature is not in session.
|A view inside the Capitol dome, from the fourth floor.
A third field-trip day was spent at the The Thinkery, formerly known as the Austin Children’s Museum. The new building houses two stories of hands-on science exhibits that will have any kid complaining when they have to take a break for lunch. Admittedly, this museum is geared for kids ranging from toddlers to late elementary, but everyone in the family will find something that captures their attention.
The Thinkery offers a multi-story outdoor play structure that looks like something pulled straight from Peter Pan’s imagination. There is a lovely across the street from the museum with walking paths around a small lake and acres of play equipment, as well as a plethora of picnic areas.
Since we could still stand after days filled with touring museums, we headed to the Austin American Statesman Bat Viewing Area under the Congress Street bridge at dusk. Free and fascinating, the viewing area is a great place to watch one of the largest bat colonies in the Unites States wake up and head out for late night snacking between March and September. August is the best month for viewing as the pups finally take to the skies.