Kiddie Acres offers a just-right amusement park for little ones

Carousel horse I  had driven past it at least a dozen times, always promising myself that I would stop “next time.” It looked so cute, like the little local amusement parks I remembered from when I was little. This week, on a cool autumn day I stopped driving past and finally pulled into the parking lot of Kiddie Acres.

kiddie airplane ride at Kiddie AcresAnd after a wonderful conversation with owner Joseph (Joe) Herring, I was glad I finally pulled in. Kiddie Acres was exactly what I thought it would be: a simple, old-fashioned amusement park that’s just the right size for toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary school kids.

Joe told me he had owned Kiddie Acres since 1979. It started out on Burrnett Road, but when Mopac construction came through in 1986, he moved the park to its current location.

kiddie train at Kiddie AcresJoe, who grew up in a family of seven kids, wanted to provide a place for kids to play outdoors and imagine they’re piloting a plane, sailing a boat or working as the engineer on a train. This little park is his way of keeping imagination alive in a world filled with television and video games.

The littlest guests come first at Kiddie Acres, too. When a couple of moms came in with their kids during our conversation, Joe excused himself to greet them with a smile and find out what the kids wanted to try first. It was clear this park is something he genuinely loves.

kiddie car ride at Kiddie AcresAfter the kids were busy on their first choice, he showed me each ride in the tiny park. When he got to the car ride, his sense of humor came through. “I call it the Mopac trainer,” he said. “You go round and round and never get anywhere!”

Boat ride at Kiddie Acres

Kiddie Acres isn’t fancy. There are a few paint chips here and there. But it’s spotlessly clean and clearly lovingly maintained. It’s inexpensive, too. A ride ticket is only $2.00, and you only need one for most rides (the train and the pony ride are more.) Compare that to the hundreds a day a major park will cost — not to mention the preschooler melt downs and that long drive home.

The covered picnic areas out back and the mini-golf course make it a good place for a birthday party, field trip or playgroup meeting. It’s small enough for moms (or dads) to stay close to one another while the kids enjoy the rides.

The Specs

4800 W Howard Lane
Austin, TX 78728-6304

(512) 255-4131

http://www.kiddieacres.com/

November – March
Tuesday – Friday – 12pm-6pm
Saturday – 12pm-7pm
Sunday – 12pm-6pm

 April – October
Tuesday – Friday – 10am-6pm
Saturday – 10am-7pm
Sunday – 12pm-6pm

Closed Mondays

(Read more about Kiddie Acres in this article from The Jewish Outlook)

Austin on the water…on Wordfree Wednesday

A walk along the boardwalk, at sunset.Boardwalk in Austin TexasA chance to see some beautiful autumn color…

Autumn colors in Austin Texas

And watch the sunlight illuminate the buildings.

austin skyline at sundownWe couldn’t help watching these beautiful spiders spinning webs along the railings…

Spider on railing

Or trying to figure out why there were belts on the handrail along the board walk…

belt on handrail in AustinBut in the end, we kept coming back to the view…

Austin skyline with paddleboarder

If you haven’t checked out the new boardwalk, please do! It’s stroller/dog/kid friendly, and the perspective on the city is beautiful.

An abundance of Bluebonnets on Wordfree Wednesday

It’s that time of year. Every field, highway divider and roadside is covered with Texas’ favorite flower, the Bluebonnet.

I’ve headed out myself this year, camera in hand, and I found some great blooms. So here, with no need for more words, are the Bluebonnets of 2014

Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets

Holi Color Flies at UT

People at Holi Festival in Austin   I wanted to get this post published before the Holi Festival — so much for plans!  But the good news is that now I get to share our great pictures and get everyone excited for next year’s event.

This annual free and open to the public event is sponsored by the UT Hindu Students’ Association on the LBJ lawn on campus. About 6,000 people showed up to celebrate by throwing handfuls of brightly colored power (called “rang”) on their friends and total strangers!

bags of rang Bags of rang powder

According to the student group,

“Holi is the Hindu festival celebrating the arrival and color of the spring season. Widely recognized as the festival of color, this event involves throwing colored powder and water on friends and family along with playing various games and simply having fun.”

And that it was. We were advised to come in white t-shirts, and be prepared to get “colorful.” And colorful it was!  woman with holi powder on face

By the time we and about 5,990 other people finished tossing, dumping, and smearing color on each other, white was the least common color anyone could see.

The live music, beautiful sunshine and big smiles on everyone’s face made it a perfect afternoon. It’s a great event for college students, families, singles…yeah, everyone!  I would recommend leaving pups at home, though. All the flying powder could irritate their eyes and the crowds could get stressful.

Since the Festival is an annual spring event, I’ll make sure to let  y’all know when the next one is scheduled.

The Specs

Sponsored by the University of Texas Hindu Student Association
http://texashsa.wix.com/longhornhsa

Holi 2015 Event is not yet scheduled, but will be in early March.

8-20140330_135838

San Antonio Mission San José (Wordfree Wednesday)

There is some really OLD stuff here in Central Texas! You knew?  OK, new to me!  And I loved it!

Everything in Austin seems to have been built kind of last Thursday. Or at least in a year starting with a 19- or 20- .  S’alright. So is everything in South Florida. But I was delighted to discover that there are buildings in our neighboring city of San Antonio that date back to the 1700’s!

We only got to visit one of the missions (and, yes, some of these building have later additions from 1800’s), but it was still amazing. The rest on another day. but for now, here’s Mission San José.

Open door in old SA Mission Chapel at Mission San Jose Church door San Antonio Walkway Mission San Jose Church Mission San Jose Arches Mission San Jose Walkway of arches Mission San Jose Arches and sky Mission San Jose Missing roof open sky Mission San Jose Old walls Mission San Jose Arches and sky Mission San Jose Sunlight on walls Mission San Jose

Eat chili, hang out at Jo’s, help people: what’s not to love?

jo's Coffee House Chili Cook Off PosterJo’s is one of the coolest spots on South Congress. Yummy meat, dessert and vegetarian menu choices, all kinds of coffees and teas, and a chance to people watch from a shady spot. It’s also close to the Pets Alive trailer, so I can get some puppy visits in (but that’s a story for another post!)

And now there’s another reason to love Jo’s.  I just found out that Sunday January 26 it’s going to be the site for the 8th Annual Chili Cook-Off, sponsored by Shiner. The cook-off benefits  the Sustainable Food Center, a wonderful local Austin charity working hard to make it possible for more people to have access to nutritious, affordable food through education, access to gardens and more.

So all in all, that means South Congress, Jo’s Coffee Shop, chili, music (live music will be provided by Jeff Hughes & Chapparal, the Jo’s House Band and DJ Ben Nuhn), beer for those who love it (and I know a LOT of Austin folks do!) and a chance to do something really good for people who are struggling to put healthy food on their family dinner table.

The festivities (including chili tasting!) start at noon and run until 3. And there are even prizes!  Yes, some of those chili chefs will walk away with great prizes, so not only do you get to eat, you get to vote and help your fave cooks win some good stuff!

It’s $20 to join in the event, and that includes samples of all 14 chili entries, plus all the great music and atmosphere you want to enjoy. Beer and other drinks will be for sale, so you can safely go ahead and take a bite or two of that habanero-spiked chili, then put out the fire.

Jo’s is located at 1300 South Congress in Austin.

Austin Food and Wine Festival frenzy begins early

Austin Food & Wine FestivalIt’s no secret that the annual Austin Food and Wine Festival has quickly become one of the highlights of the culinary year here in the Capital city. But I had no idea the fight for tickets to the coveted event started so early!

This year’s Festival will be April 25th-27th at Butler Park and Republic Square Park in Austin. The strictly 21 and over event attracts foodies and chefs from around the globe, who come together to sample amazing creations, show off their masterpieces and gather inspiration for feasts they’ll just have to make in the coming year.

Tickets for this year’s fest go on sale January 21st…that’s next week! That’s also when you can find out who’s going to be featured, and get a first peek at the schedule.

It’s gonna be a yummy weekend in Austin! See y’all there!

(This Taste of Austin Tuesday is making me hungry! Come on, April!)