By Ashley Donde
Ride the rails on an authentic steam train, go for a splash in an indoor waterpark, and 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 have your own memorable family getaway in Cedar Park.
Ride an Old-Fashioned Train
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 (Sept. 28 – 29) 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. 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.
Go for a Splash
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.
Eat, then Play
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).
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
It’s not a real family getaway until the kids have had their sugar rush. Look no further than Scoop & Score to fit the bill. 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 (in case you need a pick-me-up). 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 topped with your choice of everything from almonds and banana slices to M&M’s, 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.
Snap Your Next Family Photo
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 mural at SpringHill Suites. This mural features all things Texas—a longhorn, the Texas flag, and a field of bluebonnets. The eye-catching mural, “All Eyes on Me,” outside of Cedar Park Vision is another great spot for a family photo.
Looking for some adventure? Head to Champion Park. Not only will you be treated to an eye-popping field of bluebonnets in springtime, your kids will love the dinosaur bone climbing area. Dinosaur eggs, a T-Rex skull, and other life-sized “bones” make for fantastic photos, and a very special playtime experience for little dino-loving explorers. The park also features a sand pit (with hidden dinosaur bones), splash pad, walking trails, covered picnic areas, swings, and a creek.
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.