AUSTIN (KXAN) — Looking for something different to do with your kids this weekend? Here are three unique, kid-friendly adventures in the Austin-area.
Austin Duck Adventures
You’ve probably seen the Austin Duck Adventures tours around town. If you’re lucky enough to be standing on the side of the road when one passes, you’re likely to get “quacked at,’ meaning the folks on board blow into whistle-like duck bills at you.
The tours also draw eyes when the bus, which doubles as a large pontoon boat, drives right into the lake, where the tour continues.
“I had to get out of the house today because we had some work being done, so I thought it would be fun to go on a duck tour that I never go on,” said Barbara Glaser Fryer, a woman who has lived in Austin since the 80’s and was on the tour last week.
Even Glaser Fryer admitted, with her extensive Austin knowledge, there were things she learned on the tour. It’s something Robert “Captain Bob” Ojeda promises will be the case if you decide to give the tour a whirl.
“You’re out here for 75 minutes and you get to know things that would take you about a week to discover,” he said. “I promise you, you’ll find things out about the city that you didn’t know.”
- Where: The tour starts at 602 E 4th Street
- Price: $25-$50
- Contact: (512) 477-5274
- Website: Find Austin Duck Adventures online here
Without his love of animals, Dianne Odegard joked it’s unlikely she would have ever ended up with Lee Mackenzie. Thankfully, that wasn’t a hurdle for Mackenzie, who now spends his Saturdays lovingly hand feeding baby bats.
The couple runs the Austin Bat Refuge in the backyard of their quaint yellow home in the Mueller area. A massive flight cage, which doubles as an organic garden that attracts moths, takes up most of the yard. Inside are long water troughs or “swoop zones” and a habitat built specifically for bats who have found themselves injured or sick.
“We take bats in from, usually from the public. They find them sometimes on the ground, sometimes roosting low on a wall, sometimes injured and we give them a home here, we fix them up, and if we possibly can, we let them go back to the wild,” Odegard said.
The most patient of bat enthusiasts often get to see those releases at the Austin ‘bat bridge’ on Congress Avenue, which happen after swarms of bats exit the bridge for their nightly migration. While it’s not a guarantee, people often gather at the bat bridge just before sunset to watch. It tops the list of coolest things to see in Austin.
“It is one of the things that makes Austin really unique and special,” Mackenzie said. He is out Friday and Saturday nights in the summer doing education with the kids about how to handle bats and sharing fun facts. You’ll find him at the Austin Bat Refuge table — which was recently equipped with a night vision camera.
- Where: Congress Avenue Bridge
- Price: Free
- Best time of year: The bats can be seen from late March through early fall but Mackenzie said August and early September are the best
- Website: The City of Austin’s website has more details about the bat bridge. You can find details about the Austin Bat Refuge on its website.
Karts at COTA
Racing at Circuit of the Americas isn’t just for the pros. If you enter COTA from the Austin-side, you may not have immediately seen the go-kart track nestled into the complex, but it’s there and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday.
“Our carts do go up to 55 mph so they go pretty fast,” Itzel Lopez, the karting manager at COTA, explained.
The track just underwent some changes which make the straight away one of the longest in the country and also added “swooping S-turns” which make the course “super fun and challenging.”
You can rent the course for an event or come out and race in the fun or competitive races, making new friends (or karting enemies, you do you).
“We saw a couple of racers there so it was very nice,” one of the go-kart racers said of being right next to COTA’s professional track. “I haven’t a track this big before.”
- Where: 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd
- When: Open Monday and Tuesday from 5p-10p and Wednesday through Sunday from 11a-10p
- Price: $35 and up
- Website: You can find rules and reservations on the COTA Karting website.