Austin is the state's capital but it flourishes in its stark contrast to everything typical of Texas. For families traveling with kids, this liberal city offers much to do. Zilker Park is Austin's most famous park. It covers over 350 acres and has numerous playgrounds, open fields, hiking and biking trails, and the natural Barton Springs pool and creek where kids can swim and rent canoes. Every evening at sunset, from March to November, the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown is the site of one of the most impressive natural occurrences in any major metroplitan area. Kids can stand on the bridge or sit on a nearby hill to watch the over 1 million Mexican Free-tailed bats leave their nest from under the bridge and fly out over the Colorado River for a night of feeding.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is the only national park in Texas. The park covers over 800,000 acres of land along the Rio Grande and inland. The park is home to many diverse eco-systems where kids can hike among cacti in the desert, waterfalls along the river, and up the mountains for panoramic views of the area. The park's visitor center has many hands-on learning tools where kids can learn about the park's history, ecology and wildlife; kids can also go on ranger-led hikes to explore the park. Other park activities include biking, camping, bird watching and rafting the Rio Grande.
Located on the Gulf Coast, Corpus Christi offers visitors a beach-filled vacation spot where kids can surf, kayak, windsurf, swim and play in the sand. The city has many museums, including the Texas State Aquarium located just off of North Beach, and the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and Industry where kids can learn in a hands-on environment. For kids who enjoy the outdoors, the Padre Island National Seashore consists of 70 miles of unspoiled, natural beaches where visitors can camp, swim and fish, as well as observe organized releases of baby sea turtles. Within in the city, the 180-acre Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens and Nature Center showcases domestic and exotic plants including over 3,000 orchids.