To find the best playgrounds in Austin, I asked my Instagram followers for recommendations and then put the top 32 suggestions into a bracket-style tournament! Not only did we get a great list of fun playgrounds all over the Austin area, we narrowed it down to Austin locals’ absolute favorite playscapes.
If you just want to know the best of the best, the top 3 playgrounds in the Austin area are:
- Play for All Abilities in Round Rock
- Alliance Children’s Garden in Butler Park
- Walnut Creek Metro Park
Looking for a playground near you? Check out this map.
Austin got a lot of amazing new playgrounds in 2021 — 3 of the top 4 opened last year! But the winner is an old favorite up north in Round Rock.
First Place: Play for All Abilities Park in Round Rock
The champion of the tournament was no surprise to me: Play for All Abilities Park is definitely one that comes up time and time again when you’re talking about playgrounds. I think the variety of things to do here is why it’s such a popular attraction.
Our favorite part is the race track for scooters and bikes and the tiny town complete with Chick-fil-A and car wash. We normally start there, then park the scooters and make our way around the rest of the playground. There are multiple playscapes, a sand pit, a nature play area, an accessible tree house, musical instruments, and on and on.
There are bathrooms in the playground area, as well as in the tiny town, and they’ve been pretty clean when I’ve used them. This place can be tricky with multiple kids, though. If they want to run in different directions, it’s impossible to keep eyes on them all. It’s all fenced in, but it’s a pretty large area, so it’s still stressful if you’re chasing children.
If you’re hungry but not done playing, it’s not far from one of my go-to restaurants with a playground — Hat Creek Round Rock. Multiple times, we’ve met friends for breakfast here and stayed through past lunch. (For more restaurants with playgrounds, check out my complete list here!)
Second Place: Alliance Children’s Garden in Butler Park
When trying to predict the winner of this tournament, I had a feeling it would be either Play for All or Alliance, so these two being in the championship was exactly what I expected! Alliance Children’s Garden is definitely a favorite among Austin locals, and it’s where I take out-of-town visitors to show off the city.
It’s in Butler Park and has a great view of the skyline, as well as plenty of space for a picnic, so the ambiance is perfect. The playground itself has lots of different things to do, making it great for different ages.
My kids love the turf hills with tunnels through them, climbing on the salamander statue, and the section of slides (and lots of different ways to climb to the top of them). There’s sand, a big rope structure, instruments, climbing walls, and a splash pad/fountain that’s open a lot of the year.
Parking is mostly paid here, either at the small lot by the Dougherty Arts Center or in the Palmer Events Center parking garage. The bathroom situation isn’t great (either really gross or totally closed) and nothing is fenced in, so you have to keep an eye on where your kids are.
Third Place: Walnut Creek Metro Park
This park is so fun and also shady. It has this big playground with the awesome slide for bigger kids, but it also has a little merry-go-round, dinosaurs, swings, a unique little playground (low enough so you don’t have to worry about your toddlers falling off) and even an old Fortlandia fort (a fairy house) surrounded by stumps to climb on!
Walnut Creek is also a great place to go for a hike and play in the creek, so you could make a full day of it! It’s a very dog-friendly park and has a pool as well.
I would probably be here constantly if the parking situation was better. But even so, it’s one of the coolest places in Austin. It’s so charming and has a unique wooden playground.
There’s a big wooden climbing structure that my 5-year-old is getting big enough to navigate and a smaller section that’s perfect for preschoolers.
My kids love the playscape, and the absolute coolest part is the big treehouse. You can hang out underneath it or on top of a giant hammock-like net.
The park has a walking path along the creek, and we could spend an hour throwing rocks into the creek at the creek crossing just north of the tree house.
Head to Georgetown for this huge playground. It’s got big slides, a smaller playground, lots of spots little ones can play, zip lines, swings, and a splash pad that’s open more than the City of Austin splash pads. Bring lunch because you’ll here for hours and hours.
You can also go on hikes and access the San Gabriel River here. The downside (or maybe upside because it keeps it less crowded?): it costs money to get in. Me and my 2 kids are $8.
This is a beautifully designed park right in the middle of downtown. It’s perfect for a day in the heart of the city.
The playground itself isn’t large, but my kids spend so much time go up the rocks and down the slide that it doesn’t really matter. There’s a grilled cheese food truck and the most beautiful landscaping around.
You can pay to park in the Capitol parking garage across the street.
Another Georgetown playground, Creative Playscape is really cute and unique. It looks like a little town, has a Georgetown history wall, and multiple playscapes. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore here.
If I could change one thing here, I’d make it shadier for sure.
Another new playground, Circle C is super fun. Lots of different little areas to play, including climbing structures, small and big playgrounds, merry-go-round, and a sand pit. No bathrooms though!
I wouldn’t say the Whole Foods playground is the BEST playground, but it is such a great playground option for a day downtown. You can grab food in Whole Foods and then take it to the rooftop to play.
There are lots of tables, turf around the playground, and a gate that sounds an alarm when it opens, so a kid can’t sneak out.
This is a VERY shady playground, so it’ll be perfect for summer. There are several different little playscapes, including a small one perfect for toddlers, and a very cool slide on the side of a hill. Little Stacy feels like what a neighborhood park should feel like.
This is a good little park, especially if you have a climber! There’s a whole area of things to climb. We liked the more traditional playscape too. Don’t expect much of a mountain view though!
Two playscapes, both easy enough for little kids but still fun for bigger kids. The best part is the multi-story green playhouse. It’s a magical place for kids!
Check out the homestead while you’re here. It has old buildings and a taxidermied buffalo.
Joanne Land at Old Settlers Park
This is a super cool playground, but I would say it’s not great for toddlers. The small playscape isn’t very fun, and the netting on the big playscape might let small feet slip through.
But for kids older than 3 or 4, this place is great. Three tall slides and an obstacle course feeling. It’s by a nice pond with lots of paths for riding scooters or roller blades.
Stop by Salt Lick or Hat Creek after for a bite and more playing!
One of my favorite easy outings in Austin, Central Market on North Lamar is a great place for kids to run around, families to listen to live music, and parents to grab a drink or a few groceries! I love that I can get coffee or alcohol here, we can order from the cafe or we can get snacks from the grocery store.
There’s a great small playground for toddlers, and the big playground has a bridge, a couple slides, monkey bars, and several spots to climb up.
The playground area is not fenced in, so if your kid wanders, you need to keep an eye on them.
Lakewood Park in Leander is known for its amazing huge, free splash pad, but it also has a playground. It’s tough for little ones, but for big kids who like to climb, it’s a lot of fun.
Lost Creek Neighborhood Park
We haven’t been to this park yet, but I keep hearing great things. I’ve been told it has the best playground for ages 2-5! It’s fully fenced in so you can feel safe that you’re kids won’t run off.
The 32 Competing Playgrounds
Nice shady park, good for little kids, with a little pond to walk around (or walk right into! Watch your little ones!). The playscape is about to get an upgrade this year, so stay tuned for the new one!
Loewy Family Playground is very small, but that makes it very manageable if you’re out alone with kids. It’s fully fenced in and basically all visible at once. It’s better as part of another outing for bigger kids.
Great Hills Park has a sand pit with digger, big spiderweb rope climbing structure and a playscape. We like to come here and go hiking and play on the playground on each end of the hike!
I love Champion Park — it got me through some of those early pandemic days where we needed to get out but didn’t want to be anywhere crowded. It has dinosaurs to climb on, a huge dino dig pit, a rock playscape and a small playscape perfect for small kids. There’s also just tons of space to run around and it connects to the Brushy Creek trail.
Right across from the airport’s South Terminal, it’s a good option to know about if you’re flying out of that terminal where there aren’t a ton of entertainment options.
Balcones District Park
I thought Balcones District Park should’ve made it farther in our tournament; it’s one of my favorites. The big playground is still too big for my 5-year-old to fully access (you have to climb up some alternating ropes to get to the very tallest slide), but he and the 3-year-old can both get halfway up. There’s just room to grow!
The playground for small kids has lots to do, so you can spend plenty of time here.
This is a favorite of Cedar Park moms! It has multiple playscapes, a great rock wall and even a BMX park.
I love spending time at Mueller Lake Park, and Nessie, the sea monster sculpture right by the playground, is so fun to climb on. This playground is fenced in and has some fun elements, but it’s overdue for a revamp. Almost all of the slides are cracked.
Grab a coffee at Halcyon across the street and let the kids free before walking around the lake. There’s also another playground down Aldrich — Mary Elizabeth Branch Park — with a splash pad.
Virgil Rabb Pavilion and playground are at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. The playscape was upgraded a couple years ago, so it’s a fun one!
Anderson Mill West
Lots of space to run around at this playground. It’s good for toddlers because there are lots of low play elements in some of the areas. There are also climbing structures that are better for bigger kids.
You’ll love this shady playground. There are two separate areas for the big and little playgrounds. Little kids can have fun on the big playground, but there are plenty of elements that are too big for them and fun for the oldest kids at the playground.
There’s so much to do at Zilker Park, including this fun playground with an old fire truck. It’s right by Barton Springs. There are different playscapes and swings for various ages, and the new mini train, the Zilker Eagle, will pass through the area when it opens later this year.
Mary Moore Searight
Great for a play and a hike! Two different playscapes and then trails and a creek to explore!
I like that the Dick Nichols playground is one long playscape so it’s easily accessible for everyone, including little kids and parents. Everyone can find something to do here, and there’s a little paved walking trail to get even more energy out.
This used to be the best park for toddlers and kids loved climbing on the little dinosaurs, but it’s currently under construction to get a whole new playscape! There’s supposed to still be some dinosaur elements — check back later in the summer to see if it’s done.