Do you have a kid who is obsessed with all things dinosaur? We’ve got a round-up of all the best places to find our extinct friends from the past (or their bones) around town.
These are the top spots for kids who love dinosaurs in Austin!
Austin Nature and Science Center
2389 Stratford Drive
This 80-acre nature center is our favorite place in Austin to take dinosaur-lovers. This free, hands-on nature exhibit features beautiful nature trails, play areas to dig around for dinosaur bones, and tons of animals that have all been rescued. If you have a kiddo that’s interested in adding to his rock collection, stop by the gift shop! In addition to spacious grassy areas to have a picnic lunch, Austin Nature and Science Center is very stroller-friendly.
Zilker Botanical Gardens
2220 Barton Springs Road
General admission: $1-$3
Located within Zilker Botanical Gardens is the Hartman Prehistoric Garden that was built in 1992. Karen and Doctor Mike Duffin discovered dinosaur footprints in Zilker Park while construction on a butterfly garden was happening. The garden was built to preserve the tracks and ancient turtle fossils. The two-acre garden feature a pond with a 15-foot high waterfall, life-size dinosaur sculptures, and tons of Jurassic-era foliage. A path takes you through the dramatic garden while casted dinosaur footprints lead you around.
3830 Brushy Creek Road, Cedar Park
Located in Cedar Park, a short drive from Austin, is Champion Park. This family-oriented park includes a shaded sand pit with giant dinosaur structures to climb through, on, and around. This sand pit was inspired by the discovery of the Mosasaurus Maximus fossil in 1934. In addition to plenty of picnic tables, there’s a splash pad for the kids to cool off and a dog-friendly trail for walking, biking, and strolling.
The Dinosaur Park
893 Union Chapel Road, Cedar Creek
General admission: $8-$9, kids under 23 months are free
While most the parks and nature centers on this list feature dinosaur skeletons, The Dinosaur Park feature realistic life-size dinos that show how they may have looked when they were alive. Walk through the tree-lined nature trail and see these enormous dinosaurs through the plants, trees, and rocks. The walk includes a scavenger hunt where kids can read clues to find the next stop along the trail. Visitors can also dig in the fossil area, play on the playground and enjoy the picnic area! Stop by the gift shop to browse their large selection of toys and dinosaurs.
Texas Memorial Museum
2400 Trinity Street
General admission: $5-$7, kids under 2-years-old are free
Located on the University of Texas’ campus, this museum’s focus is on paleontology, geology, herpetology, ichthyology, and entomology. In the hall of geology and paleontology, you can walk through exhibits featuring dinosaurs, fossils, meteorites, and more. This museum is home to The Onion Creek Mosasaur, the largest species of mosasaurs, a 30-foot long, 12-feet wide snake-like skeleton. In addition to all of the neat fossils, visitors can interact with scientists at the paleo lab to asks questions and see who fossils are prepared and studied.
Chisholm Valley Park
1201 Trey Street, Round Rock
This park has a tiny sand pit that’s barely worth mentioning, but the park itself is really cool and this might be the perfect size for the tiniest diggers to play. There are dinosaur bones to discover under the sand, so don’t forget your brushes and shovels.
Shoal Creek Greenbelt
2600 North Lamar Boulevard
While Shoal Creek isn’t a dinosaur-dedicated park with skeletons and replicas, it is a great place for local fossil hunting. Tiny, ancient crustaceans can be found along the banks of the water. Shoal Creek Conservancy also hosts geology and fossil hunts, a tour great for all ages.
Jurassic Car Wash
4809 South Congress
Have the dinosaur-loving kids in the car and need a car wash? Check out Jurassic Car Wash for a “drive-thru” dinosaur experience. This unique car wash features animatronic dinosaurs while you get your car cleaned.
To test your dinosaur-loving kids knowledge, download this 52-page Learn about Texas Dinosaurs coloring book! The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department free booklet features 21 different Texas-native dinosaurs to color and learn more about.