A cool retreat at Inner Space Caverns on Wordfree Wednesday

With summer closing in quickly on Austin, it’s a good idea to have a few cool destinations planned. If spending some time in a place that’s a constant 72 degrees sounds like a good idea when the mercury hits 100 degrees outside, I have just the place for you. Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown. It’s cool, it’s amazing to see…and, well, I’ll let the pictures speak for me.

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Family friendly, although you’ll need to keep a hold on little ones. Snack bar and gift shop on the premises. No strollers in the caverns, and some slippery spots. Bring your camera, but tripods aren’t allowed.

The Specs

4200 S. I-35 Frontage Road
Georgetown TX 78626
512-931-2283
http://innerspacecavern.com/

Mon-Fri: 9am-4pm
Sat: 10am-5pm
Sun: 10am-5pm

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Book People is part bookstore, part destination

 Book People Austin Texas at A is 4 Austin

Bookstores used to have personality. There were some where I could browse for hours, others where I would pop in to grab that hard-to-find book no one else carried. Then came Borders and Barnes & Noble, and bookstores became vanilla. The same in Seattle as in Austin, indistinguishable in Maine and Miami.

Thank goodness there are a few holdouts. Powells in Portland, Tattered Cover, and Faulker House Books in New Orleans. And here in Austin, it’s Book People.

Part book store, part coffee house. Part new age store, part novelty shop. Part venue for meeting writers like Charlaine Harris and part the perfect place to get your kids excited about reading.

Book People has great hours, amazing bibliophiles on staff, and (gasp!) free parking!

Town Lake trail offers nature in the middle of the city

Town Lake in AustinThere are very few U.S. cities that offer residents a huge green oasis in the middle of the city.  Fortunately for us, Austin is one of them.

Town Lake (also known as Lady Bird Lake, or so I am told) and the associated Town Lake Trail offers Austinites and visitors walking and biking trails from just over a mile to almost 7.25 miles.  The trails are wide, and most of the route meanders along next to the lake (which looks like a small river to me, but hey, I’m not from around here!)  Wildlife is sparse, but there are swans, blackbirds and tons of butterflies.

Most of the path is shaded, which is critical given the summer temps around here.  Parking is hit or miss at several locations, but if one area is filled you’ll only have to go a short distance to the next on-street parking or off-street lot.  Most of it is free, too…another plus.

If you want to head out onto the water, there’s a boat rental here, offering canoes, kayaks and boards, plus lessons for the uninitiated.

There are lots of restaurants within a few minutes walk of the trail, so many people finish up their taste of nature with a taste of something more er, um cooked?

Pets are welcome and pretty much equal the number of people on the Town Lake Trail, but they must be on leashes and you must pick up their poop to avoid lake contamination. (Yes, there are trash cans, but bring your own bags.)  Off-road strollers do well here, although I have seen people with regular ones, too.

Walk into History at Pioneer Farms

Pioneer Farms Austin

I am a sucker for living history museums.  It’s one thing to walk into a brand new building and see pictures of the “old days” and peer into glass cases filed with old tools and such.  But to see the things in a action, in a realistic setting?  Now THAT is something else entirely.

We found out about Pioneer Farms because of a Living Social offer, and decided to check it out.

When we pulled in the parking lot, we were initially disappointed…it looked tiny, and except for a couple of other cars in the lot, deserted.  But we headed for the general store/ticket counter and showed our passes.

The helpful volunteer showed us a map that immediately changed our thoughts about the place…instead of just the handful of building we could see, there were acres and acres of historical buildings, including three early Texas homesteads…one typical of homesteaders waiting for their claim, one typical of a working German farm, and one from a wealthier landowner.  There were also blacksmithing demos (and classes!), period crafts, farm animals, and costumed docent to explain the buildings, artifacts and lifestyle.

In the end, what seemed like a 10 or 15 minute walk around a few buildings turned into a wonderful half day learning about Texas history and settlers.

This is a great place to take kids or out-of-town visitors.  Take your time wandering and absorbing the quiet of an earlier time when the ring of cell phones or the drone of the TV was mercifully unheard of.

Picnics are allowed, but pets are not.  Check their website for special events, craft demos and classes.