Summer means more quality time with the kids, and that’s great — up to a point. You know how it goes – the house starts to feel a little small and you end up craving some time alone to enjoy Margaritas by the pool. If not that, at least an outdoor excursion where everybody has a little breathing room. Fortunately, the Alamo City doesn’t lack for ways to keep the young ’uns entertained, whether you choose to go along or let them have fun on their own.
The Southwest School of Art’s Summer Art Studios recruits professional artists to teach 10 weeks of courses in everything from ceramics to 3-D design ($150 members/$165 nonmembers, June 4-August 17). Some of this summer’s offerings include Movie Making 101, Pet Portraits in Fabric and Ceramics: Greek Vessels. Swing by swschool.org/summerartstudios for details.
Discovery is the name of the game at Witte Museum Camp. Whether it’s learning about dinosaurs, how to cook or investigating the great outdoors, the museum offers a variety of weeklong camps broken up for kids 6-8 and 9-12 ($330/week for members, $380/week for non-members). More details, including single-day options, are available here.
The Magik Theatre’s Camp Showbiz gives aspiring performers a chance to stretch their creativity by developing original plays in a one-of-a-kind summer session. Professional teaching artists help them hone acting and improvising skills while pulling together musical numbers. Most sessions run two weeks and culminate in a big show, but there’s also a one-week and four-week option ($215-$695).
The name of Mad Science of San Antonio should give you an idea of what to expect. From building model rockets to attending a little-league spy academy, these weeklong sessions, mostly for kids 6-12 (but with some for those 4-6), offer hands-on experience doing geeky, brainy and downright fun stuff ($180-$325/week). One more bonus: they’re offered in a variety of locations around town, which makes for an easy drive — or maybe even a bike ride.
And who can forget Spurs Summer Basketball Camp Sessions, which offer weekend to week-long camps for kids 12-18 focused on stepping up their games with drills, games and competitions. Sessions run $225 to $525, including an overnight camp with stays in the dorms at the University of the Incarnate Word.
Attractions and Theme Parks
If your youngsters have a taste for something wild, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch offers a daytrip safari replete with hundreds of exotic, native and endangered species spread across 400 acres. In addition to a pair of white rhinos, you’ll see (and sometimes pet) lemurs, zebras and plenty of other critters you’re guaranteed not to encounter in your backyard.
What would summer be without a good drenching? New Braunfels’ Schlitterbahn has long set the standard for waterparks, and it’s easy to see why. More than fifty rides, rivers, chutes and slides help visitors beat the heat, and thrill-seekers can buy a ticket for the Skycoaster ride that lets them coast above the park.
Inspired by Morgan Hartman’s own “boundless love and ability to soar above her challenges,” Morgan’s Wonderland bills itself as a place where everyone can play, regardless of age or disability. From a carousel to a pirate island and a rustic fishing wharf, the park offers accessible fun. And every visitor with special needs gets free admission.
Area State Parks
Lost Maples State Natural Area (37221 FM 187, Vanderpool) offers stunning scenery and an abundance of its namesake Uvalde bigtooth maples. With 1o miles of trails, 30 campsites, swimming and birdwatching, this breathtaking natural gem is great for either a brief trip or an overnight camping excursion.
If a daytrip is all you need, Guadalupe River State Park (3350 Park Rd. 31, Spring Branch), offers four miles of river frontage for swimming, tubing, canoeing and fishing. And all just 45 minutes away. What’s more, its Children’s Discovery Center offers hands-on scientific exhibits that bring a new level of discovery to the outdoor experience.
Historic Landa Park (164 Landa Park Dr., New Braunfels) is just a quick jaunt up I-35 that seems like a trip back in time. Whether its picnicking under gorgeous old oaks, toot-tooting around the park on a miniature train or hopping onto a paddleboat to explore Landa Lake, there’s no shortage of kid-approved fun.
And one more tip: Find free a Junior Ranger Journal whenever you visit any Texas State Park and give your children access to wilderness tips and art projects that will help them get even more from the experience.