The Austin Children's Museum in downtown Austin serves as a great outing for the entire family. My wife and I have had a membership there previously, and it is well worth the money. With a recent influx of funds, the museum has completely revamped many of the learning areas, and our kids, ages 9, 6, and nearly 2, had a terrific time on a recent excursion.
Their hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10am-5pm, and Sunday 12pm-5pm (Closed Mondays). Wednesday nights from 5pm-8pm are "community nights", which means FREE admission for everyone during that window of time.
The normal admission prices are as follows:
Children 2 yrs.and up: $5.50
Children 12-23 months: $3.50
Children under 12 months: FREE
They accept cash, check, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.
Memberships are only $75 for up to four visitors, and $125 for 5-6 visitors.
I must admit that during our last visit, I had at least as much fun as my children. The theme was "Play it by Ear", and it focused on making and experiencing sounds, and how sound waves travel. One cool exhibit was the 100 foot sound tunnel which is capped on one end. You can put your head inside and speak, yell, snap, or clap and listen as the sound echoes back to you a split second later. I also got to wear a series of funky headphones that altered the sound dramatically.
One of the permanent exhibits is an "Austin City Limits" stage complete with costumes for kids (and grown-ups like me who have no shame) to play along with a series of taped live music performances by Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, and a host of other stars. They also have a few "instruments" and a set of bleachers for the "fans". They also have a small kid-sized store with a cash register, and a really cool train exhibit in a tower above the main floor of the museum. I always like going up there, since it includes some great tunes as well.
They have a large exploration/crafts area upstairs with gears to play with, small electric motor experiments, gravity lessons, and more.
I highly recommend checking out this museum for residents and visitors alike. It is located at the corner of 2nd Street and Colorado, in the heart of downtown, so you can expect to pay $5-7 for parking. Enjoy your trip to this great facility!