“What are we gonna do today? I’m bored,” is an all-time annoying phrase that ranks right up there with “Are we there yet?” All it takes to nip this irritation in the bud is a little research and planning by parents.
Reading programs are a great way to keep kids’ minds moving while they’re having fun. Blanco Public Library hosts a program every summer. It is already in full swing, with afternoon movies, game time just for older kids, and presentations like they‘ve always had. Check it out at www.blancolib.org
Other reading programs kids can participate in include Barnes & Nobles and HEB. By reading books they’re interested in, kids can earn prizes, meals, and even free books.
Get information about the H.E. Buddy Reading Program online at http://www.hebuddy.com/. All ages can participate by reading ten books or having ten books read to them. Fill out a form, mail it in, and wait for prizes, including a t-shirt. Sign up for the birthday club while you’re visiting the website.
The Barnes & Nobles reading program requires a list of eight books the child has read to be turned it to a retail store. The child must be able to read independently and in grades one through six. They receive a free book from a list of eligible books after completing eight books.
Other local activities include the Uptown Blanco Art Program. One session is currently going, with a teen session to follow. Find out more at http://www.uptownblanco.com/ or call 830-833-1579. Of course, many local churches are sponsoring Vacation Bible School of various themes. There are still a few to attend. Veterans haul their kids from one to the other. Check advertising in the NEWS.
Day trips are another idea to keep costs down on summer fun. Getting a very early start and packing meals, drinks, and snacks are key to saving big bucks while having fun.
A trip to The Texas State Aquarium is doable if you plan ahead. Hours are from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., with special events like the dolphin show at various times during the day. Cost is $14.99 per person, aged 12 and older, $8.99 for kids age 3 to 11, and kids under 3 are free. Parking is $4, and there is a snack bar and souvenir shop in the facility. If you will be a frequent guest, a yearly membership may be worth the cost. The website is http://www.texasstateaquarium.org/.
Round Rock Express sponsors a variety of incentives for children, including a grade reward program. If you mail a copy of your child’s final report card that contains only A’s and B’s as final grades, the child will receive four free tickets to an Express game. Pair that with a trip to Lone Star Bakery for some of the world’s best donuts, and to Cici’s Pizza, and you’ve got an inexpensive family outing. Add the dollar movie, http://www.fandango.com/round+rock_tx_movietheatershowtimes, and you’ve got an all-day event.
Regal Cinema Free summer movie program can be a cool way to spend time in the summer. Free G and PG movies are shown every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at select Regal Cinemas at 10 a.m., beginning June 8 and lasting until August 4. Admission is free, but concessions are not discounted. www.regmovies.com/nowshowing/ familyfilmfestivalschedule.aspx?state=TX. Northwood Theater near 1604 and 281 is the closest one to Blanco. Tickets are only available at the box office on the day of the showing.
Dinosaur Valley State Park is an awesome day-trip. About a three-hour drive from Blanco, it is worth the time if you’ve never seen tracks before. There are several different sites to find tracks within the park, including one that is friendly to the littlest ones. There is a charge per vehicle and a snack/souvenir shop near the entrance as well as giant dinosaur statues for photo ops. Within the park, there’s a playground with restrooms and some shade for rest between hikes. Pack drinks, lunch, and sunscreen, and plan on spending the day.
As the dino tracks are located in the riverbed and visibility depends on the condition of the water, it’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure it’s a good time to visit. Hours are 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily year-round, and campsites are also available. Fees are currently $5 per person over the age of 12 per day use, but the park recommends you call ahead to make sure fees are still current. For a wealth of information, visit them at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/dinosaur_valley/.
Another outdoor scorching venture, the San Antonio Zoo may be an alternative day out. Hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily year-round, but guests are welcome to stay until 6 p.m. Admission is $10 per adults, $8 for children aged three through eleven, and under three are free. There are military, handicapped, and senior discounts, and parking is free. For big families, or those who plan to visit the zoo often, membership is economical.
Located within Brackenridge Park, the zoo offers various types of strollers and wheelchairs available for day rental. There are souvenir and snack concessions throughout the zoo, but guests are welcome to bring ice chests. The San Antonio Eagle Train located between the parking lot and the entrance to the zoo is a given and costs $3 per person aged 12 and up, $2.50 per person aged 3 through 11, and free for children younger than three. For more information, visit www.sazoo-aq.org.