Thursday, September 29, 2016

Punch Bowl Social Austin

Looking for a fun interesting place to take the family to eat?   Check out Punch Bowl Social in The Domain.  This fun restaurant has food, drinks and fun.   There is seated dining when you enter but I recommend eating in the game area.   

I have been twice as a family of 4.  The first time we went we ate at a Ms. Pacman for 4 table.   This was super fun.   The kids ate their favorite spaghetti and meat balls from the kids menu while I was able to try one of their famous punches.    We played ping pong, skee ball, arcade games and did the photo booth.   My kids loved it.  The prices for many of their activities are by the hour and you put your name on a list for the activities and only pay for what you use.   You can rent items for ½ hour and pay  ½ the price.   We went for an early dinner because late night it is more of a bar.    

Another time we went with friends and rented 2 bowling lanes.   They have bowling shoes to rent in all sizes and a ramp for kids to bowl if needed.   The have couches and tables and waiter service at the lanes.   It is very much like Lucky Strike, if you have been to that bowling chain before.    There are sofas and comfy seating throughout and large garage size doors they open to let in fresh air and light.    

Here is a list of activities to choose from:
  • Billiards - $10/ hour to rent the balls
  • Ping Pong - $10/ hour to rent the paddles and balls
  • 8 Bowling lanes – Socks $3/pair, Bowling Shoes $3.50/ each
    • Price per person per hour for bowling
    • Fri - Sat 5PM-10PM $8/hour
    • Sun – Thu 5PM – 10PM $7/hour
    • Mon – Fri -11AM- 5PM $4/hour
  • 2 Private Karaoke rooms to rent by the hour
  • Darts - $3.50 no time limit
  • Deck Shuffle board - $10 per hour
  • Table Shuffle - $2 per game

There are also many items you do not rent like the Ms Pac Man for 4 table, foos ball, Marbles, Corn Hole, Board Games, Skee ball, many 80’s Arcade Games and Photo Booth. 

Have a free Sunday afternoon? They offer a brunch have some waffles and game time as a family.

Monday to Friday 11am - 2am

Saturday to Sunday - 9am - 2am

Monday, September 26, 2016

Day Trip from Austin to the San Antonio Zoo

The San Antonio Zoo is about 1.5 hours away from Austin and great for a day trip away from the city.   I went last weekend and it was so much fun.  It is big.  I mean it is over 56 acres so bring the stroller for the littles or rent one there if you forgot.   You will walk a lot but there is plenty of shade, places to sit, food stands and bathrooms throughout so your kids might not notice how much they have walked.  Plus there are many inside air conditioned exhibits.  

Animals Animals Animals.   Why of course, this is a zoo, there is a lot of animals.  There are over 750 species to be exact at this zoo.  It is known for having the one of the largest bird collections in the country.    Along our trek through the zoo we saw bears, lions, elephants, birds, monkeys, giraffes, hippos, zebras, reptiles and so many more.  We made stops to have ice cream, water and of course popcorn.  (Tip get the souvenir bucket and refill it for $1.08)  We also stopped to feed fish.  (Bring quarters to feed the fish)


In addition to the animal viewing there are several attractions in the park.

Kronkosky’s Tiny Tot Nature Spot designed specifically for kids 5 and under and my four year old loved it.    Check out the schedule posted near the Nature Spot entrance for daily animal presentations and activities.  This area includes the following sections:

a.      Tropical Waters: Watch Fish as they swim in schools.
b.      My Backyard - Play in an outdoor mud kitchen
c.      Monkey/Sloth Hang: Climb and hang like a monkey
d.      Go Wild:  a large grassy area.
e.      Discovery House: This building is air conditioned and has zoo art activities.
f.       Explore Your Pond Room: Pretend to fish in the indoor pond
g.      Explore Your Zoo: Dress-up and pretend play as various Zoo jobs.
h.      Explore Underground: Crawl through the tunnel and discover what lives underground.
i.       Campground: Explore tents, play in the stream, explore a hollow log and look for bugs.
j.       Pier and Pond: Play in a boat, feed the fish, and experience a floating dock.
k.     Riverbank: Play in the water, dig in the sand, and climb on giant tortoise shells.  Bring swim diapers and a towel
 Explore Your Zoo   and the Monkey/Sloth Hang

Butterflies! Caterpillar Flight School A butterfly garden/ habitat surrounded by hundreds of butterflies flying around you.   The butterflies often land on you as you walk through the garden. Hours: Opens daily at 9 a.m., weather permitting.  Cost:  $1.50 per person

Lory Landing - Is an Australian rain forest are with hundreds of brightly colored, nectar-eating lorikeets. You can purchase a cup of nectar from a nearby stand to feed them or just try your luck my husband has a bird land on his head as soon as he entered without any nectar.  I purchased the nectar for my daughter who loved this interactive experience.   Lory Landing is open daily at 9 a.m., weather permitting.

Zootennial Carousel – What kid does not want to ride the carousel.   Mine love them.   This one has unique animals to sit on.   Try to find the sea dragon or the tiger shark. Hours:  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting   Cost:  $2.50 per person  Children under 42 inches tall must be accompanied by an adult ( accompanying adult does not require a ticket)

Giraffe Feeding Station – Get up close to live giraffes and feed them.   It is $5 for three leaves of lettuce the feeding times posted daily at The Savanna.

Fun Farm Petting Zoo – Here kids can brush and pet goats and touch chickens.  A fun interactive experience.

Events - Look for upcoming events at the Zoo you may want to attend like Zoo Boo and Zoo Lights

Admission rates for children under 2 is FREE, Children 3-11 - $11.25, Adults - $14.25

Look online for deals In July and August kids tickets were half off of purchased online.

I recommend the Zoo Fun day ticket for Children 3-11 - $15.99, and Adults - $18.99.   It includes your one-day admission $14.25, train ride $3.50, carousel ride $2.50, entry into butterflies $1.50 and a box of popcorn $4.00.  If you purchase the regular ticket you will have a chance to only pay for what you want to add on once inside the zoo but we did almost everything and could have saved money.

If you think you might go to the zoo more than once a year then become a member.   The zoo is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and a family membership for 4 is $99 and is tax deductible.  It also gives you 10% off at all gift shops and food.

The Zoo has 2 Geocaches.  I will blog more on Geocaches in a later blog but basically it is an outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices where you navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and find the geocache hidden at that location and sign the log book and trade an item if you brought something to trade.   You will need to log in and have any account as   These Geocaches have been places in the Zoo and can be found close to the main paths.  If you have any questions stop by the Nature Spot– they can help.  The Zoos two caches are located here:
N 29° 27.754' W 098° 28.264'                                                                  

N 29° 27.775’ W 098° 28.390’

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Hope Outdoor Gallery

Who is ready to see some art in Austin at a true “Keep Austin Weird” Art Gallery.  Head on down to the Hope Outdoor Gallery.   This is a paint park located in downtown Austin.  It was created in 2011 to give muralists, street artists, arts education classes groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces.  It is one of the Top 10 Artistic destinations in Texas.  It colorful and free so why not come out an expose your kids to street art.   We parked across the street and walked up to this 3 story graffiti park.   Once at the park you realize it is very large.  You need to climb up the side dirt hill to get to the top of the park and see all the art.   Wear sneakers and this will take some effort for small children but my 4 year old in sandals made it.  There is a lot of profanity painted over the murals.  I know some parents would not want their young ones to see that.  From the top there is a nice skyline view of Austin.

The website noted that this gallery is on private property and you need to register to participate, however on the Sunday we went there were many people spraying their names or sayings over and destroying the art.   This is not allowed but also not enforced either.   The smell of spray paint is everywhere and it is dirty and everything and I mean everything is has been painted.   The art is constantly changing.   I thought it was pretty.   My 8 year old daughter and I had fun climbing and discovering different art on the different levels.   Her favorite was this emoji art.

To participate in the project you should email:   To paint a mural you need to fill out a form, show an ID, submit a sketch of the art intended, and sign a waiver.   Once approved artists are given a HOPE Paint Pass.   Then you are told where you can paint.  This mural was done by Lena.    

There are some artists at the bottom you can buy inexpensive art.   Also there were benches in the front in the shade for those that do not want to climb to the top.  Small children might not enjoy this and it is pretty dirty.  It only takes about 30 minutes to climb up and walk around and see this one of a kind art gallery. 

The hours of the park are 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM – the park is closed after dark.

We saw one almost untouched mural that was made by first year medial students from Dell Medical School and Austin graffiti artists Mez Data and Truth.   They created this mural to celebrate partnership between Austin and the school.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Austin Toy Museum

This past Sunday was Austin Museum Day, where many Austin area museums opened their doors to the public for free.    Being new to Austin I didn’t want to miss out on a free museum so we headed downtown to check out the Austin Toy Museum.   The museum opened in March 2016 and will soon be one of the largest toy museums in the world (according to their website).

The museum has over 40,000 toys and cannot display them all due to limited space so they rotate exhibits often.   The museum was small.  It only had two rooms and took us less than an hour to go through.   There were a lot of people there and it was hot inside.  Not sure the AC was working.   The majority of toys were from my childhood era the 80s.  While it was a blast from the past for me my kids were not that impressed.  We started by walking past a large Bart Simpson collection and then a Star Wars toy installation.   We checked out Star Trek toys. Smurfs, Cabbage Patch dolls, GI Joes, Ninja Turtles, Thunder Cats, a Teddy Ruxpin and of course Pokemon. Most were set up and no touching was allowed but some stations allowed and welcomed touching.  

In the back was my husbands’ favorite area.  There were video games, the original Nintendo, Sega, Atari, Pong and Intellivision.   As well as a Wii with Mario kart.  Some of these are even set up and you can play with.   There was also a section of arcade games.   We tried Donkey Kong and Q-bert, but trying to explain to our kids the rules of the game and how to use the buttons and joysticks was difficult.  Plus short kids can not see the game board.   They were not amused so we kept on moving. The arcade games all are free with admission no quarters needed which was a bonus.  There even was my favorite a Ms. Pacman cocktail table to play, maybe with older kids or ones that like video games this section might have gone over better. 

Since we were there on Austin Museum day they had a balloon twister and face painter. We stopped and both my kids had their faces painted.   They also have a few toys for sale as well as t-shirts in the front.   I purchased my 2 kids some Shopkins as a souvenir of course.


While I enjoyed the museum it was very small with too many people you feel rushed and have to wait in line to try out the games.  Maybe checking this museum out on a cooler day when there is less traffic it could have been more enjoyable.  The full price admission is a bit steep as well but it is tax deductible so save your receipt.   The museum is on a busy street and you have to circle a neighborhood to park.   I would recommend visiting the toy museums website for upcoming specials so you do not pay full price. 

Adults $8
Children $3
Seniors / Military $6

11:00am to 7:00pm Wednesday through Sunday
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Friday, September 16, 2016

Kid Friendly Weekend Activities September 16-18, 2016

I wanted to make a list of fun kid friendly activities for this weekend September 16 – 18, 2016.

Friday September 16, 2016

  • Tonight there is a free movie night at Dick Nichols Park at 6pm. They are showing Ice Age and giving away free shaved ice from Kona Ice. Bring your blankets and chairs and bug spray and head on down for a fun time.
  • HEEEEEY YOUUU GUYSSS!”   There is a Goonies Movie Party at Live Oak Brewing tonight at 6:30.  They’ll have a truffle shuffle competition before the show and hand out Baby Ruths and eye patches to everyone who comes so we can all be One-Eyed Willies.  Bring your fold out chairs and blankets to join us for a fun night of entertainment. Beer and food available for purchase.
    • All Ages Welcome (parental discretion is advised)  Doors : 6:30 pm  Movie : Twilight (8:00pm-ish)
    • Ticket for admission will be offered each night: $10 - Movie admission ticket
    • What you CAN bring: Folding Chairs & Blankets, Outside Food/Snacks, Credit/Debit Cards , NON Alcoholic beverages
    • What you CAN'T bring: Outside Alcoholic beverages or pets

Saturday September 17, 2016
  • Springfree Concert Series with Big Don If you haven't tried out the spring free trampolines check them out this weekend. No I don't have one but we want to get one. My daughter thinks they are bouncier. There will be snacks and a kid concert. 
  • Outdoor Movie Night at TOMS  Who are you going to call?  Come to the TOMS store on South Congress and watch Ghostbusters Movie starts at 8 p.m. Check out my blog post about this awesome store too. 
  • Mermaid Parade and SPLASH Festival on Saturday. The fun starts in downtown San Marcos at 10:00 a.m. with the Mermaid Parade. The parade will feature floats, marchers, music and all things San Marcos.  

Sunday September 18, 2016

  • CASA Superhero Run Do your kids love superheros? This Sunday there is a super hero run. Registration is $25 for kids and they can run a 1k. They need to raise some money but all the money goes to CASA to help abused and neglected children. There will be a super hero dance party and costume contest. This all happens at the Domain starting really early at 7AM. So get up early and get your super hero costume on. Note: this is not just for kids. There is an adult 5k and costume contest as well.
  • Austin Museum Day is also Sunday, September 18, 2016.Enjoy free access to exhibits and activities at Austin-area museums! Click on the link for a full listing of participating museums.  Museum Listing  


Thursday, September 15, 2016

TOMS Store on South Congress Ave

Wondering what to do with kids when eating or shopping on South Congress Ave in downtown Austin?   Check out the TOMS store on South Congress. 

If you don’t know what TOMS are they are super comfortable shoes usually made out of canvas in tons of colors.  I should know I now have 3 pairs.   They were great commuting shoes with super soft soles and comfy for when I used to take the BART/ Train to San Francisco every day to work and needed to stand for 45 minutes plus walk around the city.  I also purchased one of my most comfortable cork wedge sandals at this store and have been wearing them all summer. Kids also love them.

Aren't these the cutest?

You can be fashionable and feel good about your purchase as TOMS has a mission “One for One” so when you purchase a  TOMS product they will help a person in need. TOMS helps provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need.  They do so in the following way:
  • For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased a brand new pair of shoes is donated to children in need.
  • For every TOMS Eyewear purchase they provide a person in need with a full eye exam.  Each patient then receives the treatment he or she needs i.e. glasses, surgery or medical treatment
  • For each bag of TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee purchased TOMS provides 140 liters of safe water to people in need.
  • For each TOMS Bag purchased TOMS delivers materials and training to Partners to help provide a safe birth.
  • For each TOMS High Road Backpack purchased TOMS provides training to school staff and crisis counselors to help prevent and respond to instances of bullying.   

Now a little bit about this South Congress location.   It is a super cute store that is in an old house complete with a giant porch with 2 porch swings and blankets for when it gets colder.   It is half store and half coffee shop.  There is a front yard and a back yard to hang out in with your coffee with tables and chairs.   I went inside chose a Vanilla Coriander Latte at TOMS Roasting Company and checked out the store.   My older daughter wanted some shoes and after trying on several we ended up with cute pink classic TOMS.   


The very nice sales people let us all check out TOMS giving with these virtual reality goggles that allow you can watch a giving trip to Peru.   My kids could not put these goggles down.  As your turn in the store you saw a 3D 360 view of Peru.  

Once we had our coffee and new shoes we head out to the front porch to swing and people watch.   Since it is at the corner of Gibson Street and across from Perla’s seafood and Kendra Scott Jewelry (an Austin based jeweler) there is always loads of people walking by.  From this location you can see the Capital of Texas building in the distance.

Keep an eye out as TOMS has events as well.  In the past there has been pop up kids clothing shop, Charlie and the Chocolate factory movie night and for SXSW (a giant music, film and technology conference) TOMS had a series of parties, craft sessions, concerts all for free and for Kids.   September 17th 2016 they are having a Ghost Busters movie night see it in my kids friendly activities blog.

Café hours serving TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee
Mon-Fri 8a-8p - Sat 8a-9p - Sun 8a-8p

Store hours
Mon-Fri 9a-8p - Sat 9a-9p - Sun 9a-8p

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mystery Room with Kids?

On a rainy Sunday in Austin we decided to get out of the house and try something new.   We went to the Domain, an outside mall in North Austin and checked out Mystery Room.   Mystery Room is an interactive adventure where you have to read clues and solve puzzles in teams in under 45 minutes.   Mystery Room has 8 rooms with a variety of levels of difficulty, making it fun for all ages.   As this was our first time and we had our 2 kids we decided on a level 1 room.   We chose Block Ops a military inspired room with a cot, sever suit case and containers all with locks and picture and military items on the walls.  Our mission was to find and diffuse the bomb in under 45 minutes. Challenge accepted.   We went off to our room with the first clue after 15 minutes they attendant came in and checked on us and gave us a hint.   From then on we cruised through the clues which led us to different key and types of locks and finally to the bomb.    We finish with minutes to spare.   This activity I think would be good for older kids ages 7 plus and kids that know how to read.   Our little 4 year old wanted to help but didn’t get the clues and wasn’t able to really understand what we were doing.  My 8 year old on the other hand loved it and wants to go back and try a harder room.  The rooms change every 12 weeks so you can come back over and over again. Once you are finished they allow you to take a picture with props from your room and signs.   

Here is a listing of the Type of Rooms:
  • Black Ops – Level 1 or Level 3
  • Superhero’s Adventure – Level 1
  • Sherlock’s Library – Level 2 or Level 4
  • Pharaoh’s Tomb – Level 3
  • Treasure Island – Level 1 or Level 3
  • Special Agent – Level 2 or level 4
  • Houdini’s Magic Cell – Level 3 or Level 5
  • Escape from Alcatraz Level 1 or Level 3

Mon-Sat 10AM to 9PM
Sun 12PM to 6PM

$20/ person and Kids 6 and under are free.     At $20/ person for 45 minutes this is a bit steep wait for a groupon and check this place out.

Come and try it out if you need an activity for older kids on a rainy or hot day.   Bonus:  It is in the Domain and you can have lunch or Dinner after.   There is a Yogurt Planet, Flemming Pizza, and a Subway right next door to grab a bite plus an open space with a play ground shaped like a Texas Long Horn. 

There are several of these Escape Room type places here in Austin but this is the only one that welcomes children.    At the Austin Panic Room children need to be over 10 years old.  At the Escape Game children need to be over 12 and for Lockout Austin you need to be over 13 years old.  All ages are welcome at Mystery Room.  However children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.   Kids 6 and under are free.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Top Golf with Kids in Austin

What is Top Golf?  Top golf is an entertainment complex where you compete against your friends and family in a unique game of golf.   Your golf balls have microchips in them.  You hit these balls out into a 240-yard outfield with dartboard-like targets in the ground.   The closer the ball goes to the center of the targets the more points you receive.   Your points are kept on a tv screen in the bay have selected.   All you have to do is pay attention to who is up on the screen, wave your club over a spot and out comes your ball, hit the ball and watch where it lands and then review the screen to see if you scored any points.

To get started everyone needs a membership card.  These cards are $5 each.   A onetime cost and are good at any Top Golf location.  Top golf balls know your name with the card plus the card keeps track of your score history from any game you’ve ever played.

You can bring your own clubs but if you are not an avid golfer like me you don’t own clubs.   Don’t worry you can rent clubs for free for men, women, lefties and kids.

Once you have a card and clubs you can proceed to your bay.  Each bay can have 6 players.   The bay has couches, tables, and servers to order food and drinks.   The bays are reserved at the front hostess stand.   The Austin Top Golf has 3 levels of bays.  Top Golfing with kids I recommend the 1st floor.    I did not want my kids running after a ball from the 3rd floor.   They have nets to catch you if you did fall but I did not want to risk it.   

Once at our bay we played 2 rounds (20 balls each) with 4 players in 1 hour.   We ordered some food.  I tried the fried pickles and the guacamole and chips while the kids had mini hot dogs.   THe food was okay.  You can order alcoholic drinks as well.  Top Golf has free Wi-Fi and tvs in each bay.  If you download the Top Golf app on your smart phone you can change the channel on your tv from your phone.    We all had fun even though my two little ones have never golfed.   We would go back again but remember the hours/ pricing as it doubles in price at night and mid-day on weekend.

When waiting for a bay or after you have finished playing you can check out the third floor, which has a bar, a stage for live music, corn hole and giant Jenga.   Also on the first floor there are video games, pool tables and a shuffle board table.

Mon - Thu: 9:00am - 12:00am
Fri: 9:00am - 2:00am
Sat: 8:00am - 2:00am
Sun: 9:00am - 12:00am

Price/Bay includes up to 6 players
$20/Hour - Monday -through Thursday, from Open -until 6pm
$40/Hour - Monday -through Thursday, from 6pm -until Close
$20/Hour - Friday -through Sunday, from Open -until Noon
$40/Hour - Friday -through Sunday, from Noon -until Close

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Thinkery, Mueller Lake Park Playground and Texas Farmers Market at Mueller Park

The Thinkery is an interactive children’s museum, essentially a smaller version of San Francisco's Exploratorium.  It takes about 2 hours to go through the museum.  

There are exhibits for all ages that are hands on, tinker-y and in some cases messy. Below are some of our favorites.

  • Fresh! Farmers Market  is one of my kids favorite areas.  It has tons of plastic fruits, vegetables, baskets and even chickens and wooden eggs to play with.
  • In the Light Lab kids (and you) can play with shadows and giant light brights and lighted tetris.
  • At Innovators’ Workshop kids can paint on glass (do not wear your Sunday best), play with microscopes and more.   
  • Upstairs, Currents helps kids see, feel and hear water.  Although your kids will get wet, there are dryers on the wall to dry off when they are done playing in the water.
  • Spark Shop lets you build and launch gliders and make a tube maze and release ping pong balls inside and watch the vacuum air send them through.
  • Older kids (>8yo) can attend Space 8, a Maker Lab and learning environment specifically designed for children to tinker and make.  What’s more Space 8 is open most AISD school holidays but hours are limited check before going. Drop your 8 year old off to learn and take your little one to an area for smaller children.

The Cost: $10 per person but children 0-23 months are FREE
Hours: Tuesday–Friday: 10 am–5 pm  & Saturday and Sunday: 10 am–6 pm

After one visit we decided to become members.  Visitors who purchase general admission tickets may apply that cost towards an annual membership on the same day as their visit, which is what we did.  A family of 4 membership is $95 and because the Thinkery is a nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization the membership fee is considered a gift and is tax-deductible.

Members receive the following:
  • Unlimited FREE Thinkery admission for one year for a family of 4.
  • 10% discount in the Thinkery Shop
  • Member only hours the first Sunday of each month 8:30-10:00
  • Members receive 15% off at Hat Creek Burger Company.  I wish I would have known about this as I just went to Hat Creek Burger Company.  It is another playground restaurant that I will add to my list when I have another blog about fun playground restaurants in Austin 10-20.   Stay tuned for that.
  • 15% off at Snap Kitchen at the Thinkery Entrance
  • Advance notice and early registration for Camps
  • For Gingerbread Workshops Members enjoy exclusive pre-sale October 1-14.  They have fresh gingerbread from La Mexicana Bakery, an assortment of candies and plenty of icing. After the workshop, all participants are welcome to explore Thinkery while their house dries in the Gingerbread Village. Finally, capture the fun by posing for a picture with your house at the Gingerbread Photo Booth.  I will make sure to check this one out in December and write up a review.

Hungry?  A snack area is available with tables and chairs, as well as a healthy food vending machine. Your are welcome to bring food but all food must be consumed in the snack area.  Snap Kitchen is also onsite and offers healthy meal and snack options.  Members receive a 15% discount at this location. Snap Kitchen is located at outside the museum entrance.  Snap Kitchen is currently open Monday- Sunday, 10 am-4 pm.

Right in front of the entrance to the Thinkery is the Mueller Lake Park Playground.  It includes a really unique play structure with a very modern-design. It is in a fenced-in park and is adjacent to a lake where you can feed the ducks and take a stroll and on Sundays enjoy the farmer’s market.  You kids will be able to see it from the entrance of the museum and they will want to play.   Plan on some time there it is quite fun. 

For a special treat make your visit on a Sunday and enjoy the farmers market for 10:00am – 2:00pm at the “Browning Hangar” is the Texas Farmers Market at Mueller This Farmers Market is dog friendly, has live music, a clown balloon twister, food trucks and fresh produce.  Make it a day and hit up the Thinkery, playground and farmers market for lots of family fun.