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Welcome to Growing Up Austin – With An ACL Summary

Austin City Limits Music Festival
There has been extra traffic around here this week, with ACL going on. If you are coming by for the first time, welcome! I’m so glad you came! For the new timers and old-timers, here is a summary of the ACL and Growing Up Austin info:

Austin City Limits WITH Kids: A Ten Point Plan

Austin City Limits WITHOUT Kids: A Five Point Plan

Austin City Limits WITHOUT a Ticket: A Three Point Plan

Here are the Growing Up Austin web sites that help Austin families have fun all year-round:

AustinKidsDance.com – Find grown-up live music in kid-friendly venues.

AustinKidsHike.com – Discover kid-friendly hikes without leaving the city limits.

AustinKidsDraw.com – Explore seeing and doing art with kids.

Besides the web sites, there is a blog that talks about how to find the special in the everyday with your kids. Click for email or rss updates.

I’ll let y’all know how things go this weekend. And if that weren’t enough, I have a surprise interview with a Texas Conference for Women speaker who might just blow your mind in a deep and quiet kind of way.


Austin Kids Dance – Restaurants

This page includes my favorite kid-friendly restaurants with early, weekly live music shows. The weekly shows are pretty regular, but not always, so I included phone numbers to call ahead and confirm. If you attend a show, leave a comment on this page! I would love to hear about it!

Restaurant Calendar

Click on the venue name to see a description and links. These weekly schedules can vary, call ahead if you want to be sure of the time. Only shows that start at 8:00 or earlier are included.

THR 6:00 Freddie’s
6:30 Central Market – North Lamar, Guero’s
7:00 Maria’s Taco Express
FRI 6:00 Freddie’s
6:30 Central Market – North Lamar and Westgate, Guero’s, Zed’s
7:00 Maria’s Taco Express, Green Mesquite, Waterloo Ice House – 38th
7:30 Nutty Brown Cafe

SAT

6:00 Freddie’s
6:30 Central Market – North Lamar and Westgate, Guero’s, Zed’s
7:00 Green Mesquite, Maria’s Taco Express
7:30 Nutty Brown Cafe

SUN

10:00 Nutty Brown Cafe
11:00 Threadgill’s – North Lamar, Threadgill’s – Riverside
3:00 Guero’s
6:00 Freddie’s
7:00 Green Mesquite
8:00 Threadgill’s – Riverside

MON

8:00 Threadgill’s – Riverside

TUE

6:30 Nutty Brown Cafe
8:00 Threadgill’s – Riverside

WED

5:30 Waterloo Ice House – 38th
6:30 Central Market – Westgate, Guero’s, Nutty Brown Cafe, Threadgill’s – North Lamar
7:00 Maria’s Taco Express

Restaurant Map

Click on the map push pin for the same information about each venue.

Center map
Get Directions

 

Restaurant Descriptions

All of the venues listed have a few things in common. They are not a bar, even though they some sell drinks. They have at least one regular, weekly live music show that starts at 8:00pm or earlier. Most don’t have a cover charge and meals cost about $7-$10 per adult, unless it says otherwise. Outdoor venues tend to have more room for dancing while most indoor venues are better for listening to the music from your table (but they are much better for a rainy day). Some restaurants have both indoor and outdoor tables and music, depending on the season and the weather, so call ahead for them, if you want to be sure.
 
There is some dancing etiquette when it comes to little kids in restaurants. Be aware of the overall scene and keep the kids out from under the waiter’s feet. Be sure to buy food, so the restaurant is encouraged to keep the music coming and tip the band, because they make it all possible.


 
Central Market – North Lamar
4001 North Lamar Blvd.          206-1000
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Central Market’s Lamar location has a shady outdoor deck for the music with lots of room for kids to dance. I like eating indoors here, where there are fewer distractions, then heading outside for the music. There is a large playground outdoors, behind the band. They have all different kinds of food at the cafe, from the more healthy, like Salmon Niciose Salad, to comfort food like Mac and Cheese. I love the variety of music styles of the bands, including jazz, Americana, swing, latin, bluegrass, singer-songwriter and blues. They also have Wednesday and Sunday shows semi-regularly, check out the web site for more info.


 
Central Market – Westgate
4477 South Lamar          899-4300
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Central Market’s Westgate location has a small indoor stage in their cafe. There isn’t a lot of room to dance here and there isn’t a playground or outdoor space. The cafe food is about the same as Central Market – North Lamar, so is the fun variety of music genres. If you’ve already eaten, it is fun to get a little something from the grocery for the kids to share, like a single serving of cake or a candy treat from the bulk section.


 
Freddie’s
1703 South First          445-9197
restaurant           music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
You can tell Freddie’s is fun just by walking by, with its colorful lights and backyard-style patio. The have an outdoor stage with a playground just to the side, so parents can listen to the music and keep an eye on their kids at the same time. There is a good amount of room for dancing. They serve traditional burgers, sandwiches and salads and some more interesting choices like Chicken and Waffles, Deep Fried Portebella Mushrooms and Fried PB&J for dessert. (There are more unhealthy options here than healthy, in general.) Parking is limited, it helps to get there early to find a spot.


 
Green Mesquite
1400 Barton Springs          479-0485
restaurant      music               menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun

Green Mesquite has traditional Texas bar-b-que at two locations, but the Barton Springs location is the only one with live music. The bands are traditional blues and bluegrass, they are very talented and the music is accessible to kids. There is some parking for the restaurant, but not very much, and street parking is a challenge, since the restaurant is on the same block as Chuy’s and Shady Grove. You can plan on a bit of a walk or have a back up plan if it is too nuts.


 
Guero’s
02/2011 post
1412 South Congress          447-7688
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Guero’s is amazing. If my budget and metabolism could manage it and if we lived closer, I might eat there every night. The shrimp fajitas are super yummy and the margaritas are my favorite in all of Austin. The restaurant is inside, so you can focus on eating, while enjoying the AC, before you head to the music on the outdoor patio. Some food and drinks are available outside too. The setup is informal, with picnic benches and a few tables. The area has a stone fence around it, which helps with super little kids. Guero’s is very busy on weekends, so early dinners are best for avoiding a wait. Guero’s is also popular with the tourists, so you might go at an off-peak time or pick another place during big festivals like Austin City Limits and South By Southwest. There is free parking in a garage behind the restaurant, the entrance is on Elizabeth Street, just get your ticket validated when you eat.


 
Maria’s Taco Express
2529 South Lamar          444-0261
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Maria’s is an interesting place, just looking at it, before you eat or listen to music. The wide open arms of the more-than-life-size statue out front sets the tone. Then, there is the freshly made Mexican food with interesting spices. They are known for their tacos, but have enchiladas, fajitas, fish and salads too. Their outdoor stage is in an interesting space and it’s fully covered, out of the sun and rain. When it isn’t too crowded, you can move some tables and make room for dancing.


 
Nutty Brown Cafe
12225 West Highway 290          301-4648
restaurant          music           menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Nutty Brown Cafe is built for families, you can feel that when you first walk in the door. The food is a combination of home cooking and Tex-Mex, with chili, chicken fried steak, enchiladas, fajitas and burgers.  There is an outdoor amphitheater with mostly Texas Country music and 10 acres for the kids to run around, and a second outdoor stage for smaller acts. Many of their shows have more established artists, so they have cover charges, others are free. Tuesdays are Kids Nights in the summer at 6pm, with 99 cent kids meals, made-for-kids music, bouncy castles, face painting and balloon animals. In the winter, there is a smaller indoor stage with Cajun music and Cajun food on Friday nights. It is pretty far south and hard to get to during the week, especially if you are north of Lady Bird Lake, but Saturdays aren’t a problem and it’s worth a longer drive.


 
Threadgill’s – North Lamar
6416 North Lamar          451-5440
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Janis Joplin, Joe Ely and other famous musicians played Threadgill’s early in their careers, maybe you will see another star getting their start! Threadgill’s has home cooking types of food, with burgers, chicken fried steak and a famous vegetable plate (your choice of red beans and rice, black eyed peas, broccoli rice casserole, collard greens, fried okra and more). The environment is definitely indoors and sit-down, without room to dance. The music is bluegrass, singer-song writer, blues and Americana. There is usually a opener at 6:30 and a headliner at 8:30. There are more shows each week than listed, I listed only those that start at 8:00pm or earlier.


 
Threadgill’s – Riverside
301 West Riverside          472-9304
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Threadgill’s Riverside has music styles and food similar to the North Lamar location. The Riverside location has indoor and outdoor stages and the outdoor stage is especially good for kids who like to run around and dance. The musicians on the outdoor stage are usually more well-known, which means they sometimes come with a cover charge, so check their web site for info. They have later shows on the weekends and now and then they have an afternoon show on Sunday (only the regular shows that start at 8:00 or earlier are included in this calendar).


 
Waterloo Ice House 38th
1106 West 38th St.          451-5245
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
There are a lot of Waterloo Ice House locations in town, but the one on 38th and Medical Parkway is the only one with live music. It has a long tradition of live music; it was a venue in the early careers of Lyle Lovett and Toni Price. This is one of the indoor locations, better for listening than for dancing. There is a lot of unhealthy food to be tempted by, but the salads are pretty good and they have a few healthy options for kids too. They have more shows than the ones listed here and some are at 5:30, a great time for families, but they haven’t been regular lately, so they aren’t included. The start times also vary, so check their web site for more information.


 
Zed’s
501 Canyon Ridge          339-9337
restaurant           music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Zed’s is a modern, casual restaurant serving salads, homestyle food and steaks. This is probably the most grown-up-looking place in the list, it might even feel like a date night. Their food is more expensive than most of the other places, but the quality is pretty good. Since it is away from downtown, the parking is easy. There is a grassy area and a creek behind the stage which can be fun for some kids, but a pain for the parents if you have little ones that like to wander and need supervision.


Austin Kids Dance – Festivals

This page includes my favorite music-based Austin festivals that are a good fit for kids. If you attend a festival, leave a comment. I would love to hear about it!

Festivals Calendar

Click on the festival name for a description. No festivals are listed for December – February.

Urban Music Festival

March
South By Southwest
April
Old Settler’s Music Festival
May
Cinco de Mayo Festival
Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park
Kerville Folk Festival
June
Blues on the Green
Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park
Keep Austin Weird Fest
Kerville Folk Festival
July
Blues on the Green
Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park
Music Under the Star
August
Austin Bat Fest
Blues on the Green
Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park
September
Austin City Limits
Diez y Seis Festival
October
Gypsy Picnic
November
Austin Celtic Festival

Festivals Map

Click on the push pin for more information. Click on Kerville Folk Festival and Old Settler’s Music Festival for those maps. They aren’t included below, since they are located outside of Austin.

Center map
Get Directions

Festivals Descriptions

All of the festivals listed have a few things in common. They are kid-friendly, with activities that appeal to kids and/or helpful kid services and they focus on a music theme. (Just about every festival has music, check here for a more complete list of Austin-area festivals.)

For safety, I keep a low kid-to-adult ratio, depending on the kid’s ages and how likely they are to wander off. I have a plan for what to do if we get lost, and let the little ones know what to do. Some festivals have a tagging system to help reunite lost parents and kids. I bring lots of water and snacks and a wagon to get around when legs get tired. Each festival has their own rules for what you can and can’t bring, where to park, and that kind of thing, so check out the web site before you head out.


 
Austin Bat Fest
Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge
August 25, 2012
Free
Austin Bat Fest is a small one-day festival celebrating Austin’s home town bats. There is music in the afternoon and evening on two stages. The stars of the show, the bats, will emerge between 7:00 and 8:30pm, then a costume contest follows.
back to calendar       back to map


 
Austin Celtic Festival
Fiesta Gardens
November 3-4, 2012
$15/day for adults, free for 12 and under
The Austin Celtic Festival is a gathering of Celts in central Texas to enjoy traditional Celtic music, dance, games and animals. The festival educates people about the history and craftsmanship that is the basis for the Celtic music tradition.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Austin City Limits
10/2010 post
Zilker Park
October 12-14, 2012
$90 for 1 day, $200 for all 3 days, free for 10 and under
The good news is that this festival has eight stages with bands of all genres, from local favorites to major national headliners. The bad news is that it is expensive and HUGE with up to 75,000 people. HUGE means it takes a long time to get there and get home, lines for food and restrooms can be difficult and it is easy to get separated. There is more good news, one stage is just for kid’s music, there are kid’s activities and there is a tagging system to reunite lost parents and kids.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Blues on the Green
Zilker Park
Wednesdays, June 6- August 29, 2012, at 7:30pm
Free
Blues on the Green presents high-profile bands for free on Wednesday evenings in the summer. They are open to picnic dinners, but have food for sale too. Parking and getting in are a bit of a commitment, especially during since it is during the week, but the music is great and the price is right.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Cinco de Mayo Festival
Fiesta Gardens
May 5, 2012
$5-$10 for adults, free for 12 and under
The Cinco de Mayo Festival commemorates Mexico’s independence from France. It promotes Hispanic history, heritage and traditions. The festival includes traditional Hispanic foods, Tejano and Conjunto bands, vendor booths and a car show.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Diez y Seis Festival
Fiesta Gardens
September 15, 2012
$5-$10 for adults, free for 12 and under
The Diez y Seis Festival commemorates Mexico’s independence from Spain. It promotes Hispanic history and culture with traditional foods, dancing and music, with Tejano, Conjunto, Tropical and Norteno bands. There are festival games for the kids and craft vendors.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Gypsy Picnic
Auditorium Shores
A Saturday in October
Free
The Gypsy Picnic is a celebration of Austin Trailer food, with your favorite trailer vendors and live music all day. The Sideshow has story time, vaudeville and circus tricks for the kids.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park
Long Center
Sunday evenings, July 8 – August 26, 7:30pm
Free
The Austin Symphony holds free concerts on Sunday evenings during the summer. A different small part of the symphony plays each week, playing both popular and classical compositions. Blankets and picnic dinners are allowed.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Keep Austin Weird Fest
Auditorium Shores
June 23, 2012
$15 for adults, free for 12 and under
Keep Austin Weird is a 5K and a festival with music, family activities, people wearing wacky costumes and promotion of Austin local businesses.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Kerville Folk Festival
Quiet Valley Ranch outside Kerville, Texas (2 hours from Austin)
May 24 – June 10, 2012
About $40/day without camping, free for 11 and under
The Kerville Folk Festival lasts for three weeks and is open to campers and people coming for the day. Folk music legends and new comers have been playing this festival for more than thirty years. There are swimming holes nearby to stay cool and funky arts-and-crafts vendors.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Music Under the Star
Bob Bullock State History Museum
Fridays, July 6 – July 27, 6:00pm
Free
Every Friday and July the Bob Bullock State History Museum hosts live music on the Lone Star Plaza, next to the huge bronze star in front of the museum. Between sets, you can visit the museum for free. (The museum is better for kids 5 and older, since reading is required for most exhibits.) The bands in 2011 were an interesting mix of funky classical, swing and Latin rock.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 

Old Settler’s Music Festival

Salt Lick Pavillion in Driftwood, Texas (20 minutes from downtown Austin)
April 19-22, 2012
About $140 for 3 days, free for 12 and under
Old Settler’s Music Festival features acoustic jazz, blues, bluegrass and Americana performers. Vendors sell arts and crafts and you can camp if you like. There is a youth competition for performers that are 18 years and younger, you can see the contestants perform and see the winner play on a main stage.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
South By Southwest (SXSW)
Locations all over Austin
March 9-18, 2013
$0 – $150
See 03/2010a post, 03/2010b post, 03/2011 post, 03/2012a post, 03/2012b post, 03/2012c post and 03/2012d post
SXSW is a conference music industry professionals, who meet in conference sessions by day, then 3,000 bands take over the city by night. Most bands play in bars until the early morning hours and a wristband costs $150 or more. For Moms, it is best to forget the official schedule. Try Auditorium Shores on Saturday afternoon when it is less crowded, not too hard to park and free. Another option is to stroll along South Congress during the day. There are fun vendors, great people watching and bands playing for free on every corner.
back to calendar       back to map
 

 
Urban Music Festival
Auditorium Shores
March 31, 2012
$25 for adults, $5 7-12, free for 6 and under
The Urban Music Festival celebrates urban culture and coincides with the Texas Relays Weekend, a long-standing and tradition-rich track and field event at the University of Texas. In 2011l FAMCITI hosted kids activities with inflatable slides, an obstacle course, carnival midway games and face painting.
back to calendar       back to map