Monday, August 14, 2017

Adventure for All Ages at iFly

As one of the more unique activities on our Summer Fun Checklist, a trip to iFLY – Austin’s one and only indoor skydiving experience – is sure to be memorable. Located less than 20 minutes from downtown Austin, this adventurer’s dream makes an easy outing for all ages in your family. Just getting your very own flight suit is a kid-pleaser, to say nothing of soaring (with some serious speed) some 20-feet off the ground!

Looking good in the iFly gear and ready to FLY!
Prior to entering the ginormous wind tunnel that fuels your fun, you’ll watch a short video and receive lessons from your instructor. Then it’s off to suit up – complete with helmet, goggles and the occasionally needed hair tie. And in case you’re wondering about the young ones in your group, iFLY boasts that anyone aged 3 to 103 can fly – and they can back up that brag. We witnessed firsthand a 3-year-old-baby-bean of a girl take to the indoor skies after watching her older siblings – and she went higher than anyone else!



Be sure to keep in mind that iFly doesn’t have to be just a once in a lifetime, blue-moon experience. In addition to private parties and corporate events, they offer up STEM education field trips and repeat-flyer packages for those of you who catch the bug to catch more air. So grab a group or just your sweetie
and get up there.

Where: 13265 North US 183, Suite A, Austin (next to Phil's Ice House, Amy's Ice Cream and Baked by Amy's)
Contact: (512) 774-4359 or www.iflyworld.com
When: Monday-Thursday: 10am – 9pm; Friday: 10am-11pm; Saturday: 9am – 11pm; Sunday: 9am – 9pm
Cost: Package options start at $69.95 for 2 flights. All packages include gear and instruction from certified trainers.

Our Advice: Check out their package options and go with a group – you can divide up the flights and share the cost, saving some cash for a stop next door at Amy’s Ice Cream. Also be sure to wear lace-up tennis shoes (though they supply community pairs if needed) and really comfy clothing – maybe workout
gear even.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back to School Bash at Catch Air

Summer is winding down! Celebrate the final days of Summer 2017 at Catch Air's Back to School Bash, happening on Friday, August 18, 2017.


Admission is only $5 all day long and kids get a free ice pop with each paid admission!

Can't make it for the Bash? Bring school supplies buy either Catch Air location for the month of August and get $2 off admission! Bring 3 small new school supply items or 1 large school supply item per every $2 off admission. Example of 3 small items: 1pack of pencils, 1 pack of crayons, 1 notebook. Example of 1 large item: 1 lunch box or 1 back pack, 1 three pack of Kleenex or 1 (large) pack of construction paper.

What: Back to School Bash at Catch Air Austin and Round Rock 
When: Friday, August 18, 2017 from 10am-8pm
Cost: $5 admission all day (can not be combined with any other offer).
More Information: Round Rock location- https://www.facebook.com/events/141877709736495/
Austin location- https://www.facebook.com/events/106924290021427

Austin Summer Musical: The Jungle Book

The Austin Summer Musical for Children's 2017 performance of The Jungle Book is coming to the BOyd Vance Theater August 12-27, 2017. The non-profit organization provides live musical theatre productions for the children of Central Texas as a way of fostering community, building interest and enriching the lives of children through music and theatre.

The fully costumed and choreographed production is presented FREE of charge. It is written, planned and performed by a board of community volunteers who share their free time to ensure that the children of Austin and Central Texas will be treated to a quality show.  There are 17 free public performances, produced for children ages 2-12. 

The Jungle Book

Banished by the ferocious tiger, Shere Khan, a human boy named Mowgli and his panther friend, Bagheera, are on the run in the deepest parts of the jungle. On their journey, the two meet a sinister snake named Kaa, a herd of elephants and a giant bear named Baloo, who teaches them the swingin' musical rhythms of the jungle. After surviving a dangerous encounter with a band of monkeys led by King Louie, Mowgli and Bagheera are forced to run for their lives. When Shere Khan returns, our heroes must rally their fellow animals into battle and restore peace throughout the jungle.

While the show is free, you do still need to have a ticket for entry to the theatre. Tickets are available 30 minutes prior to the show with online tickets available for select performances.

When: Saturday and Sundays, August 12-27, 2017
Time: Saturdays at 11 a.m., 2 and 4 p.m.
Where: Boyd Vance Theater, inside Washington Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St., Austin

Tip: Arrive early to make sure you get a place in line to get tickets! Lines can be long and tickets are available on a first come, first served basis. Only six tickets allowed per family. Tickets are released 30 minutes before show time.

More Information: http://www.summermusical.com/

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Where to Channel Your Inner Pinball Wizard



Minecraft may be king of video games for Generation Z, but that doesn’t mean your kids won’t love crushing you at Pac-Man. Luckily for us Gen X and Millennial parents, the arcade (old-school AND nuveau) is alive and well in Austin, and a great place to head on a rainy or super-hot afternoon.

Pinballz Arcade 
For a true 1980s arcade experience, you can’t really beat Pinballz. Put your dollars in the token machine, and spend a few hours reliving your middle school days playing Tron, Pac-Man, Skee-ball, Dig Dug, or one of literally hundreds of other video games or pinball machines. Your kids will love playing the games as well as trading in tickets for useless but fun prizes at the end of the afternoon.

Blazer Tag Adventure Center
In addition to laser tag shoot-out fun, Blazer Tag has an arcade with more than 50 games ranging from Pac-man to Guitar Hero.

Austins Park and Pizza
Load up your FunCard and hit the games up in this large arcade located in between Pflugerville and Round Rock. There's also bowling, Go-Karts, batting cages and more should the kids need a break from too many rounds of Asteroids.

Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex
Located in east Austin, this City of Austin-owned family/youth/event center has arcade games, bowling, skating and a food court. Note: Open Wednesday through Saturday only.

Ski Shores Waterfront Café
In addition to lake views, a playground, good food and craft beer, Ski Shores serves up a small but solid game room that includes Galaga, foosball and air hockey.


Spare Time Texas
Part bowling alley, part laser tag, and part arcade, this fun center in Pflugerville has a little something for everyone. A bit on the smaller side, the arcade features new games as well as old-school classics with cards that keep track of points that can be redeemed for prizes.

Main Event
If you’re looking for the superstore of kidtainment, Main Event is probably it. In addition to spending time in an arcade, you can bowl, rock climb, play laser tag, eat pizza, mini golf and engage in lots of other activities. Makes me tired just thinking about it.



High Five
High Five is a scaled-down version of Main Event with laser tag, video games, bowling and food. As a bonus, it’s still new enough that it feels squeaky clean and sparkly.


Gattitown
A perennial favorite for kids, Gattitown is that ace in the hole you can pull out on a day when tempers are short and no one can agree on what to do.

About the author: Jill Coody Smits is the author of Expedition Austin: A Kid’s Guide to the Weirdest Town in Texas. A freelance writer of many things, she lives south of the river with her husband, daughter and two four-footed sons. After nearly 20 years in Austin, she is still in love with this little big town.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Where To See Bats in Central Texas



There's no doubt about it: The fact that a bat is the unofficial mascot of our town is a clear indication that we like to keep it weird here in Austin.

The strange thing is, if you ask around, many of us Austinites have never seen the bats or haven't tried in years. So why not make this summer the time you see our favorite winged mammal?

Here are the spots to see the Mexican free-tailed bats who call our fair city home for part of the year:

Downtown Austin. Of course, this is the most popular way to see bats in Austin. You have a few options on how to be a part of this natural spectacle:

  • Sit on the lawn or stand on the bridge. The easiest thing to do is to pack a picnic and head down to the Statesman's Bat Observation Center in the northwest corner of the parking lot at least an hour before dusk. Street parking is available nearby, and there are several parking lots, as well, which are a bit of a longer walk. There is signage to tell you more about the bats, and you'll be surrounded by many other families doing the same thing. You can read more about this option here. If you have older kids who don't mind standing for longer periods of time, you can find a spot on the southeastern part of the bridge about an hour before dusk. The best part is that these options are both free!
  • Take a boat tour. Capital Cruises and Lone Star Riverboat both offer public sightseeing cruises that are about an hour in length and cost $10 per adult and $5-$7 for kids. Departure times vary slightly, depending on what time of year it is, and you do need to arrive a bit in advance. Compared to hanging out on the ground, this is a little more comfortable, and you can usually snack on the boats while you listen to the guide tell you more about different spots along Lady Bird Lake. If you have kids who have a hard time sitting still or who have a daredevil streak, this option might be too stressful to be worthwhile. You can read more about this option here.
  • Canoe or kayak to the bridge. If you have your own canoe or kayak, you can get up close and personal with the bats, along with anyone else who has the same idea. Several vendors rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards near the bridge. You can also book a bat tour with the Texas River School, which hosts a monthly Moonlight Bat Float, complete with music from local musicians, and it benefits the nonprofit's work to take at-risk kids for adventures on the water (read more about that here). Live Love Paddle also hosts bat tours.
  • Enjoy the view while you eat. The north side of Lady Bird Lake has several hotels with restaurants that claim to have the best bat watching. One casual option is Alta's Cafe, which is located atop the Waller Creek Boathouse. There are a few piers along the north side of the lake that also offer a great vantage point to see the bats.
Round Rock. Nearly half a million bats emerge from a spot close to the intersection of IH-35 and McNeil. Head to 601 North Interstate 35 Frontage Road in Round Rock with your blankets and something to cover you in case of any guano falling from the sky. Free parking is located nearby.

Bracken Cave. Austin may be the largest urban bat colony, but Bracken Cave, located half an hour northwest of San Antonio, is the location of the largest bat colony and one of the largest concentration of mammals on Earth. In 2014, the cave and land surrounding the cave came under the management of Bat Conservation International. Members have the opportunity to visit the cave certain times each year and the public can sign up for a few nights (note 2017 is filling up fast).

Eckert James River Bat Cave. The Nature Conservancy manages the Eckert Cave, which is about 16 miles from Mason, Texas. Tours run from Thursdays-Sundays from mid-May until early October. Some sunrise viewings of the bats returning from their nocturnal hunts are also offered.

Old Tunnel State Park. On Thursday through Sunday evenings, from May through October, visitors ages 4 and up who pay admission can view more than 3 million bats emerging from an abandoned railroad tunnel near Fredericksburg. Bat-viewing opportunities are available seven nights a week, and nightly educational presentations are given Thursday through Sunday.


Thanks to Austin Diagnostic Clinic for sponsoring this post. With four Pediatric offices in Central Texas, The Austin Diagnostic Clinic also offers primary, specialty and urgent care for adults too! For more information, or to make an appointment contact our 24-hour call center at 512-901-1111 or visit ADClinic.com.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Celebrate the 4th of July in Austin with Fireworks


A major milestone of summer is the 4th of July, a holiday commemorated by spectacular fireworks shows which take place across the Austin area. Whether it's your first time taking the kids or if you are looking for a new tradition, you have plenty of ways to catch fireworks across the Austin area starting this weekend.


Bastrop Patriotic Festival 

Saturday, July 1, 2017
10am - 10pm

Fisherman's Park
1200 Willow St.
Bastrop, TX 78602
(512) 303-0558

A Water Wonderland for the kids, contests, a petting zoo, a Car Show with the Bastrop Area Cruisers, children's activity area, a DJ playing music all day, a washer (with cash prizes) and domino tournament, tons of awesome food & treats, the Austin Symphonic band and of course, fireworks (9:15pm).

Bob Schneider’s Independence Day Party

Saturday, July 1, 2017
Doors open at 6pm

Nutty Brown Cafe,
12225 Highway 290 West
Austin, Tx

Performances by Calliope Musicals, The Avacados and Bob Schneider with fireworks at the end of the show. Tickets start at $25.

A Star Spangled Independence

Saturday, July 1 & Sunday, July 2, 2017
10am - 5 pm

Pioneer Farms
10621 Pioneer Farms Drive
Austin, TX 78754

Family fun includes historical reenactments, hayrides, live music and a colorful display of independence flags. Red-white-and-blue historical shows, new exhibits, farm animals and hayrides are planned, along with music and other other old-fashioned festivities straight from the 1800s. The days will be Austin’s version of a midsummer festival, a popular activity in the late 1800s. Plan to come early and stay late for this old-fashioned weekend outing that replicates the family-friendly summer holidays in Old Texas. Regular admission will be charged.

H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
8:30pm

Vic Mathias Shores
800 West Riverside Drive
Austin, TX


Spend this Independence Day with 100,000 of your closest friends! Central Texans will hurry to claim their grassy spot with the Austin Symphony Orchestra this July 4th for the largest Independence Day Celebration in the state. Tens of thousands of families will be decked out in red, white, and blue and heading down to Vic Mathias Shores (formerly Auditorium Shores) this July 4th for an amazing event complete with a fireworks display over the city skyline backed by symphonic patriotic classics.

The Austin Symphony Orchestra will perform at 8:30 p.m., followed by “mile-high” fireworks at approximately 9:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Independence Day Celebration at Round Rock Express

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
7:05 pm

Round Rock Express at the Dell Diamond
3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd.
Round Rock

Celebrate the U.S.A. at Dell Diamond as the Express will don special uniforms before a spectacular post-game fireworks show.

Leander's Liberty Fest

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
5-10pm

1680 Hero Way
Leander, TX 78641
(512) 528-9909

Celebrate the Fourth of July at Liberty Fest! This FREE, family-friendly event is perfect for the whole family with live music, food and craft vendors, children's activities and a spectacular fireworks display.
  • 4:30 p.m. - Gates open
  • 5-10 p.m. - Activities and vendors
  • 6-10 p.m. - Live music
  • 9-10 p.m. - Fireworks by Pyrotecnico
Fireworks will be launched from the Capital Metro Leander Station.

July Fourth Frontier Days Festival & Celebration

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
10am-11pm

Old Settlers Park
3300 Palm Valley Blvd.
Round Rock, TX 78665
(512) 218-5540

A parade, fireworks, carnival rides, jalapeno eating contest, Swifty Swine Pig Races, children's games, Sam Bass shootout, Movies in the Park and skydivers are all part of the City of Round Rock's July Fourth Frontier Days Celebration. The event is free for the entire family. Independence Day festivities begin with free watermelon at the Lakeview Pavilion in Old Settlers Park and includes music from the Austin Symphonic Band. The SERTOMA Round Rock Veterans Fourth of July Parade moves back to Main Street in Downtown Round Rock. Fireworks begin at dark, and the movie (Lego Batman Movie) begins right after the fireworks.

Wells Branch 4th Fest

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
10am-10pm

Katherine Fleischer Park
2106 Klattenhoff Dr.
Austin, TX 78728
(512) 251-9814

Wells Branch is famous for its FourthFest celebration. The day begins with a short parade starting at Katherine Fleisher Park at 10am. Spectators are welcome to line the street to watch. When the parade returns, there’ll be an afternoon of entertainment under the big tent, concessions from local restaurants and community service groups offering a variety of items to enjoy, and activities for the kids around Katherine Fleischer Park. The pool will be open and free to the public as well. Fireworks begin at 9:30pm at the soccer field adjacent to the recreation center on Shoreline Drive.

Georgetown's SERTOMA 4th of July Celebration

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
11am-10pm

San Gabriel Park
455 E. Morrow St.
Georgetown, TX 78626

The festivities will begin at 11:00 a.m. with over 60 Arts and Craft booths, 20 Food vendors. Kiddie rides, Bounce Houses and games along with a Petting Zoo are provided for the children. Musical entertainment, featuring some of the best local and central Texas talent, will begin at the Gazebo at 12 noon and will continue all day. A "Hometown Parade", sponsored by the Leadership Georgetown Alumni begins at 11:00 a.m. at the low water crossing, ending at the Gazebo. The 4th of July Celebration is free. Fireworks will start at around 9:30pm.

Cedar Park's 4th of July Celebration & Parade

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
10am - 10pm

Milburn Park
1901 Sun Chase Blvd.
Cedar Park, TX 78613
(512) 401-5500

The parade kicks off the day at 10 am on Discovery Blvd. Afterwards, from 4-10pm, the event will feature live music, bingo, a washer tournament, air castles, free watermelon and a fireworks display.  Fees apply for food concessions, face painting, and carnival games and rides. Admission is free.

Pflugerville Pfirecracker Pfestival

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
5-10:45pm

The Pfield
1440 W. Pecan Street
Pflugerville, TX 78660
(512) 990-6113

Come to the new stadium for live music by The BlueBonnets and SkyRocket, food trucks, and a fireworks show (9:15pm). Free admission.

Kyle's Independence Day Celebration & Fireworks Show 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
6-10pm

Plum Creek Golf Course
4301 Benner
Kyle, TX 78640

Starting at 6pm, the pre-show celebration at Plum Creek Golf Course Clubhouse is free to the public and includes live music and fantastic viewing. Hot dogs and cold drinks will be sold under the large tent, along with other snacks. No outside food or drink permitted on the golf course property. Hays CISD Performing Arts Center will entertain with music until the fireworks start. The free public program begins at 7pm. No alcohol permitted on school grounds. When it gets dark enough, around 9:30pm, the fireworks show will launch from the golf course.

Hill Country Galleria's Independence Day Celebration

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
6:30-9:30pm

12700 Hill Country Blvd., Suite T-100
Bee Cave, TX
(512) 263-0001

Enjoy shopping, dining, live music & fireworks at the Hill Country Galleria. There will be a day-long sidewalk sale, live music by The Watters and Vallejo starting at 6:30pm, and a fireworks show starting at around 9pm. Bring blankets and lawn chairs. Free admission.


Red, White and Buda

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
7-10pm

Buda City Park
121 Main Street
Buda, TX 78610

Watch or be a part of the morning children’s parade filled with decorative bicycles, wagons, and unique kid’s floats as it takes route on Main Street. Bounce houses and more family fun can be found at City Park immediately following the parade. The celebration continues at night with live music, activities and a spectacular fireworks display. 


Thanks to Austin Diagnostic Clinic for sponsoring this post. With four Pediatric offices in Central Texas, The Austin Diagnostic Clinic also offers primary, specialty and urgent care for adults too! For more information, or to make an appointment contact our 24-hour call center at 512-901-1111 or visit ADClinic.com.


Day Trips From Austin: Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is a well-known weekend destination for travelers coming from nearby Austin and San Antonio. The town was named in honor of Prince Frederick of Prussia and is known as the home of "Texas German", a German dialect spoken by the first generations of settlers who did not learn English. A popular site for day trips from Austin, if you can swing going on a weekday, it will be much less crowded.


Enchanted Rock  

Climb to the top of this popular pink granite rock dome at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area for amazing views. Kids can borrow a Junior Ranger Explorer Pack to help them explore the area. It’s advisable to get there early in the morning as the parking lot can fill up quickly. Bring lots of water and wear sunscreen. It’s also a great place to star gaze on a summer night.

Hours: 8am-10pm
Cost: Adult $7 daily, children 12 and under FREE
Location: 16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg
Phone: (830) 685-3636

Old Tunnel State Park 

From May through October, spectators gather at Old Tunnel State Park to watch up to 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasilienses mexicana) and 3,000 cave myotis (Myotis velifer) bats take flight at dusk. Bat-viewing opportunities are available seven nights a week, and nightly educational presentations are given Thursday through Sunday.

Hours: Sunrise until 5 p.m.; Park opens at 5 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays May through October for bat viewing
Cost: Free for viewing at upper viewing area; $5 fee for viewing at lower viewing area
Location: 10619 Old San Antonio Road, Fredericksburg.
Phone: Call (866) 978-2287 to get the latest emergence time information.

Wildseed Farms 

Just a few minutes outside of town, you’ll find Wildseed Farms, a family-owned wildflower farm where you can pick your own flowers, walk the trails, capture beautiful photos, shop for seeds and plants, and taste the wide range of products including jellies, jams, pickles, salsas and more that are available for purchase. Note: When saying hello to the Wildseed cats on location, make sure the kids don’t pet them as they can be a little feisty with little ones.

Hours: Daily from 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: 100 Legacy Dr, Fredericksburg
Phone: (800) 848-0078


Marktplatz Playground 

Need the kids to burn off some energy before the ride home? Visit this playground right on Main Street, close to all of the shops and restaurants of downtown Fredericksburg. There there are many climbing, swinging and balancing options.

Cost: FREE
Location: 260 E. Main Street, Fredericksburg




Hungry? Embrace Fredericksburg’s German roots and indulge in some schnitzel at Rathskeller, a snug little restaurant in the basement of an old building. They serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.If you're looking for a cool treat after exploring the town on a hot summer day, stop in for an ice cream sundae or a cone at Clear River Ice Cream. This retro ice cream shop has a flavor to please everyone and offers up bakery items as well.