Choose your summer adventure with Camp Austin360
We’re taking back the summer!
Adulting gets old, and most of us don’t have a three-month break to look forward to anymore. Why should kids get all the good times? To that end, we’re inviting kids of all ages to join us for Camp Austin360. It’s not a place, but a call for new adventures all summer long. Visit the gallery you’ve always wondered about, try a new watersport, or go to a club that’s always intrigued you (adult adventures don’t have to involve nature).
Our inspiration came from the various camps for adults that have popped up in recent years, and our own desire to fill up our fun buckets.
Here, the Austin360 staff shares ideas for adults to reclaim the spirit of summer and exploration. We want to hear yours, too. Use #CampAustin360 on social media to share what you do, and we’ll do the same. We’ll have more ideas throughout the summer, and we’ll share your stories and photos.
Do-it-yourself East Austin arts tour. Why wait for the annual East Austin Studio Tour for an art-seeing adventure? The Canopy complex, 916 Springdale Road, has several galleries — Art Science Gallery, Modern Rocks, Big Medium, Women Printmakers of Austin — along with dozens of artist studios, many of which are open to impromptu visits. The Flatbed building, 2832 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., is home to four galleries: Camiba, Photo Méthode,Gallery Shoal Creek and the namesake Flatbed Press. Friendly yet professional Grayduck Gallery, 2213 E. Cesar Chavez St., always has fresh local and national art.
See the sunset in sublime color at the Turrell skyspace. Tucked on top of a University of Texas building, a sleek curvilinear roofless chamber is James Turrell’s “The Color Inside,” one of the famed artist’s “skyspaces” — radically reimagined observatories for creative contemplation of the sky. At sunset, an hourlong sequence of slowly changing colored LED lights illuminate the inside walls, radically yet subtly altering your perception of the heavens. Free. Start time changes daily. Seating limited to 25 people. Reservations recommended. turrell.utexas.edu
Do-it-yourself one-block Victorian architecture walking tour. At West Seventh and Guadalupe streets, the Bremond Block Historic District is home to a remarkable collection of 11 well-preserved upper-class Victorian homes. Privately owned with interiors not open to the public, this singular gathering nevertheless is a textbook example of the range of how Victorian architecture’s exterior stylings and features were interpreted in 19th century Texas.austintexas.org
Cool summer getaway with Goya. Here’s a fun fact: To preserve delicate art objects, the Blanton Museum of Art maintains a constant inside temperature of 72 degrees. Opening June 19, “Goya: Mad Reason” features nearly 150 prints and paintings by the master Spanish court painter Francisco de Goya, many borrowed from museums around the country. blantonmuseum.org
Visit two tiny museums. Tucked into two central Austin neighborhoods, two small, historic museums offer a window into the past of our rapidly changing city. In 1892, German-born sculptor Elisabet Ney designed an eccentric limestone castle-like building that’s largely an art studio with only marginal accommodations for living: 304 E. 44th St., elisabetneymuseum.org. And with its period rooms and grand central hallway, the 1855 Neill-Cochran House Museum is a terrific example of the domestic designs of Abner Cook, architect of the Texas Governor’s Mansion: 2310 San Gabriel St., nchmuseum.org
— Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Go see an old movie in a theater (that isn’t an Alamo event that involves participation). Austin is an amazing place for repertory movie screenings, especially for a city of its size, especially in the summer. The Paramount Summer Film schedule is out, and the Austin Film Society has stellar programming all the time. (Note: this is not a knock at the Alamo, but for the purposes of this challenge, if you want to see something old at the Alamo, check out a Music Monday or a Terror Tuesday or something that just requires you to sit and watch. And possibly eat fries.)
Go see a movie, new or old, not in your native language. Let’s face it: Foreign film is not Austin’s strong suit. But we are getting better. The Austin Film Society has a New French Cinema series in early June. The Paramount has a few in their summer film series, and the Alamo Drafthouse often has non-English films, new and old, as do theaters such as the Violet Crown and Arbor. And every third Friday of the month, the East Austin dance studio Esquina Tango hosts “Noche de Pelicula,” a BYOB event featuring a movie with English subtitles and free popcorn.
If you have never read a comic book, read a comic book. One of the most annoying journalistic tropes of the late 1980s and 1990s was the headline “Pow! Zap! Comics Aren’t Just For Kids Anymore.” It got old fast. Ironically, if anything, in 2016, more comics are aimed at adults than kids. And if you can’t stand superheroes, or even genre fiction of any sort, check out more literary fare from Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Top Shelf or a dozen other publishers. The trick is to ask a clerk at a shop such as Austin Books, Tribe, Capstone, Dragon’s Lairor BookPeople to match you with something you might enjoy. Trust me, they will be thrilled to help a new reader.
Rent a video, preferably something you have never heard of, from an actual video store. Think about it: When was the last time you got in the car, drove to a video store, picked out a movie, took it to the counter, rented it and left? Austin’s video stores are some of the best in the world:I Luv Video (iluvvideo.com) and Vulcan Video(vulcanvideo.com) are both world-class operations. Their selection of obscure movies is dazzling. Get to exploring.
Go to a reading by an author on a topic you know nothing about. History buff? Go to a poetry reading. Literary fiction nerd? Go to a reading by a genre author. Check out the schedules at BookPeople, Malvern, BookWoman and others and get out of that comfort zone.
— Joe Gross
Find sweet treats and suds. Make the hourlong trek to Marble Falls and drop by Sweet Berry Farm, where you can pick your own strawberries, blackberries and peaches into June. While you’re there, buy a small canister of food for 25 cents and feed the adorable baby goats. Check sweetberryfarm.com for detailed information on what fruits and veggies are available when. Done picking? If you’re in town on a Friday or Saturday, grab a drink and do some good at Save the World Brewing Co. (savetheworldbrewing.com), where 100 percent of net proceeds go to charity.
Take a trip with a view. Get up early and make the hour-plus-long drive to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchanted-rock), where the climb to the top of the giant pink granite dome offers an incredible workout followed by unparalleled views of the area. Round out your trip at Luckenbach (luckenbachtexas.com), the famed Hill Country haven where you can hear live music every day.
Find excitement up I-35. Located about 100 miles up Interstate 35, Waco is an excellent road trip destination. Meet some furry friends at the Cameron Park Zoo (cameronparkzoo.com), check out fossils at Waco Mammoth National Monument (nps.gov/Waco) or do a little shopping at Magnolia Market at the Silos (shop.magnoliamarket.com), run by HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines. Visit wacoheartoftexas.com for more information.
Take the Express train to fun. Not even an hour away from downtown Austin, Round Rock offers loads of fun on a summer afternoon. Catch a Round Rock Express game, grab a cool treat at Kawaii Shaved Ice or check out the eats and sips along the city’s now-booming Main Street. Go to roundrocktexas.gov for more information.
Relax, Texas style. Visiting Gruene, about 45 minutes away toward San Antonio, is like stepping back in time — in the best of ways. Go tubing down the Guadalupe or Comal rivers, grab a late lunch at the beloved Gristmill Restaurant, then spend the evening enjoying the breezes, and tunes, on an outside picnic table at Gruene Hall. Check out gruenetexas.com for more.
— Kristin Finan
Nurture Austin’s up-and-comers. We all like to go out and hear music we know, and consequently touring bands and a few well-established locals earn the bulk of Austin’s live music money. But drop by clubs like Sidewinder, Cheer Up Charlie’s, Beerland, Hotel Vegas and Barracuda on a weeknight and you’ll be amazed by the depth of Austin’s underground talent. These incubator clubs provide a platform for artists to discover their voices, something that can be a little messy but utterly captivating to watch.
Revel in the residencies. Festivals such as Austin City Limits and South by Southwest tend to get all the attention, but the real heart of Austin music can be found in weekly residency shows that happen at some of the city’s most storied music venues. From Antone’s to the Continental Club to the Saxon Pub to Strange Brew to the White Horse and beyond, world-class musicians play regular gigs when they’re not on tour, often for tips in happy-hour slots. This is what the Live Music Capital is all about.
Dance like no one’s watching. Has it been a minute since you’ve sweated away your woes on the dance floor? Austin is rich with opportunities to move and groove. Empire’s monthly Pachanga and Body Rock bashes are both some of the city’s best monthly throwdowns. Or do it old-school style and drop by DJ Mel’s weekly hip-hop bash at Nasty’s every Monday night.
Let the radio roll you. Austin FM stations offer several free outdoor series during the spring and summer. The big ones come from KGSR, with the monthly Blues on the Green in Zilker Park and weekly Unplugged at the Grove shows at Shady Grove; and from Sun Radio, with Texas Radio Live at Guero’s on Wednesdays and Hill Country Galleria concerts on Saturdays. KLBJ also gets in on the action with its Sunset Concert Series on many summer Fridays at the Oasis, and KUTX is a sponsor of the after-work Wine Down series on the last Wednesday of every month at ACL Live’s new 3Ten club.
Expand your musical horizons. Country girl? You might also appreciate the silky soulful pipes of Austin’s fine R&B singers. Rocker? Get back to your roots at one of Austin’s authentic blues nights. Hip-hop and punk kids? From anarchic energy to DIY vibes, your scenes have so much in common. Explore the connections. Step outside your musical comfort zone into an unfamiliar genre. Beyond your playlist, your whole world might get bigger.
— Deborah Sengupta Stith and Peter Blackstock
(Note: This information is accurate as of May 2016, but it’s a good idea to call or check the websites for updates before you go.)
Savor the springs in Spicewood. With its knobby rocks, shell-filled sand and cool water, Krause Springs remains a fun place for a summer splash. Owned by the Krause family for more than 50 years, the property includes springs that feed both a natural and man-made pool, both of which are available for swimming. The springs are in Spicewood, about 30 minutes from Austin. krausesprings.net
Dare to dive in. The swimming area at Blanco State Park, about an hour from Austin, is centered on a dam, courting everyone from daring teens who splash in its rushing waters to youngsters who traverse the top of it as they squeeze the hands of their adult companions. Originally used as a campground by early Texas settlers, the 105-acre park now offers swimming, kayaking, fishing, boating and camping. tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/blanco
Reserve your swimming spot. From its native birds to its 50-foot waterfall to the quarter-mile hike you take to get down by the water, Hamilton Pool and its 232 acres are a joy to discover. In fact, it’s become so popular that you now have to make a reservation to visit. It’s worth it. parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/Hamilton-pool
Laze around on Lake Austin. Sure, you’re in the heart of Austin, but when you visit Emma Long Metropolitan Park, also known as City Park, you might feel like you’ve been transported to the beach. This park on Lake Austin is ideal for family picnics and lazy weekend swims in the dedicated swimming area. You’ll also find a boat dock, motorcycle trail, fishing pier, basketball and volleyball courts and 12 miles of trails. austintexas.gov/department/city-parks
Discover Secret Beach. No visit to Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metropolitan Park is complete without a stop at Secret Beach, a stretch of sand within the park along the Colorado River that’s great for wading, sunning and finding shells. Other amenities include baseball and softball fields, disc golf, picnic shelter and tables, 2.3 miles of trails and volleyball courts. austinparks.org/our-parks.html?parkid=325
— Kristin Finan
Explore North Austin’s booming brewery scene. Although local breweries are turning into neighborhood haunts all over town, one area in particular could make for a fun afternoon brewery crawl. Start at Austin Beerworks, off U.S. 183 and MoPac Boulevard, then make your way to Adelbert’s Brewery, 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative, Circle Brewing and the soon-to-open Oskar Blues, all within a couple minutes’ drive — or bike ride — from each other.
Take a day trip to a few Hill Country wineries. Although any time spent outside might not sound ideal in a hot Texas summer, making the drive to picturesque Fredericksburg and the wineries along U.S. 290 is well worth it. The grapes are at their fullest in the summertime, and the wineries — such as Pedernales Cellars, Becker Vineyards and William Chris Vineyards — are happy to pour several tastes of their best varietals. And did we mention that it’s rosé season? To plan your road trip, visit texaswinetrail.com.
Sneak into one of Austin’s cozy speakeasies. The idea of the speakeasy has changed a little over the years — since we no longer have to hide alcohol consumption — but the obvious allure of such a hidden haunt has endured and turned places like downtown’s Firehouse Lounge into a darkened getaway. Austin’s newest speakeasy, the Milonga Room, is beneath the Buenos Aires Café and combines cocktails with tango music and dancing. To visit, find the current passcode on the Milonga Room’s Facebook page.
Enjoy a rare pour with the Townsend’s Break-Even Bottle Night. Tasting hard-to-get and expensive spirits isn’t something we can do every day, but Congress Avenue bar the Townsend has a solution: the Break-Even Bottle Night, styled after a tradition from Houston’s Anvil. Every Sunday, the bar pours 1 oz. of something rare and good, like Del Maguey Iberico Mezcal or the Balvenie Portwood 21 Year Single Malt Scotch, for a marked-down price. To find out what the latest special bottle will be, follow the Townsend on Instagram.
Don’t forget old neighborhood standbys for a pint or two. Exciting new bars are opening up practically every week in Austin, but some of the best ones remain the places we’ve always loved. Turn to the Draught House for a funky brew from some of the country’s most renowned beer makers or to the Little Longhorn Saloon for the Sunday afternoon tradition of chicken bingo. Or pair a glass of wine with some spicy Indian food at the Whip In.
— Arianna Auber
Become a juggler. The Texas Juggling Society meets from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Thursday behind All Saint’s Episcopal Church. Meetings are free and open to jugglers, unicyclists and circus art folks. Beginners and spectators are welcome, too. Throughout the year members participate in events such as Austin Jugglefest and Eeyore’s Birthday Party. facebook.com/TexasJugglingSociety
Join the adult coloring book craze. At Recycled Reads on Burnet Road, a coloring club called Colorsome: Adult Coloring Group gets together every month. Meetups alternate between the last Sunday of the month and the second to last Sunday of the month. The next gathering will be at 2 p.m. June 26. recycledreads.org
Spice up your summer parties with a different kind of DJ. Amelia “Foxtrot” Raley isn’t a typical Austin DJ. She has no laptop, speakers or need for an electrical outlet. Instead, Raley lugs two 1900s-era phonographs and a crate of vintage records to her gigs and literally cranks out the nostalgic tunes of yesteryear. Learn more about the Austin Phonograph Company she owns by visiting austinphonographcompany.com.
Flex your DIY muscles. Learn how to become an urban beekeeper, make your own lip balm or build your own terrarium at workshops hosted by Craft (4704 E. Cesar Chavez St.), a creative hub for all things DIY. Check out the summer workshop schedule online at craft-austin.com.
Visit a creative reuse center. Think Hobby Lobby-meets-thrift shop-meets community center. Austin Creative Reuse, a nonprofit retail center that collects, sells and distributes reusable materials, opened its retail space earlier this year. You can find everything from vintage album covers to brand new art supplies that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill. ACR (6406 N. Interstate 35, Suite 1801) is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Check out hours online at austincreativereuse.org.
— Nancy Flores
Visit Austin’s park jewel. Spend the day at Barton Springs Pool, then head over to Zilker Hillside Theater for the Zilker Summer Musical. This year “Shrek: The Musical” takes the stage Thursdays through Sundays at dusk July 8-Aug. 13. It’s free, but donations are appreciated. zilker.org
Explore nature at the Wildflower Center for Nature Nights. The free weekly program offers a different topic from 6 to 9 p.m. each Thursday, beginning June 9. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org
Head indoors for low-cost family-friendly movies. The Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp is happening daily with a different movie at each theater each week. Reserve tickets for $1-$3 donation online at drafthouse.com. Regal Summer Movie Express happens at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesday June 9-Aug. 3 at Westgate Stadium 11. Tickets are $1; regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express. Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse offer $1 movies Monday through Thursday at Round Rock 8 and Cedar Park, June 6-Aug. 11. cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse.
Hear the symphony at work. Children’s Day Art Park happens 9:30 a.m. every Wednesday, June 8-July 27, at Symphony Square Amphitheatre, 1101 Red River St. It’s 50 cents a kid to hear local musicians, make art, and touch and try musical instruments. You also can see the symphony for its annual July 4 concert and fireworks beginning at 8:30 p.m. at Auditorium Shores and from June 5-Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. every Sunday at the Long Center City Terrace for the Hartman Foundation Concerts in the Park. austinsymphony.org
Try a new-to-you museum. Sometimes we get stuck in the rut between the Thinkery and the Bullock Museum — both great, and if you haven’t been to either, what are you waiting for? But if you’ve been a thousand times, try something new. Austin museums that offer family events and programming include the Blanton Museum, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and the Contemporary Austin-Laguna Gloria. Farther afield, explore science at the Texas Museum of Science & Technology in Cedar Park and the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City.
— Nicole Villalpando
Pitch a tent. Everyone crowds into the main drive-up tent sites at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, but we prefer making the 2-mile hike to Moss Lake, the primitive campground on the backside of the glowing granite dome. There, you can listen to frogs croak and watch fish jump while the sun sets. Park entry $7 for adults, free 12 and younger. Primitive campsite $14 a night. The park is north of Fredericksburg at 16710 RM 965.
Hike and swim. Pack a picnic, grab your swimsuit and head to Pedernales Falls State Park, where you can hike until you’re hot and sweaty, then leap into the Pedernales River at the day-use swim area. Then check out the main falls just upstream, where you can see water sliding down slabs of limestone that look like they were placed there by a giant. Admission is $6 per adult (free ages 12 and younger); 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City. 830-868-7304.
Ride a swan. You’ve tried standup paddleboards, kayaks and canoes. But have you drifted down Lady Bird Lake on a sleek white swan? Capital Cruises rents swan-shaped pedal boats that carry two for $15 an hour. Head to the Hyatt Regency Boat Dock, 208 Barton Springs Road.
Swim in Gus Fruh Pool. It doesn’t happen often, but when Gus Fruh on the Barton Creek Greenbelt fills with water, it turns into nature’s version of an Olympic-size swimming pool. During wet times, you can actually swim laps there, or launch yourself off a rope swing tied to a tree on the bank and sway, pendulum-like, over the placid, emerald green water. Park near the greenbelt access at 2642 Barton Hills Drive. It’s a short walk down a hill to the swimming hole. Free.
Hit the trail. Looking for a not-too-intimidating mountain bike challenge? Try the 5-mile Slaughter Creek Trail, built by volunteers from the Austin Ridge Riders. Instead of bone-cracking cliffs and steep drop-offs, it serves up mostly smooth dirt and gravel pathways that unspool over gentle hillsides. The Slaughter Creek Preserve is at 9901 FM 1826. The trail closes after heavy rains. Check the trail’s status on the Slaughter Creek Trail Facebook page.Dogs are not allowed. Free.
— Pam LeBlanc
(Note: Texas summers can be brutal and deadly to our fur-covered friends. Don’t leave your dogs in the car — having the windows cracked will not prevent the interior from getting too hot — and watch for signs of overheating, which can be subtle at first. If pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.)
Have a hike and a dip at Reimers Ranch Park in Dripping Springs. The park is dog friendly (dogs must be on leash) and has water spots for your fur-covered friend to cool off. Open 8 a.m to twilight at 23610 Hamilton Road. $10 a vehicle entrance fee (cash or check only). Read the other park rules at parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/reimers-ranch.
Beat the heat on Lady Bird Lake. Try kayaking or paddleboarding with your dog. If you’re nervous about going out alone, the Canine Center for Training and Behavior offers classes where you and your dog can learn how to balance and get back in your watercraft if you one or both of you take a dip. (Call ahead to your favorite kayak or paddleboard rental place; policies vary on whether they rent to people with dogs.)
Hang out with some cats. Austin’s Blue Cat Cafe has coffee and other human refreshments for sale, but the friendly cats roaming around and hanging with patrons are the real draw. Many are up for adoption through Austin rescue organizations. The cafe is open 10 a.m to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at 1400 E. Cesar Chavez St. Information about rules and some of the cat-related merchandise for sale at bluecatcafe.com.
Choose your own volunteer adventure. Try fostering through Austin Animal Center, Austin Pets Alive, the Austin Humane Society or one of Austin’s many rescue groups. Or you can walk dogs, bottle-feed baby kittens, take photos for adoption profiles or any other number of animal-related activities. Check with the organization of your choice about volunteer training and requirements.
Get social with you friends, both human and canine. Austin has plenty of dog-friendly patios and restaurants (call ahead if you’re not sure), including the Yard Bar, which is a combination bar and dog park at 6700 Burnet Road (yardbar.com; there are membership fees for dogs and use of the dog park). Bark Happy is an app that helps users find other dogs (and their people) looking to hang out in dog-friendly places. Available for iPhone or Android (barkhappy.com).
— Sharon Chapman