Family Vacation in Round Rock

Baseball, History and Epic Donuts

Will Ferrell
Gary Miller/FilmMagic/Getty Images

A small town just north of Austin, Round Rock raised its profile as a travel destination when the Dell Diamond stadium became the home of the Round Rock Express minor league baseball team in 2000. While the stadium remains the city’s biggest attraction, there are now plenty of other things to do in Round Rock.

Day 1 - Rock ’N River Water Park and Old Settlers Park

The Hampton Inn - Round Rock (110 Dell Way, 512-248-9100) is centrally located and popular with active families. The hotel is also close to Dell Computer’s main campus, so some computer-industry executives come here to combine their business trips with a brief family vacation.

After check-in, treat the kids to a visit to the nearby Rock ’N River Water Park (3300 Palm Valley Boulevard, 512-671-2737). The newly expanded park is set to open by Memorial Day 2016. In addition to several water slides, the facility has tipping cones, water guns and a rock climbing wall bordering the water. Parents can even enjoy a swim-up bar. A food truck area makes grabbing a snack or full meal quick and easy.

At Monster Mini-Golf, the kids will have an opportunity to burn off any extra energy they may still have. What could make putt-putt more exciting? How about monsters plus black lights? This sprawling indoor facility offers a brilliant combination of old and new technology to keep kids engaged. Ever-changing wall art appears along the course, providing witty pop-culture references and other surprises. The laser tag facility is equally innovative, allowing kids to work in teams while encountering fun challenges like fog and secret hideouts.

The monstrous entertainment continues in the arcade, featuring classic games like skee ball and air hockey. 

If the kids still have energy to spare, they can roam the 645-acre Old Settlers Park, which is located next to the water park. The park has seven well-equipped playgrounds, a small lake, batting cages, a disc golf course and two sand volleyball courts. The park is also the site of many community events, such as the Juneteenth Rhythm and Ribs Festival and July 4th Frontier Days.

After a day of outdoor fun, the whole family will probably have worked up a big appetite. For casual, family-friendly dining in Round Rock, it’s hard to beat Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q (2400 North IH-35, 512-244-2936). In addition to top-notch brisket and sausage, the restaurant serves up a wildly popular version of creamed corn.

Day 2 - Bargain Shopping and Baseball

You can get a free hot breakfast at the hotel, or grab a to-go breakfast bag in the lobby if you’re in a hurry to get out the door. For a decadent morning treat, stop by Round Rock Donuts (106 West Liberty Avenue, 512-255-3629). Warning: the huge, cake-style donuts may cause a sugar rush or a sugar coma, depending on your physical constitution. Sweet orange may sound like an odd flavor for a donut, but it’s the most popular variety. Since the shop was featured on the Man vs. Food TV show, the crowds have been a little crazy, but you shouldn’t have to wait too long if you get there early.

Although many children aren’t thrilled by the thought of bargain shopping, they’ll quickly warm to the idea with the promise of new shoes or clothing.

At Round Rock Premium Outlets (4401 IH-35, 512-863-6688), the sheer number of stores may seem overwhelming at first. It helps to have a game plan. Need sneakers? Check out the Adidas store. Looking for back-to-school clothes? Head to Banana Republic or Van Heusen. Regulars swear by Kitchen Collection for affordable housewares and the Hanes/Bali store for undergarments.

When you’re ready for lunch, skip the food court and take a short drive to the In-N-Out Burger (4251 IH-35, 800-786-1000). The California-based chain has quickly caught on in Texas due to its reasonable prices, high-quality meats and out-of-this-world fries and shakes.

The burger joint is also close to the area’s only IKEA (1 IKEA Way, 888-888-4532). If you have a need for an affordable yet hard-to-assemble bookcase or bed, you may want to stop in and take a look around.

In the afternoon, a brief nap back at the hotel might be in order. If the kids still have energy to burn, maybe you can lounge by the pool while they frolic in the water.

An evening baseball game at the Dell Diamond is the perfect way to top off a fun day with the family. If you want to have a picnic, you can spread out on the lawn behind the outfield. The whole stadium is designed to provide a more intimate experience than major-league games. The seats directly behind home plate are closer to the batter than the pitcher is! Premium seats include tray tables, and waiters will deliver your food and drinks.

If you arrive early, the kids can play at the on-site basketball court or climb on a rock wall. The Home Run Porch is a designated area behind left field where players often sign autographs before and after the game. Whether the home team wins or loses, all games end with an impressive fireworks display accompanied by rousing music.

Day 3 - Inner Space Caverns and Downtown Round Rock

In the blazing heat of a central Texas summer, it’s always a good idea to have a few cool recreational options on the agenda. Inner Space Caverns (4200 Interstate 35 Frontage Road, Georgetown, 512-931-2283) were discovered during the construction of Interstate 35. In fact, parts of the cave are directly under the highway. The cave stays at around 72 degrees all year. Even if it’s raining outside, the cave usually stays open; it takes rain three or four days to make its way down to the caverns. The tour guide will point out the spot in the ceiling of the cave where one brave Texas Highway Department employee lowered himself into the void for the first time in 1963.

Though the cave has existed for more than 10,000 years, he was most likely the first human being to ever see it.

The basic tour takes only about 30 minutes, but you may want to linger a while to fully appreciate the outlandish rock formations. In addition to stalagmites and stalactites, there are entire walls that appear to be flowing even though they are solid rock. Above ground in the visitor’s center, a variety of fossils found in the cave are on display.

No visit to Round Rock would be complete without visiting Memorial Park (600 North Lee Street), the site of the actual rock the city is named after. And, yeah, it’s round (kinda). The distinctive stone was an early landmark in Brushy Creek for settlers and cattlemen. The park has a playground and a scenic half-mile trail along the creek.

The downtown historic district (starting at 100 East Main Street) includes remarkably well-preserved buildings completed in the late 1800s. The most famous building is the Old Broom Factory, which was once the site of one of the town’s largest employers. The company apparently made some pretty good brooms because it earned a gold medal for its product at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Most of the historic buildings have informational placards for those who want to read more about the town’s history.

One of those historic buildings is also home to a wonderful restaurant, the Main Street Grill (118 East Main Street, 512-244-7525). It’s a little fancier than a typical family eatery, but it’s a nice way to wrap up your trip to Round Rock. The steak-and-shrimp combo is an excellent choice, as is the roast pork.  It might be tough to find a dish here that satisfies the little one’s palates, but the chicken alfredo or the lump crab cakes are promising possibilities. For dessert, opt for the cheesecake with blackberry sauce or bananas Foster.