Entertaining Visiting Parents Who Don't Like Beer, Barbecue, Bands
When my mom comes to visit, it’s easy – she likes to do the same things I do. We go swimming, hit up some bars, hear bands and eat Tex Mex and BBQ. I hardly have to think about what we’ll do or where we’ll go because we can just do the things I normally like to do.
Not all of us are that lucky. Some of us have parents that only like classical music and have no interest in floating on a river, drinking a beer. What do you do when these parents come to visit our city, known for its music, its nightlife and its ability to throw back a few? Here are some suggestions that will hopefully appeal to those parents and maybe open another side of the city to you as well.
Visit a museum. This is an especially good option if the weather isn’t cooperating – if it’s too hot or on the rare occasion it rains. Unfortunately, Austin’s museums aren’t the most impressive, and if you have a parent visiting from a city where the museums are first class (New York, San Francisco, Boston, etc.), it might be a letdown. Still, the Blanton’s modern collection has some varied and interesting pieces (and is free on Thursdays), and the Austin Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria is worth visiting for a walk around the grounds alone. If nothing else, it kills a few hours and serves as a conversation starter.
Get a history lesson. If you have a history buff on your hands, the Texas History Museum is worth a shot, presenting Texas from its early settlement days to present. The Texas Memorial Museum has the fossils of the largest flying creature ever found, assembled and hanging from the ceiling no less. The Capitol also presents a nice opportunity to take in the sights and learn something as well – the expansive grounds are beautiful and tours are held throughout the week. There are also tours of the University of Texas Clock Tower that are supposed to be very interesting – touching not only on the shooting that happened there but also on the architecture of the building.
Take in some gardens. The Zilker Botanical Garden is only $2 for adults and $1 for seniors and is definitely worth a couple hours’ walk around the grounds, which feature a butterfly garden, a cactus and succulent garden, a Japanese garden and a prehistoric garden. There seems to always be something in bloom, and there are a few spots that give a fantastic view of the city. Alternatively, Mayfield Park and Preserve features an old cottage with a beautiful community garden and collection of lily ponds. There is also a large family of peacocks here that make the grounds its home. If you’re up for the drive, the Austin Wildflower Center is another garden worth noting, during the right times of the year (when it’s also likely to be quite crowded).
Get out of the city. Austin is surrounded by cute small towns that seem to exist solely to entertain parents and the RV crowd. Fredericksburg, for example, has specialty stores ranging from upscale pet supplies to specialty olive oils to women’s clothing. The main street is extremely walkable, and authentic German cuisine abounds. The Village of Salado is another town within a couple of hours that features a sculpture garden, a walkway along the creek, several local artist galleries and tons of specialty kitchen and home stores.
Go shopping. A stroll up and down South Congress generally pleases anyone visiting from out of town. The strip has clothing stores, cafes, antique shops and a book store and also presents a beautiful view of the city. Another option is Burnet Road, where antique and thrift stores abound.
Take in the views. With Austin’s generally pleasant weather and beautiful skyline and surroundings, there is plenty to see. Take a walk on the greenbelt, watch the sunset at Mount Bonnell, or simply have lunch at the Oasis, overlooking Lake Travis, or at Abel’s on the Lake, overlooking Lake Austin.
Whatever you do, make the best of it, and remember, it’s only for a few days!