12 Fun Things for Kids to do this Summer!

Submitted by Tammy Le

As the mother of a 7 and 10 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 as well as places I have always wanted to visit. I live in Wells Branch in North Austin, so you’ll notice some of my places will be closer to those who live North.  Look for the FREE! to find all fun events that don’t cost anything. If you have a great event to add, please leave a comment on this blog.

  1. FREE! See the Austin bats emerge from under Congress Ave. bridge. One of the coolest sights to see is the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from their roosts under the Congress Avenue Bridge. I’m embarrassed to admit I have lived here since 1978 and never seen this. Late July through mid-August is the best time to see impressive flights, as new born pups first begin to forage with their mothers. The bats generally emerge before dark, but may fly late if conditions are not favorable, http://www.batcon.org/.
  2. 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. They play both special documentaries and feature films playing in the regular theater, http://www.thestoryoftexas.com/.
  3. FREE! Make reading more fun for your kids. My son’s 2nd grade teacher warned all kids on the last day of school that if they didn’t read over the summer, they would lose up to ½ grade’s worth of reading comprehension. As parents we know it’s important to read but sometimes finding the right book or subject to interest your child is a challenge. Wells Branch has an excellent community library which hosts a children’s summer reading program with prizes. Half Price Books awards gift cards to kids for summer reading and Barnes & Noble rewards them with free books (just visit to pick up a log). The following sites (recommended by the Wells Branch Children’s Librarian) help you find the best page-turners and award winners for your child:
  4. Take a day trip to visit Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg. I have a vivid memory of climbing this rock with my husband when we stayed there (before kids) at a bed and breakfast. It was really fun and even kids can do it. 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/spdest/findadest/parks/enchanted_rock.
  5. FREE! Watch a free movie. You don’t have to pay to see a movie this summer! Take advantage of all the free showings including the new “Movies in the Park” at Katherine Fleischer Park.  July 9th is “Shrek Ever After” & August 13th is “Tangled” (that is an excellent movie so would not miss it!). Pre-movie activities start at 8pm with the movies starting at twilight. Concessions will be available. Other places that hold free movies include: Alamo Drafthouse (daily at 11:00am) http://drafthouse.com/series/summer_kids_camp/austin or Republic Square Movies in the Park, 422 Guadalupe, Free movies start at dusk. http://www.austinparks.org/moviesinthepark.html
  6. 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/.
  7. Cool off at the Rock ‘N River Round Rock water park.  My family discovered this gem a few years ago which is a great alternative to the pricey and crowded Schlitterbahn. It is located just by the Dell Diamond on Highway 79 (turn left there & follow the road). 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.
  8. Zip along the zip line at Cypress Valley Canopy Tours. You will fly through the canopy of old cypress trees sometimes as high as 100 feet up. One child flies for free, ages 10 to 17, accompanied by one parent Tuesday and Thursday during the summer. This is definitely a splurge at $75 per ticket and only ages 10 – 17 are allowed. It is located in Spicewood, Texas, just 30 miles west of downtown Austin. http://cypressvalleycanopytours.com/.
  9. FREE! Relax at a natural outdoor amphitheater while you enjoy a music or dance show at Zilker Hillside Theater. The theater is located in Zilker Park across the parking lot from Barton Springs swimming pool. The stage is located in a natural amphitheater under a stand of 100 year old pecan trees. “Footloose, the Musical” is playing free from July 8th – August 13th. Shows may include music or dance, with the kids free to roam around or dance to the tunes. You can bring a cooler & snacks. http://www.zilker.org/.
  10. 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. They also have an outdoor climbing tower and zip lines to give your kids some extra fun & exercise. Plus the extra bonus is that you will stay cool at an average temperature of only 70 degrees, a welcome respite during Austin’s 90 -100 degree summer temperatures. http://www.naturalbridgecaverns.com/.
  11. 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. http://www.ci.cedar-park.tx.us/cp/pr_bclp.aspx.
  12. Play some games and indulge in the buffet at Gatti-Land in Round Rock. My kids also really like Main Event, but I enjoy the tasty all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta buffet. Kids can play arcade games to win prizes.  Don’t miss the bumper cars. On Mondays Moms eat free and Wednesdays kids eat free. http://www.gattiland-rr.com/.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please verify information before heading out. All information listed here is subject to change.

You can reach Tammy at tammy@familypair.com or (512) 773-3214 or visit her site at http://www.familypair.com/.

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