With summer vacation upon us, the choices are limitless for Central Texas kids
Thursday is the first day of summer vacation for students in the Austin Independent School District (cue Alice Cooper!). That means the countdown is on place your bets on exactly how long it will be until you hear those three dreaded words: "I'm so bored!" (Admit it, you thought I was going to write "I'm on fire!" didn't you? That's what we usually hear at my house.)
Austin has a lot going on year-round, but family-oriented indoor and outdoor special activities and offers multiply in the summer months like neighborhood kids in your driveway.
Here are a few to consider:
For your screen-ager
Summer isn't quite the kid- and family-friendly flick season that the holidays have become, but there are still a handful of new releases that mom and dad can enjoy along with the kids:
"Men In Black 3" — (now playing)
"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" — June 8
"Brave" — June 22
"The Amazing Spider-Man" — July 3
"Ice Age: Continental Drift" — July 13
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" — Aug. 3
"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" — Aug. 15
"ParaNorman" — Aug. 17
In addition, some theaters offer free or discounted tickets for children's films during the summer months. Check out these deals:
The Alamo Drafthouse Summer Kids' Camp offers free screenings of vintage children's and family films all summer long. Relatively recent releases including "Corpse Bride," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "Despicable Me" and "How to Train Your Dragon" join older films such as "Babe" and "Short Circuit" at Alamo's Village, Lake Creek, South Lamar and new Slaughter Lane locations. The films screen at 11 a.m.; days (now through Aug. 23) and locations vary. Find more details at www.drafthouse.com/series/alamo_kids_camp/austin.
The Regal Summer Movie Express shows G- and PG-rated movies for $1 at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Local participating venues include Arbor 8 at Great Hills, Lakeline Mall 9 and Westgate Stadium 11. Find more information at www.regmovies.com/summermovieexpress.
Similarly, Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse screens kid flicks including "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Rio" for $1 admission (or 10 shows for $5 if purchased in advance). Dates vary at participating theaters but all shows begin at 10 a.m. Find out if the Cinemark near you is participating at www.cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse-2012.
Do indoor movies fail to float your boat? Then check out Splash Party Movie Nights at Deep Eddy Pool (401 Deep Eddy Ave.). Each Saturday night at dusk from Saturday through July 28, family films including "Captain America," "The Adventure of Tin Tin" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" (parts one and two) play before tube- and float-suspended throngs in the newly renovated pool's refreshing, cool water and others lounging poolside on beach towels. Admission to the pool and the movie is only $1-$3. For more details, call (512) 472-8546.
Hey, oldster: Remember when you used to wake up early on Saturday mornings and race to the television with a bowl of cereal in hand because that was the only day and time you could watch cartoons?
Producers of the upcoming ATX Television Festival do. Bring your kids, sleeping bags and pillows to the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel ballroom from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and watch cartoons while you stuff pancakes down your gullet. The free event includes games and giveaways. For more information, visit www.atxfestival.com.
Carpe Diem at kid's museum
The hands-on museum for tiny hands, the Austin Children's Museum (201 Colorado St.), has a host of regular events including Baby Bloomers, Story Times, Cub Club and Community Nights as well as special events such as wood crafting and musical guests.
The last thing your kids are going to want to think about during the summer is math, but the "123 Geometry Lane" exhibit (running through Sept. 16) figures on making numbers fun. Count on it to succeed. Permanent exhibits include Rising Star Ranch and the Funstruction Zone.
Hours and admission prices vary, but Sundays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. are always free. Find more information at www.austinkids.org.
OK, Central Texas isn't really known for its National Parks (after all, Big Bend is nearly 500 miles away). Still, area families can take advantage of the National Parks Service's Get Outdoors Day, June 9, when admission to all national parks is free.
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park's Headquarters and Visitor Center is in Johnson City, just 50 miles west of Austin, and the companion LBJ Ranch and LBJ State Park and Historic Site is just another 14 miles away.
The NPS usually charges a small fee for Texas White House tours but is waiving that fee on June 9. Get more details (including directions) at www.nps.gov/lyjo/index.htm.
Red, white and whew!
What do kids love more than animals, explosions and getting messy (relax, not all at the same time)?
At the Hill Country Galleria Independence Day Festival of the Arts, fireworks, a petting zoo and kids' art workshops join music, food and carnival rides in an activity-packed celebration from the same folks who bring you the biannual Pecan Street Festival on Sixth Street.
Admission to the 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. event on June 30 in Bee Caves is free. Learn more at www.HillCountryFest.com.
Art at the Park
Stuck for family activities on "What-To-Do-Wednesdays"? The Austin Symphony has you covered with weekly Children's Day Art Park events at Symphony Square Amphitheatre, 1101 Red River St.
From 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each Wednesday from June 13 to July 25 (except for July 4), 50 cents admission will expose your little ones to local musicians, dancers, storytellers, magicians, mimes and art projects (adults are free with a paid child).
In addition, the Symphony offers a musical twist to a popular children's activity with its Instrument Petting Zoo, where kids can handle and try to play various instruments while chatting with Symphony musicians (trying to feed them, though, is probably not the best idea). Find more details at www.austinsymphony.org/community.
Get the Blues
Get outdoors and enjoy the music (and, we hope, refreshing breezes) wafting through Zilker Park as KGSR launches its 22nd season of Blues on the Green.
Every other Wednesday, artists including Ben Kweller, Marcia Ball and the BoDeans entertain crowds of families. It's like the Austin City Limits Music Festival, except even more casual, less of a transportation headache and 100 percent free.
Rhett Miller performs on June 13 with Wheeler Brothers; all shows begin at 7:30 p.m. For further information, head to www.kgsr.com/bluesonthegreen.
Old school pin-terest
Quit "pinning" photos online and take your kids bowling instead — tell them it's like that game they regularly trounce you at on the Wii, then crush them!
Kids can bowl free through Sept. 3 at AMF Showplace Lanes, 9504 N. Interstate 35. Register at freebowling.amf.com for two free games each day for each kid 15 and younger (shoe rental is extra). A $29.95 summer pass lets four additional family members age 16 and older join them.
Contact Dale Roe at email@example.com; 912-5923 Twitter: @djroe