The ultimate ATX visitor's guide... for the less-than-ultimate guest

Published On 07/25/2013 Published On 07/25/2013
Toy Joy exterior

Because not everyone has the stamina to stand in line for three hours at Franklin or stand up straight after drinking their way across 6th St, we've compiled a list of recommendations for those harder-to-please, but still-very-welcome visitors to our fair city. THE GUEST: YOUR SISTER AND HER THREE-YEAR-OLD KID Because finding a place for a kid to play in Austin isn't exactly... child's play, here're five spots where a kid can be a kid. Toy Joy, 403 W 2nd St; 2nd St District; 512.320.0090 After 25yrs spent serving the big kids of the UT campus, the iconic Toy Joy has moved to the more parent-friendly 2nd St District, where it's still peddling the same array of wacky, actually hilarious gifts, like a bag of concentrated unicorn farts. No, really.

Austin Children's Museum, 201 Colorado St; 2nd St District; 512.472.2499
The Austin Children's Museum is a solid pick for their Funstruction Zone (3 stories of foam structure-building!), a physics-based golf ball Rube Goldberg-esque exhibit, and even basic wood-working classes. Best of all, there're a dozen watering holes within a few blocks for you to escape for a quick drink.

Central Market, 4001 N Lamar Blvd; Hyde Park; 512.206.1000
Sample City, aka Central Market, is swarming with families trying tastes of the latest gourmet groceries, plus it's got a cafe with an awesome patio, and actually legit live music.

Peter Pan Mini-Golf, 1207 Barton Springs Rd; South Austin; 512.472.1033
For the last 65yrs, Peter Pan Mini Golf has served as a Barton Springs Rd Never-Never Land of laid-back putting vibes, and lucky for you they never-never get upset if you bring in beer.

Coolhaus, 403 E 15th St; Downtown
Every kid loves ice cream sandwiches! And Coolhaus delivers the frosty goodness in flavors that will blow both your sis and her child's mind, while her kid runs circles through the East Side Fillin' Station food trailer park.

Remind your grandfolks of the sorta-good old days with some antique oddities, nostalgic agriculture, and the Vietnam War.

Mayfield Park and Laguna Gloria, 3505 W 35th St; North Austin; 512.467.1868
Because, back in their day, peacocks were everywhere, the double-shot of the bird-filled grounds of Mayfield Park and Laguna Gloria offers a sanctuary from the loud sounds of the city.

LBJ Museum, 2313 Red River St; UT/West Campus; 512.721.0200
Although grandma and grandpa may be shocked by the realism of the animatronic president, the LBJ Museum is a must for any history buff, and while you're there you can enjoy a Vietnam decision room video game.

Springdale Farm, 755 Springdale Rd; Central East; 512.386.8899
If grandma grew up on a farm, or just likes to eat like she did, hop over to tour the bountiful grounds of Springdale Farm, or make reservations for their farm-to-table weekend meals via Eden East.

Uncommon Objects, 1512 S Congress Ave; South Austin; 512.442.4000
The best of the best antiquing is to be had at South Congress's Uncommon Objects, and luckily your granny's poor eyesight won't be good enough to read some of the staggering price tags.

Alta's Cafe, 74 Trinity St; Downtown; 806.786.0115
One of Austin's best-kept secrets, Alta's Cafe sits right on the water and serves as a scenic-but-still-in-the-city afternoon activity with simple snacks, coffee, and breakfast tacos.

You stood beside him when he pledged Sigma Phi, and you're still standing beside him now that he's pledged not to consume alcohol because of a court order or a nagging wife or a liver problem. But hey, there's still sports, right?

Pinballz, 8940 Research Blvd; North-Central; 512.420.8458
Relive classic bumper-based gaming at Pinballz, whose collection of games has climbed to 200+ and boasts nearly all of the most canonized tables, ranging from movie tie-ins like Star Trek to all-time classics like Medieval Madness.

SUP ATX, 515 S Congress Ave; South Austin; 512.517.5417
Take in the majestic non-alcoholic beauty of Lady Bird Lake on a stand-up paddle board rented through SUP ATX.

Red's Indoor Range, 6200 W Highway 290; West Austin; 512.892.4867
Let off some steam with one-on-one shooting lessons, or by renting out everything from Berettas to AK-47s.

TopGolf, 11301 Burnet Rd; North-Central; 512.222.5950
Whether or not he's a golfer, TopGolf is still a pretty damn smart move, given that their system caters to amateurs and they've got a legit menu, plus plenty of other distractions, like pool and a really cute wait staff.

iFly, 13265 N US 183; North-West; 512.774.4359
Since your buddy can't take any substances to get high, opt for an unforgettable indoor skydiving session.

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1. Toy Joy 403 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701 (2nd St District)

An independent toy store selling everything from "Unicorn Farts" to stuffed animals to Pokemon gear, Toy Joy was opened in 1987 and has been an Austin landmark ever since.

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2. Austin Children's Museum 201 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701 (2nd St District)

A kids' fun center founded in 1983 and dedicated to education and play, the ACM is now housed in the $4.8mil Dell Discovery Center downtown.

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3. Central Market 4001 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756 (Hyde Park)

A gourmet grocery story with a sweet outdoor patio, live music, and free samples for dayyyyysssssss.

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4. Peter Pan Mini-Golf 1207 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704 (South Austin)

Peter Pan Mini-Golf is two 18-hole miniature golf courses built in 1946 that have become an Austin landmark.

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5. Coolhaus 403 E 15th St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

The LA-based mobile dessert peddler slings build-your-own scream-wiches out of six types of cookies (ginger, snickerdoodle, oatmeal...) stuffed with inventive flavors.

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6. Mayfield Park 3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703 (North)

Mayfield Park was purchased by a former TX Secretary of State in 1909, who then populated the two-acre garden with a flock of peacocks whose descendants roam the grounds to this day and can often be seen nesting in the overhanging palm trees.

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7. LBJ Presidential Library 2313 Red River St, Austin, TX 78705 (Utwest Campus)

The LBJ Library and Museum is located on the UT campus and recently underwent an $11 million dollar renovation. It includes everything from LBJ's cowboy boots, to the suit he was wearing on the day that JFK was assassinated, to A ROBOTIC LBJ.

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8. Springdale Farm 755 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX 78702 (Central East)

A 4.8 acre farm that grows over 75 regional vegetable varieties, hosts a popular farm stand Wednesday and Saturday mornings, and hosts Eden East, a weekend pop-up resto.

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9. Uncommon Objects 1512 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 (South Austin)

A collection of antiques/oddities from 24 purveyors of goods, located right in the center of the SoCo shopping district.

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10. Alta's Cafe 74 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

Alta's Cafe is a beer garden with views of Lady Bird Lake that's only open on weekends, and on which you'll be able to get sweet brews and great sandwiches. In addition to that perfect patio view, there's fresh smoothies, cold brew coffee, local beer, free yoga on Tuesday mornings and bottomless mimosas on every first Saturday. The open-air feel of the entire establishment will have you relaxed and recharged for the next week.

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11. Pinballz Arcade 8940 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78757 (North Central)

Ballz is a massive, multi-level love letter to the lost art of pinball, with 70 machines including the all-time top 20, as rated annually by a bunch of people you wouldn't want to get into an argument about pinball with.

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12. SUP ATX Retail Store 515 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 (South Austin)

A paddle board shop that does everything from boards to gear and accessories. They are credited with introducing/popularizing the sport known as Stand Up Paddle Surfing (SUP) starting in 2008.

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13. Red's Indoor Range South 6200 W Highway 290, Austin, TX 78735 (West Austin)

An indoor shooting range from the Red's team (which also has two retail locations). Red's has been in the firearms industry for over 20yrs.

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14. TopGolf 11301 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78758 (North Central)

A driving range cum enormous dart board cum sports bar, TopGolf provides you and your friends with "bay" rental by the hour (clubs included!) so that you can try to hit targets hundreds of yards away, all while sipping booze from golf bag-shaped fishbowls.

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15. iFLY Indoor Skydiving 13265 N US 183, Austin, TX 78750 (North West)

iFLY's experience is designed to mimic free-fall, and their system harnesses the same technology as the simulators used by skydiving professionals and the military.