My family of four (including two kids, age 9 and 13) will have four or five days in Austria at the end of July/beginning of August before we drive to Riva del Garda in northern Lake Garda. We're keen to spend those days focused on the Salzkammergut region as the kids are interested in summer toboggan rides, dramatic mountain cable cars with stunning scenery, visiting a salt mine and ice cave, and so on. (Because we'll have a week at Lake Garda afterward, water sports and swimming are not high on the list. Also, we like gentle walks but not vigorous hut-to-hut hiking.) Time allowing, I'd also like to try a thermal bath and we'd all like to sample as much traditional Austrian cuisine as possible (so perhaps we'll need to plan more than a few gentle walks :-)).
My question is, where should we base ourselves? I keep going back and forth between St. Wolfgang and Hallstatt. Initially, I thought we'd just stay in Salzburg and take day trips but it looks like hotel prices will be inflated then because of the Salzburg Festival.
Our hope is to rent a car (if we can find a reasonably priced company that won't penalize us for picking it up in Austria or Germany - if we fly into Munich - and dropping it off in Italy).
Thank you in advance for your help.