My name is Josh Rodriguez, I am travel writer here at Traveling Dad and I live in Austin, Texas. Austin is an extremely family friendly city with so much to do for kids and families! Oh and did I mention Austin is the Live Music Capitol Of the World? Google it! Austin is kind of a big deal!
We have created “A Dads Guide To,” which will be a survival and tip guide for Dads. For our first Dads Guide, I will be talking about The Domain in North Austin. If you live in Austin or traveling to Austin I suggest you stop by the The Domain to experience it for yourself.
First, lets take a look at what is The Domain.
11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin, TX 78758-8694
Situated in a beautiful park-like setting, The Domain features 100 upscale and mainstream retail stores and restaurants, almost half of which are exclusive within the market. A sampling of retailers includes high-end boutiques such as David Yurman, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co. and Austin’s only Neiman Marcus, as well as more traditional retailers like American Eagle Outfitters, Banana Republic, Express and more. Restaurants include favorites like Daily Grill, Maggiano’s Little Italy, McCormick & Schmick’s, NoRTH and many more.
The multi-phased Domain development is anchored by Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Dillard’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods and also offers more than 800 residential units and ample Class A office space, in addition to three on site hotels – Westin Austin at The Domain, Lone Star Court by Valencia Group and Aloft Austin. With the center’s ideal location and exceptional amenities, amazing restaurant selection, convenient parking and wifi connectivity, The Domain is the most desired place in Austin to shop, dine, live and work!
Louis Vuitton, Apple, Neiman Marcus, Express, Tiffany & Co., Dillard’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Buckle, David Yurman, H&M (Source: Simon Malls)
Here’s a map of the Domain.
Now that we know where it’s at, let’s talk about what really important! The Simon Mall website does have some good information on it and displays what most consumers are looking for when they Google “The Domain.” What it doesn’t tell you is that beyond the upscale and mainstream retail stores and restaurants, beyond the Tiffany & Co, beyond the fancy apartments sitting atop all the luxury shops and restaurants, there is a place for parents and kids to cut loose, eat food, play outside, listen to live music (we live in Austin, why wouldn’t there be live music at The Domain?), and mom and dad can enjoy an adult beverage.
Dads Guide to: The Domain (North Austin)
- Can you bring your child to this destination?
Yes! The Domains has several areas for children to play and have fun! If you are not shopping and just looking for a place to hang out for an evening and have some fun I would suggest sticking to the Domain II area which houses iPic and a few playscapes for the kiddos. On the Domain II side there are several attractions for kids one being, Springfree Trampoline which is located in one of the retail shops. Parents you can take the kids to “test” one of the three trampolines they have in store. When I say “test” they really are just there to jump and have some fun and the employees don’t mind at all. They are going to give you info about the products but they won’t use any high pressure sales tactics on you or even limit your time if there isn’t anyone in the store. We have gone tons of times and jumped for a good while. I suggest going during an off time like sometime during the week to unlimited jump time. There are also playscape located in the middle of the walkways that kids love!
- What are your recommended ages for this destination?
I recommend this destination kids of all ages. In the main walking area in between retail shops you will find playscape areas. The one above is geared for children 18 months to 2 years and the one below is geared for children 3 and up. But what makes this area a bit unique is the proximity to restaurants where mom and dad can get a drink. The Brass Tap recently opened and there is an outdoor seating area directly next to one of the playscape areas. If mom and dad would like a drink they can order one inside and take it out to the patio area and keep an eye on the kids or order from a server that works the outdoor patio. In addition, to the Brass Tap, Flaming Pizza has an outdoor sitting area to eat and has a beer and wine selection but not nearly as extensive as the Brass Tap and they do not have any draft beers. They do offer $8.99 build your own pizza with unlimited toppings. Who can beat that price?
- Do you need a stroller or can the kids walk around freely?
I would recommend a stroller if you plan on walking with a little one who cannot walk yet. It can be hike from the parking areas and garages to this middle area. Also, if you plan on walking around and doing some shopping it is best to have the kids comfy while you shop. If you are attending live music events it would be ideal to bring along a stroller to cement your place on the lawn or to have just in case it is crowded. During SXSW last year The Rock + Read Book and Music Festival put on by Livemom and Spare the Rock, Spoil The Child was held on the lawn at The Domain and boy did it get jumping! Amy Donovan Drive that is located directly behind the open areas is closed and kids can walk around freely on the street without the risk of getting hit by a car; but during most other times the street is active and it is a good idea to keep an eye on the kiddos just to be safe.
- Can mom or dad grab an adult beverage?
Yes!!! As I mentioned above The Brass Tap just opened up and is located extremely close to this area. In addition, Maggiano’s Little Italy is by this area if you want to grab some food and a drink. The only down side is that Maggiano’s is not close enough for you to drink a beer and watch the kids over at the playscapes. It does offer outdoor seating but is still too far away from the playscapes to keep a good eye on the little ones. If alcohol isn’t your thing, you can hop over to Bee Caves Coffee located right across the street from the open play area. They serve a nitro infused coffee that I freaking love! However most of the time that we go over to The Domain, we go in the evening I like to unwind with a ice cold beer. But come winter time, I know we will be stopping in for some hot cocoa!
- Is food and drink included or do you have buy it?
At The Domain, food and drink is not included with your visit and must be purchased at each individual restaurant or bar.
- Room and board?
There is room and board at The Domain. Some hotels that surround the retail area are Aloft, The Westin, Lonestar Court and Archer Hotel. Each hotel varies on amenities and price. I have not had the pleasure of staying at any of these hotels since I live about 4 minutes away from The Domain but if I do get the chance to visit one, I will update this post to reflect some of the amenities and features of the hotel.
- Cost per room/attraction?
To visit The Domain just to play on the playscapes and open area; it is FREE! There is no charge to just show up and have some fun. Although, you will be spending money on beer and food at the restaurants near by but if you pack a snack and some water for the kids you can keep the cost rather low. My kiddos wanted frozen yogurt which cost me about $12 but two bowls of froyo satisfied all five of our sweet tooths. There is a Yogurt Planet located next to Flaming Pizza and right by the play are that charges by the ounce for frozen yogurt and it sure did cool us off.
I ordered a Frambroise The Brass Tap had on tap for the missus and a Live Oak Hefeweizen for myself. With tip included it cost $12 dollars for two drinks. Not too bad but it’s not dollar beer night around there. If mom or dad does not like draft beer The Brass Tap offers a huge drink selection of bottled beer and has a full bar. In total, we ended up spending $24 dollars on yogurt and drinks.
- Is there a babysitting service?
There is no babysitting service offered at The Domain open play areas. There may be some services offered by some of the hotels but I would suggest doing a bit of research on the hotel you are staying at to see what amenities they offer. In addition, there are tons of restaurants for mom and dad to have a great date night. If you live in Austin do not rule out The Domain for your next date night.
- What is your overall review of the destination?
I really enjoy hanging out at The Domain and letting the kids play. I give it 5 Stars! They do an excellent job of keeping it clean, it is an extremely family friendly area, and my kids just absolutely love it. I like it because I can get a beer, some food, and the kids can play their hearts out. I focused on the playscape area around the Domain II, which in my opinion, is the more family friendly side. There are two parts to The Domain, The Domain and The Domain II. The Domain has more shopping and dinning and if you are looking for a date night I would suggest to head that way to eat at places like California Pizza Kitchen, Kona Grill, North Italia, Punch Bowl Social, The Park, Flemings, Blackfin Amiripub, and McCormick and Schmick’s and enjoy your alone adult time. Most of those restaurants listed are family friendly but if you kids are anything like mine they want to run wild and they can do so over on the other side. Also, a recent addition to The Domain is Rock Rose at The Domain which includes more restaurants and bars and I will be creating a separate “A Dads Guide to: Rock Rose at The Domain” so be sure to check back to see new dad guides.
Stay safe and happy travels!