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Creating the perfect summer day for you and the kiddos isn’t an easy feat in the most normal of times – and these times are anything but normal. That’s why Free Fun in Austin has partnered with happyly to offer you a bevy of curated activities for an active family day. It’s our mission to inspire fun and safe summer outings so you can spend less time planning and more time playing.
Before we continue, we want to remind you that with the rise of COVID-19, it’s best to stay home. We encourage you to consider the safety of yourself and your neighbors. Our family fun day features will remain online as a reference that you can access when you are able to safely experience the highlighted locations.
Let’s Go Spelunking in Austin (or super nearby)!
Explore Inner Space Caverns
Explorers of all ages and sizes will be absolutely awed by Georgetown’s Inner Space Cavern. Located 30 minutes north of Austin, the caverns are open daily and offer not one, but three different tours through their many underground mazes. They are set up so you can design-your-own adventure based on the age and skill level of your spelunkers.
The caverns were discovered in 1963 while the Texas Highway Department was researching whether the area could support a large highway overpass. Instead, the drillers found a 26-foot drop. By November of the same year, 7,000 feet of the caves had been surveyed. The first explorers found passages ranging from very tight crawl spaces to large cathedral-type rooms and halls. Three years later, they were opened to the public.
Because the caves are – well, caves, and located underground – exploring them is a great way to be outside with a much-needed reprieve from the hot summer sun. That said, don’t expect it to be cool inside. According to the website, it’s usually 72 degrees in the cavern, but with regular 98% humidity, it feels closer to 80 degrees inside. Open seven days a week, the cavern tours are not free, but we think it’s well worth the price to go spelunking in Austin!
Know before you go:
The caves are open, but due to COVID-19, masks must be worn by all spelunkers ages 10 and up. Physical distancing is enforced and tour capacity is limited (see website for availability and to purchase tickets in advance). Intense cleaning protocols are exercised, and staff members experience temperature checks upon arrival.
As always in these fluid times, it’s best to visit the website or call for the latest updates before driving out.
Prices vary by day (it’s slightly cheaper to visit Monday through Thursday) as well as the tour selection. The hour-long Adventure Tour is cheapest ($14.95-$21.95) and by far the easiest to traverse. A guide will lead explorers for a mile walk over a paved, lit trail passing through large rooms and formations while sharing the cavern’s history. All ages are welcome on the Adventure Tour.
The Hidden Passages Tour costs $5 more per ticket and lasts a little longer at approximately an hour and a half. The guide provides guests with flashlights to better explore the more delicate cave formations. This tour takes you past some of the site’s undeveloped trail through a newly-opened section of the caverns. Due to a more rugged terrain, this trail is not open to kids under seven, and guides recommend that guests with physical limitations or claustrophobia sit this one out.
For a much heftier fee, the Wild Cave Tour is $100 per person and takes guests – 13 and up – on a three to four-hour adventure through deep underground passages. Expect hiking, crawling, climbing, and squeezing through tight spots. Previous experience is not required, but be warned this tour is described as physically demanding and a signed waiver is required.
Inner Space Cavern
Location: 4200 S. I-35 Frontage Road, Georgetown
Hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Varies by day and tour; Adults – $20.95-26.95; Children (4-12) – $14.95-$18.95. Children 3 and under are free. Wild Cave Tour – $100 per person. Military ID – $2 off; AAA membership – $1.50 off.
Refuel with Queso at El Monumento
We know exploring takes a lot out of little adventures, so hit the refuel (and refresh) button with some much-needed Tex-Mex. El Monumento, also in Georgetown, is a ten-minute drive from the cavern and offers a shaded patio that’s open to socially distant customers at 50% capacity (check online or call to be sure). Or, if you prefer the pick-up and go option, that’s available too.
Cheese lovers will swoon over the queso, a Los Nino’s menu is available for the 12 and under crowd (chicken fingers and all), while the 21 and up guests can enjoy a refreshing house margarita.
Location: 205 W. 2nd St, Georgetown
Hours: Daily 3 to 9 p.m. (open Saturdays until 10 p.m.)
Make a Picnic at Berry Springs Park and Preserve
If you’re choosing to take out, picnic over at Berry Springs Park and Preserve. Located 10 minutes north of El Monumento, this lovely, 300-acre park boasts grassy hills and lots of pecan trees to relax under. At Berry Springs, you’ll also find a 2.5-mile hike (or biking!) trail as well as a pond that’s great for fishing but not open to swimmers. Water fountains have been turned off until further notice, so make sure to bring water.
Berry Springs Park and Preserve
Location: 205 W. 2nd Street, Georgetown
Hours: Daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Comfortable, closed-toe walking shoes.
- Pants and other clothes you wouldn’t mind staining or tearing.
- A fishing pole if you’re heading to Berry Springs.
Not permitted in the cave: Strollers, wheelchairs (or anything with wheels), tripods, food, or drink.
Happyly is the country’s only mobile-first family activity planning app focused on helping families live their best life.
We are passionate about supporting families in a fulfilling, balanced, and active outdoor lifestyle. How? By developing resources and delivering inspiration to fit your personal needs, whether it be for planning an afternoon or a long journey. With the help of happyly, you will save hours of wasted time planning, as well as the frustration and disappointment your tribe feels when your plans don’t turn out as you hoped.
By doing the leg work and endorsing our favorite activities based on first-hand knowledge, our expert team saves valuable time for our community, empowering parents to be fully present when it matters most. Working parents spend an average of twelve waking hours a week with their children. When you break it all down, it’s not a lot. So even just one or two hours a week spent searching or planning is just too many. Let us help you spend less time planning and more time experiencing life together.
If you have ideas for our next installment in our Family Fun Day Austin Series, we welcome them at [email protected]. Enjoying our content? Please download the free happyly app for fast access to all of our blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.