I Can Only Go So Long
If you know me, you know I’m completely crazy about my granddaughter. I think about her every single day, and if the days stretch on very long without the joy of being in her presence, I start getting the dadgum shakes.
The munchkin has been to Austin many times, and we always find new things to do, but for her recent summer visit, I thought we might spice it up a bit with a t-h-e-m-e. I mean, every good party needs a theme, right?
After mulling over many possibilities, it clearly came down to this pretty easy choice.
After getting into the thought process, I quickly discovered that deciding on a water theme for our granddaughter’s visit was a really great idea.
- A water theme made planning a breeze.
- Summer splashing helps turn the ordinary into a celebration.
- Seeing new “water places” would make her visit more memorable.
- Creating a theme for the time spent together is a very creative expression of the one who plans it.
- Lots of collaboration can be part of planning a water-themed visit.
- Planning a granddaughter’s visit around a water theme would be FUN!
Where We Went
Once I decided on WATER as the theme for her visit, I brainstormed and made a list of all the possible places we could actually see water together during the week.
We also planned for some spontaneous sightings, like this one.
On the drive from her home to ours, we stopped off for a look and a photo at Lake Alan Henry near Lubbock, a place never before seen by granddaughter or her grandparents!
It even RAINED on us as we drove and played a million games of backseat UNO. Of course, we drank plenty of water from our water bottles, too. Hers was from Hidden Falls Ranch, a GREAT place in the Panhandle for kids to spend a week in the summer.
We didn’t get to see it firsthand, but she told us all about her baptism (the ultimate water experience!) in the camp’s swimming pool just a few days before.
We had one rainy day during our week together, so we took that opportunity to spend some time indoors at the Austin Aquarium, where kids can even put their hands in the tank and pet the stingrays as they swim by.
Another beautiful spot to enjoy some WATER is the Austin Nature and Science Center. This place was new to both of us, so it was fun to experience it together.
I was impressed and would recommend it for two reasons – it’s free and it’s beautiful! That’s some good grandmotherly wisdom right there.
Another WATER spot that made the cut was Deep Eddy Pool, which has been on our list since moving to Austin. It’s on all the lists, actually.
But you do need to know a couple of things if you’re planning to take your own grandkids.
- There’s a lot of history behind this place, which is fun to learn, but there are no slides and such. You’ll need to be prepared to make your own fun. If I had realized that, we would have brought a few water toys. Instead, we just took some pics and enjoyed some time chatting in the cold water.
- Everyone has to get out of the pool for a few minutes at the top of each hour, so plan your arrival accordingly. We had just gotten in when the whistle blew for all-out!
- You can bring your own water bottle, but no food of any kind. There’s a concession stand, however, if you want to get a snack.
- No pets allowed.
- The water is cold, but not necessarily all that clear. Be prepared for that.
One of the best places to enjoy WATER in Austin has been, for us, our downtown apartment pool. It’s a beautiful space, 6 floors up, with fountains on two ends and comfy lounge chairs. If you can go during the day like we did, you might just get the whole place to yourself.
But another pool I wanted to enjoy with my granddaugher was Barton Springs Pool, which was not new to me, but very new to our young visitor.
I had a little fun at her expense at this water spot, due to the fact that I did not warn her ahead of time that the water is very, very c-o-l-d.
After that big suprise and some giggles, we both proceeded to inch our way in and have a great time.
Barton Springs Pool appears on every Austin-must-do list I’ve seen, for good reason. It’s unique, fun, inexpensive and beautiful.
Also, there’s plenty of parking.
Off the Menus
If you’re gonna have a WATER theme, you just about have to eat something that comes from the ocean, right?
What a nice lunch we had, just the two of us at Austin’s newest location of Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen on Research Blvd. Did the punkin’ agree? Yep. “Grammy, this is the BEST fried shrimp I’ve ever had.”
That’s saying a lot, considering she’s already ten years old and all.
(Tip: The child’s plate is huge, and our server let me order the very same thing. I subbed broccolini for the fries. Therefore, deciding whether to have dessert was a total no-brainer.)
Even a theme-loving Grammy like me knows that you can’t feed a kid seafood every day for a week just because you don’t want to veer off-course of the theme, but I did think we could go one more round of something from the sea.
So, hey, I said to that granddaughter of mine: Have you ever, ever, ever in your long-legged life had a luscious bowl of clam chowder? Nope, said she.
Truth be told, even if her answer had been in the affirmative, I would have talked her into trying the best clam chowder in all of Austin – at Clark’s Oyster Bar.
Fortunately for me and all things theme-y, she was game. I reeled her in, you guys. Hook, line and sinker. Aye, aye, Cap’n Grammy.
She dipped her spoon for a taste of my delectably creamy goodness and then turned her attention to devouring a burger. Can’t say as I blame her. That burger at Clark’s is also an outstanding choice, even if it did come from the land.
A Step Ahead
I’m picturing you reading this blog post and wondering if, at this point, you might be a step ahead of me? Are the themed wheels of your grandparent brain turning with your very own creative ideas? Could you perhaps be silently asking if I thought to add a stop at Sonic for Ocean Water?
Well, I sure did.
However, I almost didn’t include it in this blog post, because it was the one thing the munchkin thought was a little lame. Ha!
I also thought we better be sure to satisfy our water cravings with shaved ice.
Not just any shaved ice would do, however, which meant that when Ella’s artisan version showed up in the ‘hood, this Grammy considered it another win for the theme. (Get it?)
Besides, this stuff is just absolutely delicious. It’s organic, fruity and so refreshing. Collin (the owner) and his trailer are parked every day on 3rd Street, between Congress Avenue and Colorado Street.
The Only Downside
There’s really only one downside to this theme business, and it’s this: It’s pretty easy to get the creative juices flowing once you get started. So, if you tend to get a little obsessive (nobody I know, of course!) about a theme, just limit yourself to a few creative ideas, then let the rest of your time flow.
Like a mountain brook.
Or a slow river.
A Few More Ideas
Here’s a list of other things we either did or I thought of to do if we ran out of “steam”. These ideas will work if you are staying with your special munchkins at their own home, or if you’re entertaining them at your house.
- Go to Jaws on the Water
- Watch an Esther Williams movie in your swimsuits and goggles
- Make homemade bath bombs
- Have a water gun fight
- Go paddleboarding
- Ride bikes on the trail around Lady Bird Lake
- Pedal a swan boat
- Make a big jug of fruit-infused water for the fridge
- Go to a spa or create a special at-home version
- Go to a water park
- Go fishing at one of these kid-friendly spots
- Give the dog a huge bubble bath
- Play water balloon games
- Eat watermelon on the back porch
- Hike to Sculpture Falls on Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail
- Do some experiments to see what freezes and what doesn’t
- Eat pineapple, then plant the top in a water jar
- Make homemade fish sticks
- Spend the night at a super fancy hotel and swim in a rooftop pool (some Austin hotels will actually let you swim for a small fee even if you’re not hotel guests)
- Rent a pontoon boat for a few hours (or take them out on your own boat if parents approve)
- Make this super cute paper plate fish craft
If you’re starting to get the shakes from too much time away from your own munchkins and punkins, just put on your swimsuit and start planning a water theme visit.
Drop a comment below if you have an idea to share.
Encouraging intentional adventure, and plenty of splashy fun with your grandkids,
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