Austin is Packed with Summer Fun for the Kids

Little 14-month-old Evelynn Crittenden is just struggling to hang onto her small beachball as water sprays and splashes around her and her friends. She walks quickly, stomping and splashing her feet in the puddles, stops and, then, plop, she sits down as toddlers are apt to do. No worry. Mom and Dad are right there.

Chris Crittenden, a 23-year-old University of Texas employee, and his wife Shastina take their little girl to city-operated splash pads like this one at Bailey Park in north-central Austin on a regular basis. Along with chasing geese at a park and checking out the farmer’s market in the Mueller Community, splash pads are a favorite family outing.

“She loves it,” Crittenden says as six or seven other kids giggle and splash around the spurting fountains and adults play tennis and volleyball nearby. “They just splash around and have a good time.”

It’s little moments of joy for both the parents and child like these that wind up proudly displayed in a beautiful frame on the fireplace mantle. Bring the kids and the camera. Austin is packed with splash pads and a wide variety of fun things to do with your kids this summer. Here’s a look at a few options.

Summer fun with the kids

Austin Thinkery

– It’s a fitting name for a great place to get your kids thinking in new ways. The simple projects and learning areas are designed to get those dendrites firing. Among favorites: A lighting lab to experiment with shadows and the light spectrum; A kitchen lab that encourages experimentation; and an elaborate playground. Admission is $9, and kids under 23 months old get in free. Check their website for special exhibits and events:

Zilker Zephyr

– Know of a child who doesn’t like trains? The Zephyr is a crowd-pleaser because it shows off one of Austin’s best parks as it chugs along next to Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek. Plus, it’s right next door to the chilling Barton Springs Pool and a popular snow cone stand. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It costs $2 for kids and $3 for adults — cash only.

Children’s Day Art Park

– For 50 cents, you can bring your kids to an “Instrument Petting Zoo” for a hands-on experience with strings, horns and more. Local musicians, dancers and storytellers round out the fun. The Austin Symphony Orchestra’s kid-friendly events are on Wednesday mornings in July at Symphony Square Amphitheater, 1101 Red River St. just north of downtown. Strollers aren’t allowed in the amphitheater, but there’s a safe place to park them nearby.

Music for Kids

– Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, and we start them young. The City of Austin sponsors this six-week concert series at public libraries. It’s free. Just check the schedule for an event in your neighborhood at:

Alamo Drafthouse Baby Day

– Who says you can’t bring a baby to the movies? The Alamo, which prohibits babies during normal showings, has Baby Day for showings before 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons. It’s mostly for the parents, but the Alamo keep the lights up a little and the sound down so that, hopefully, your baby naps right through a great new film.

Deep Eddy Movie Night

– On July 12, 19 and Aug. 2 Austin’s huge Deep Eddy pool gives folks a chance to lounge in the water or next to it and take in a movie. The Alamo Drafthouse sets its mobile movie equipment up and starts screenings at dusk. July 12 is “Monsters University.” July 19 is “The Lego Movie.” And Aug. 2 is “Despicable Me 2.”

Splash Pads

– Keep it simple with a little trip to one of Austin’s 10 spash pads. Interactive water spouts dazzle kids and adults, and they provide a quick cool down after some time playing in nearby parks. Check for one in your neighborhood at: