10 things to do indoors with kids this rainy weekend

You can read my weekend calendar blog, but aside from the organized events, here are 10 ideas to keep kids busy as Hurricane Harvey hits the coast and brings the rain to us.

Photo by Larry Kolvoord AMERICAN-STATESMAN....9/02/07....Afternoon rains disrupted activities at the annual Batfest on Congress Avenue Bridge Sunday, September 2, 2007. Jeri Davenport of Round Rock and her twin daughters, Cerise Redden, 10, left, and Cheyenne Redden came prepared with their umbrellas. Many Batfest visitors were caught in the rainstorm which shutdown the music stages and caused vendors to hunker down under tent canopies until the rain eased. Davenport said the girls had been to previous Batfests and she had not so they convinced her to come to this years' event. She said they brought their umbrellas and were determined to have fun in spite of the rain.
Jeri Davenport of Round Rock and her twin daughters, Cerise Redden, 10, left, and Cheyenne Redden came prepared with their umbrellas when rain hit. American-Statesman 2007

1. Plan and make a meal together. Haven’t gone grocery shopping and don’t want to brave the store in the rain? No worries. We bet you can scrounge up some ingredients that you have on hand. Get the kids involved to see how creative you can get. This is also the perfect time to teach kids how to bake a cake from scratch.

2. Make recycled crafts. Dig through your recycling bin and the junk drawer for some found objects. Bring out the glue, the tape, the markers, the glitter, the stickers, the paint. Bragging rights or prizes could be awarded. There could even be judges.

3. Get some exercise. Search YouTube for yoga for kids and do a session together. Blow up a balloon, move out the furniture in your living room and play volleyball. Play hide and seek.

4. Make homemade Play-Doh. DIY Natural has this recipe: 

1 cup of flour (whatever kind you have on hand)

¼ cup of salt

½ cup of water

3 to 5 drops of food coloring

Mix together the flour and the salt.

Mix together ½ cup of warm water with a few drops of food coloring.

Slowly pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring as you pour. Stir until combined, then knead with your hands until the flour is completely absorbed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick at all.

Or make Goop, which is one part water to two parts corn starch. Mix it in a zippered bag. Throw in some food coloring and get to playing.

5. Head to a museum. You might get slightly wet on the way in. The Thinkery has workshops on printmaking this weekend. Aside from the museums you know like the Thinkery, the Bullock Museum, the Blanton Museum and the Contemporary Austin,  You can also try a museum you might not have thought of, like these:

6. Go see a play. On stage right now:

Austin Summer Musical for Children: “Jungle Book.” 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday. Free. Boyd Vance Theater at George Washington Carver Museum. 1165 Angelina St.

Hideout Kids Presents “Once Upon a Whaa?!” 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Scottish Rite Theater, 207 W. 18th St. $12-$8. scottishritetheater.org

Or create your own play or act out your favorite movie.

7. Hold a moviethon in your house. Check out the Netflix, the Hulu, the Amazon Prime for the movies your kids haven’t yet seen, or show them some classics from your childhood. Pop the popcorn and enjoy.

8. Bring on the books. Hit story time at Barnes & Noble or BookPeople on Saturday morning or go to the library and pick up some new books. Start a new series of books that you read aloud together. We love “The Magic Treehouse” for younger kids and Harry Potter and Percy Jackson for older ones.

9. Bring out the board games and cards. Start with Go Fish and work your way up to poker (no betting… OK, maybe just pennies). Our new favorite board game is “The Oregon Trail” based on that computer game I played as a kid in school when they were teaching us how to program on an Apple IIc. We also love some “Apples to Apples” and that game that is about a bull and his excrement.

10. Make puppets. That sock that is missing its match, that lunch bag or gift bag make a perfect medium. Or eat Popsicles and use the sticks to attach paper characters to. (See we just wanted the Popsicle.) You can even create a play to go with your new puppet friends. If the light goes out, create shadow puppets using a flashlight.

BONUS: Embrace the rain. Put on the boots, the rain coat, the umbrellas and stomp in the puddles. Have a fenced-in private backyard. Turn bath time into a rain shower by bringing out the soap and shampoo. Have lots of warm towels at the ready inside.

Eek! Are my solar eclipse glasses safe? Double check

The news that Amazon has been selling eclipse glasses that are not safe for human eyes might have you in a panic before Monday’s eclipse.

How do you know if yours are safe?

The American Astronomical Society of the National Science Foundation has these guidelines: 

Your glasses and handheld viewers should have the ISO 12312-2 safety standard on them.

Before you stare into the sun with your eclipse glasses, check if they are safe. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

Reputable brands include:




You can also find effective solar glasses (if they still have them) at these stores:


Online you can find them at these sites, if they still have them or if they can get them to you in time:

Some libraries (though not the Austin Public Library) also have free safe glasses. Those that do are mostly given them out at their events.

RELATED: Check out our eclipse viewing parties, pre-eclipse events calendar

RELATED: Countdown to the solar eclipse


Catch eclipse fever in Austin, Central Texas at these family events

OK, so we in Austin won’t get to see a total eclipse of the sun on Monday, but we should get to see a partial eclipse from about 11:41 a.m. to 2:39 p.m.

Local museums and libraries are offering viewing parties on Monday as well as events before the big show for the whole family.

Bobby Damiano of the Texas Museum of Science and Technology talks to students at Eanes Elementary with a portable planetarium. The museum will offer multiple eclipse-related events through Monday.

Here are some of the ones we found:


Eclipse Planetarium Show. The Texas Museum of Science and Technology’s Discovery Dome mobile planetarium is visiting the Wells Branch Community Library, 6:30 p.m. Friday. Get free glasses and participate in interactive activities. 15001 Wells Port Drive. wblibrary.org/kids-teens


Science Saturday at Texas Museum of Science & Technology tells you all about the sun with activities about heat, solar energy, color, ways we use the sun’s energy, and the best ways to view the eclipse. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org


Total Eclipse of the Sun. Celebrate the upcoming eclipse and learn why eclipses happen. You can make your own art using the sun to burn wood and make a solar system mobile. You’ll also get free eclipse glasses to take home from the Johnson City Library. 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org


Solar Eclipse Afternoon Austin. Make a pinhole eclipse viewer starting at noon Monday at Howson Branch of the Austin Public Library, 2500 Exposition Blvd. library.austintexas.gov

Balcones Park Viewing Party. Join neighbors for a viewing but bring your own glasses. 1:10 p.m. Monday. Balcones Park, 12017 Amherst Drive.

Solar Eclipse and Sundial Grand Opening Event. Join the Austin Nature and Science Center in watching the eclipse as well as check out the new human sundial exhibit. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. 2389 Stratford Drive. austintexas.gov

University of Texas Astronomy Department. Head to room Robert Lee Moore Hall, 2515 Speedway, Room 13.132, to see the eclipse with the astronomy department Heliostat. Glasses will be handed out as available. outreach.as.utexas.edu/eclipse/

Solar Eclipse Viewing Party at the Thinkery. Make a pinhole projector, see the eclipse and watch an episode of PBS Kids Ready, Jet, Go! Free with admission. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Eclipse 2017 Cedar Park. Join the Texas Museum of Science & Technology staff with a hands-on eclipse science program, a viewing of the eclipse with astronomers and more. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org

Solar Eclipse Viewing Party Wells Branch. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday. Free solar glasses, information about the eclipse and refreshments are included. Wells Branch Community Library, 15001 Wells Port Drive. wblibrary.org/kids-teens

Johnson City Library Eclipse Viewing Party. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday. The library will live stream the eclipse from around the country as well as have art projects, solar eclipse dances, cookies and more. 501 Nugent Ave. Johnson City. jclibrarysite.org

Eclipse Viewing Party Pflugerville. The Pflugerville Public Library is hosting a viewing party with glasses provided, an eclipse craft and screening of the Disney film “Wall-E.” 11:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Monday. 1008 W. Pfluger St., Pflugerville. library.pflugervilletx.gov

Eclipse Viewing Party Round Rock. See the solar eclipse with the Round Rock Public Library and the Williamson County Astronomy Club and the Space Science Institute. Safety glasses and telescopes provided as well as splash fountains, art and shave ice. Prete Main Street Plaza, 221 E. Main St., Round Rock. Noon to 2 p.m. Monday. roundrocktexas.gov/event/solar-eclipse-viewing-party

Buda Eclipse Party at the Buda Library. Fun with activities, art and stories, and watch the partial eclipse at 1:10 p.m. Library will provide solar glasses for safe viewing. Free. Noon-2 p.m. Monday. Buda LibraryLawn, 303 Main St, Buda.

Taylor Public Library Solar Eclipse Viewing. Watch the eclipse with special glasses and enjoy moon pies. 12:30-1:30 p.m. Monday, 801 Vance St., Taylor. ci.taylor.tx.us/25/Library

Bastrop State Park Viewing. Learn about what eclipses are, how they happen and how animal behaviors change as the sky gets darker in the middle of the day. $5 per person for 12 years old and up. Glasses provided. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday. Historic Golf Shelter, 100 Park Road 1A.

Find more eclipse information, statesman.com/news/solar-eclipse-2017.

Teachers, parents, do you know how to Stop the Bleed? Class, kits give life-saving techniques

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What would you do if someone was bleeding from a major trauma? Would you know what to do?

Would you know that you probably only have a few minutes to save that person’s life, and that if the bleed was bad enough, an ambulance might not be able to get to you in time?

Kristen Hullum, trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, instructs teachers on how to pack a wound at a Tuesday Stop the Bleed training session at Cedar Valley Middle School. Photo by Nicole Barrios

Now St. David’s Health Care is offering classes called Stop the Bleed, which teaches you what to do if you need to render aid to someone who is bleeding. (The next one is Aug. 22.) Think of it as the CPR class for bleeding. Instead of learning how to keep a person’s heart and lungs circulating, you’re learning how to prevent someone from bleeding out.

Kristen Hullum, a registered nurse and trauma injury prevention coordinator for St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, says the class teaches what to do with what you have.

It reminds you to call 911, as well as make sure the scene is safe for you to help the person without being injured yourself.

Then it shows you how to look for the source of the bleeding, how to apply pressure, how to pack a wound, how to apply a tourniquet or two to stop the bleeding, and how to try to keep the area clean.

The class teaches you to improvise with what you have, but part of the Stop The Bleed program is to get more bleeding control kits in public places such as schools, churches and offices. Each kit, which sell for $69 online at Stopthebleed.org, has a tourniquet, a bleeding control dressing, a permanent marker, protective gloves and a compression bandage as well as an instruction booklet. The idea is that you would put these kits wherever you’ve installed the defibrillator device used in a heart emergency.

Department of Homeland Security Stop the Bleed instruction card.

Unlike in a heart attack situation, you would want to have more than one kit available if there was a situation like a mass shooting or a tornado, which could cause more than one person to be bleeding.

Hullum really wants school districts to consider training their staff as well as stocking schools with the kits. She is working with Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council, which is focusing on getting both law enforcement officers and school staffs trained as well as supplied with kits.

Cedar Ridge High School teachers Stephannie Williams, health science, and Michael Rodriguez, pharmacy practicum, practice applying a tourniquet at the Stop the Bleed training session held at Cedar Valley Middle School. Photo by Nicole Barrios

In recent years, schools have been doing drills with students and staff about what to do if a suspicious person arrives on campus, but not how to save someone if that suspicious person did start shooting.

“No school wants to think they’re going to have a mass casualty to their school,” Hullum says. “We really emphasize the class is for any type of bleeding from the wood shop to the playground. Kids do crazy things.”

If you’re interested in getting a class at your school or other public space, contact Brett Shryock at the council at bshryock@catrac.org or 512-926-6184.

Stop the Bleed Class

4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 22

St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, 901 W. Ben White Blvd. Auditorium A

To register, contact Lydia Blankenship at lydia.blankenship@stdavids.com or 512-816-8037.

Back to school: What should you do if your child is being bullied or is the bully?

In June, we wrote a story about a 12-year-old African American girl in Georgetown, who had been called an ape, referred to as a slave and had a fellow student make a whipping gesture towards her. The school report, referred to the incident as bullying, but her parent said none of the students involved had been disciplined.

It made us wonder, when bullying happens, what are the responsibilities of the student being bullied and her parent, the student who has been accused of being the bully and his parent, the school administration and the district? What exactly happens when a report is filed?

Christian Galvan, center left, and Isabel Soriano, center right, celebrate playing the drums with a high five as Nora Brock, far left, and Sadie Shipman, far right, look on during the opening performance by The Drum Cafe at the Anti-Defamation League “No Place for Hate” youth summit held at the Austin Convention Center in 2015. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2015

As we get ready for the new school year, we look at how to file a report and what to expect to happen once you’ve done so, as well as what to do if your child is accused of bullying?

What is bullying?

Peter Price

Bullying is “repeated unwanted behaviors or words toward a person,” says Peter Price, the director of social and emotional learning and multitier systems of support at Austin Independent School District and a former middle school principal. Those behaviors could be physical, social or emotional. It could be in-person or done through social media.

In fact this year, the Texas Legislature passed and Gov. Greg Abbot signed David’s Law, named after David Molak, a San Antonio high-schooler who killed himself after being cyberbullied. David’s Law, which will go into affect Sept. 1, makes cyberbullying, even if it happened away from school grounds, part of the school’s responsibility. It allows for anonymous reporting of incidents and requires schools to notify the parents of the kid who was bullied and the parents of the kid who has been accused of being a bully within three days.

David’s Law also allows an injunction against a social media account as well as a restraining order against the bully. Bullying can become a Class A misdemeanor instead of a Class B misdemeanor when it is done with the intent that the child commit suicide or harm herself or if a previous restraining order or injunction has been violated.

This law is important because of what teachers and school administrators are seeing in their schools. “What has changed is the differences in what it looks like because of technology,” says Kenisha Coburn, principal at Kealing Middle School. “There are a lot of verbal things and pictures that happen off campus when parents are sleeping … also things that used to be a one-time conflict have turned into a pattern. They keep coming up.”

Comments and photos get shared again and again, and they don’t go away, she says.

What happens if your child has been bullied?

Kenisha Coburn

“What I tell students and parents is you should expect to be treated with respect,” Coburn says. “If you feel uncomfortable or tell someone to stop and they don’t, report it.”

Tell a staff member at the school. Each school is different as far as who primarily investigates incidents, but all teachers and school administrators receive training on what to do when it gets reported to them. Price suggests that if it’s happening in a classroom, go to that teacher, but if it’s happening in multiple locations or outside of the classroom, it would make sense to go to an assistant principal or a counselor.

“It should be dealt with, every one of those times, whether it’s one time or 20 times,” Price says.

Sometimes students don’t want to report it because they don’t want to be seen going into the office to report it. Coburn says last year, she especially noticed parents telling her that their child didn’t want them to report what was happening.

Many schools now have an online form students can fill out. They also can email an administrator as well.

It’s not just the student who it’s happening to that should report it. “There’s no such thing as an innocent bystander,” Coburn says. “If you’re watching this kind of behavior, you’re part part of the problem.”

Coburn wants as much detail as possible. What happened? Where did it happen? Who witnessed it or was made aware of it later?

The general rule, Coburn says, is that once it’s reported, it should be acknowledged within 48 hours.

Jacki James speaks during an anti-hate rally at East View High School in Georgetown in 2014. James a teacher at the high school and mother of a son who committed suicide after being bullied has created a campaign called Kindness Matters. (Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

What should you do if you learn your child has been bullied?

Be calm. Emotions are running high. If you’re really good friends with the accused bully’s parents, you might want to reach out to them to have them talk to their child, but if you don’t really know the parents or you only slightly know them, do not make contact. Let the school handle it.

Do not talk to the bully. That’s not your job as the parent. Resist.

Make sure your child has filed a report and advise your child against retaliation. Do encourage your child to continue to file reports each time there is a new incident.

You also want to talk to your child about not becoming a bully toward the bully. “Sometimes it’s a one-way street,” Price says. “Typically, it’s a two-way street.”

Coburn also has seen one student come to her in March to report another student as the bully; then by May, the “bully” is coming to her to report the other student.

In 2012, then University of Texas football player Alex Okafor signs a “No Place For Hate” banner at Wieland Elementary in Pflugerville shortly before an anti-bullying program there. Okafor is a Pflugerville High School alumnus. Photo by Marcial Guajardo/Pflag

What should you do if you learn your child is the bully?

Try not to panic. It doesn’t mean your child is going to necessarily be kicked out of school or a have a police record. Typically, your child will meet with a counselor or principal or assistant principal to get her version of the incident.

Sometimes staff will meet with both students to do a mediation. It could just be a misunderstanding in which kids who have been friends for years, now went to far and didn’t realize it. The staff member will talk to them about making better choices and understanding the feelings that led to the bullying.

If it continues, it might mean that your child will have a “stay away” agreement — a formal document that tells them not to interact with the other student. Sometimes, students will get a schedule change or teacher change to help that, but usually this isn’t done because students will see one another in the hallways or at lunch or recess or before or after school. Instead schools want students to figure out how to co-exist without interacting.

You get to help with this by reinforcing the rules and not encouraging further incidents.

In severe cases, your student might be given a suspension or sent to an alternative school for a time. Sometimes the school police are brought in as well when it’s clear a law has been broken or could soon be broken. Things that get automatically reported are physical aggression that causes serious harm and sexting. Just because the school police get involved, doesn’t mean an arrest will follow, but it could.

Schools are changing how they treat a bully. Rather than just looking at punishment, they are trying to restore peace.

“One thing our district is doing that’s positive,” says Price, “is working to adopt more restorative practices. We help students see the harm they created and learn how to restore peace. Most kids don’t come to school with intent to cause trouble.”

Students in schools that feed into Akins High School are engaged in a pilot program that uses restorative rather than punitive practices.

If students are dealing with a trauma or another challenge, it might be manifesting itself as bullying, Price says. Rather than labeling them as “bad” students, “we’re helping these challenged students resolve their internal issues.”

Coburn says she often will look at what community resources might be available to help that student.

What happens if your child continues to be bullied?

You need to continue to report it to your child’s school administration. If it continues to happen and you don’t feel heard or that anything has been done, take it to the school district by calling the level administrator (the person in charge of the elementary schools or the middle schools or the high schools). That person will work with your school’s principal and assistant principal to find a better solution.

You do have the option to request a transfer to another school. It’s rare that parents opt for this, but they can. Just know, that you will be required to get your child to that new school. “It feels like we’re running away from the problem rather than resolving it,” Price said.

Price and Coburn do encourage parents and students to actually read and keep the code of conduct that their child gets that first week of school. Refer to it to understand your rights on bullying and any other school issue.

Check out these parks: The best playgrounds in Austin and Central Texas

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Didn’t your mother tell you to go out and play? But where?

In Central Texas we’re blessed with some amazing playgrounds. We went looking for the best ones. We considered shade and restroom availability, type of equipment and its condition, and the general vibe as well as safety. We ranked our top 25 and then offered some other gems to explore.

Did we miss your favorite? Tell us at nvillalpando@statesman.com.

Remember, before you head to the playground, wear your sunscreenwear your bugspray and know how to play safely.

Joanne Land Playground in Old Settlers Park. Nicole Villapando/ American-Statesman

1. Joanne Land Playground in Old Settlers Park

Address: 3300 Palm Valley Blvd.

Area of Central Texas: Round Rock

Features: This includes one of the largest playscapes in Central Texas plus a smaller one that is interactive using an app. The playground offers multiple slides, multiple things to climb up, climb along, multiple sets of swings for all ages, a gravity slide that is like a zip line (though that’s been offline at the manufacturer’s request). There is so much to do here.

Shade: Some tall shade trees.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Medium. It’s a busy place, but the playground is in a compact space. There is the hazard of the lake to worry about.

Why we love it: This playground just opened this year. You’ll find features here that aren’t anywhere else in Central Texas. For parents, it’s got a beautiful, serene view of the lake and plenty of places to sit.

Bonus: If your kid somehow gets bored here, there are six other playgrounds in the park and the water park and pool.

Christian Acosta, 6, explores the playground at Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park. (Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2015)

2. Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park

Address: 400 Grove Blvd.

Area of Central Texas: East Austin

Features: You’ll find so much to play on here with two big playscapes and many things to crawl on and in and around. Kids have plenty or room to run around and multiple things to climb on and swing from.

Shade: Virtually none. It’s a huge oversight on what would be a perfect playscape if it had shade structures. There are tall trees but around the edges.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Extremely low. This is one of the few fully gated playgrounds in Austin.

Why we love it: We love the variety of things to do here, the multiple places to sit and the dragonfly statues make us happy to sit under them. It’s a very whimsical playground.

Bonus: Plenty of fields both open and the sports variety are available in this park.

Brushy Creek Sports Park. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

3. Brushy Creek Regional Trail Parks

Addresses: Creekside Park, 4300 Brushy Creek Road; Olson Meadows Park, 4200 Brushy Creek Road; Champion Park, 3830 Brushy Creek Road; Brushy Creek Lake Park, 3300 Brushy Creek Road; Brushy Creek Sports Park, 2310 Brushy Creek Road; Twin Lakes Park, 204 E. Little Elm Trail

Area of Central Texas: Cedar Park

Features: These six parks along Brushy Creek act as one big park. Each has its unique playscape, so you can hop from park to park. Creekside Park has two quiet playscapes by the pool with slides and bouncy cars and diggers. Olson Meadows two offers tree-covered playscapes, swings and horses to ride. Champion Park is dedicated to dinosaurs with large skeleton models to climb and a dinosaur dig that is shaded. Brushy Creek Lake Park has a large playscape and sand box, but is know for its big, gated splash pad. Brushy Creek Sports Park has the best playscape of these parks with tons of ropes and other things to climb on, plus it’s totally shaded. Twin Lakes Park is the site of the YMCA, so there isn’t a playscape that isn’t connected to the YMCA.

Shade: Most have some level of shade, some are completely shaded.

Restrooms: Yes! At every playscape.

Anxiety level: Very little. Because each playscape is small, it’s easy to watch children.

Why we love it: We love that each one has its own personality, but each is a great playscape on its own. When you spend the day moving up and down Brushy Creek Road, you’ll have very happy, yet tuckered out kids.

Bonus: Did we mention the amazing splash pad? And that there’s dinosaurs to crawl and on and dig for?


The playground at Central Market. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

4. Central Market

Address: 4001 N. Lamar Blvd.

Area of Central Texas: Central Austin

Features: Two big playscapes with plenty of things to climb on, slide down and climb under. Plus, it’s food-themed.

Shade: Big tall trees keep it in the shade most of the time.

Restrooms: Yes, inside the grocery store.

Anxiety level: Medium. It’s well-contained, and you can easily see your child playing. Watch out for the runner heading for the duck pond.

Why we love it: It’s become a great gathering spot for the community. Plus, you can get kids fed with real food, have a glass of wine and watch the kids play.

Bonus: Did we mention no hungry kids allowed?

Play for All playground in Round Rock. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

5. Play for All

Address: 151 N. A.W. Grimes Blvd.

Area of Central Texas: Round Rock

Features: This truly is a playground for all. It’s got many tactile things for kids with sensory differences as well as the ability for kids in wheelchairs to roll onto the playscape and other structures. There’s a lot to do here, but we especially love the miniature town with working stoplights, a library, a hospital, a fire station, a grocery store and gas station, a school and a car repair shop.

Shade: Yes, there are shade structures and trees.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Very low. It’s completely gated.

Why we love it: We love the variety of things to do. You can be a rock star in the music area or you can be the town doctor if you want.

Bonus: It’s a smart playground for kids with all kinds of needs.

Ramsey Park has been redone. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

6. Ramsey Neighborhood Park

Address: 4301 Rosedale Ave.

Area of Central Texas: Central Austin

Features: This park has been beautifully redone with different kinds of playscapes for all ages. There’s so much to climb on and crawl around. We love that the younger kid playscape is not the plastic lesser playground. Instead the little kids also have ropes to climb on and logs to conquer. While we miss the old big tall slide, a new, smaller slide fulfills that need.

Shade: Some. It could use more.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Very little. You can easily see where your child is.

Why we love it: It isn’t the same old playscape that can be found at every school and every other neighborhood around there. It’s a nod to nature and totally fun.

Bonus: The park also has a pool, tennis courts, a basketball court and a large field for soccer.

Victor Clark spends Monday afternoon with son KaRon, 2, at Lake Park in the Mueller Development. Danielle Villasana/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

7. Lake Park Mueller

Address: 4550 Mueller Blvd.

Area of Central Texas: East Austin

Features: Multiple playscapes and multiple things to spin around in, bounce around in, spin from, make this a fun park. It set the trend in Austin for offering structures that go beyond the usual.

Shade: Yes. The trees love this park.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Medium. It’s a busy park, but it’s gated.

Why we love it: It’s good for all ages, but especially for older kids who might get bored at other playscapes, plus it’s across the street from the Thinkery and the Mueller Alamo Drafthouse and many new restaurants and stores.

Bonus: Oh, come on. We know you come here to feed the ducks.

Springwoods park has amazing trees that provide shade. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

8. Springwoods Neighborhood Park

Address: 9117 Anderson Mill Road.

Area of Central Texas: Northwest

Features: It has two large playscapes, but more importantly, it’s the setting of this playground. There are trees everywhere. Even though it’s right off Anderson Mill Road, you feel like you are in the middle of the forest. It’s a relaxing oasis with plenty of things to do including tennis, a walking trail, swings and a forest-theme playscape with a dinosaur and frog to ride.

Shade: Yes! The trees lower the temperature significantly.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Very low. It’s easy to watch kids in this quiet playground.

Why we love it: It’s all about the trees. You really feel away from the city here.

Bonus: Yes, you can ride a dinosaur.

Creative Playscape in Georgetown tells the history of Georgetown. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

9. Creative Playscape in San Gabriel Park

Address: 1003 N. Austin Ave.

Area of Central Texas: Georgetown

Features: This playground features one incredibly large playscape with multiple slides and things to climb on and a second nice-sized playscape, plus swings. It has some unusual features that you can’t get at other playgrounds.

Shade: Some. The trees really help.

Restrooms: Yes, in the recreation center.

Anxiety level: Low. It’s gated.

Why we love it: You can’t find this playscape anywhere. Plus you feel as if you’re going back in time as you step through the pavilion into an old-fashioned town.

Bonus: This playscape actually tells the history of Georgetown. It’s educational.

The playground at the Grove at Southpark Meadows. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman.

10. The Grove at Southpark Meadows

Address: 9500 S. Interstate 35.

Area of Central Texas: Far South Austin

Features: One very large playscape for the big kids has many different kids of things to climb up and move through. A smaller playscape for the littler kids isn’t too shabby, either. It also offers a little house, too.

Shade: Yes, there’s great trees here.

Restrooms: Yes, in the neighboring restaurants, but you have to be a patron.

Anxiety level: High. It would be very easy to lose track of your child or have her run off and not know which direction she went.

Why we love it: You can have dinner or ice cream and then go play. There’s also a stage where groups often entertain.

Bonus: Someone is always ready to play here.

Kyle Scarbrough makes the sound of a firefighter using a hose as he and his son Alden, 3, and Maggie McCreery, 7, play on the fire truck in the Zilker Park playground. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

11. Zilker Metropolitan Park

Address: 2100 Barton Springs Road

Area of Central Texas: Central

Features: There’s a lot going on in a small space. You’ve got a whole sunken younger kids playground, a firetruck to climb on, a series of ramps that lead to slides in the large playscape that crosses over the Zilker Zephyr train. You can make music in the instrument section and swing on the swings. We know most longtime Austinites expected this playground to be No. 1. While there’s a lot to do here, the main playscape is really just a series of ramps to run up. We also saw a lot of wear and tear such as peeling paint that needs to be addressed. It really is beginning to feel dated. Play here for nostalgia’s sake.

Shade: Some from the trees, though it depends on the time of day.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: High. It is very easy to lose a kid here. Kids can easily climb over to the other side of the tracks without parents knowing. Plus, it’s often overcrowded and unmanageable. For kids who struggle with sharing or who don’t like sensory overload, this isn’t the place for them.

Why we love it: It’s all about the Zilker Zephyr train for us. Ride around the park in a miniature train? Yes, please.

Bonus: You can drink out of the head of a lion at the water fountain.


Katherine Fleischer Park has a cool playhouse. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

12. Katherine Fleischer Park

Address: 2106 Klattenhoff Drive

Area of Central Texas: Far North Austin

Features: This park in the Wells Branch neighborhood is an unexpected gem. The playground offers a lot of different types of playscapes, but our favorite is the miniature two-story house that feels like a treehouse.

Shade: Some. Trees keep about half this playground in shade.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Low. It’s a large area but easy to see kids.

Why we love it: It’s just got this amazing vibe to it, and where else can you play in a two-story house in the middle of a playground?

Bonus: This park comes with a miniature frontier town.

The cool rock wall at Southeast Metropolitan Park is one of the playscapes here. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

13. Northeast and Southeast Metropolitan Parks

Address: 2703 E. Pecan St., Pflugerville, and 4511 Texas 71, Del Valle

Area of Central Texas: Pflugerville and Del Valle

Features: We grouped these two Travis County parks together because they are very similar. They both have two sets of large covered playscapes in between ballparks that are by restrooms and concession stands. The playscapes have some great climbing structures. They also sit on cushy rubber surfaces that we love. No pebbles and no mulch to get into kids’ shoes.

Shade: Yes.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Very low. The playscapes are in a small area with easy sight lines.

Why we love it: We love that cushiony floor.

Bonus: The Southeast one has a large climbing wall in between the two sets of playgrounds.

The cool rock wall at Southeast Metropolitan Park is one of the playscapes here. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

14. South Austin Neighborhood Park

Address: 1100 Cumberland Road

Area of Central Texas: South Austin

Features: This large playscape at this recreation center has a lot of things to climb on, hang from and slide down.

Shade: Some, but not enough.

Restrooms: Yes, in the recreation center.

Anxiety level: Low. It’s easy to see kids and not overcrowded.

Why we love it: If you don’t know it’s here, you’ll be surprised by the number of different things to do.

Bonus: It’s got lovely fields all around it.

Little Zilker Neighborhood Park has been redone. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

15. Little Zilker Neighborhood Park

Address: 2016 Bluebonnet Lane

Area of Central Texas: South Austin

Features: This property, if you include Zilker Elementary, actually has three playscapes: one large one for big kids, one nice-sized one for little kids and the standard one that elementary schools often have. The two in the park are new and offer some fun things to climb on. Plus there are swings.

Shade: It could use more.

Restrooms: There are outhouses if the school isn’t open.

Anxiety level: Some. It’s right near the street.

Why we love it: It’s a great example, like Ramsey, of what a neighborhood can do to improve its park.

Bonus: Enjoy tennis courts, track and a covered basketball court on site.

Dove Springs District Park has a cool playscape and zip line. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

16. Dove Springs District Park

Address: 5801 Ainez Drive.

Area of Central Texas: Southeast Austin

Features: This is a lovely park with wood-themed playscapes. You can spin around on leaves, climb up tree trunks, cross a bridge to get to a different playscape. The thing that kids will really love is the zip line down the hill.

Shade: Not much.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Medium. It is a large area that encourages running.

Why we love it: Oh, it’s all about the zip line.

Bonus: It’s got everything a park needs: pool, tennis, basketball, recreation center, volleyball.

Harper Park in the Anderson Mill area has a playscape that looks like a forest. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

17. Anderson Mill Limited District Parks: Harper/El Salido/Pecan Creek

Address: 11008-11098 Lake Creek Parkway, 11500 El Salido Parkway, and Pecan Creek Parkway and Gungrove Drive

Area of Central Texas: Northwest Austin

Features: Harper Park has a large playscape with many things to climb, including trees, and swings including a bench swing. El Salido offers some unusual things to spin around in and swing from. We love the quaintness of Pecan Creek Park, which you might pass by and never see. All three are close together and offer different things to do.

Shade: Not much, except from trees and a shade covering at Pecan Creek.

Restrooms: Only at El Salido, which has a pool.

Anxiety level: Very little.

Why we love it: We love the variety of equipment and the little bridges to get to the playgrounds.

Bonus: We’re ready to climb the tree structure at Harper and swing on the bench swings.

Gustavo “Gus” L. Garcia District Park has a cool playground for climbing. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

18. Gustavo “Gus” L. Garcia District Park

Address: 1201 E. Rundberg Lane.

Area of Central Texas: Northeast Austin

Features: This park offers two large new playscapes with a lot to climb on. The big-kid one is well-covered by a shade structure. The little kid one looks like a dinosaur. It’s all about climbing and hanging from things here.

Shade: Some.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: None.

Why we love it: It has some different things to climb on. Did we mention the playscape that is a dinosaur?

Bonus: It’s new and fun.

Pease District Park has a large playscape. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

19. Pease District Park

Address: 1100 Kingsbury St.

Area of Central Texas: Central Austin

Features: Nice playscapes, but they are showing some wear. It does have big picnic tables, which makes it great for groups.

Shade: Some from the trees.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Very little. The playground is in one spot and easy to watch for kids.

Why we love it: It’s centrally located and there are a lot of things to do.

Bonus: This park comes with an amazing splash pad.

Mountain View Neighborhood Park has lots of shade and a great playscape. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

20. Mountain View Neighborhood Park

Address: 9000 Middlebie Road.

Area of Central Texas: Northwest Austin

Features: This park just feels amazing. It’s secluded and feels like an oasis that you climb up to. There’s a surprise at the top. It’s got great playscapes, including a tire swing, and plenty of different things to climb. It’s also got a nice pavilion with nice bathrooms.

Shade: Yes. The trees do wonders.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: None.

Why we love it: It feels a world away from the city.

Bonus: That tire swing begs for a ride.

Davis/White Northeast Neighborhood Park is a cool neighborhood park. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

21. Davis/White Northeast Neighborhood Park

Address: 6705 Crystalbrook Drive.

Area of Central Texas: Northeast Austin

Features: This park has great equipment including a large playscape and a second playscape, and it is getting used. It’s also has a nice pavilion.

Shade: No.

Restrooms: Yes, but also portable toilets.

Anxiety level: Very little. It’s small and nicely contained.

Why we love it: The equipment is new and fun and we saw a lot of different kids climbing on it.

Bonus: It’s got all that new equipment without being overrun by kids.

Dick Nichols District Park now has shade over the playscape. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

22. Dick Nichols District Park

Address: 8011 Beckett Road.

Area of Central Texas: Far South Austin

Features: This playground offers a large big-kid playground that is now fully shade, which has improved it immensely, as well as a little-kid playscape with a car. It also has swings for big and little kids and a cool hanging obstacle course. It is showing some wear, though.

Shade: Yes.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Low.

Why we love it: The playscape is fun, but kids flock to that car as well as well as the dolphin that shoots water at you. It’s an old-school splash pad.

Bonus: There’s a pool and a beautifully wooded one-mile paved trail.

Rattan Creek Park is a private park with a tire swing and a rock wall. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

23. Rattan Creek Park

Address: Elkhorn Mountain Trail and Tamayo Drive.

Area of Central Texas: Northwest Austin

Features: This North Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 park is supposed to be for its residents only, but we doubt they’re the only people who play here. It’s beautifully shaded with a rock wall and two playscapes and a tire swing.

Shade: Yes, through trees and shade structures.

Restrooms: Yes, in the pool building.

Anxiety level: Very low.

Why we love it: It’s the woody shade and the different types of play equipment.

Bonus: Did we mention the rock wall playscape?

Tanglewood Forest Park has really nice playscapes. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

24. Tanglewood Forest Park

Address: 9801 Curlew Drive.

Area of Central Texas: Far South Austin

Features: Tanglewood Forest (not to be confused with Tanglewood in Northwest Austin) is run by a limited district, but it offers some of the best equipment for a small park. The playscapes are a great size and there are many sets of swings.

Shade: Not a lot.

Restrooms: Yes, by the pool.

Anxiety level: Very little.

Why we love it: We love the size of it and the variety of things to play on.

Bonus: Parents love the walking track around it. Kids will love the dinosaur to ride on.

25. Gillis Neighborhood Park

Address: 2410 Durwood Ave.

Area of Central Texas: South Austin

Features: This quiet little park has new equipment to play on as well as plenty of shade and restrooms. Plus, you can climb like a spider on a rope playscape.

Shade: Yes.

Restrooms: Yes.

Anxiety level: Some, but only in the parking lot.

Why we love it: It’s cute and quiet with unexpectedly amazing equipment.

Bonus: There’s a pool here, too.

More great playground gems

Try out these great playgrounds, grouped by area of town.

Northwest Balcones Neighborhood Park. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman


Trailhead Neighborhood Park, 10984 Boulder Lane. It’s a sweet little park with a large playscape and a nice pavilion.

Oak View Neighborhood Park, 10902 Oak View Drive. This one is so hidden, you might miss the playscape, but that’s what makes it great.

Fritz Hughes Park, 3100 Fritz Hughes Park Road. This cute park just beneath Mansfield Dam has a nice simple playscape and a great picnic field.

Northwest Balcones Neighborhood Park, 10225 Talleyran Drive. It’s got two nice playscapes and a pavilion with restrooms.

Pickfair Pocket Park, 10904 Pickfair Drive. We loved crossing the bridge to get to this sweet little playground.

Robinson Park, 13308 Humphrey Drive. Stop by this cute park with two playscapes on your way to Rattan Creek Park.

Hubert C. Schroeter Neighborhood Park, 11701 Big Trail. You can’t see this playscape from the street, but walk through the path of native grasses, and it’s worth it.

Tanglewood Neighborhood Park, 2106 Tower Drive. This cute park includes nice playscapes and a bridge to a rustic trail.

Heritage Park in Pflugerville. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman


Far North

Buttercup. 411 Twin Oak Trail, Cedar Park. We found this cute park looking for another one. It’s got good shade and things to bounce on.

Tumlinson Park. 405 Tumlinson Fort Drive, Leander. This restricted park in the Block House Municipal Utility District has a large playscape, swings and a bouncy horse and motorcycle.

Heritage Park. 901 Old Austin Hutto Road, Pflugerville. You can learn about history here. You also can play on a shaded playscape or take advantage of the pool next to it.

Pfluger Park, Pflugerville. 515 City Park Road. Trust not your GPS. It will lead you astray, but once you get here, the park offers a great playscape, miniature houses and a gazebo.

Robin Bledsoe Park. 601 S. Bagdad Road, Leander. This park has a nice playscape as well as the city pool. Shade would be good here.

Dottie Jordan Neighborhood Park. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman


Springdale Neighborhood Park. 1175 Nickols Ave. You’ll find large playscape and other things to climb. Some of the equipment has some wear.

Dottie Jordan Neighborhood Park. 2803 Loyola Lane. Kids will enjoy the variety of this playscape. It’s not the newest playscape, but it’s well kept up.

Lott Pocket Park. 1180 Curve St. This is one of those cute parks you might miss. It’s in the heart of East Austin and has good equipment and a splash pad.

Bartholomew District Park. 5201 Berkman Drive. You’ll find many things to climb on in this park’s play area including a train set. The splash pad is great, too.

Edward Rendon Sr. Metropolitan Park at Festival Beach. 2101 Jesse E Segovia St. This playscape sits in the middle of a large park off of the beach.

Eastwoods Neighborhood Park. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman


Eastwoods Neighborhood Park. 3001 Harris Park Ave. This quiet park is worth a stop. It’s well-shaded, features two playscapes and a splash pad.

Tarrytown Neighborhood Park. 2106 Tower Drive. The Tarrytown area doesn’t have a big park, but this one is really sweet. The two playscapes are separated by a bridge.

Tom Lasseter-South Lamar Neighborhood. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman


Little Stacy Neighborhood Park. 1500 Alameda Drive. People who love this park love its shady grounds. Some of the equipment is new. Some of the older equipment probably should be taken out. There is a wading pool here, too.

Battlebend Springs Neighborhood Park. 121 Sheraton Ave. This is an unexpected surprise off South Congress Avenue. It has a big new playscape with a rock wall and things to spin around on.

Tom Lasseter-South Lamar Neighborhood. 3000 Del Curto Road. Del Curto Road is torn up, but once we found it, it was worth it. It’s a wooded oasis with a great whimsical playscape.

Garrison District Park. 6001 Manchaca Road. Garrison has two great playscapes that are nicely shaded.

Joslin Neighborhood Park. 2106 Cimaron Trail. Next to Joslin Elementary, this park sits in a big field and offers new equipment that you won’t find elsewhere.

Rollingwood City Park. Gentry and Nixon Drives. This playscape isn’t the largest, but it’s got a fun, modern merry-go-round where four kids can sit and then spin around.

City Park in Buda. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

Far South

Wildflower Park. 5000 Tiger Lily Way. Circle C does not have a great playscape in its metropolitan park. Skip it and find your way to this one. It’s got two new playscapes with shade structures.

Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park. 907 W. Slaughter Lane. People come to this park for the walking trails and disc golf, but it’s got a fun playscape, too.

Silk Oak Neighborhood Park. 3204 Silk Oak Drive. You have to know that this park, which links two neighborhoods, is there to find it. It’s got three playscapes, swings and a volleyball court.

A.B. Dittmar Neighborhood Park. 1009 W. Dittmar Road. This playscape feels like you’re climbing into a treehouse.

City Park, Buda. 204 N. San Marcos St. You come to this park for the wiener dog races and the fireworks, but you can come other times to play on this large playscape.

Franklin Neighborhood Park. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman


Franklin Neighborhood Park. 4800 Copperbend Blvd. This playscape has so much for all kids to do. It would be the perfect park. What’s missing? Bathrooms that aren’t portable. That’s it.

Kendra Page Neighborhood Park. 2203 Blue Meadow Drive. This park has a fun bench that you and a friend can move back and forth on as well as two playscapes.

Fisherman’s Park in Bastrop. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

Far East

Fisherman’s Park, Bastrop. 1200 Willow St. You’ll come to fish and feed the ducks, but head into the gated play area for two great playscapes and a seat that spins. This park also has an extensive splash pad.