by Tammy DeWitt Le
As the mother of a 9 and 12 year old, I am always looking for ways to avoid “Mom, I’m bored!” over the Summer. The following list highlights some of our favorite boredom-busters. Look for the FREE! sign to find fun events that don’t cost anything.
- FREE! Relax at a natural outdoor amphitheater while you enjoy a music or dance show at Zilker Hillside Theater. This is one worthwhile trip to South Austin. The Zilker Hillside Theater is located in Zilker Park across from Barton Springs swimming pool (also a great Summer activity). The stage is located in a natural amphitheater under a stand of 100 year old pecan trees. Shows typically begin around 7:30 – 8:00pm and you can bring a cooler & snacks.
- Kick it old school style at the Playland Indoor Skate Center in North Austin. Not much has changed here since I use to skate as a teenager in the 1980s. But my family always has fun grooving to the disco and current tunes and I like that we all work up a good sweat. Join in when they do the Hokey Pokey. Affordable prices: http://www.austinconventioncenter.com/calendar/calendar2.htm
- Cool off at the Rock ‘N River water park in Round Rock. My family discovered this gem a few years ago which is a great alternative to the pricey and crowded Schlitterbahn. It is located near the Dell Diamond on Highway 79 about 15 minutes from Wells Branch. With 2 slides, a lazy river, and multiple pools for young children, it’s a good deal at under $5 per ticket. You can also bring in your own cooler and snacks. http://www.roundrocktexas.gov/pools
- Watch a movie at the IMAX theater at Bob Bullock Museum, featuring Austin’s only IMAX Theatre. This 400-seat, state-of-the-art theatre makes your ticket really worth the price and 3D movies really do jump out at you. Current flicks include Tornado Alley & Flight of the Butterflies. They also play regular feature films. http://www.thestoryoftexas.com/
- FREE! Splash around at the Brushy Creek Lake Park. This park was named “Best Place to Play in a Fountain” by the Austin Chronicle. Let your kids run around the splash pad while water shoots up at them. They also have a playground, picnic tables, lake, and hike/bike trails. Located at 3300 Brushy Creek Road near the intersection of Parmer & Brushy Creek Rd.
- Tour the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. If you are new to Austin, you may not know about this fantastic museum. It’s an air-conditioned way to sneak in some education. Notable current exhibits include Texas Vietnam Heroes and 11/22/63. FREE ADMISSION on July 4th and August 27th (LBJ’s Birthday). If you have enjoyed the wildflowers on Texas highways, learn why you have Ladybird Johnson to thank. http://www.lbjlibrary.org/
ENJOYABLE DAY TRIPS
- Visit Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg. Your kids will love the feeling of climbing to the top of the rock. Enchanted Rock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1970 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The Rock is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome that rises 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States. The park reaches capacity (in terms of parking) and frequently closes on weekends (sometimes as early as 11 a.m.). http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/enchanted-rock
- Relish 70 degree temperatures at Natural Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels. Only about a 45 minute drive from Austin (70 miles), this cavern is one of the largest in the state of Texas, making it a top attraction. The outdoor climbing tower and zip lines will give your kids some exercise. http://www.naturalbridgecaverns.com/(S(yk1euha34ax3tputkoovpoux))/Index.aspx
- Take a day trip to the Mayborn Planetarium & Space Center in Killeen. With a full-dome planetarium and laser light and star shows, this trip is a must for any child interested in space (and even those who aren’t). It has a full 60-foot dome. Experience a unique and artistic mix of light, color and sound with 3D laser light shows set to music. Affordable ticket prices. http://www.starsatnight.org/
- Take a dip in Krause Springs! Just 45 minutes from Austin, step back in time and let the kiddos enjoy flying off the rocks via on old-fashioned rope swing while adults float the day away on a spring fed creek. Bring a picnic and stay all day or plan on camping out! http://www.krausesprings.net