A CHILL summer
ENTERTAINING INDOOR ACTIVITIES
BY CHRISTINA GARCIA
Texas summers are toasty, and the sizzling sun can limit activities outdoors. Take a pass on perspiration with these ideas for chilling out with the family.
CAVES Caves are technically not indoors, but they are cool places, literally. Texas caves might warm to about 72 degrees — at which point the humidity makes it feel like 80 degrees — but they are often a bit cooler, especially when the outside temperature is 100 and rising. They’re cool places metaphorically, too. A woman in Spain recently emerged from 500 days voluntarily spent in a cave and said she could have gone longer. She loved it. Luckily, you don’t have to move in to get a sense of what there is to love. For the cave-curious, Texas’ awesome subterranean spaces are must-see destinations.
For a few seriously marvelous moments underground — usually more like an hour and a half per walking tour — visit Texas’ largest cave, Natural Bridge Caverns, about 20 minutes west of New Braunfels. On guided cave tours, which you should always book ahead of time, you’ll learn how the boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps cleared debris out of Longhorn Caverns near Inks Lake during the Great Depression.
Meanwhile, Inner Space Cavern in Georgetown was discovered in the 1960s and is home to ancient fossils in addition to stalagmites, stalactites, and other shapes from the furthest reaches of your imagination. Surprisingly, Cave Without a Name in Boerne hosts monthly live music performances inside the cavern. Some, but not all, sell out months in advance.
MUSEUMS Museums don’t have to be stuffy and serious. You’re allowed to laugh at the art, especially if a baby portrait looks like someone’s grandfather. For that kind of entertainment in an immaculate space cold enough to make you put on a sweater, look no further than one of Texas’ most respected and venerable museum institutions. If humor is not what you’re looking for, you could just gaze at the art and respectfully ponder the brushstrokes. Maybe book a docent-led tour to really fill your brain with fun facts and stories about the historical currents that led to the works on the walls. With important art from ancient to modern times as well as vibrant contemporary work from around the globe, Texas’ museums are truly world-class.
In Dallas, you can wander down Flora Street one block from the fantastic Crow Collection of Asian Art to the relatively massive Dallas Museum of Art. The DMA boasts more than 24,000 pieces in its collection. Mosey on over to Fort Worth, where a whopping 14 museums mean more than we can do justice to here. The Modern Art Museum is a spectacular center of culture, but the nearby Kimbell is also more than worth your time. Should Houston be more your speed, The Museum of Fine Arts, Rothko Chapel, and Space Center are another bevy of riches for the public to enjoy.
WATER PARKS Sunscreen is superfluous at an indoor water park where the UV rays don’t reach the lazy river. To be clear, UV rays do get past windows, but we’re talking parks with roofs and layers of slides, chutes, and tubes. Some genuinely massive indoor parks have splashed down in recent years, including Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas’ largest indoor park at 223,000 square feet with hotel and dining options. Grapevine’s Great Wolf Lodge books out themed rooms for guests and lots of extra activities, while Grand Prairie’s Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark calls itself the largest indoor amusement park in North Texas. Each offers up plenty of family-friendly fun with wave pools and more.
AQUARIUMS Unless you grew up inside a submarine, aquariums are sure to have something unimaginably stunning in store for you. On par with a first trip to the zoo, a first aquarium visit is more than just an exciting day. Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi is the largest in the state and includes a beautiful coral reef replica and a beautiful flower garden. The San Antonio Aquarium is designed to be interactive so visitors can feed or pet almost any animal. You won’t feed any whales, but you might interact with reptiles and birds. Wind your way down from the top of the Dallas World Aquarium’s multi-level design through the rainforest area and enjoy the serene blue glow of the shark tunnel. It’s not scary. It’s fun. We have it on good authority from many children.