10 cool things to do with kids this summer

Yep, we know, it’s hot. That might make you not want to go outside at all this summer.

A life of sitting around the house in the air conditioning sounds amazing until you do it a few days and get stir crazy.

Zoe Chandler, 7, and Alexandria Ligon, 10 stretch out while practicing their skating at the Chaparral Ice skating rink. Kelly West AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2007

Here are 10 things to do this summer with the kids that involve being somewhere really cool or doing something cool:

  1. Go ice skating. Chaparral Ice has public skating hours each day. Check the daily schedule on its website chaparralice.com  before you head out. It’s $9 to skate plus $5 for skate rental.  Chaparral Ice is at 2525 W. Anderson Lane.
Alisha Clark, 4, of Austin, spoons at her favorite flavored snow cone, rainbow, during a stop with her father, Albert Clark, at the Sno-Beach snow cone stand. AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2-16

2. Do a taste test of Austin snow cones and ice cream stores. Maybe you try a new one every few days.

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Make sure to have a healthy dinner or lunch beforehand and get exercise sometime that day. FYI: Kids are known to gain more weight in the summer than during the school year. 

Looking for more adventure? Make your own frozen treats such as ice cream or pops.

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On the first day of summer 2016, William Saunders, 8 jumps off of the diving board and into the deep end of Northwest pool. In the background, lifeguard Emery Henry keeps watch, while Lily Hobbs, 9 walks a newly surfaced walkway. AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

3. Hit the water. Try out a new-to-you water park or pool. Austin now has new water obstacle courses on Lake Travis, Quest ATX and Lake Travis Zipline Adventures’s Waterloo Adventures.

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Blanton docent Gary Kattner, right, reads a book for (left to right) Mandy Kutz, and daughter Effie, 3, Cate Bowman, 3, and mother Jillian Bontke Bowman during a tour in the Blanton Museum of Art. Julia Robinson/ FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2014

4. Go to a museum. Many of our local museums amp up the activities for kids in the summer time. The Bullock Museum has Make It Tuesdays and Sens-ational Thursdays. Each Tuesday at 10 a.m., you get to make history-related art, and each Thursday at 10 a.m., you get to try something that plays to your senses. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

The Blanton Museum has regular programming for kids each week throughout this month. 3ft Deep is for ages 3-5, 10 a.m. Tuesdays; Artists and Authors is for ages 5-7, 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Thursdays; Deeper Dives is for ages 8-10, 10 a.m. Fridays; Free Diving is for ages 11-14, 1 p.m. Fridays. Every Wednesday (except July 4), you can make art in the WorkLab, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Blanton Museum. 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. blantonmuseum.org

The Thinkery is open all summer (except July 4). Mondays and Saturdays at 9 a.m., Baby Bloomers is just for kids younger than 3. For kids 4 and older, special workshops happen on Saturdays and Sundays. We strongly suggest buying tickets (and registering for workshops) ahead of time. Thinkery. 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Story time at BookPeople. American-Statesman file

5. Hit the library or bookstore. Yes, we want kids reading all summer long, but aside from that expand-your-brain recommendation, the Austin Public Library’s branch locations have stacked the summer schedule with story tellers, puppet shows, art classes, animal encounters and more. Search library.austintexas.gov to get the schedule.

BookPeople has story times at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. bookpeople.com All Barnes & Noble locations have 11 a.m. Saturday story times. Several locations also have additional story times throughout the week.  barnesandnoble.com

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The Minions are back in the summer family film “Minions.” Universal Pictures

6. Hit the movie theater. Yes, you could go for the latest summer blockbusters, but you also can take in last year’s or the year before’s animated hits at theaters’ special programming for kids. The Alamo Drafthouse locations at the Village, Slaughter Lane, Mueller and Lakeline host daily Kids Camp movies. You pick your price of $1, $3, $5 a ticket and the Alamo Drafthouse donates that to a local nonprofit. drafthouse.com You can also find special sensory friendly screenings of new movies Find that list at drafthouse.com/austin/program/alamo-for-all.

Sometimes, the Paramount Theatre shows classic movies that would be kid-appropriate as part of its Paramount Summer Movie Classics. Upcoming showings include,  “Annie” 1 p.m. July 22; “Superman.” 1 p.m. July 29; “The Nightmare Before Christmas” 1 p.m. Aug. 5; “Grease” 1 p.m. Aug. 11; “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” 1 p.m. Aug. 19; $6-$12. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org

Flix Jr. Flix offers $2 children’s movies at 11 a.m. Wednesdays. See “Minions,” July 4, “Hook,” July 11, “Ponyo” July 18, “Jumanji,” July 25, 2200 S. Interstate 35, Suite B1, Round Rock. flixbrewhouse.com

Regal Summer Movie Express shows $1 movies 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Westgate Stadium 11 and Gateway Stadium 16. “The Lego Movie” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” July 3-July 4; “Sing” and “The Peanuts Movie,” July 10-11; “The Lego Ninjago Movie” and “Ferdinand,” July 17-18; “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel,” July 24-25; “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Trolls,” July 31 and Aug. 1.  regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse . Offers $1 movies 10 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays at Round Rock 8. “The Nut Job 2,” July 2-5; “My Little Pony,” July 9-12; “Ferdinand,” July 16-19; “Paddington 2,” July 23-26; “Captain Underpants,” July 30-Aug. 2; “The Emoji Movie,” Aug. 6-9. cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse

The Bullock Museum is offering its $5 Summer Family Film Series: “The Land Before Time,” 2 p.m. July 14; “Toy Story,” 2 p.m. Aug. 11. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

And you can also find free film screenings at the library. “Black Panther,” 3:30 p.m. July 20, Carver Branch; “Rock Dog,” 2 p.m. Aug. 9, Old Quarry Branch; “My Little Pony: The Movie,” 3:30 p.m. Aug. 17, Carver Branch. library.austintexas.gov

Families can partake in ice painting workshops at Laguna Gloria’s August installment of its Second Saturdays program. American-Statesman 

7. Paint with colored ice. The Contemporary Austin regularly offers this event every August as part of its second Saturday Families Create event, but you could do it at home, too. Make your own colored ice cubes using food coloring or water-based paint. Pop a Popsicle stick or toothpick in the end of the cube before it freezes. Once it’s frozen, pop out the cubes and then color the paper or pavement with your creations. This year’s Ice Painting at the Contemporary Austin will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 11. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. thecontemporaryaustin.org

Ava Villalpando plays with a Play Day Fun Blaster. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

8. Create your own water park in your backyard. Two years ago we tried out different water toys (Hint: Skip the slide.) Pick up some of these toys or bubble guns or make your own water balloons, put on the swimsuit and get to playing. You also can run through the sprinklers, but only on your designated watering days.

RELATED: Best water toys

“All Aboard” from Pollyanna Theatre Company is for the preschool crowd.

9. Go inside and see theater. Yes, you should go to the Zilker Summer Musical starting this Friday, but you’ll sweat in the sun as you’re waiting for it to begin. We have some indoor offerings happening as well. Summer Stock Austin returns with “The Music Man,” beginning July 20, and “Rob1n,” beginning July 24. “Rob1n” is a modern retelling of the Robin Hood tale, which puts a girl in the starring role, in a musical by Allen Robertson and Damon Brown. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

“Too Many Stories!” features a girl who outwits a robber. 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays July 11 through Aug. 1. $6. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. scottishritetheater.org

“Beauty and the Beast” Disney musical is onstage at Zach Theatre. 7:30 p.m. July 11-Sept. 2. $25-$150. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org

Pollyanna Theatre Company‘s Theater for the Very Young production “All Aboard” is at the Long Center in July. 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. July 12-14, 16, 19-21. $6.75. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

A flight of ducks fly towards the east above Lady Bird Town Lake. You might not see ducks, but you might see other birds flying by the moonlight. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2015

10. Go for strolls at dawn and dusk. Yes, the days are long in the summer, but if you’re hankering to play outside and not be in the heat, you can enjoy your neighborhood by taking a stroll as the sun comes up or begins to set. You could even bring out the flashlights and see how your neighborhood might be different at night. Can you see the stars? Do you hear the owl or the bugs? Do you see any lightening bugs? Any toads or foxes? Or maybe you just meet a bunch of other walkers trying to escape this heat, too.


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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