With temperatures reaching record highs in Texas, routinely going beyond the hundreds, the great outdoors may not be looking that great this summer. But that’s okay! There are plenty of ways to have fun that don’t involve being outdoors, being sticky, or worst of all, waiting in lines while experiencing the heat wave. The notion of summer brings fond memories of beaches or waterparks but these fun plans lose all their grandeur the minute you consider this excruciating heat. Trust me, I live my life avoiding the heat, and I’m gonna teach you how to do the same! Here are eight fun things you can do to cool off this summer:
1. Visit A River or Lake
This one is for all the people like myself who still want to do something involving water, but don’t want all the cons that come with having to stand in a line. I know what you’re thinking, “You just said we shouldn’t go outside, or to a waterpark. How is a body of water any different?” Well, I’ll tell you. At a waterpark, you deal with wet clothes, screaming children, and an awful amount of waiting. A body of water is easier to access. Here, in Austin, Texas, we have the Colorado River or even Lake Pflugerville. Places that don’t have lines, and allow you to rent out swan boats or kyacks. If you want you can bring your own paddle board and experience the cooling waters at your own leisure.
It’s the perfect outing for a chill time during the summer. I highly encourage you to check out your local lakes, rivers, and springs as a fun alternative to water parks this summer. When it gets too hot, instead of feeling like you have to stay because you paid for the whole day, you can simply head home.
2. Try An Escape Room
Since their creation in the late 2000s, escape rooms have become a viral sensation. They’re a fun way to beat the heat while enjoying an engaging activity with all your friends. I did one a few years ago, and while my family did not escape, we did have a great time. Escape rooms usually follow a very specific theme, whether that’s a prison break or a murder mystery. This weekend, for my birthday, my family and I are planning on doing a playground-themed escape room at The Escape Game. Not really sure what this means, but I saw an indoor swing set and jumped.
Perhaps the most enticing aspect of them, aside from the cooling AC and brain teasers, is the capacity. Most escape rooms allow for 8 people, meaning you can include all your friends, and there are even some that max out at 12. Escape Rooms do fill up fast, so this is definitely an outing you’ll have to plan for, though definitely worth it!
3. Head To The Movies
It’s a tried and true summer staple, but it’s like that for a reason! Going to the movies is such a fun and simple outing. After 2020, I honestly did not visit a theater in over a year and a half, so I had forgotten how exciting it can be. The smell of popcorn that wafts through the air, the gasps in unison at a shocking twist, and the giant, glowing, screens. Still, if you’re like I was and don’t think visiting the movies is worth it because you can just watch the same thing cheaper at home in a few months, I hear you. As someone who once felt the same, I urge you to reconsider. Keep that feeling for some movies, but others, you just have to experience on the big screen. If you’re tight on money and don’t want to spend too much, compare prices at other theaters. At a theater in Houston, I was able to watch the new Jurassic Park for only $6 a ticket. AMC offers 30% off their matinee shows, and Cinemark has discounted ticket prices for shows anytime before 1 PM. Depending on the location, some AMCs even offer discounted ticket prices for students who bring their IDs.
4. Break Some Stuff
By this I mean, try going to a Rage Room. These are indoor rooms you can rent out, filled to the brim with supplies and furniture you’re allowed to break. This is something I have yet to do, but as you can tell, it’s on my list. It’s a great way to get the anger out, or just have some fun on a date or with family and friends. Similar to the Escape Rooms, you have a capacity of around 4 people usually, meaning they fill up fast and you should probably book ahead of time. Depending on where you go, certain Rage Rooms also have other “packages” that may interest you.
When looking at a Room in Austin, I discovered they also have an Axe Throwing room. Now, before you panic, no this is not just a room where you break things with axes. It’s set up like an archery or gun range, only instead of shooting at something, you’re throwing axes at a target. Some locations also offer paint splatter rooms or even escape rooms. With things like this, it’s best to assemble a group of people and plan in advance!
5. Tour Some Ice Cream
Another tried and true staple, but with a twist. Yes, you can just go to an Ice Cream shop– Maggie Moos and Amy’s are some of my favorites. A lesser-known ice cream attraction is the Ice Cream Museum. Now, this is an outing. The Ice Cream Museum has recently garnered attention, as it’s been popping up all around the nation. An “art installation” of sorts that takes you through the history of ice cream across 12 Instagram-worthy rooms, ultimately ending in a parlor with all the ice cream you could eat. They just so happen to have a museum located in none other than Austin, Texas.
The other very Texan alternative to this, aside from just visiting a Texan ice cream shop, is the Blue Bell Creamery tour. If you grew up in the lone star state, chances are you’ve heard of Blue Bell ice cream. However, you may not have known that located in their hometown of Brenham, Texas lies the Creamery. A place you can tour, learn the history of the brand, and of course, try out some delicious ice cream. Going to an ice cream parlor is a timeless summer tradition, so let’s keep it going!
6. Enjoy An Art Installation
Art Installations allow you to feel worldly while staying cool. They’re usually inexpensive and revolve around different themes and artists. Recently the Vincent Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit caught a lot of attention for its vibrant colors and aesthetic environments. Quickly becoming a highly sought-after dating destination. In Austin, we have Wonderspaces, an interactive art show that takes you through 14 different installations. Similarly to other opinions, tickets should be purchased in advance, as they can be sell out before the actual day. A standard ticket starts at $24, but they do offer discounted prices for students, children, or veterans. Like a museum, these exhibits allow you to walk around and enjoy the art at your own pace. However, unlike a museum, they’re usually colorful, more aesthetically pleasing, and offer a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else. No matter where you’re located you can be sure to find some sort of installation around you, so I highly encourage you to seek them out.
7. Go Out To Eat
I mean, it can’t get more classic than this. Personally, I’m partial to a meal at What-A-Burger myself, but if you’re looking to do something simple yet fun, why not go out for a meal? Austin has plenty of delectable restaurants to choose from. My suggestion would be, like other options, make a day out of it. Get a large group of friends, and try a new restaurant you’ve never been too. Each person gets a different meal, and rather than eating all of it you each share and judge for yourselves what the restaurant scores.
Here in Austin, there are some fancy restaurants, like dipdipdip Tatsu Ya, a high-class Japanese restaurant, or Comedor, a sleek Mexican joint, but there are also some pretty affordable ones. I’ve heard a New Yorker say Patty’s Pizza is great, and Tumble22 has delicious chicken! Not to mention Magnolia Cafe has some incredible burgers, and Home Slice on South Congress is another pizza staple!
8. Go To Space
This is an additional option, since it is not actually located in Austin, but is still a very Texan thing to do. By this I mean, check out NASA’s Space Center in Houston of course! We visited the Space Center a lot growing up, it was always my favorite venture. Still indoors, educational, and lots and lots of fun. A great place to go with kids, or if you have a science nerd in the family. You can learn all about the SpaceX rocket, check out the collection of space suits, and even go on the NASA Tram Tour. If you’re located in Austin, and maybe don’t have a car to drive all the way to the space center there is a bus you can take from Austin all the way to Houston, stopping at Pierce St. From there you should be able to grab a cab or Uber to get to the Space Center.
I do understand not everyone is located in Texas, but that’s okay! If you still want to go to space you can always visit your local planetarium. Check out all the stars you can muster, and watch the moon through it’s different phases! While planetariums may require some outdoor venturing, you’ll likely be going at night when the heat has cooled significantly.
So, there you have it! My list of things you can do this summer to beat the heat. I don’t know about you but I’m certainly racing to make some plans before the school break ends!