This summer our daughter’s best friend from Chicago visited with her whole family. For an entire week we showed our dear friends some of our favorite Austin spots. As we planned to tote the kiddos all over the place, our main theme was toddler-friendly activities. Here’s how we ALL enjoyed a heaping serving of good ol’ Texas fun.

toddler activities in Austin, Texas, Austin ZooAustin Zoo – This little animal sanctuary is great for getting up close and feeding the animals. Our animal encounters included watching as a male lion got rejected by a feline for his “loving advances.” We were splashed by playing tigers, and we fed goats. Watch out for the ducks and geese – they bite!

Pedernales Falls State Park – This park is about a 40-minute drive from the Austin Zoo, which allowed for a perfect car nap time after the zoo. Swimming in the river was a cool break from the Texas heat. toddler activities in Austin, family fun in Austin, Texas, Pedernales Falls State ParkWe actually visited twice that week. H-E-B, the local grocery store, has the cutest Gecko floaties for $8. I think they fit into the Texas landscape way more naturally than dolphins and look better in photos!

Speaking of photos, of course we had to take our Austin iconic picture at the I Love You So Much sign. Then, we dashed around the corner for the BEST Carmel & Sea Salt Shakes at Hopdododdy Burger Bar, on South Congress Avenue.toddler activities in Austin, family fun in Austin, Texas, i love you so much sign

Rolly Pollies Gym – Our daughter attends this gym weekly, and we’ve got the privilege of having Mr. John, the franchise’s co-founder, as our main instructor here in Austin. So, we stopped by to give the kiddos some air-conditioned exercise and to share quality family time.

As a Father’s Day present, the hubbies hit a local gun range (it’s Texas, after all!), then enjoyed cigars at The Cigar Room and watched Blackhawks hockey. While our men practiced protecting their families, my friend and I enjoyed a girl’s night full of potty training mishaps, yummy brownies, and a sweet book club exchange. The little BFFs traded good-night books from their hometowns. good night Austin book, family fun in Austin, TexasWe taped this picture to the end of each story so the girls can say good-night to each other from across the country. The Good Night Austin bedtime book is a local favorite and can be hard to find, but Amy’s Ice Cream (which is in the book) has it at their Hill Country Galleria location.

family fun in Austin, TexasAfter a full week of loving and entertaining our families, my friend and I realized the two of us weren’t in a single picture together! Exhausted, but happy, we lay on the floor laughing and snapped this one.

What a special week with our Chi-town friends! Thanks for coming to visit Austin! Y’all come back real soon!