A new school year is just around the corner, and we can practically smell the freshly sharpened pencils and still-warm-from-the-copier paper from here. But before you bid a fond farewell to another summer, make sure you’ve crossed these last-minute family activities off your list. Your kids may have just a few remaining days of freedom left, but that doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) make the most of them.
We know August is hot, hot, hot, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had outdoors, and often at unbeatable prices. The Dallas Arboretum (8525 Garland Rd.) is extra lush and lively this time of year. As an extra enticement, they’ll also be hosting Dollar Days through August 31. Admission — and access to features such as the Ginsburg Family Plaza, the Paseo de Flores and the DeGolyer House — is only $2 per person. For an additional $2, you can punch your ticket to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. Whatever your Arboretum itinerary, sodas, juices and frozen pops will be priced at $1 to help everyone stay cool. You can also purchase hot dogs and root beer floats for $2 each, then finish up with a brownie sundae for $4. We’ll let you do the math, but suffice it to say you’re looking at a bargain.
Similarly, the Trinity River Audubon Center (6500 Great Trinity Forest Way) is offering $1 admission through the end of August. If you’ve never visited this 120-acre nature preserve located just south of Downtown Dallas, you might find it hard to believe you’re still located within city limits. Walk five miles of trails that wind through the densely packed hardwoods of the Great Trinity Forest as well as a variety of other topographies, from prairie to wetland. There’s plenty of wildlife to see, too, as well as a nature center and nature shop to browse when you need some time to cool off. Kids 12 and up can also participate in one of the Center’s River Adventures. But act fast — the last opportunity to take a guided tour of the Trinity River by kayak is August 25.
If you prefer to stay indoors until the sun drops, we’ve got the perfect evening activity for you. Celebrate the last of this summer’s nights with an outside flick. West Village (3699 McKinney Ave.) in Uptown and the Adolphus Hotel (1321 Commerce St.) Downtown and are just two of the venues screening free outdoor movies all August long. Tell you more? Happily! At the Adolphus, you can catch family-friendly classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the original Ghostbusters. For more contemporary fare, swing by West Village for a showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Most venues offer food for purchase and seating at a first-come, first-serve basis, but feel free to pack your own blanket and snacks if that’s more your speed.
Also in August, Victory Park will play host to a sugary, late-summer surprise: the Sweet Tooth Hotel (2316 Victory Park Ln.). Created by some of the city’s most innovative artists, this 1,200-square-foot, candy-themed wonderland features five different interactive rooms, each centered around a popular treat and offering the kind of rush that doesn’t come with a crash afterward. The adventure culminates at The Gift Shoppe, where you’ll likely have to exercise some serious self-control with all the sweets available for purchase. General admission is $20. If you’re interested, make sure to buy your tickets soon — they’re selling out fast!
Lastly, if you haven’t made it over to Six Flags Over Texas (2201 E. Rd. to Six Flags St.), the theme park offers the ultimate summertime finale. It opens at 10:30 a.m. and closes anywhere from 6 to 8 p.m., so plan on all-day fun. When purchased three days in advance, a daily ticket runs about $60, for almost $20 in savings. Older kids will probably want to hit up the park’s two newest attractions: the Joker and the Harley Quinn Spinsanity, a first-of-its-kind concentric square which delivers unexpected, airborne flips and spins for big-time thrill-seekers. Feeling queasy already? Don’t worry! There’s also plenty of kiddo coasters and family rides for those who find plenty of excitement in keeping their feet planted (more or less) on terra firma.