Austin City Limits With Kids: A Ten Point Plan

Austin City Limits Music FestivalHere at Growing Up Austin, we talk about grown-up live music in kid-friendly venues year-round at AustinKidsDance.com. But I have never tried Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) with my kids and I don’t even especially recommend it as a kid-friendly festival. This might be due to my hazy memories of near heat stroke when the festival was in 100 degree weather for several years in a row, when I would drink gallons of water and never need to pee because by body was sweating so much. But, I have nearly fully recovered now and the festival has since moved to October, so it is time to reconsider.

Sparkles and I are going to ACL next Saturday. Here is our plan. Maybe these ideas will help, if you are going with your kids too.

(Ticket Info: Kids 10 and under are free with a paying adult. If you don’t have a ticket yet, tickets are available on Craig’s List or StubHub. Check out the ACL website for details.)

1. Bring One Kid Per Adult, Each Kid Preferably At Least Five-Years-Old, In Sneakers. I’m the only adult, so I’m bringing only one kid. For me, a One Kid Per Adult ratio is more fun and less work. Also, I’m bringing the 5-year-old, not the toddler.  Babies are immobile and manageable and five-year-olds have a reasonable attention span and ability to reason. I’m not ready to try ACL with a toddler. The festival grounds are 46 acres big, so there is lot of walking and we’ll need practical shoes.

2. Pack Light. I’m bringing a backpack with sunscreen, 2 unopened water bottles (unopened is a festival rule), wipes, camera, wallet (you need cash for many vendors) and a cell phone. I’m also bringing a blanket instead of chairs or a stroller (wagons are not allowed), so we’ll be more mobile.

3. Arrive Early. My kids don’t let me sleep late anyway, so we’ll head out early and beat the crowds for parking and shuttle buses.

4. Tag Your Kid. We’ll do this first, so if we get separated later, festival staff can help us get reconnected.

5. Ditch the Schedule. If you were a big music fan when you were young and childless, then this might be difficult. But it I try to get Sparkles to follow a specific schedule of bands she might not like, it won’t go very well.

That sounds like all work, when is the fun going to start? Here it is…

6. Check Out Austin Kiddie Limits. This is a space built with kids in mind. There is the music stage with kids’ bands, but there is so much more: a sandy beach, video kareoke, drum workshops, action painting, a theater project, hair coloring and temporary tattoos.

7. Check Out Grown-up Music. This is our non-schedule approach – we are going to walk around and stay when something sounds good. It isn’t completely random, we’ll spend more time walking around the stages that are more kid-friendly. The Zilker Stage has gospel music, seating and shade and the BMI stage is small enough so you can see the bands up close without fighting crowds. We’ll avoid the largest stages, AMD and Bud Light, because people tend to stand and kids can’t see, unless you are far away from the stage.

8. Eat Something Fun. ACL does a great job of having local, interesting, tasty food vendors. They are more adult-friendly (crispy artichokes, spinach and mushroom pie, jalapeno brisket tacos) than kid-friendly sometimes, but they have pizza, hamburgers and lemonade too. I’m going to see if Sparkles will try something new, she probably will, if she can have Amy’s Ice Cream for dessert.

9. Dance. Sparkles dances in circles with her arms wide open, mixing in jumping, gymnastics and ballet moves. She is really fun to watch. I’ll dance with her too, in that way that is crazy fun but I hope doesn’t show up on YouTube.

10. Leave Early. Leaving early will not be easy. I will have gotten the ticket and arrived at the venue, then left on purpose, before seeing Jack White. You should hear me singing in my car to Jack White’s Love Interrupted, even though I’m happily married and this is quite possibly the most disturbing love song ever written. But Sparkles doesn’t have the stamina for an all-day music festival and the huge crowds in the dark would be hard to navigate. That is how it is with families some times. You can have it all, but not all at the same time and leaving early is better than not going at all.  The good news is that we will get to avoid the super long lines for shuttle buses at the end of the day and we’ll get some much-needed sleep.

Please share or tweet this post if you found it fun or helpful! Stay tuned for my post next week about Austin City Limits WITHOUT Kids and a five point plan for grown-up fun.


Austin Kids Recommended – August 24-30

Growing Up Austin - Austin Kids Recommended!

Welcome to Austin’s Tiniest Kids’ calendar with just a few carefully selected activities during the coming week, usually hiking, music or art-related.
 
Austin’s Bat Fest
Saturday, August 25th 5pm-midnight
Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge
Seeing the bats emerge from the Ann Richards Congress Avenue bridge at dusk is pretty amazing by itself. But this Saturday, the experience is even better, with live music on two stages, dozens of arts and crafts vendors, kid’s activities and a bat costume contest, all for free. Bat Conservation International will have live bats to see up close in the Hyatt!
 

Ballet Austin’s Free Day of Dance
, 8+ only
Sunday, August 26, 1-6pm
Butler Dance Education Center
501 W. 3rd St.
Ballet Austin is sharing Bollywood, Hip Hop, Hula, Jazz Funk, Tap, Theatre Dance, West African Dance and, of coarse, Ballet classes for free! The classes are geared to teenagers and adults, but they welcome kids 8 and older to this event. They have refreshments and giveaways and maybe you will find a class you like for yourself!
 

Trailer Food Tuesdays at the Long Center

Tuesday, August 28, 5-9pm
The Long Center
701 West Riverside Drive
Trailer Food Diaries, by Tiffany Harelik, will tell you that the Austin food trailer is a special blend of creativity, entrepreneurship and real-live-human story. Besides the variety and the sense of adventure of the food, there will be bubbles and chalk for the kids and live music for everyone.
 
If you find this helpful, I would love if you would share or tweet or leave a comment. If you want to get Austin Kids Recommended! and Growing Up Austin in your inbox, click here. And like always, check out AustinKidsHike.com, AustinKidsDance.com and AustinKidsDraw.com for on-going activities. If you have an idea for a recommendation, send it to carol@growingupaustin.com. Thanks for reading!


Austin Kids Recommended – June 22-28

Growing Up Austin - Austin Kids Recommended!

Before we get started today, I have to share that AustinKidsDance.com has been updated to remove Jovita’s, which has been closed this week because the owners were arrested for their roles in a heroin distribution operation related to the Texas Syndicate prison gang. This is only slightly embarrassing. Jovita’s was one of my first favorite venues for live music, when I came to Austin in the 90’s. I still remember the Sisters Morales show, back when the bands played inside, in a small room that fit about 10 tables. I’ve watched it grow over the years and I swear, I never saw heroin on the menu. And, so far as I know, the other restaurants that I recommend are just restaurants, with food and maybe beer, that is all.

Welcome to Austin’s Tiniest Kids’ calendar with just a few carefully selected activities during the coming week, usually hiking, music or art-related.

Children’s Art Show and Fundraiser for CASA at Monkey Nest
Friday, June 22nd, 5-7pm
5353 Burnet Road
CASA is hosting a Super hero themed fun run in September and some folks are getting a head start on the fundraising by hosting a kid’s art show and sale at the Monkey Nest. The art is sure to be in your price range and you can meet the artists who have been working hard to raise money for kids who could use a helping hand.
 
Fifth Annual Austin Bug Festival
Saturday, June 23, 5:30 pm
Zilker Park Rock Garden Picnic Area (just a bit above the hill from the outdoor amphitheater)
Eat bugs. Yes, I’m serious. Marjory Wildcraft and Allen Davisson from Grow Your Own Groceries are  preparing tasty treats of grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, katydids, bees, wasps, wormy things that kids and adults can actually eat. Whether you are hungry or not, this will be something the kids will remember.
 
Story Time Tours at the Blanton Museum, best for ages 4-7
Thursdays and Fridays, 10:30am, now until August 10
200 East Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard
If you are getting a bit too hot, try some indoor fun that is also free for kids under 12. You can all discover the basics of art by listening to children’s stories related to art in the Blanton collection.
 
If you find this helpful, I would love if you would share or tweet or leave a comment. If you want to get Austin Kids Recommended! and Growing Up Austin in your inbox, click here. And like always, check out AustinKidsHike.com, AustinKidsDance.com and AustinKidsDraw.com for on-going activities. If you have an idea for a recommendation, send it to carol@growingupaustin.com. Thanks for reading!