Do you have a kid who loves dinosaurs? My son has been obsessed since he was 2, and while he now also has other obsessions (hello, Pokemon and Squishmallows), he is still as into dinos as ever.
Luckily, Austin has several fun places that feature dinosaurs: skeletons, playscape elements, and statues.
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9 Places for Austin Dinosaur Enthusiasts
Formerly the Texas Memorial Museum, this museum on UT’s campus reopened in 2023. In the main entrance with the hanging quetzalcoatlus skeleton, they’ve added a T Rex cast. Head downstairs to see the paleontology display, which includes the impressive Onion Creek mosasaur and other fossils and skeletons.
2. Leander Dinosaur Tracks
It just takes a short hike to see real dinosaur tracks in Leander! If you park in the dirt lot between north and south 183 up around S. Gabriel Dr. and the San Gabriel River, you can take the path to the west of 183. (Construction is ongoing in the area, so if you can’t park there, you can always try a nearby subdivision) If the river is high, you may have to hike up on the banks, but if it’s low, you can hike most of the way on the river bed.
Keep going past the curve in the river (you shouldn’t be able to see the bridge behind you anymore), and you’ll find more than 10 dinosaur footprints (some with circles around them where people have tried to remove them).
This place is always a treat for the kids. It’s out in Cedar Creek near Bastrop, but it’s worth the drive if you have a kid who likes dinosaurs. The highlight is the walking path with more than a dozen life-size dinosaur statues peering through the trees with information about each one. They’re always adding or updating things so our favorites change each time we go!
There are also multiple playgrounds, a fossil dig and of course, a gift shop.
The path is about a half mile long and gravel, so strollers with bigger/better wheels will be best.
The Hartman Prehistoric Garden contains a site where 100 fossilized dinosaur tracks and an ancient turtle skeleton were discovered. The garden has been designed to transport you back to the Cretaceous with plants thought to be around at the time, tracks, and an ornithomimus statue (which is the dinosaur thought to have left the tracks).
Stop into this car wash on South Congress for a clean car (or dogs if you use their pet wash) and a glimpse of some prehistoric beasts. There are several dinosaur statues, as well as animatronic dinosaurs. Some are coin-operated, and some come alive every half hour.
This 2023 playground is an awesome one. The Onion Creek Mosasaur (technically a prehistoric marine reptile, not a dinosaur) has been memorialized with this playscape! You can run through the mosasaur’s skeleton and climb right out of its mouth.
I will always sing the praises of this little gem in the middle of the city. This is one of the best free spots to take kids in Austin, and is especially good for dinosaur lovers! There is a whole dino dig area with multiple skeletons buried in the sand (and they added shade features in the last couple of years to keep it from getting too hot for little ones!).
We went to this spot in Cedar Park so much during the height of the pandemic because it has such wide open spaces and this cute little dinosaur area to play on. There are dino eggs and skeletons to climb on, and a big dig area farther down the path (with shade and the hand-operated diggers). Plus, it’s part of the Brushy Creek trail so you can add a walk to it while you’re there.
This is a great playground in general, and the fact that it has some little dinosaur features is just the icing on the cake! Near the big playground, you can follow some pretend dinosaur tracks down the sidewalk and climb on some little brachiosaurus play features (perfect for toddlers and preschoolers).
In/near San Antonio:
If you are up for a 5-mile round trip hike, you can see real dinosaur tracks in Government Canyon State Natural Area northwest of San Antonio. The tracks are 110 million years old and are believed to have come from Acrocanthosaurus and Sauroposeidon dinosaurs. You’ll find the tracks on the Joe Johnston Route just past marker 19.
If you’re visiting San Antonio, the Witte Museum is definitely worth a visit. It has a great dinosaur section with several huge skeletons (plus lots of other nature, science and culture exhibits).
This is a Pogo Pass participant — pass holders get one visit included with their pass each year! Buy yours here and use code AUSTINWITHKIDS for half off (commissions earned).
This spot is near Canyon Lake between Austin and San Antonio and has more than 200 dinosaur footprints, model dinosaurs and fossil displays.