Pinballz is an arcade in North Austin that claims to have over 200 games, mostly pinball, but also some video games.  These games range in age from those designed in the 1950's to current. 

Since Dave was in town this week, we decided to bring him along so he could enjoy some of the games of his youth!

All the boys played Galaga; Dave got a high schore on Tempest (his old favorite) and earned a free game on the new Pirates of the Caribbean pinball machine and the boys got to play the original Donkey Kong.  Not being a huge videogame fan, I just watched!

It was a fun hour and a half and a great way to beat the heat!

Tips and Thoughts
* Plan for about $15 per hour per person for the games. 

* There are infrequently deals on Morgan's pages, and sometime they have 'specials'.  On Way Back Wednesdays they pick 4 machines and revert them to 80s pricings ($0.25 per game).  If you pay in cash, you can get an extra $2 per every $20. So look around and plan ahead, and you might be able to save a little money!

* The arcade has a small cafe.  They also allow you to bring your own liquor, but there were rules to how much you could bring in.  I assume this is more of an issue with the 9pm crowd then my 2pm bunch ;o)

Jump Street Indoor Trampoline Park

With a projected temperature of 106 degrees today, we needed to stay inside!  With two children kept indoors for the last week due to allergies, I needed a place for them to run!  Jump Street in Cedar Park was the perfect solution!

Jump street is a trampoline park; very similar to an inflatable house, but for a much older crowd.  The average age of participants ranged from 7 years of age, up through 16, with some young adults and even parents joining in the fun!

Jump Street has a large room with 50 foot stretches of trampolines.  Jumpers can run, flip, twist, or cartwheel themselves down the long stretch.

But the highlight of the place, for my boys, was the dodgeball room.  There were two dodgeball rooms.  One for 13 and up, and one for all ages.  Each room had three trampolines with a half way divider. 

As with typical dodgeball, participants threw balls at the other half in an attempt to get them out.  Referees with whistles made sure the play stayed fair.  Dodgeball is always a favorite, but the trampolines made the game that much more fun!

In addition to the main trampoline room and the dodgeball rooms, Jump Street had some additional features, available through their $3 Fun Pass. 
Kids could swing on a rope from a platform into a pit full of small nerf squares. 
There was also a small maze that they could navigate through.  The average time to get through seemed like 30 seconds, so it isn't very big, but they did enjoy it for a couple of go-throughs.

One of the boys' favorite was a large slide made out of some sort of astroturf that the kids could ride down in inner tubes.  Both boys went down the slide many, many times! 

And there was a small area with a mechanical bull.  Bull riders attempted to stay seated for the longest time (K hit 59 seconds) until they were thrown onto an inflatable mat.

All in all, the kids ran, jumped and played for the full two hours!  We will be updating our Top 50 list to include Jumpstreet!

Tips and Thoughts
* Children under 7 can only participate in the "Earthquake room", which is a small trampoline room.  The play is less expensive, but a lot less fun.  However, if a young child is accompanied by an older sibling or parent (over 12), they may participate in the main rooms.  The under 7 crowd could participate in all of the fun pass areas, except for the mechanical bull.

* Children were allowed to go barefoot or wear socks, based on preference

* The place was fairly crowded.  But a large group cleared out around 3pm.  If time allows, I think the 3 - 5 pm slot might be the lightest attendance

* Tuesdays and Thursday are $10 for two hours, the perfect price for the perfect amount of time.  Other days have other specials, but Tuesday and Thursday were the cheapest

Texas Military Forces Museum

While I am all about peace ,love and happiness, my youngest son is going through a stage (let's hope it is a stage), where his interest is war. 

And the Texas Military Forces museum in Camp Mabry is perfect for anyone mesmerized by tanks, guns or battles!

The main exhibit hall contains a variety of tanks, helicopters, planes and more that were used by Texas forces throughout history.  Some of the tanks are still running and are used in reenactments today.

The back hall contains a number of battle scene dioramas, including the Alamo.  It also has various uniforms, canons and other military stuff. There is a jet cockpit the kids can climb into, military uniforms they can try on, and information regarding some of the more recent Texas military involvements.

There is currently a temporary exhibit running through July 15th that is worth checking out.  The artist has rolled up paper for every loss of life in the War on Terror.  It is an unusual and notable memorial for our brave soldiers.

And if that wasn't enough for a battle loving boy, on the grounds of Mabry are a collection of more tanks, helicopters and jets that you can walk through!

Tips and Thoughts

The museum is only open Wednesday through Saturday

To enter Camp Mabry, you need to show an id when entering.  It is very simple to get on base, just pull into the visitor lane, show the man your idea, get directions and move on!

The museum often has group tours with helpful guides providing more information

Main Event

Today we went with friends to Main Event.  Located in North Austin, this location has just about everything to keep children entertained.  And another benefit is that it is nice and cool inside!  Perfect for the when the temperatures sky rocket outside!

It has a glow in the dark mini-golf course, lit by black lights to make everything fluoresce.  There is also a laser tag game, a sort of high-tech tag played with gun shooting lasers.  There are many lanes for bowling, a 28 foot high large rock climbing area, pool tables and bowling.  The main area also has a large arcade area with high tech virtual rides, skee ball and more.

There is also a nice cafe on site that serves burgers, pizza and even a decent salad!

A summer fun pass for $15.95 per child includes all areas except for the arcade area and will keep kids busy for at least three hours.  Add in some money for the arcade and you have a full afternoon.

Texas Memorial Museum

Our first full week back in town for summer, and K is suffering from sever allergies :o(  So, with most of our outdoor places off the list, we are hitting some indoor places.

An old favorite of ours is the Texas Memorial Museum on the UT campus.  This free science museum was built in 1939.  And with its hushed halls, it sometimes still feels like that year still inside!

This location also happens to be on the list of Texas Nature Challange, so it was perfect! We printed the challenge before we left, and headed out!

There are four floors with different exhibits. The first floor contains dinosaur fossils and other historic science items, including the 5th largest meterorite to fall in Texas. 

The second floor and main entrance has a large pterosaur, a huge blue topaz and a well stocked museum store. 

The third floor has dioramas of all different sorts of Texas wildlife, including our favorite javalina!  The boys also enjoyed the "night life" section.

And the fourth floor has an exhibit of jar specimans and an interactive exhibit called "Explore Evolution". 

We followed the questions in the Nature Challenge to lead us through al lof the halls - and learned some new things along the way!

Tips and Thoughts

This is a very simple, old-school museum.  Most visitors will tour the entire museum in one to two hours.

While the museum is free, parking is not.  The closest parking is in the San Jacinto parking garage; for a minimal $6 you can park for 2 hours.  The LBJ library parking is further away, but free.

If you were hoping to combine this trip with the LBJ exhibits as well, note that  the library is under major renovation and only a few exhibits are open

If you are participating in the Taxes Nature Challenge, the museum does not have a copy of the questions, so download and print ahead of time.  You receive your completion sticker in the museum store.

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