By Ashley Donde
Enjoy a fun-for-all-ages adventure in Cedar Park. Situated just northwest of Austin, this Hill Country gem is bursting at the seams with activities for all ages. Here you’ll find plenty of exciting things to see and do for the whole family. Read on to discover how you can create your own memorable family getaway in Cedar Park.
All aboard! Embark on the ride of a lifetime with the Austin Steam Train Association. A variety of themed excursions are available throughout the year, appealing to kids and those young at heart. Day Out With Thomas is an annual event where kids participate in a variety of exciting activities, including a 25-minute ride on a vintage train pulled by the famous blue tank engine. In late November & early December, you can also experience the magic of the holidays like never before on the North Pole Flyer, a two-hour train ride with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, freshly baked cookies, and cups of hot cocoa.
Other steam train rides, like The Hill Country Flyer and the Bertram Flyer, take passengers on scenic tours of some of the most beautiful countryside in Texas. Enjoy the modern amenities of a climate-controlled train-car, while appreciating the vintage train aesthetic. These beautifully restored train cars—built between the late 1930’s and early 1950’s—each have their own fascinating history. Make the most of your time in Cedar Park and check out more family friendly trip ideas here.
Grab the swimsuits, leave the sunblock, and let the kids go wild at the Splash Shack, an exciting re-imagination of the indoor water park. Your kiddos will have a blast splashing around the colorful 30-foot-tall interactive water play structure featuring waterslides, tipping buckets, splash pads, and more.
Watch them play from the comfort of a beachy Adirondack chair, or join your little ones in the water. The air temperature is set to 82 degrees, so no matter the weather outside, conditions are always perfect inside. Not only that, the straightforward layout of the splash park makes it easy for you to keep your eyes on small children, and kids can enjoy water play that’s age and skill appropriate. The Shack provides concessions, like pizza and drinks, so you can spend your whole afternoon soaking up fun without the sun.
When little tummies are grumbling, Cedar Park answers the call. Choose from several family-friendly restaurants with playgrounds, where everyone’s appetite for food and fun will be satisfied. Fresh Mexican food served up to perfection is the daily standard at Santa Catarina. Get your taco fix, indulge in enchiladas, and sip a margarita while watching your kids play on the covered playground from the patio. At Mandola’s Italian Kitchen, mouthwatering spaghetti, gnocchi, fettuccini, and pizza dishes and twinkling cafe lights provide a cozy ambience for a memorable family dinner, while the playground provides endless entertainment for kids who can’t sit still. (Bonus: gelato comes free with kid’s meals).
Celebrate your family getaway with something sweet at Scoop & Score. Decadent scoops, cones, ice cream tacos, shakes, sundaes, and lots of sweet toppings are on the menu at this ice cream shop that serves the famous—and hard-to-come-by—Graeter’s ice cream and local Cuvée coffee. The shop is family owned, with an inviting atmosphere for kids and parents to spend some sweet time together.
There are more tasty treats to be enjoyed at Andy’s Frozen Custard. Dig into a heaping cup of vanilla or chocolate custard mixed with your choice of everything from brownies and toffee bits to peanut butter cups, and melted chocolate syrup. They even have sundaes, splits, malts, frozen custard bars, and an array of seasonal treats that give you plenty of reason to visit any time of the year. Their retro style walk-up counter is a sweet nod to ice cream parlors of the past, making Andy’s the perfect pit-stop for a frozen treat with the family.
When all is said and done, your memories are the greatest treasures you keep. Cedar Park is home to several picture-perfect spots to take frame-worthy family photos. For a classic “Texas” picture, don your boots and cowboy hats and snap a pic in front of "The Golden Rule" the mural at SpringHill Suites. This mural features all things Texas—a longhorn, the Texas flag, and a field of bluebonnets. For something more modern, the eye-catching “All Eyes on Me” mural outside of Cedar Park Vision is another great spot to visit. This pop-art influenced mural was created by a local Austin-based street artist and serves as a bright and playful backdrop for family photos.
If you are visiting Cedar Park in the springtime, then a photoshoot in a bluebonnet field is a Texas tradition that you won’t want to miss. Families from all over the Hill Country find picture-worthy spots at many of our parks and open fields. The bright blue color of the flowers popping up through the lush green grass make for breathtaking photos. After your family photoshoot, enjoy mild spring temperatures by taking a stroll through our park’s beautiful trails and take in all the wildflowers and bluebonnets along the way.
Families will discover tons of memory-making fun in Cedar Park. Discover more local activities and start planning your Cedar Park getaway today.
About the Author: Ashley Donde is a freelance writer who loves adventure. Her family of four can often be found exploring the great outdoors, touring museums, or enjoying a local festival.