10 fun things to do with kids in Austin before school starts

Less than four weeks until school. Egad! Already?

Earlier in the summer we offered Camp Austin 360, with a things to do this summer. You can read that story at specials.mystatesman.com/camp-austin360. Now, I offer you 10 things to do with the kids before summer ends.

1. Dip into natural watering holes. This summer, there’s water in the lakes, the creeks, the rivers and the swimming holes. We love dipping into Hamilton Pool, splashing around in Barton Creek and floating the Guadalupe River. Don’t forget your sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, and, often, life jackets.
2. Try out a new park or hiking trail.
Go early or go late — don’t go in the middle of the day — but summer is a great time to step outside your neighborhood park. We’re a fan of Mayfield Park for its peacocks and trails, Inks Lake State Park for its views and Lake Park in the Mueller neighborhood for its playground.

The Austin Zoo puts on Boo at the Zoo next month. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
See the bears at the Austin Zoo. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

3. Head to a cave. There’s nothing cooler (amazing-wise) and cooler (temperature-wise) than a Central Texas cave in summer. Start at Inner Space Cavern for beginners and work your way up to Cave Without a Name.

4. Head to an animal park. Try out the relatively new Texas Reptile Zoo in Bastrop, but we also love the kitsch of the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels, the safari of Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, and the closeness of the Austin Zoo and the Capital of Texas Zoo.

5. Hit a museum. Summer is a great time to be in a museum. Hooray, air-conditioning!

The Bullock Museum has these events coming up: Storytime Mondays: Texas Animals, 11 a.m. Aug. 1; Summer Memories, 11 a.m. Aug. 8. Wednesday Workshops: Create a Fossil, 11 a.m. Aug. 3; Nature Writing, 11 a.m. Aug. 10. Discovery Fridays: Native Mammals, 11 a.m., Aug. 5; Exciting Artifacts, 11 a.m. Aug. 12. Summer Free Family Film Series: “A Cat in Parts,” 2 p.m. Aug. 6 and “The Secret of Nimh,” 2 p.m. Aug. 20.

The Thinkery offers these weekend workshops next month: “Silly Science.” For 12-24 months, 9:45 a.m. Aug. 6. $20 one child and adult. For 24-36 months, 10:45 a.m. Aug. 6, $20 one child and adult. “Tracking Termites.” For ages 4-7. 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Aug6-7, 20-21. $8 per person. “Simple Stitches.” For ages 4-7. Create a stuffed animal. 12:15 p.m. Aug. 13-14, Aug. 27-28. $8 per person. “Polymear Wearables.” For ages 8 and older. 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Aug. 13-14, Aug. 27-28. $8 per person. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. Thinkeryaustin.org.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden has Family Day noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 14. Enjoy yoga, story time, sculpting and more for free. The Kids Kraft program on Saturday afternoons for kids in kindergarten through second grade. Shadow Sculptures, 10 a.m. Aug. 6; and Mad Mobiles, 10 a.m. Aug. 13. $15.  umlaufsculpture.org.

The Contemporary Austin’s Families Create! program is free. Make ice paintings.. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 13. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. thecontemporaryaustin.org.

Texas Museum of Science & Technology Star Party happens every Friday in August from 8-10 p.m. Science Saturday will explore the science of flavor with Amy’s Ice Creams. 4-6 p.m. Aug. 27. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org.

Kyle G. Stephens as Shrek and Sara Burke as Fiona star in "Shrek the Musical" at Zilker Hillside Theatre through Aug. 13. (Photo credit to Dave Keslick, courtesy of Zilker Theatre Productions)
Kyle G. Stephens as Shrek and Sara Burke as Fiona star in “Shrek the Musical” at Zilker Hillside Theatre through Aug. 13.
(Photo credit to Dave Keslick, courtesy of Zilker Theatre Productions)

6. See a musical. Summer Stock Austin has three shows: “The Addams Family.” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1, Aug. 5-6, 10, 12-13. 2 p.m. Aug. 7. $34 adults, $27 children and seniors. “The Steadfast Soldier.” A new musical from The Biscuit Brothers. 10 a.m Aug. 5-6, Aug. 8-10, Aug. 12-13. $17 adults, $12 children and seniors. “Carnival.” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3-4, 7, 9 and 11. 2 p.m. Aug. 6, 11-13. $34 adults, $27 children and seniors. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.

See “Shrek The Musical” under the stars at Zilker Summer Musical.. Free. 8:15 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, through Aug. 13. Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Drive. zilker.org

“Mary Poppins” flies onto the stage at Zach Theatre. $29-$79. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 4. Zach Theatre’s Topfer Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org.

Head to jolly old England for “Robin Hood and Maid Marian’s Wedding.” Sherwood Forest Faire presents this play. 11 a.m. Aug. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21; 8 p.m. Aug. 13. $12 adults, $8 children. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org.

7. Go to a circus. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings “Circus Xtreme” to the Erwin Center, Aug. 24-28. It’s the first time the circus will be here without elephants.

8. See a movie. The Paramount’s summer movie series includes “Aladdin,” 1 p.m. Aug. 6. “Jurassic Park” 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6 and 2 p.m. Aug. 7. “Annie,” 1 p.m. Aug. 14. “Mary Poppins,” 1 p.m. Aug. 20. $10 adults, $5 kids. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org.

The Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp is showing “Babe,” 10:55 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Lakeline. “Minions,” 10:25 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Slaughter Lane. “The Karate Kid,” 10:20 a.m. Aug. 5, 145_Group Clown Alex Irina_010:25 a.m. Aug. 6-11, Slaughter Lane. “The Dark Crystal,” Aug. 12-18, Slaughter Lane. “The Lego Movie,” 10 a.m. Aug. 19-25, Slaughter Lane. “Horton Hears a Who,” 11 a.m. Aug. 1-4, Village. “Shaun the Sheep,” 11 a.m. Aug. 5-11, Village. Reserve tickets for $1-$3 donation online. drafthouse.com.

Regal Summer Movie Express has 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays shows at Westgate Stadium 11. “The Croods” and “The Lorax,” Aug. 2-3. Tickets are $1. regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse offers $1 movies Monday through Thursday at Round Rock 8 and Cedar Park. “Shaun the Sheep,” Aug. 1-4. “Max,” Aug. 8-11. cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse.


9. Eat ice cream. The Austin Ice Cream Festival is 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 13. $15. Fiesta Gardens, 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St. austinicecreamfestival.com Find other ice cream sundae ideas with our list of favorites. 

10. Find new reading material. Hit your Austin Public Library branch, where this month Literature Live! presents “Puppet Olympics,” you can learn about fish in Texas and visit with animals from Crowe’s Nest farms, hear Echo and the Bats and Positive RePrecussions, see Gusto the Great and explore Hogwarts again.

At BookPeople this month, Carnival of Books will celebrate all things books for all ages. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 13. 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com


Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at austin360.com/raisingaustin. She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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