For family fun, these Austin institutions have stood the test of time
Living in a city that's experienced the sort of growth that Austin has, it can be easy to feel like everything is transitory.
But for those of us who grew up here, it's also refreshing to know that some of the places we revered as kids have stood the test of time.
Sure, we're still mourning the closings of Celebration Station and Kiddie Acres, but if you're looking for venerable Austin institutions that have offered family fun for decades, there are still lots of options out there. Here are eight to consider.
Peter Pan Mini Golf
You haven't truly lived in Austin until you've putted your way around Peter Pan Mini Golf, a beloved local institution at the intersection of South Lamar Boulevard and Barton Springs Road that has welcomed visitors since 1948. Choose from two 18-hole courses (I like the east course) adorned with everything from a red-nosed clown to a high-top sneaker to yes, Peter Pan. Have your birthday party here and get your name on the sign out front; for the 21-and-up crowd, it's BYOB (no glass, though) and open until at least midnight on weekends. Cash only, so hit the ATM first.
More information: 1207 Barton Springs Road, 512-472-1033, peterpanminigolf.com.
Playland Skate Center
Go for the skate-shaped disco ball, stay for the rockin' tunes. If ever there was a place that would instantly transport you to your youth, it's Playland Skate Center. Although it's been updated since it originally opened in 1973, this 27,500-square-foot rink retains its authentic feel. The prices have stayed low, too — admission is $9 and includes skate rental; kids 3 and younger are free. And, yes, in case you're already planning for May, moms skate free on Mother's Day.
More information: 8822 McCann Drive, 512-452-1901, playlandskatecenter.net.
Deep Eddy Pool
With spring officially here, it won't be long before we're looking for places to cool off, and fortunately for us, one of Austin's most iconic swimming holes, Deep Eddy, has allowed us to do just that since 1936. From its blue-and-green-hued mosaic mural to its just-the-right-temperature water, it's a must-visit summer spot. The large, sloped shallow area is perfect for little swimmers, too. The pool traditionally offers “splash movies” at dusk during the summer — keep an eye out for this year's schedule at deepeddy.org.
» RELATED:25 places to swim this summer
Info: 401 Deep Eddy Ave., 512-472-8546, austintexas.gov/department/deep-eddy-pool.
Mayfield Park and Preserve
Sure, you probably know Mayfield Park and Preserve for the peacocks that wander the grounds. But did you know the park also has a long history in Austin? It's named for Allison Mayfield, former Texas secretary of state and railroad commissioner, who purchased the 23-acre site in 1909 as a summer and weekend retreat. It was later the home of his daughter, Mary, and her husband, Milton Gutsch. In 1935, Mary and Milton were gifted a pair of peafowl from friends, and descendants of those birds remain one of the biggest draws to the property, which Mary willed to the city of Austin in 1971. In addition to observing the peacocks and peahens, visitors will want to take a hike through Mayfield Nature Preserve, where winding trails and babbling brooks round out this magical park’s back-to-nature vibe.
More information: 3505 W. 35th St., 512-974-6797, mayfieldpark.org.
Blazer Tag Adventure Center
If I had a dollar for every time I walked through the doors of Blazer Tag in the late 1990s, I'd be rich woman. And I'd spend those riches, of course, on more laser tag. Blazer Tag, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, has remained a favorite among the school-aged set and adults alike thanks to its three stories of towers and ramps, which make it the largest laser tag arena in Texas. Must be at least 7 years old to play. There's an on-site arcade, too.
More information: 1701 W. Ben White Blvd., 512-462-0202, blazertag.com.
Austin's beloved ice rink of more than 20 years has undergone extensive renovations in recent years and is the place to go for everything from casual public ice skating to figure skating, hockey and curling lessons.
» RELATED:Give curling a whirl
More information: 2525 West Anderson Lane, 512-252-8500, chaparralice.com.
Austin Nature and Science Center
The Austin Nature and Science Center has offered nature-themed exhibits and educational programs in Austin since 1960 and has become a favorite among families for its diverse offerings, from a digable dino pit to hiking trails. Even better, admission is free.
More information: 2389 Stratford Drive, 512-974-3888, austintexas.gov/department/austin-nature-and-science-center.
Although no longer in its original location, Dart Bowl has been an Austin institution since 1958, gaining a reputation for its affordable lanes and some of the best darn homemade enchiladas you'll find in the state.
More information: 5700 Grover Ave. 512-452-2518, dartbowl.com