ACL Fest, Expedition Austin

Austin City Limits Music Festival With Kids? Yes!


There are many different galaxies colliding in the Austin City Limits Festival universe. Among them, the nimble hipsters, the teenaged freedom tasters, the parked oldsters and us–the kidsters. In our galaxy, the adults are there for music and craft beer, while the young ones may be more interested in sno-cones, beach balls and doing kid stuff in a world made, in large part, for people over 13 years old. Expedition Austin includes lot of helpful info and logistics, but here’s some more good stuff to tuck in your pocket so everyone in your own kidster galaxy will have a great time at ACL.

  1. Go early, bring a small ball, water bottles and coparents, and set up camp.
    Our group included two families, and we set up just outside Austin Kiddie Limits around noon.  When the kids got tired, it gave them and one adult somewhere to chill out  while the other grownups were wandering around. We had books, cards and balls and the kids were into  all of it at some point.
  2. Austin Kiddie Limits is awesome.
    What with its tattoos, punk rock hair-dos, tote bag station, cleanish port-a-potties and adorable Land of Nod lounge area, this area really is cool–especially since it’s geared for folks who don’t have to pay to get into ACL at all.  Our group of kids ranged from 6-10 years old and they all enjoyed aspects of the fest-within-a-fest, though the younger ones spent more time and participated in more activities than the older ones.
  3. Know that you (and your kids) will walk. A lot.
    Zilker Park is not a small place, and we logged about 18,000 steps in one day. The kids were along for about 12,000 of those, plus they played run-and-catch for a good deal of the time they were chilling at our base camp. Plan accordingly.
  4. Don’t push it

    While we got to ACL around noon (and entered through the awesome special family entrance), I really wish we’d gotten there closer to 11 because we had the run of the place until mid-afternoon. On the flip side, we left around 7:30 and I really wish we’d gone out the Austin Kiddie Limits family entrance before it closed at 7:00. One of the kids in our group really wanted to see The Chainsmokers at 7:30. You can just see our flag in the upper right of the photo above, and then one below of the kids in the midst of that crowd. When we realized how much the crowd was pressing in, we got them out, but by then we had to take a long, circuitous route around the huge crowd to the main gate.
  5. Enjoy yourself
    While you can’t do exactly what you want to do at ACL while a card-carrying member of the kidster galaxy, it’s pretty awesome anyway. You may miss out on a few bands and watch LL Cool J from the comfort of an inflatable sofa, but you’ll get to spend some q-t with little citizens of the world like these.


A few other useful tidbits:

  1. We loved the ACL cashless option.
  2. Don’t forget to register your under-10s at the Tag-a-Kid booth.
  3. The kids LOVED making and carrying around our rage stick made from an old some sheet and PVC pipe. Drill a few holes in the pipe and tie on your flag with some heavy-duty string. Voila! Snoopy tie-die flag complete!
  4. Here are a few more great ACL-with-kids resources: