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What to Do With Your Parents When They Come to Visit? Here are 5 Great Ideas

Back in the day, when our kids were little and we lived in the tiny little town of Muleshoe, Texas, my parents and grandmother would come visit our family and end up working pretty hard all weekend long.

They did everything from clean the baseboards to babysit the kids!

3 Ways to Clean Baseboards - detail - Clean Mama

(Check out these baseboard cleaning tips from Clean Mama.)

Since we live in Austin, there’s a lot more to do than clean the baseboards (although I think I probably should!) so, when our parents come to visit, I’d rather throw out the welcome mat and treat them to a little bit of Capital City fun.

Of course, there are some limitations.

It’s hard to accept that our hardworking parents are getting older. The same parents who worked hard to make sure we all had what we needed in the 70’s are actually IN their 70’s, and it’s not always easy for them to jump up and go, go, go.

Whatever we plan to do might need to include more restroom accessibility. Before we make lunch dinner reservations, we may need to know exactly when their meds need to be taken.  But with a little flexibility, we can plan ahead, coordinate the day, and really show our parents a good time.

Here are 5 great ideas for showing your parents a really good time when they come to Austin to visit.

Get Them Out on the Water

Many of our parents once owned a boat and enjoyed being in it. Maybe they still have one, but they don’t enjoy the effort it takes to use it. No matter the reason, they probably still love being on the water, and would love an opportunity to have someone else plan how they get there!

Austin Duck Adventures is a good way to toodle your parents around on Lake Austin. The tour is interactive and fun, and the view from the water is really unique to Austin. Tours run seven days a week year round, so planning ahead and finding a spot is pretty simple, and with a ticket price of $28.95, it’s affordable.  Call the number on the website here for more info.

Photo courtesy Austin Duck Adventures

Hula Hut Austin is such a fun place to enjoy the fabulous climate we have all year in Austin, but especially in the spring. Hula Hut is known for it’s “Tex-Mex with a Polynesian twist” and it all tastes fabulous when sitting on the dock under a shady umbrella. The service is good, the food is great, the drinks are fruity, and the scenery is relaxing. If your parents visit during the summer, you can avoid the midday heat by being among the first groups seated for lunch or arrive later for more of a sunset dining experience.  There’s plenty of parking, but because most of it is up a steep hill across the street, plan to drop off your parents near the entrance while you park the car. Hula Hut is an extremely popular spot, so also plan for a wait if you go at peak times.

Photo courtesy Hula Hut

A bat-sighting cruise is a fun way to entertain your parents on Lady Bird Lake. It’s easy to get to the dock, there’s plenty of seating on the boat, and it’s an experience you can enjoy with your mom and dad that you can’t get anywhere else.

Photo courtesy Capital Cruises

That’s water fun – now, let’s talk about what Austin fun we can share with our parents – on land.

Take Them to a Movie

The Violet Crown is always my pick for moviegoing. It’s so relaxing. You can purchase your tickets online, then arrive a little early or stay a little after the movie to give yourselves time to stroll the 2nd Street District (parking is validated free for four hours) stroll the 2nd Street District. When it’s time for the movie, you can all settle into your big leather seat with a bag of popcorn and a ginger ale (my latest fave).

The popcorn is just right at the Violet Crown. Not too buttery. Not too salty.

Visit a Winery

Even if your parents don’t drink wine, Texas wineries are worth the experience. Make reservations to tour the facility and see how it’s all done at Grape Creek Vineyards, and you’ll have loads to talk about afterward. The expert tour guides will transport you in a small group all around the vineyard in an over-sized golf cart, explaining things along the way. It really is so interesting to learn about Texas wines and all that goes into making them – especially when you can visualize the process.

Tour the Capitol Building

Oh, how I love the Texas Capitol Building! By day or by night, in the dead of winter, or the freshness of spring, it’s a sight to behold. There are tours every weekday, and your parents will gladly enjoy hearing about Texas history from the experts. When you’re finished, and if they’re up to it, walk down Congress Avenue, noticing some of the historic buildings that have stood there since the 1800’s. Maybe you’ll spot a food truck you want to try, or make it all they way down to 2nd Street for some refreshing froyo at Berry Austin.

Go to a Ballgame

Do your parents like baseball? We’ve got it. Football? Hook ’em Horns! Basketball? Absolutely. Take your parents to a UT game of any kind, and you’ll have entertained their burnt orange socks off.

Speaking of burnt orange, if you need something cute to wear to the game, check out all the good stuff here, here and here.

If it’s baseball season when Mom and Dad come to town, you might want to take them to see a Round Rock Express game at Dell Diamond.  Games are played through most of the summer with plenty of home game dates, so you should easily be able to snag tickets for a game with your parents. Be sure to secure July 4th tickets well in advance, however,  so you can enjoy the huge fireworks show after the game. (Parking is $10, unless you drive a Lexus, in which event, it is FREE!)

One More Idea – Take Them to Church

For our family, church together on Sunday is what rounds out the total being-together package. When we go visit my brother, we love going with them to their big church in the Metroplex. When we visit our daughter in the panhandle, we like to go to her church and eat a donut while she’s keeping the babies in the nursery. 

When we moved to Austin, we really searched to find our new church home. That’s a huge part of moving to a new city, and if you’re moving to a much larger place, it can take a while.

Next time my parents come to visit, we’ll be able to take them to the downtown campus of LifeAustin, the church we now call home and can’t wait to walk to every Sunday morning. (pinch me – we walk to church??)

Well, after a few days chasing around the great city of Austin, either your parents will be ready to go home and rest or they’ll be ready to move to the hill country themselves!

Either way, you’ll have had a fabulous time laughing, sharing stories and enjoying some sweet times with the people who have always loved you the very most.

Your parents.

Encouraging intentional adventure and some memory-making time with Mom and Dad,


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  • Phuc Phan

    Mozart’s on Lake Austin is a fun and relaxing place to take one’s parents. It’s next to Hula Hut. Great place to relax, chat, and enjoy a nice cup of joe.

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Thanks, Phuc! I do love Mozart’s. Our son works there when he’s home from college, and we love to take visitors there. It’s such a beautiful spot on the water, isn’t it?

  • Valerie Howard

    These are great ideas! I will certainly be doing some or all of these next time I visit Austin. You are doing a fabulous job with your blog. I LOVE reading them.

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Valerie, thank you for reading my blog! It means so much to me. Next time you’re in Austin, let me know. I can take pictures while you enjoy something fun!

  • Christi Beth Fisher

    When my mom would come and visit me,(she is 85 years old and has Alzheimers now) we usually went to the grocery store! Really! She lives in a very small town in the Texas Panhandle and it has only one grocery store. She loved looking at all the different kinds of produce, cheeses, and fresh baked breads. We would buy a little bit of everything!

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Christi Beth, truly a big city grocery store is a delightful place to experience when you’re from a small town! Thanks for sharing this sweet memory.