Monday, August 18, 2014

Win four free passes to the Austin Zoo!

This contest has ended.  Congratulations to Tiana M.  this week's winner!

For the last and final week of the Austin Top 50: Summer of Giveaways, we will be giving away four free passes to the Austin Zoo.

This Austin gem has been a favorite for families since 1990.  And right now, you can check out the baby bears!

Enter Monday, August 18th through midnight on Thursday August 21st.


Contest Details


·       Giveaway ends August 21st at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Residents of the US only.  Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes.  Winner will be selected by random.org and be notified by email. Winner has 24 hours to respond with a mailing address before a new winner is selected. Please note that Austin Top 50 is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes.  I have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. Guest passes will be mailed to you directly and I cannot be responsible for undelivered mail.  I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.  The product provided for the review was free of charge from the company. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.  Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway.  By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone.  I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.  Must be 18 years old and a U.S. resident to enter. Austin Top 50 is not liable in the event that the prize or sweepstakes in some way negatively impacts the winner.  Void where prohibited by law.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Win 4 one hour passes to Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park!!

This week's contest has been completed.  Congratulations to Faith M, the winner of this week's contest!


Contest Details


·       Giveaway ends August 7th at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Residents of the US only.  Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes.  Winner will be selected by random.org and be notified by email. Winner has 24 hours to respond with a mailing address before a new winner is selected. Please note that Austin Top 50 is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes.  I have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. Guest passes will be mailed to you directly and I cannot be responsible for undelivered mail.  I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.  The product provided for the review was free of charge from the company. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.  Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway.  By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone.  I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.  Must be 18 years old and a U.S. resident to enter. Austin Top 50 is not liable in the event that the prize or sweepstakes in some way negatively impacts the winner.  Void where prohibited by law.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Austin Paint Ball


My youngest son wanted to play paint ball for his birthday, so the guys spent last weekend shooting each other for fun at Austin Paintball.

Austin Paintball, located in Dripping Springs, has over 30 acres, and nine different playing fields.

We used a groupon that I found online, which gave us half off the price for a day's rental of an airgun, 100 shots and the necessary gear.

My birthday boy had played once before with a friend, and my oldest son and husband had never played before.  When I called to arrange the outing, I had asked if they separated out the younger kids from the older kids/adults, and I was assured that they did.


However, when they arrived and played the first game, they were in an arena with thirty or so other players, many of whom obviously played on a monthly basis.  My boys were still trying to figure out how to shoot their guns when they were already blasted off the field.  All of the kids were ready to quit after game one :o(

But, after the first round, I spoke with the manager and referee, and they both gladly set up a separate round for newbies.  All the guys went off, and came back with grins and smiles.  They had a great time.  They then continued to play many more rounds.

If you are going with younger kiddos or first time players, I would strongly recommend that you ask if they have a 'newbie' arena set up, as you will have a much better time.

Tips and Thoughts

* They do warn you ahead of time that the paintballs can hurt and leave a welt. None of my boys seemed to think this was a big deal, and none of them complained about it at all.

* There is no water on-site, but bottled waters are available for $1.  You are also welcome to bring your own. There is no food on-site, but you can also bring your own.  They also have a standing deal with Dominoes, who will deliver pizza between games.

* Although usage of the fields for the entire day is included in the admission price, I was told that younger boys typically play between two and three hours.  We got there around 10:30am, and left around 12:30, so that seemed pretty accurate. 

* The general admission price of $22 includes 100 rounds of ammo.  We had five players and in the two hours they played, we went through all of the ammo, plus another bag of 500 shots ($25)  Just to give you an idea of the total cost.  

* In addition, it is nice to bring some cash in case you want to tip your referee.

* As mentioned above, if you are a first time player, ask ahead of time to make sure they will have smaller groups available

* If you are a mom and not expecting to play (Welts?!?  Seriously?? No thank you! :o)  ), bring something to entertain yourself.  Sitting on the patio, you will not be able to view the fields.  So your kiddos (big and small) will go off to play, and return fifteen to twenty minutes later.




Monday, August 4, 2014

This week's giveaway: 4 free passes to Chapparal Ice



Contest is closed.  Congratulations Katie H, this week's winner!!!

Contest Details


·       Giveaway ends August 7th at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Residents of the US only.  Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes.  Winner will be selected by random.org and be notified by email. Winner has 24 hours to respond with a mailing address before a new winner is selected. Please note that Austin Top 50 is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes.  I have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. Guest passes will be mailed to you directly and I cannot be responsible for undelivered mail.  I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.  The product provided for the review was free of charge from the company. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.  Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway.  By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone.  I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.  Must be 18 years old and a U.S. resident to enter. Austin Top 50 is not liable in the event that the prize or sweepstakes in some way negatively impacts the winner.  Void where prohibited by law.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Enter to win a chance to bring your Family to Cafe Monet for free!

 

                          Austin Top 50:  Summer of Giveaways!



Contest Details


·       Giveaway ends July 31st at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Residents of the US only.  Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes.  Winner will be selected by random.org and be notified by email. Winner has 24 hours to respond with a mailing address before a new winner is selected. Please note that Austin Top 50 is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes.  I have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. Guest passes will be mailed to you directly and I cannot be responsible for undelivered mail.  I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.  The product provided for the review was free of charge from the company. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.  Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway.  By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone.  I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.  Must be 18 years old and a U.S. resident to enter. Austin Top 50 is not liable in the event that the prize or sweepstakes in some way negatively impacts the winner.  Void where prohibited by law.

Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 Formula Sun Grand Prix is tomorrow!!

Looking for something free and fun to do tomorrow?  Check out the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas!  Our family went last year and had a blast!!

Formula Sun Grand Prix


What: See solar cars compete head-to-head on the race track!
Where: 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd. Austin, TX, 78617
When: July 19th, 9 AM - 5 PM
Who can come: You! This event is free and open to the public.

23 universities are participating, 22 of which are using solar panels made by SunPower, one of the main event sponsors. Students built and will race the cars.

Join us at Circuit of the Americas and keep an eye out for the SunPower table, where Circular Energy will be sharing information about solar and signing up homeowners for solar assessments with a design consultant.


Click here for more information

 

Our visit in 2013!!

A really fun event is occurring at the Circuit of the Americas tomorrow: the Formula Sun Grand Prix 2013 and the best part is that public entry is free!



The race - or rayce - as they call it ;o) consists of three 8 hour racing days. The objective is for the teams to complete the most laps within that time period.  The cars charge up their batteries the afternoon before and then run the entire next day on the batteries, as well as any other solar energy they soak up while racing.


Universities and colleges have sponsored teams for the last year to completely design, build and test their prototypes.  And it all culminates in these three days of racing.

According to the webpage, the last two days have been open for public viewing but we had to show the webpage to the security guard and have him talk to his manager before we were allowed in!  They were all very friendly and nice, but we were obviously the first spectators to come!

The cars take around 5 minutes to traverse the entire 3.4 mile track, and there are a maximum of ten cars entered into the race.


Although we went today, the big public viewing day is tomorrow from 9am - 5pm.  

There will be displays and talks about alternative energy as well as a workshop where kids can build a model solar car. 

The teams will be available to answer questions and for autographs!  These are a bunch of college kids, so they are really fun and easy to talk to!

It was really neat to see the various designs of solar cars and to cheer when the UT car went by!  

Here are some of the things we learned:


* An average solar car can run for around 120 miles on just a battery charge, and around 200 miles if it is running in the sun.  

* The maximum speed allowed for the cars is 65 mph, though most cars were going much slower.  The whole project is a balance of energy usage! 

*Teams run from around 15 persons to as large as 100, though most of these teams seemed around the 15-20 person mark.

*Yesterdays winning car completed a total of 66 laps or 224 miles!

Even if you aren't all that into cars, this is a really fun race to see.  


And a great opportunity to see the Circuit of the Americas at its lowest cost: free! 

Although we didn't make it up there, they do offer tower tours for $15 per adult, and $12.50 per child, which sounds like a lot of fun, and a great view!

Check it out!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day Trip to Newman's Castle in Belville, TX

We went on what has to be our most fun day trip this year - Newman's Castle in Belville, Texas.  If you have a child who loves castles or the medieval ages, this is a must see!


This is more than just a fun place to go...

This is an inspiring story about a man who followed his dreams. 

The owner, Mike Newman, acquired his property in 1998, and spent some time trying to decide what kind of house to put on it. 

His friend made a comment, "a man's home is his castle", and Mike was hooked.  He spent the next few year's researching castles and the next seven years building his dream and convincing himself he wasn't crazy for doing it ;o)

And we are really glad he did!  He began giving tours a few years ago, and now does weddings, banquets, overnight guests and more!

This is his personal home that we toured - he lives in it!!  


It has a moat with a real working, man-powered drawbridge!



It has a dungeon.  I mean seriously, if you are going to build a castle, it had better have a dungeon to throw people in, right?



It has a large trebuchet, for any marauders who might feel compelled to attach his castle!.  The trebuchet comes complete with ammunition that the owner merrily launches!


It has a 30 person great hall, a small chapel and more!

He is currently in the process of building a bell tower and six more bedrooms. 

We spent a good two to two and half hours exploring the place.

And what makes the trip so much more enjoyable is listening to the man who built his dream.  My son peppered him with questions and comments.  And each one was responded to with patience.  And Mike Newman built it all himself, so he can answer any questions you might have!

And at the very end, he brings out lunch made from Newman's bakery.  It was so good, that my son declared that the sandwich was worth the two hour drive in itself!

Also on his property, he has just started keeping bees.  

My husband has been interested in starting a hive, so my son and I thought we'd check it out. 

As with everything else in the place, he let the kids come up, check it out, ask questions and more!

He told us in the three months since he purchased the hives, the bees have produced 20 gallons of honey!

All in all, this was a really wonderful, interesting and fun day trip!!

Tips and Thoughts
* Everything I read said to make reservations at least a week ahead of time.  Pretty good advice.  But I actually called the day before, and they had room left in the tour, so it never hurts to call and ask!

* This is a great tour for any age. There were toddlers to teens to adults all laughing and enjoying the experience.  My eleven year old had a great time!

* The tour asks you to arrive at the bakery at 10:30am.  They will then give you directions to the actual castle.  So don't be disappointed when you pull up at the first address and just see a small building :o)

*Tickets are $15 a piece and include a really delicious lunch.  Quite a deal, in my book!

* Brenham is right on the path home from Belville, so if you're looking for another fun diversion in the area, try taking a tour through the Blue Bell factory while you are there!






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