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10 things to do in July with kids

From fireworks to musicals, Austin is full of fun to ward off summer boredom

Nicole Villalpando
Hugo Menendez holds his daughter, Ashley, during the H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks celebration held at Vic Mathias Shores.


Seven more weeks until school starts. Kids might be loving this slower pace and lack of homework, but parents might be at the point of wondering what more we can do to keep these kiddos busy for the next seven weeks.

Today we offer 10 things to do in July to make the most of this month of fun.

1. Celebrate July 4

The largest Austin Fourth of July experience is at the H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert and Fireworks. Hear the symphony and then watch the sky light up. 8:30 p.m. July 4. Free. Vic Mathias Shores, Austin.

Find other fireworks displays in smaller towns:

Bee Cave. The music begins at 4 p.m. at the Hill Country Galleria, and the festival includes vendors and rides. It all ends with fireworks at 9 p.m. Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd. Bee Cave.

Buda. Red, White and Buda begins with a parade at 9 a.m. (line up at 8:30 a.m.) and continues with free activities, food and entertainment. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Buda City Park, 204 San Antonio Road, Buda.

Cedar Park. Start the day with a parade at 10 a.m. beginning at the Cedar Park Recreation Center and following Discovery Boulevard. Events continue at 5 p.m. at Milburn Park and end in fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Milburn Park, 1901 Sun Chase Blvd., Cedar Park.

Georgetown. Start the day with a parade at 11 a.m. at Morrow Street, continue with kids activities, a petting zoo and entertainment, and finish it off with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. San Gabriel Park, 445 E. Morrow St., Georgetown.

Kyle. Celebrate the day with music beginning at 6 p.m. at Plum Creek Golf Course, 4301 Benner, Kyle, and continuing with fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Leander. Leander's Liberty Fest includes music, food and games from 6 p.m. until fireworks start at 9:25 p.m. Austin Community College San Gabriel campus, 449 San Gabriel Campus Drive, Leander.

Marble Falls. Activities start at 4 p.m. and include music, games and food. Fireworks begin at dark. First Baptist Church, 901 La Ventana Drive, Marble Falls.

Pflugerville. The Pfirecracker Pfestival begins with the kids area open at 5 p.m. Music begins inside the stadium at 6:30 p.m. The fireworks launch at 9 p.m. Pflugerville Stadium, 1440 W. Pecan St., Pflugerville.

Round Rock Frontier Days Celebration. The event begins with a parade at 9 a.m. along Mays Street. Frontier Days begins at noon in Old Settlers Park with a cowboy singalong, pig races, Sam Bass Shootout, games and inflatables. Fireworks start after dark followed by Movies in the Park with "Captain Marvel." Old Settlers Park, 3300 Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock.

San Marcos. Summerfest begins at 6 p.m. with music, children's costume contest and more. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. San Marcos Plaza Park, East Hopkins Street and North CM Allen Parkway.

Taylor. Head out to Murphy Park for fireworks at 9 p.m. 1600 Veterans Drive, Taylor.

Wells Branch. FourthFest begins with a parade at 10 a.m. and continues with activities until 3 p.m. Fireworks are not included in this event. Katherine Fleischer Park, 2106 Klattenhoff Drive.

2. Celebrate ice cream

The Thinkery offers a workshop all about making frozen treats. What's the Scoop? is for ages 4 and up. 10:30 a.m., noon, and 1:30 p.m. July 6-7, July 20-21. (It also continues Aug. 3-4 and Aug. 17-18.) Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Explore other frozen treats from local ice cream shops to snow cones.  You could even create a blind taste test to see if kids can guess unusual flavors or rate which shops are your favorite. You also can make your own ice cream even if you don't have an ice cream maker.

3. Play around

Did you know that exercise at a young age has lasting effects later in life? Did you also know that kids stop playing around age 9?

We have to include more play in our lives, whether at the best playgrounds in and around Austin or at the Austin Parks & Recreation Department's Keep Austin Playing event. It's like a big play party. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 12-13. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road.

Try these other opportunities to play:

Parents’ Night Out. 5:30-10 p.m. July 12. Kids must be 4 or older and potty-trained. $45 first child, $25 each additional sibling. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Toybrary Austin. Meet Elmo 10:30 a.m. July 27. $12. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane.

Classic Game Fest. Bring the classic video games you grew up with to your children. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 27 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 28. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. $25-$10, Kids younger than 12 free.

Austin Public Library:“Fortnite” Party. 4 p.m. July 9, University Hills; 2 p.m. July 12, Spicewood Springs; 6 p.m. July 16, Little Walnut Creek; 2 p.m. July 19, Southeast; 2 p.m. July 23, Windsor Park. “Percy Jackson” Party. 6 p.m. July 9, Little Walnut Creek. “Geronimo Stilton” Party. Play games, solve puzzles and carry out the adventures of this spy mouse. 3:30 p.m. July 10. Magical Creatures. Help search for them. 2 p.m. July 15, Howson.

Zilker Botanical Garden. The Woodland Faerie Trail is open through Aug. 10. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road.

4. Explore animals

This month the Science Mill turns it over to the insects at the event Incredible Insects. Learn more about these creatures by seeing Madagascar hissing roaches, learning about bugs in the greenhouse and using microscopes and magnifying glasses to investigate them. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 13. Free with admission. Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City.

In addition, many a field trip has been made to look at the small animals at local pet stores or the at local animal shelters. (Just be ready to stick to your guns about not taking in another pet.) You also can go farther afield to zoos like the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco and the San Antonio Zoo.

We also recommend these events:

The Austin Humane Society Summer Kids Series. The Austin Humane Society offers events throughout the summer for children. Tail Talks. 2 p.m. July 9, 2 p.m. July 23. This is your chance to ask all the questions about the animals in your life. Children 8-12. Teddy Bear Surgery. 1 p.m. July 13. Bring your favorite stuffed animal and get a diagnosis and treatment for it. Children 8 and younger. Austin Wildlife Rescue: All About Wildlife. 10 a.m. July 16. Learn about baby animals, what to do if you see them and how they live in the wild. Tito the Tortoise visits. Children 8 and younger. Humane Hero Hour. 10 a.m. July 23. Make toys for cats and dogs and meet some furry friends. Children 8 and younger. Free, but you must register,, 512-646-7387. Austin Humane Society, 124 W. Anderson Lane

Austin Public Library: Austin Reptile Show. 6 p.m. July 1, Southeast; 11 a.m. July 9, Twin Oaks; 2 p.m. July 11, University Hills; 2 p.m. July 16, Cepeda; 2 p.m. July 23, Old Quarry; 2 p.m. July 25, Milwood. Super Narwhal and Jelly Party. Celebrate the narwhal and the jellyfish. 11 a.m. July 2, Twin Oaks; 2 p.m. July 10, Little Walnut Creek; 3:30 p.m. July 17, North Village; 2 p.m. July 18, Ruiz Branch. There’s Something Fishy Going On in Texas. Bill Balboa from Sea Grant Texas talks about marine and coastal life. 6 p.m. July 15, Southeast; 2 p.m. July 16, Old Quarry; 2 p.m. July 18, Pleasant Hill.

5. Learn about history

What kid wouldn't love to hear the tales of Texas outlaws? The Williamson Museum celebrates those stories every Saturday in July with Outlaw Tales. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, Chisholm Trail location. The museum also hosts Kidz Korner. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 13, Georgetown location. Free. Williamson Museum, 716 Austin Ave., Georgetown, and 8 Chisholm Trail, Round Rock.

This month, you can also unlock history at these events:

Bullock Museum. Free First Sunday events with themed programs. Noon to 5 p.m. July 7. Sense-sational Thursdays, explore history with your senses at 10 a.m. on special Thursdays. Explore, July 4; Parachutes, July 11; History Detectives, July 18; Very Berry, July 25; Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave.

George Washington Carver Museum. First Saturdays. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 6. George Washington Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St.

Buffalo Soldiers. Texas buffalo soldiers bring this history to life. 3 p.m. July 9, St. John library branch; 2 p.m. July 10, Willie Mae Kirk; 2 p.m. July 11, Milwood; 11 a.m. July 23, Twin Oaks.

6. Make art

It's pretty incredible the number of free or inexpensive art-making opportunities at local libraries and museums during the summer. If you've never been to the Blanton Museum, the time to do it is the summer, when it showcases different art experiences geared toward different age groups. They are free with the price of admission. Reserve your space a week in advance. 3ft Deep for ages 3-5, 10 a.m. Tuesdays July 9-23; Artists and Authors, for ages 5-7, 10:30-11:15 a.m. Thursdays, July 11-25; Deeper Dives for ages 8-10, 10-11:15 a.m. Fridays, July 12-26; Free Diving for ages 11-14, 1 p.m. Fridays, July 12-26. Plus you can make art in the WorkLab, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays, July 10-24. Blanton Museum. 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Also check out these events:

Bullock Museum: Make It Tuesdays. Create art at 10 a.m. WWI Animal Heroes, July 2; Musical Window Clings, July 9; Postcards From Space, July 16; Alien Alter Egos, July 23; Remember Women’s Suffrage, July 30. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave.

Contemporary Austin. Second Saturdays Are for Families. Free program. Rip, Cut, Sew, July 13. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Family Day. Make art, do yoga and more. Noon a.m. to 4 p.m. July 24. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, 605 Robert E. Lee Road.

Austin Public Library: Fairy Houses. Make your own, with supplies provided. 2 p.m. July 15, Windsor Park library; 6 p.m. July 22, Southeast. Water Art. 3:30 p.m. July 3, North Village. Artist in Residence: Niku Arbabi. 6:30 p.m. July 18 and July 25, Central Library. Art Smart: Let’s Paint Space. 2 p.m. July 1, Willie Mae Kirk; 2 p.m. July 2, Windsor Park; 2 p.m. July 9, Ruiz; 2 p.m. July 10, Milwood; 2:30 p.m. July 11, Howson; 1 p.m. July 15, Manchaca; 2 p.m. July 18, Terrazas; 4 p.m. July 23, University Hills; 2:30 p.m. July 25, Carver. Felt and Filmgazing. Sew felt characters based on movies. “E.T.” 6:30 p.m. July 11, Central Library. Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” 2 p.m. July 9, Windsor Park; 2:30 p.m. July 11, Carver; 3 p.m. July 18, St. John. “Iron Giant.” 2 p.m. June 21, North Village. Chewbacca from “Star Wars.” 2 p.m. June 12, Milwood; 2 p.m. July 16, Ruiz; 2:30 p.m. July 18, Howson. Glow in the Dark Art. 2 p.m. July 2, Ruiz; 3 p.m. July 11, St. John. UV Resin Jewelry. 2 p.m. July 16, Windsor Park; 2 p.m. July 23, Ruiz. Pop Art With Michael Albert. 6:30 p.m. July 3, Carver. 2 p.m. July 5, Ruiz. 2 p.m. July 6, Twin Oaks. Sandbank Shadow Factory Presents: Still Life. 6:30 p.m. July 1, Twin Oaks Branch.

Humane Society. Art Workshop. 10 a.m. July 30. Create animal-themed art and learn about cats and dogs. All supplies provided. Children 8 and younger free, but you must register,, 512-646-7387. Austin Humane Society, 124 W. Anderson Lane

7. Fall in love with reading and stories

Maybe that summer reading slide wasn't as big as we thought it was, but reading a book or hearing a story that kids actually choose is a treat away from the school year. Plus there are programs at places like Half Price Books, BookPeople and the Austin Public Library to turn reading into free things.

The Austin Public Library's programming is robust every summer, and this year especially, it's offering special storytelling events. An Attitude of Gratitude With Bernadette Nason. A fairy helps a cranky woman who lives in a vinegar bottle be grateful. 2 p.m. July 2, Cepeda; 2 p.m. July 8, Howson; 3 p.m. July 16, St. John; 6 p.m. July 17, Carver; 2 p.m. July 22, Spicewood Springs; 2 p.m. July 26, Southeast; 2 p.m. July 30, Old Quarry. Carolina Storyteller. Stories of children as heroes. 2 p.m. July 11, Ruiz; 2 p.m. July 15, Spicewood Springs; 2 p.m. July 22, Windsor Park; 2 p.m. July 27, Manchaca. Elizabeth Kahura. African storytelling. 2 p.m. July 1, Spicewood Springs, 2 p.m. July 18, University Hills; 2 p.m. July 25, Ruiz Branch. Camp Bluebonnet. Celebrate the Texas Bluebonnet Award. “The Boo-boos That Changed the World.” 2 p.m. July 1, Carver; 2 p.m. July 10, Spicewood Springs. “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut.” 2 p.m. July 8, Carver; 2 p.m. July 17, Spicewood Springs. “El Chupacabras.” 2 p.m. July 1, Old Quarry. 2 p.m. July 8, Carver; 2 p.m. July 17, Spicewood Springs. “Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams.” 2 p.m. July 8, Old Quarry; 2 p.m. July 31, Spicewood Springs. “Magic Misfits.” 1 p.m. July 3, St. John. “Saving Winslow.” 1 p.m. July 10, St. John.

Also try these story events:

Humane Society Storytime. 10 a.m. July 9. Read a story with a cat or a dog. Children 8 and younger. Austin Humane Society, 124 W. Anderson Lane.

BookPeople events. Bob Shea reads "Unicorn Is Maybe Not So Great After All," 2 p.m. July 13. Comics Workshop for Teens with author Joy Lin. 1-3 p.m. July 27. 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday story times. New Books, July 2; Red, White & Blue, July 3; When I Grow Up, July 6; Cats vs. Dogs, July 9; Ms. Staci, July 10; Yoga, July 13; Sharing Is Caring, July 20; Space Explorers, July 23; Best Friends Forever, July 24; "The Little Mermaid" storytime & costume contest, July 27. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Barnes & Noble events. 11 a.m. Saturday story time kicks off this month with "How to Catch a Dinosaur." July 6. Each week a different theme will be explored.

8. Listen to music

We have three key ways to explore the symphony this month without having to sit quietly in a seat like we might have to do during the school year. The first comes with fireworks on July 4 (see above).

The next two are weekly summer events. Austin Symphony Hartman Concerts in the Park. Bring a picnic and listen to the music of one of the symphony’s sections. 7:30 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 25 (except July 7). Free. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive.

Austin Symphony Children’s Day Art Park. For the second year, the concerts and activities are at the Austin Central Library. A different musician plays each week with a different theme. “Ada’s Violin,” July 10; “Carnival of the Animals,” July 17; and Joe McDermott, July 24. 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays. Free. Austin Central Library, 710 W. Cesar Chavez St. Plus, “Carnival of the Animals.” 2 p.m. July 18, Milwood library.

Another cool thing to do is to check out the new Saturday Morning Kids Live Concert at the Hive coworking space. 9 a.m. Saturdays. Groundwork Music Orchestra, July 27; Strawbitty Yops, July 6; Hey Lolly, July 13; Staci Gray, July 20. The Hive, 10415 Old Manchaca Road.

Or the Rock and Roll Playhouse at the Mohawk. This month it's the Music of Ramones for Kids this month. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. July 21. $12-$15. Mohawk, 912 Red River St.

Related: Five tips to enjoying summer music with kids

9. Find the cool of a movie theater

Yes, there's "Toy Story 4" out, as well as the new "Aladdin" and soon the "Lion King," but July is also a time to enjoy movies that are classics or becoming classics in a very affordable way. Sometimes it's free, sometimes it's a couple of bucks.

Related: Get cool this summer in Austin at these cold spots

Here is our guide to find them:

Bullock Museum. “Lilo & Stitch,” 2 p.m. July 20. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave.

George Washington Carver Museum. That’s My Face. Monthly series for kids and young adults.  “Imitation of Life,” 6:30 p.m. July 12. “George Washington Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St.

Paramount Theatre’s Summer Movie Classics. Many of them are great for kids. “The Goonies,” 1 p.m. July 7; “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” 3:25 p.m. July 7; “The Princess Bride,” 5:30 p.m. July 7; “The Dark Crystal,” 1 p.m. July 21; “Gulliver’s Travels,” 1 p.m. July 27. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.

Alamo Drafthouse Kids Club. These morning movies can be seen with a donation of $1-$5 to a local charity or school. "Kung Fu Panda." 10:45 a.m. July 1-4, Slaughter Lane; 10 a.m. July 5-11, Lakeline; 10 a.m. July 22, July 25-26, July 29. "Madagascar," 10:45 a.m. July 5-11, Slaughter Lane; 10 a.m. July 8, July 10-11, Mueller. “The Neverending Story,” 10 a.m. July 1-July 4, Lakeline; July 26-Aug. 1, Slaughter Lane and Lakeline. 9:45 a.m. July 12-14, 10 a.m. July 15-17, Mueller. “Wallace and Gromit: The Were-Rabbit,” 10 a.m. July 1, Mueller. 10 a.m. July 12-18, Lakeline, 10:45 a.m. July 12-18, Slaughter Lane. Other screenings: PBS Kids: "Wild Kratts: Alaska," 10 a.m. July 27-28, Slaughter Lane; 1 p.m July 27-28, Lakeline. "The Lion King" Family Party. 9:30 a.m. July 20, Slaughter Lane; 10 a.m. July 20, Mueller; 9 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. July 21, Lakeline.

Sound & Cinema. Watch a classic movie with a soundtrack by a local band. Free. 6 p.m.  July 10, "Guardian of the Galaxy"; 6 p.m. July 31, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive.

Movies in the Park. Pull up your lawn chair and watch these movies at dusk: “Space Jam,” July 11, Martin Middle School; “The Road to El Dorado,” July 25, Dick Nichols Park.

Humane Society. Outdoor Movie Night. 7:30 p.m. July 18. Watch a movie with the whole family either outside or in the auditorium if it rains. Games and concessions. Well-behaved dogs on a leash can attend. Austin Humane Society, 124 W. Anderson Lane.

Regal Summer Movie Express. 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Westgate Stadium 11, Regal Metropolitan and Gateway Stadium 16. “Despicable Me 3,” July 2-3, “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” July 2-3; “Lego Movie 2,” July 9-10; “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” July 9-10; “Smallfoot,” July 16-17; “Secret Life of Pets,” July 16-17; “Lego Movie,” July 16-17; “Lego Movie,” July 23-24; “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie,” July 23-24; “Sing,” July 30-31; “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” July 30-31. Tickets are $1.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse offers $1 movies 10 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays at Round Rock 8; 9:30 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. Wednesdays, Hill Country Galleria. “Smallfoot,” July 1-4: “King Fu Panda,” July 8-11; “The Lego Movie,” July 15-18; “SpongeBob SquarePants Out of Water,” July 22-25; “Sherlock Gnomes,” July 29-Aug. 1.

10. See live theater

It's back. The Zilker Summer Musical returns, this time with “The Little Mermaid.” Sit on the hillside with your blanket and picnic basket and with plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent on. It's a relaxing way to enjoy live theater, and it's free, but donations are welcome. 8:15 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays July 12-Aug. 7. Show up early to secure a good view. Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Drive.

Related: Time to celebrate 60 years of the Zilker Summer Musical

Find more theater productions around Austin:

Summer Stock Austin: “Haunted: A Ghost Story.” An original musical from Allen Robertson and Damon Brown about a campfire story and a witch. July 23-Aug. 10. Plus learn more about this production and theater at day camps. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ages 5-8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ages 9-12, July 30, July 31, Aug. 5 or Aug. 6. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive.

“Snow White & Red Rose.” The children’s version of the classic story. 10 a.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, July 13-28. $10-$8. EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens, 1101 FM 2325, Wimberley.

“Wake Up, Brother Bear!” For ages 6 and younger. Two bear siblings explore the seasons. 1 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 25. $10. Zach Theatre’s Whisenhunt Studio, 1510 Toomey Road.

Pollyanna Theatre Presents “Dog’s Job.” 2 p.m. July 2, Old Quarry library; 2 p.m. July 3, Willie Mae Kirk; 2 p.m. July 8, Windsor Park; 6 p.m. July 10, Carver; 2 p.m. July 13, Manchaca.

Literature Life Presents “Jack and the Beanstalk.” 2 p.m. July 1, Howson library; 2 p.m. July 3, Little Walnut Creek; 6 p.m. July 8, Southeast; 2 p.m. July 9, Old Quarry; 2 p.m. July 11, Pleasant Hill; 2 p.m. July 12, Terrazas; 3 p.m July 23, St. John; 3:30 p.m. July 24, North Village; 2 p.m. July 25, University Hills.

Magician John O’ Bryant. 2 p.m. July 8, Spicewood Springs library; 2 p.m. July 22, Howson Branch; 6 p.m. July 24, Carver Branch.