Great Gift Alternatives To Toys For Kids In And Around Austin

Ways to gift experiences and memories in Austin instead of toys


Toys are important, toys are fun.

Some toys are amazing and enriching to a child's imagination, learning and creativity.

But: Many toys are just something that gets wrapped up in pretty paper, so your child has something to rip into on Christmas morning, or on their birthday, or on any other gift-inspired holiday. These toys often last only for a short time, are forgotten in no time, and end up on the landfill.

Austin is an amazing city to raise kids.

The Austin area has so much to give and offers some fantastic toy-alternatives that serve your children (and your entire family) well.

Austin-Specific Toy-Alternatives


Here are ways to gift experiences and memories in the ATX instead of toys.

Animal fun and farms in and around Austin


Have an animal lover on your hand or want to teach your kid where our food comes from? Visit the zoo, the aquarium, animal rescue centers, animal shows, petting zoos, or one of Austin's animal farms or produce farms.

Featured businesses offering animal fun for kids

Austin Aquarium 
The Austin Aquarium is a family-friendly environment, creating an immersive interactive experience, that features hundreds of species and fun activities which includes feeding & touching Marine Life, Mammals, Birds, and Reptiles; and on select days…Mermaids! Not to mention a virtual reality experience and a child-friendly play-port! We offer a great variety of birthday packages and provide additional experiences such as group & private events, concessions stand, multiple educational programs, free entry for foster children, teachers, and first responders!
Become a VIP member and enjoy everything we offer, plus EXCLUSIVE perks for an ENTIRE YEAR!

 

Art classes for kids in and around Austin 


Get arts with computer, technology, cooking, painting, drawing, photography, film, pottery, sewing, knitting, theater, acting, improv, writing classes, and more.

Computer / Technology classes for kids

Kids computer and technology classes and workshops that spark your kid's creativity, problem-solving skills, and imagination. Children learn about robotics, programming, science, technology, engineering, math, gaming, and coding.

Cooking classes for kids
Hands-on cooking and baking classes for kids taught by Austin chefs and professional culinary instructors. Children will learn about healthy food choices and creative recipes, cooking and baking terms, plating and food presentation techniques.

Featured businesses offering cooking classes for kids

Sticky Fingers Cooking 

Give kids the gift of cooking this holiday season with Sticky Fingers Cooking gift cards and NEW, cookbooks! Sticky Fingers provides fun and healthy cooking classes for children ages 4 through 18 years old. They have numerous, weekly offerings of online cooking classes and in-person classes and camps in the Austin area. Their knowledgeable, tenured Chef Instructors lead young chefs through instruction, feedback, problem solving and most importantly, a FUN cooking experience. They also just released their first 2 cookbooks, made especially for kids! Each cookbook is filled with kid-tested and kid-approved healthy and globally inspired recipes; along with cultural lessons and fun activities. They are great on their own or as an add on to a gift card. Cookbooks can be purchased on Amazon here. Gift cards can be purchased here (note: you must sign up for an account to purchase a gift card). Austin Live Grow Play readers can take advantage of 15% off any classes on their websiteUse code: AustinLiveGrowPlay15   (expires 12/31/21).

Painting / Drawing classes for kids
Art classes for Austin's little artists. Sign your little Picasso up for drawing or painting.

Featured businesses offering painting, drawing, and crafting classes for kids

Austin Creative Reuse
2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
At Austin Creative Reuse we divert valuable materials from the landfill. We utilize a mix of paid and volunteer labor to bring the value back to otherwise discarded materials. We educate the public about different ways to reuse, to use what you have and to encourage folks to ask the questions, do I need this and do I have something else that could work? We offer a variety of workshops every month, service opportunities, and community building make and takes. Follow us on social media, sign up for our newsletter and come shop our center to find your next favorite creative endeavor. 

Photography / Film classes for kids
Have an old camera you’re not using anymore? Give it to your child and sign her up for a photography or film class.

Pottery / Sculpting classes for kids

Does your child like to play in the sand or mud?  Then sculpting or clay building lessons and workshop might just be the right thing for them.

Sewing / Knitting classes for kids

Is your child a fashionista or has his own creative fashion style? Sign them up for a sewing class where they can put their creativity into action. Kids learn basic hand stitches and hand sewing and get introduced to machine sewing.

Theater / Acting / Improv classes for kids

Acting, theatre and improv classes in Austin allow kids to be be creative, expressive, and improve their communications skills.

Writing classes for kids

Creative writing classes and workshops, writing clubs and writing camps allow children to strengthen their writing and reading skills.
 

Indoor activities in and around Austin


Membership, punch card, or admission to fun indoor activities such as bounce houses, trampoline parks, bowling, laser tag, and more.

Amusement parks

Austin fun parks with amusement attractions such as bowling, billiards, laser tag, rock climbing, mini golf, and video games.

Bounce houses and trampoline parks

Fun indoor activities for kids such as bounce houses, trampolines, foam pits, rock climbing wall, gymnastics tumble tracks, basketball dunking lanes, dodge ball, obstacle course, and more.

Bowling

Kid-friendly bowling lanes that offer kids bowling, bumper bowling, youth bowling, bowling leagues, and of course fun kids birthday parties.

Games and arcades

New and classic video, arcade, and prize games for young and old including driving games, shooting games, dancing games, air hockey tables, pinball, skeeball, and more.

Indoor playscapes

Indoor playscapes, play gyms, and play areas for toddlers and big kids. Fun play structures, rides, games, slides, swings, and more.

Featured businesses offering indoor playscape for children

Splash Shack
1801 Clover Lane, Cedar Park, Tx 78613

Splash Shack is a micro indoor year round Waterpark for kids (parents can join in the fun too and get1 free adult admission with a paid child).  With a zero water depth and a large interactive water structure full of tipping buckets, water wheels, a large dump bucket and slides of various sizes - kids will enjoy sliding and splashing year round in our temperature controlled water park. Splash Shack is perfect for hourly play and also offers birthday packages and private facility rentals. Our current special: Get Kids 3 month Winter Pass for $99 (valid 12/1/21 - 02/28/22 and includes 1 adult)  for more offers and information check us out at splashshacktx.com or on social media @specialshacktx.  

 

Foreign language classes for kids in Austin

Does your child or do you want your child to learn a foreign language? Find bilingual, multicultural, and foreign language programs and schools in Austin. Popular languages are EnglishFrench,     GermanItalianJapaneseMandarinSign LanguageSpanish.

Library card


Get your kids their own library card and let them check out new books all by themselves at one of over 50 libraries in the Austin area.

Movie theater tickets


Find a movie theater near you that plays the latest kids and teen movies.

Museums, Galleries, Theaters, Ballet in and around Austin


Explore art, history, culture, nature, or science by visiting the many museums, galleries, and theaters in Austin and neighboring cities. Even better: About one third of Austin museums are admission free.

Music classes for kids in and around Austin 


Give the gift of music!

Kids and Youth Choir

Does your child like to sing? Have them join a children's choir to perform choral music including classical, popular and ethnic music and work with musicians and music educators from across the Austin area.

Instrumental lessons for kids

Music schools and private guitar, violin, piano, flute, drum or other musical instrument lessons for kids in Austin.

 

Featured businesses offering art instrumental lessons for kids

The Musicians Woodshed

Lake Travis location at 3698 Ranch Rd 620 S #107, Austin, TX 78738 and Cedar Park location at 9900 W Parmer Ln #A120, Austin, TX 78717
Private Music Instruction in a laid-back, inspiring, Austin-themed environment. Online or in-person lessons for Voice, Piano, Guitar, Drums, Violin, Bass, Ukulele and Electronic Music!

Our New Student Holiday Special includes $15 Off your first 4 30-minute lessons!

Clavier Werke School Of Music - Southwest Austin
5900 W. Slaughter Lane, D-525, Austin, TX 78749
And
Clavier-Werke School of Music - West Austin
1000 Westbank Drive, 6A, West Lake Hills, TX 78746
Unlock your child's potential with the power of music. Studies show that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function! The study of music improves memory, increases Math and language scores, sharpens eye-hand coordination, relieves stress, instills joy, and so much more. Come experience the joy of music at Clavier-Werke. We offer private lessons in piano, voice, guitar, violin, viola, cello, composition, theory and Music Pups!® for ages infant up to 4 years. 

Introduce your babies, preschoolers, toddlers, and kindergarteners to music by registering them for a kids-only, parent-and-child, or Mommy & Me early childhood music education program or a music and movement program. 

Featured businesses offering music & movement classes for kids

Mi Casa Es Tu Casa®

2110 White Horse Trail Ste B Austin TX 78723

Austin’s best-reviewed music cases are offered by Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® with over 100 five-stars reviews online! They have created a new standard with high-quality music that is enjoyable for the whole family. It is also the only program that merges Spanish, sign language, movement, early childhood development and even parenting! Their mission is to raise the best generation yet by nurturing children with love, respect, empathy, and responsible parenting. Choose from:

· Our lullaby album is nominated in the 2021 Latin Grammy Awards for "Best Latin Children's Album".
· We are currently enrolling for out Winter 2022 session that starts in January.
· Get $25 off if you schedule a 15 minute Meet & Greet call with us.

Music Production / DJ lessons for kids

Places and schools for the Electronic Arts teaching music production and DJing incl. Serato Scratch Live, Traktor, Ableton Live, Maschine, and more for kids.

Youth Orchestra

If your child is playing violin, viola, cello, bass, harp, winds, or percussion, have them audition for Austin's children's and youth orchestras to receive orchestral music education.

Voice lessons for kids

Find Austin music schools in Austin or hire a professional vocal coach that teach singing or voice lessons in music styles such as pop, classical, opera, jazz, rock, as well as breathing techniques, pitch production, stage presence, microphone techniques.

Outdoor Activities


Get outdoors and enjoy some quality-time with your kiddos! The Austin area has some amazing parks to go hiking or biking.
How about a camping trip with roasting marshmallows over a cozy camp fire? Like the water? Go canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, river tubing, rent a boat on Lake Travis or Lake Austin.
Explore Texas parks and wildlife, enroll your child in a rangers program. Take the kids rock climbing or ziplining.
Animal lover? There are many opportunities to go horseback riding or you can take them to the zoo.
Miniature golf, paintball, or train rides are also lots of fun.

Sports activities for kids in and around Austin  


Do you have a little athlete, want your child to get more active, experience team spirit, and make new friends? Sign them up for their favorite sport, whether it be baseball, basketball, cheerleading, dance, horseback riding, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, rock climbing, soccer, swimming, tennis, tumbling, volleyball, and so much more.

And if you do want to get some toys or books...

... visit and support Austin's local toy, craft, and book stores to get your kids the tools they need to learn and play.

Austin book stores

Reading and literacy is one of the most important foundations for success in school and life. Help your child develop a love for reading. Find children's and adult books at {16} local Austin book stores.

Austin craft stores

Get crafty with your kids or find craft school supplies at Austin's own craft stores.

Austin toy stores

Austin's toy stores have it all: preschool learning toys, children’s arts and crafts, educational toys for inside and outside play, games and electronics, science kits, and more.

 

 

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Featured businesses offering instrumental lessons for kids

Care2Rock.com
3300 Bee Caves Rd., ste. 650-1103, Austin, 78746
Care2Rock.com is an easy, affordable way to learn music at home for kids 5 and up. Sign your child up for any lesson package - such as guitar, violin, keyboard, or singing, and receive his or her instrument for free - and Care2Rock will pair your child with the perfect teacher. All lessons are taken live and online via Care2Rock's custom live video platform.
Music & Movement for kids
Featured businesses offering instrumental lessons for kids

Premier Music Academy
1400 E Old Settlers Blvd, Suite 116, Round Rock, TX 78664
Here at Premier Music Academy our lessons are individualized for you. Whether you want to learn classical,  jazz, or songs on the radio, our teachers are happy to help you become the musician you want to be. In addition to learning your favorite style, you will get a solid foundation in note reading, technique, theory, rhythm reading and sight reading. Our instructors take a special interest in you as a student and want to make lessons enjoyable and fulfilling. We want you to love your music lessons!
Featured farms and businesses offering animal fun for kids

Austin Aquarium
13530 U.S. 183, Suite 101, Austin, TX 78726
Spend a day at the Austin Aquarium. Feed a shark and feel the smooth skin of a ray. Marvel at the brilliant colors of tropical fish and the otherworldly beauty of gently floating jellyfish as you share your love with these beautiful animals! Enter the rainforest, where hundreds of reptiles roam, along with with the aquariums newest furry friends, ringtail lemurs, black and white ruffed lemurs, kinkajous, and otters. Then, step inside the aviary, where lorikeets fly overhead!

Austin Zoo
10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX 78736
Embark on an exciting adventure where children and adults can enjoy an up-close experience with our rescued animals. The mission of Austin Zoo is to assist animals in need through rescue, rehabilitation and education. Pack a picnic to enjoy in our Picnic Grove and bring a cooler full of lots of cold drinks. Be sure to attend one of our Zookeeper talks happening daily. As you stroll through our Zoo, you will delight to the sights and sounds of animals such as African Lions, Wolves and many more!

 

Featured businesses offering instrumental lessons for kids

Mi Casa Es Tu Casa®
2110 White Horse Trail Ste B Austin TX 78723
Austin’s best-reviewed music cases are offered by Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® with over 100 five-stars reviews online they have created a new standard for the baby and toddler classes industry. Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® creates high-quality music that is enjoyable for the whole family to introduce and reinforce Spanish, use sign language, learn about early childhood development and even parenting! Their mission is to raise the best generation yet by nurturing children with love, respect, empathy, and responsible parenting. Learn more, try a free demo today.


This is a sponsored blog post.

American Robotics Academy - Austin West
11117, Rio Vista Drive, Austin, TX 78726
American Robotics Academy (ARA) aims to excite, inspire, and motivate children about the importance of robotics technology in today’s world. Our program offers an introduction to mechanical engineering and design concepts that are easy to understand and learn. Classes teach “how things work” through hands-on activities using special Lego technic pieces and parts. Students work in small age appropriate teams and learn how to design, build, and test remotely controlled miniature robots. ARA offers After-school classes, Saturday workshops (at ChampionsTx, Lakeway), team building/educational workshops, birthday parties, and summer camps throughout Austin Central and West areas. For more details please visit www.RoboticsAcademy.com or call 512-743-5155
Featured businesses offering computer and technology classes for kids

American Robotics Academy - Austin West
11117, Rio Vista Drive, Austin, TX 78726
American Robotics Academy (ARA) aims to excite, inspire, and motivate children about the importance of robotics technology in today’s world. Our program offers an introduction to mechanical engineering and design concepts that are easy to understand and learn. Classes teach “how things work” through hands-on activities using special Lego technic pieces and parts. Students work in small age appropriate teams and learn how to design, build, and test remotely controlled miniature robots. ARA offers After-school classes, Saturday workshops (at ChampionsTx, Lakeway), team building/educational workshops, birthday parties, and summer camps throughout Austin Central and West areas. For more details please visit www.RoboticsAcademy.com or call 512-743-5155
Featured businesses offering art classes and workshop for kids

ArtBarnATX
14284 FM 2769, Volente, TX 78641
ArtBarnATX is a naturally-lit creative space nestled in the hills above Lake Travis with plenty of room for any project. Our goal is to provide a stimulating, laid back and enthusiastic atmosphere where artists of all ages can flourish. The studio also features a full kitchen, glow in the dark splatter paint room, kilns, separate ceramics room and an arcade room to take a break. Please visit our website ArtBarnATX.com for more information. Gift Certificates available.
Featured businesses offering art classes and workshop for kids

ArtBarnATX
14284 FM 2769, Volente, TX 78641
ArtBarnATX is a naturally-lit creative space nestled in the hills above Lake Travis with plenty of room for any project. Our goal is to provide a stimulating, laid back and enthusiastic atmosphere where artists of all ages can flourish. The studio also features a full kitchen, glow in the dark splatter paint room, kilns, separate ceramics room and an arcade room to take a break. Please visit our website ArtBarnATX.com for more information. Gift Certificates available.

Featured businesses offering at-home learning for children

My Time Kids Academy
3698 Ranch Road 620 South, Suite 103
Welcome to Illumination, My Time's BRAND NEW curriculum designed for at-home learning. This curriculum is meant to be user-friendly for the busy parent, yet still offers incredible educational value as children engage in activities that ignite curiosity, discovery, and deceptively educational lessons. Our curriculum is available digitally or you can add on supply kits that are available for pick up or mail. Supply kits are intended to save time and accompany lessons each month. Use promo code ILLUMINATION20 to get $20 off your first kit

 

Featured businesses offering at-home learning for children

My Time Kids Academy
3698 Ranch Road 620 South, Suite 103
Welcome to Illumination, My Time's BRAND NEW curriculum designed for at-home learning. This curriculum is meant to be user-friendly for the busy parent, yet still offers incredible educational value as children engage in activities that ignite curiosity, discovery, and deceptively educational lessons. Our curriculum is available digitally or you can add on supply kits that are available for pick up or mail. Supply kits are intended to save time and accompany lessons each month. Use promo code ILLUMINATION20 to get $20 off your first kit

 

Featured businesses offering at-home learning for children

My Time Kids Academy
3698 Ranch Road 620 South, Suite 103
Welcome to Illumination, My Time's BRAND NEW curriculum designed for at-home learning. This curriculum is meant to be user-friendly for the busy parent, yet still offers incredible educational value as children engage in activities that ignite curiosity, discovery, and deceptively educational lessons. Our curriculum is available digitally or you can add on supply kits that are available for pick up or mail. Supply kits are intended to save time and accompany lessons each month. Use promo code ILLUMINATION20 to get $20 off your first kit

 

Featured businesses offering at-home learning for children

My Time Kids Academy
3698 Ranch Road 620 South, Suite 103
Welcome to Illumination, My Time's BRAND NEW curriculum designed for at-home learning. This curriculum is meant to be user-friendly for the busy parent, yet still offers incredible educational value as children engage in activities that ignite curiosity, discovery, and deceptively educational lessons. Our curriculum is available digitally or you can add on supply kits that are available for pick up or mail. Supply kits are intended to save time and accompany lessons each month. Use promo code ILLUMINATION20 to get $20 off your first kit

 


Featured businesses offering indoor playscape for children

Splash Shack
1801 Clover Lane, Cedar Park, Tx 78613
Splash Shack is a micro indoor Waterpark for kids (parents can join in too). Our Waterpark features a large interactive water structure with tipping buckets, water wheels, 12 slides of various sizes and a large dump bucket sites atop our structure. There is also a small toddler area. We are open year round and our facility and water temperature sit around 82 degrees. Our current special: 50% off admission on Sunday’s from 4p-6p
Featured businesses offering indoor playscape for children

Splash Shack
1801 Clover Lane, Cedar Park, Tx 78613
Splash Shack is a micro indoor Waterpark for kids (parents can join in too). Our Waterpark features a large interactive water structure with tipping buckets, water wheels, 12 slides of various sizes and a large dump bucket sites atop our structure. There is also a small toddler area. We are open year round and our facility and water temperature sit around 82 degrees. Our current special: 50% off admission on Sunday’s from 4p-6p
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