Long considered Austin’s  crown jewel, Barton Springs Pool (2101 Barton Springs Rd., 512/476-9044, www.ci.austin.tx.us , 5 a.m.–10 p.m., $1–3) in Zilker Metropolitan Park is the city’s ultimate recreational experience. A source of cool refreshment for nearly a century, the 1,000-foot-long pool is constantly replenished by revitalizing 68-degree spring water, a necessary remedy for Austin’s triple-digit summer temperatures.
The remainder of 350-acre Zilker Park is a sprawling urban oasis, with soccer fields, a hillside theater, sand volleyball courts, a massive playscape, a disc golf course, and picnic sites. Kids of all ages love the Zilker Zephyr (512/478-8286, $3.75 adults, $2.75 children) a miniature train that chugs around on several miles of track along the river and through the park.
Other family-friendly activities include the serene and stunning Zilker Botanical Gardens, featuring the otherworldly Taniguchi Oriental Garden, and the Austin Nature and Science Center, a wonderful destination for children, offering glimpses at Texas wildlife (bobcats, owls, reptiles, raccoons), a dinosaur digging pit, science exhibits, and nature trails.