A Texas-sized list of Summer Fun
With record-breaking temperatures for days on end, last summer any activity that helped beat the heat was high on everyone’s list. Throughout the months of June, July, and August our area experienced more than seventy days of temperatures over 100 degrees. Weather forecasters are predicting a summer that will be slightly cooler than normal, on average, but that still means plenty of sweltering summer days when the kids are bored, you’ve got some time off, and you are all looking for something to do.
For most native Texans and many of our long-time transplants the Texas heat is a given and we don’t let the triple digits keep us closed up in the air-conditioning. Instead, we tackle the heat head on bravely slathering on the 50+ sunscreen and going about our business, and pleasure, as usual. So, don’t sweat it. We’ve compiled our annual summer “to do” list and loaded it up with hot activities, literally, together with activities to help you keep your cool.
From its humble beginnings in 1909, the Fort Worth Zoo, the oldest zoo in Texas, is home to nearly 7,000 animals, from homegrown to exotic. This summer there is more reason to visit than ever with the addition of three young lions to the African Savannah exhibit. Jabulani (male) and Saba and Abagebe (females) range from 8 months to 15 months old and will join the current King of the jungle, 17-year-old male, Tsavo. Open 365 days a year you can plan a visit this summer from 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday and 10:00am to 6:00pm Saturday and Sunday and any day spent at the zoo is always an adventure. Stop by on any Wednesday for half-price admission.
There are some new residents at the Dallas Zoo that are a must-see this summer. Make plans to visit the new Koala Walkabout in the “Outback” located in Zoo North and see Kobi and Tekin, both male, the only koalas in Texas. Kobi’s name means “medicine man” in Aboriginal language and Tekin means “escape” since his mother was well known for being an escape artist. Tekin lived up to his name when his keepers found him in the female enclosure twice after being moved to a separate enclosure upon maturing. Kobi is interactive with his keeps and loves a good back scratch from them. Don’t miss this opportunity to see all that is happening at the Dallas Zoo this summer, open daily from 9:00 to 5:00.
Always a summer favorite, this multi-storied facility brings the outdoors in. Experience the wonders of the Mundo Maya and Orinoco exhibits in an eight-story walk through exhibit complete with free flight birds and animals from the South American rainforest Take a journey through the 400,000 gallon Cenote exhibit to walk under the sharks, rays, and sea turtles of the Yucatan peninsula. Venture outside to the South Africa exhibit to check out the engaging black-footed penguins and the lush botanical plants.
Beat the heat at the new “Crack O’ Dawn” tour every Saturday and Sunday that started Memorial Day and lasts until September 3rd. Get yourself and the family out to Glen Rose and visit Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Check-in at the Overlook is at 7:30 for the two-hour open-air vehicle tour at 25% off the regular tour price, only $29 dollars. This is a chance to see the animals early in the morning when they are most active. Space is limited so reservations are highly recommended and don’t be late, the tour leaves promptly at 8:00. Get up close and personal with hundreds of rare and endangered animals roaming free on the preserves 1,500 acres.
While you’re in the Glen Rose area make time to take the family to this unique Texas state park. Limestones, sandstones, and mudstones form the geological setting of this 1,523-acre park deposited approximately 113 million years ago along the shorelines of an ancient sea. Over the last million years or so, the Paluxy River has sculpted and transformed the layered formations leaving beds of rock in the river bottom. Dinosaur Valley State Park contains some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the entire world. Imagine placing your hand in the enormous footprint left by a carnivorous dinosaur as it pursued its next meal evidenced by the footprints of a slower, more cautious ornithopod. The dinosaur tracks are located in the riverbed, so call ahead to check on river conditions.
Water works - You can always escape the heat by heading to the nearest body of water and Texas is loaded with destinations to fulfill your every summer wish.
Right in our own backyard is 8,000-acre Lake Grapevine, a popular recreational lake perfect for boating, water-skiing, wind surfing, and a host of aquatic adventures. Boat rentals are available at many of the Lake Grapevine marinas for a fun family weekend of boating, fishing or even camping at one of the great facilities. With 146 miles of shoreline and more than nine miles of wilderness trails, there are plenty of biking and hiking opportunities. You can find activities for the entire family on the Grapevine website with just a click on the things to do tab, then getting out and experiencing the lake.
If you fancy a lazy float down the Brazos River on an inflatable there are multiple rafting sights happy to help accommodate your every need from tubing to two person rafts, and more. The Brazos is generally known as a “flatwater” river meaning the water is slow moving with very few, if any, rapids under normal conditions. Tubing, kayaking, or canoeing in certain places may even mean a short carry over a sandbar to get to moving water again. Before you head out to float check the river conditions by logging online to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers out of Fort Worth. The water motion is measured in “CFS” readings (cubic feet per second) and if the CFS is 64 or lower it’s possible you’ll be walking more than floating. Optimal recreational measurement is 65-499 CFS so if the river is flowing is excess of that inexperienced floaters may want to consider waiting for a calmer day.
If a little indoor “roughing it” is more your style make your reservation at the Gaylord Texan for Summerfest 2012 with Shrek and friends. You and the family can enjoy the indoor gardens, live entertainment, activities at the resort pool with Puss in Boots and a Garage Rock Out Party every Friday (weather permitting) on the roof of the resort garage, the perfect spot to view the City of Grapevine’s fireworks show complete with a DJ to jam along with as you watch. Guests can also splash into the new, 10-acre Paradise Springs Resort Pool featuring a 6,000-sq-ft family lagoon with a walk-in beach entrance. If tubing the Brazos is a bit too exciting for you enjoy the 600-ft lazy river and take a slide down the 27-ft tall waterslide.
With cabin-inspired rooms and fun for the whole family a stay at the Great Wolf Lodge guarantees an escape from the summer heat. The massive indoor water park stays a constant 84 degrees and offers over 80,000 square feet of water-packed fun. Little one can explore the zero-depth entries while older children and adults alike feel the thrill of the jaw-dropping slides and the twists and turns of the ‘Howlin Tornado. Activities outside the water include battling a dragon in MagiQuest or maybe your little princess would love an ice-cream themed manicure at the kid friendly Scooops Kid Spa. Gather with the family in the Grand Lobby nightly for Story Time, the perfect way to end the day.
Music to our ears - Sometimes the perfect way to relax on a sultry summer evening is to sit back and listen to some marvelous music or laugh at the antics of a stage show. Luckily, the options in our area to escape the summer doldrums are many. Here are just a few.
Enjoy a musical evening close to home with the MasterWorks free concert at Southlake Town Square at Rustin Park Pavilion. Bring your blankets and law chairs and settle down in the grass for a variety of musical performances with this series designed for music lovers of all ages. This is a great way to spend an entertaining summer evening with the family and you can check out the musical lineup on the city website.
With multiple venues all at the same location, the AT&T Performing Arts Center always has something exciting in store all summer long. From a concert in the outdoor performance venue of Strauss Square to theatre in the versatile, highly acclaimed Wyly Theatere to dance, drama, music and more in the fabulous setting of the Winspear Opera House the summer schedule is packed with performances to suit all ages. The Tony award-winning musical “Jersey Boys” will be making a return to Dallas at ATT Pac from June 12 to July 15 with great songs like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and more. Dallas Theater Center’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” will be at the Wyly from June 22 to August 12. All the great performances coming are on the production calendar so make your plans early.
People of all ages love the unique excitement of the Blue Man Group and their wildly theatrical show mixing technology, music, and comedy together. The Blue Man Group will be at Bass Hall this summer for several nights from June 26 to July 01 bringing their delightful performance piece to our area. For those of us who love the Johnny Depp character, Captain Jack Sparrow, an evening to remember is coming to Bass Hall in June. While the original “Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl” plays on a large screen over the stage the Fort Worth Symphony musicians will play the score live promising a fun night of entertainment. Bass Hall has a wide variety of ways to heat up your summer surrounded by the coolness of this amazing venue. For all events see their calendar.
Concerts at the arboretum are always a summer treat and this year will be no exception. With bands like “Fast Lane”, an Eagles tribute band and local disco favorite, “Le Freak” concerts are going to be selling out early so get your friends together and make your plans. Also at the arboretum all summer is the amazing glasswork exhibit, Chihuly Nights, to enjoy in the evening glow of moonlight with the artist’s magnificently lit sculptures. May through July, Chihuly Nights are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so if you plan ahead you can enjoy a concert and the stunning luminescent art. Wednesday tickets and parking option absolutely must be ordered online prior to arriving at the arboretum.
If you’re not in the mood for a musical but you’re always a fan of the Bard then Shakespeare in the Park 2012 by ShakespeareDallas has your perfect trifecta. Starting in June make plans to attend a performance of one of the most-loved of the William Shakespeare’s many comedies, Twelfth Night. This hilarious comedy is filled with mistaken identity, jealousy, lost love and love found wrapped in the tale of a shipwrecked young woman. Also playing this summer is the last of Shakespeare’s great political tragedies, Coriolanus, the tragic story of the rise and fall of heroic warrior, Caius Marcius Coriolanus. Even though summer is over you’ll want to head back for Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, Macbeth come September for a story full of the lust for power, murder, guilt, and death.
Whether you’re a diehard Shakespeare fan or trying the writings of the Bard for the first time you’ll find the hours at the theater will be ones gladly spent. Whether you vow to embrace the Texas summer heat or promise yourself there will be no sunburns this season we’re fortunate that our North Texas area offers plenty of diverse opportunities to have a great time. Have a super summer!