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Doing More at the Doseum

The Doseum

Overall Rating: 10/10     Good for:13 and under     Time Spent: 2 hours

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My little sister (who is 12) and I recently visited the Doseum in central San Antonio, and let me tell you, I had more fun in that hands on children’s museum than I have had in any adult museum in my entire life. Elizabeth* and I had the opportunity to go during one of the HEB sponsored evenings, which are held every first and third Tuesday of the month and offer free admission from 6:30-8:30pm.

The Doseum is two stories of pure joy. It has 4 or 5 different rooms on each floor which hold a variety of different activities, all of which are both educational and super fun. They range from the geography room, where you can video chat with another museum in Mexico, to the outdoor water area, and a robotics section.

One of my favorite sections, however, was one of the smaller rooms which was home to about a thousand colorful balls and a tube-like maze that resembled a hamster’s paradise. Kids could use this space to experiment with gravity and air pressure. As you placed the balls in the tubes and they shot up in each and every direction only to find themselves in a suspended bucket timed to drop on the kids waiting excitedly below it.

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Another favorite was the journalism room. Behind a clear plastic wall, children could conduct and record interviews with their friends and families, which is great practice for any future radio dj. A few feet away, there was a “make your own comic” station and a miniature animation studio. As an employed journalist, I was in awe of the effort that the museum had unleased to help these kids foster a love of creativity and investigative reading.

The Doseum was the best experience I’ve had so far in my venture to find exciting, free activities in San Antonio, and I can’t recommend it enough. Especially to any parent/sibling who just wants to get some hands on learning for their kids. Even though the event lasted two hours, there were still rooms Elizabeth and I left unseen. So, I’ll definitely be returning very soon to find out what else this hands-on museum has in store.

Jen

*Names changed for privacy

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Free Movies? Yes, Please!

Monday Movies at The Pearl

Overall Rating: 10/10     Good For: All Ages     Time Spent: 4.5 hours

FullSizeRenderLast Monday evening I had the pleasure of watching Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs during The Pearl’s Monday Movie Night. The experience was complete with a blow up screen, projector, and a sound system that I could only dream of in my own home. The movie was shown in the grassy (turffy?) area between Bakery Lorraine and Hotel Emma at The Pearl in central downtown San Antonio. Let me walk you through the evening.

First: My little sister and I stopped to eat dinner and the city renowned Green Vegetarian Cuisine. I had the best fish-less-filet to ever touch this Earth, and as someone who has visited this restaurant often, I can tell you that its the best thing on the menu. My sister had the Mediterranean Bowl, not as good, but still fantastic.

Second: We walked to the film destination and laid down our blanket, card games, and cooler about and hour and a half before the movie was set to start. This is something I highly recommend in any free outdoor movie event, because they tend to be very popular and seating is first come, first serve. We played cards and other travel-sized board games for an hour or so before we decided that we wanted a snack. So…

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Third: I walked two stores over to Local Coffee, one of my favorite spots in the downtown area, where I bought a mocha coffee (amazing) for myself and a hot chocolate (as good as anything without caffeine can be) for my sister.

Fourth: I headed next door to Bakery Lorraine where I bought a 6-count box of macaroons. They were $12 and definitely not worth it. Skip this step on your own journey.

Fifth: After that, I made my way back to my blanket, where I spent the next 45 minutes hanging out with my sister and playing card games. The movie officially started at about 8:45 and ended somewhere around 10:30.

I will absolutely be making room in my schedule for more outdoor movies in the future. It was a drive in experience without the $10 ticket and everybody’s headlights flickering on and off throughout the movie. I had assumed that activities like The Pearl’s Movie Monday had been lost in the shuffle of indoor movie theaters and a shrinking number of parks, but I was wrong. If you can make it to any of San Antonio’s summer movies I recommend it with all my heart.

You can find a list of outdoor movie locations and dates here.

Jenna

 

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Central Library is the at Center of my World

Central Library, San Antonio

Overall Rating: 10     Good For: All Ages     Time Spent: 3 hours

fa532d334091658b15441d77c552eda8--art-public-fiesta-ideasA few days ago I had the pleasure of visiting Central Library located in central San in a Texas inspired burnt orange building. It has reasonable hours, closing at 5 on the weekend and 9 during the week- perfect for after work studies, homework, and just kicking back and relaxing with a good book. The inside of the library is adorned with an absolutely stunning hanging art piece, pictured left, that had me mesmerized.

A must-see section of the library is the Teen Services department. Although I am a year out of their 13-18 year age requirement, I managed to slip in unnoticed. The space, located on the 3rd floor, is loaded with books (some of which made me more than a little bit nostalgic, Apple desktop computers, study tables, a TV, and a whiteboard spanning the entirety of the back wall. To say I was in heaven is a bit of an understatement. The space was everything I could have ever asked for in a space designed for those of us who spend most of our childhood with their nose in a book.

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Other features of Central Library included a beautiful children’s section complete with a small arts and crafts table, a video section, dozens of helpful staff members, and early child services.

I will be returning to the Central Library in the very near future, with a boatload of homework, and a few friends. I would absolutely recommend it to anybody and everybody who will listen to me gushing over it.

Jenna

Indoor Adventures, Outdoor Adventures

Tower of the Americas Tall Enough?

The Tower of the Americas, San Antonio

Overall Rating: 7     Good for: All Ages     Time Spent: 1 hour

9218995349_ccd2e63a68_bYes. The Tower of the Americas is most definitely tall enough to get the job done. In fact, it’s probably tall enough to get pretty much any job done. Not the prettiest building ever, The Tower was completed in the 1960’s and hasn’t really changed much since. (Aside from elevator upgrades, I’m sure.)

I visited The Tower with my “Little Sister,” who is not-afraid-of-heights way more than I’m not-afraid-of-heights. Even then, the tallness of the whole thing didn’t really bother me. The way the observation deck is set up, it’s way harder than you might think to look directly down, which makes your trip up there feel more airplane and less Scream from Six Flags. (That’s the Tower of Terror at most amusement parks for you non-locals out there)

There’s a very nice restaurant at the top of The Tower as well which spins (slowly) on a platform so you can get a full 360 view of San Antonio while you dine on pretty pricey food. I can only imagine the first day of any server’s job up there.

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Tickets to go up top are barely more than a matinee movie at $12 a pop and $9 for kids 12 and under. I understand this to be not free, which is very unfortunate. They do however have an extensive wine list so this might make up for the ticket prices.

Overall, The Tower of the Americas was definitely a neat experience. It’s one of the many trademarks of San Antonio, and it was for sure something I would do again. If you’re taking the trip all the way up the tower, I would recommend staying for a meal to complete your mile high adventure. The waitstaff is beyond friendly and the views are unbeatable. Be sure not to wear shorter dresses and skirts because the top is very very windy and at the very least, buy a cup of Starbucks coffee just outside the building doors to sip on in place of wine.

Yours,

Jenna

Outdoor Adventures

Nothing Square about The Square

The San Marcos Downtown Square

Overall Rating: 8     Good for: all ages     Time spent: 2 hours

2292670165_f659a05594_bThe Square of San Marcos refers to the perimeter of the Hays County Historic Courthouse. It’s bustling with life from the nearby Texas State University and is both populated and run largely by students and alumni. The exclusivity of the population, however, shouldn’t be any sort of a turn-off. Included in the surrounding buildings are bars, mom and pop shops, restaurants, and art exhibits. The courthouse lawn is also home to a variety of events year around including small music festivals. This place couldn’t feel any more like home with its historic buildings and friendly inhabitants.

I like to spend my days in the square doing one of two things: (1) Stopping by two of my favorite resale shops. The first is a store affectionately named “Junk in Da Trunk.” It’s a huge collection of vintage clothes, accessories, and collectibles. Hands down the cutest antique store I’ve ever been to. The second is only half resale, but whole vintage. Superfly’s Lonestar Music Emporium is way less country than you would imagine but does carry the largest selection of vinyl records that I’ve seen in a very long time. It truly feels like you’ve stepped into the 1960’s and I couldn’t be more excited about it. (2) Munching on the famously good Insomnia cookies. I mean, who couldn’t love a cookie shop that delivers fresh warm deliciousness to you until 3am? It’s a must try in the town of San Marcos.

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Speaking of 3am, the nightlife at the Square is nothing short of what you’d expect it to be 5 minutes away from a college campus. Live bands can be heard performing inside many of the 27 bars and lounges in the surrounding streets. It’s a trademark of this town, and not taking advantage of it would be a huge mistake.

All and all, the Square is a very cool place to visit if you enjoy historic towns and of course shopping. It’s a neat experience that you can’t necessarily find in a whole lot of cities outside of the Northeast coast. The Texas charm is very present in the mannerisms of shop employees and in the buildings themselves, but it’s contemporary enough to be a hit with teens and 20-somethings alike. It’s a wonderful stop for all ages during the day, and its really great for ages 21+ at night. The perfect combination for family vacations if you ask me.

I’ll be back soon!

Jen

 

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I fed a Huge Deer at Natural Bridge; It was Awesome

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

Overall Rating: 8     Good for: All Ages     Time Spent: 3 hours

IMG_9246The only complaint that could possibly be made at Natural Bridge Wildlife Park is: it’s kind of expensive. Not the kind of expensive that makes you cry, but definitely the once-a-month, maybe once-every-two-months kind of expensive. Other than that it’s amazing. You do have to have a car to be able to do this activity, which is a bummer, but it allows you to get way closer to the animals than you would in a zoo. It also allows the animals to be a lot happier than they are in a zoo. As an animal rights activist, and a practicing vegetarian, this makes me very happy.

The Wildlife Rance is a drive through animal park. There is everything you would find on perhaps, an African Savannah, and more. Rhinos (kept behind a fence), deer, zebras, lemurs, kangaroos, alpacas, peacocks, ostriches, impalas (not the car), etc. and you get to feed Every. Single. One. Of. Them. It’s a child’s dream vacation, and adults love it too

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Apart from the main attraction, there are also some animals left out of the drive that you get to see on foot. There are giraffes, monkeys, giant birds I could never name, and more. It was a great experience, and it’s a place I will be returning to very very soon. The Wildlife Ranch never fails to disappoint. The gift shop is worth checking out, but the dining options are scarce, so it’s a good idea to pack your lunch. Just don’t let the animals get to it before you do!

Next door is Natural Bridge Caverns, and as a former tour guide at these particular caverns, I can tell you that it’s worth a visit with the right shoes, but maybe I’ll do a post on that later.

Be adventurous!

Jenna

 

Outdoor Adventures

Sunburnt but Happy at the Japanese Tea Gardens

The Japanese Tea Gardens

Overall Rating: 10!     Good for: All Ages     Time Spent: 1.5 hours

IMG_9196These gardens are so beautiful. It was like taking a breath of fresh air in an otherwise very industrialized, crowded city. The Japanese Tea Gardens are between 5 and 10 minutes from downtown San Antonio, depending, of course, on traffic and your willingness to speed. It’s publically and privately funded, which is to say that its free to get into and free to stay for as long as you’d like. The pathways are largely wheelchair accessible, and you should absolutely save this trip for a day with a little less sunshine and a temperature a few degrees lower than I did on my most recent trip. It’s a great place for short walks, sunshine, and individuals of any age. At the top of the garden stairs, and closest to the entrance there is a tiny shop that sells teas and trinkets, and attached is a lovely cafe with a variety of very tasty menu options.

The ponds that lay in the center of the gardens are home to beautifully colored Koi fish, which was a fun surprise for me. Surrounding these ponds are 360° views of exotic flowers, bushes, and trees. My visiting family was amazed that such a place could exist in a city as large as this, and you will be too. The outside noise in non-existent, and it feels like you’re in an oasis 100 miles away from everything else, a truly beautiful concept. You won’t find anything this green anywhere else in San Antonio.

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The aspect of the gardens that most interests me is the “secret” path behind the waterfall. It’s a bit muddy and a bit narrow, but it is so worth it (in the right shoes). If you follow this trail all the way up it will take you to the most magnificent view of the San Antonio skyline, and it’s definitely a view you won’t forget anytime soon.

I could not recommend the Japanese Tea Gardens any more highly. It is a tradition that has been kept alive for almost a hundred years, and I hope it is one that is kept alive for 100 more.

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” -Gary Snyder 

Bye for now,

Jenna

Outdoor Adventures

The HOPE Outdoor Gallery and Other Underrated Places

HOPE Outdoor Gallery (The Grafitti Park)

Overall Rating: 10     Good for: ages 15+     Time Spent: 1 hour

IMG_6793The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a place I’ve visited more than a few times in my relatively short lifetime, and it will always be one of my favorite places to be. Affectionately (and appropriately) nicknamed The Grafitti Park, HOPE took over an abandoned development project in downtown Austin and is now home to hundreds of layers of spray paint, and the love of locals and foreigners alike.

HOPE Gallery is the only art display of its kind the United States. It is for everyone and open to everyone. You’re welcome to bring spray paint and leave your mark on the wall, the ground, the grass, wherever. Artists use it to display their favorite quotes, support for sports teams, doodles, political statements, and much, much more. They pour their souls into these works of art on the walls for the entirety of Austin to see and it is absolutely stunning. You will never find anything like it anywhere else. The most fascinating aspect of this park is its constant change. It is so popular with artists that it will be completely refaced in less than a day. Every day. It will never be the same gallery that you left.

It is absolutely free to go, but it probably not best for small children. It is an unfinished building, so there are uneven surfaces, places to fall off of, and pipes sticking out of the ground. There’s also profanity allllll over the place, be careful. You should be warned: Parking Sucks

I can’t think of any more words to describe HOPE Outdoor Gallery, so I’ve left you with a slide show, for you to discover it for yourself.

With love,

Jenna

 

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Outdoor Adventures

Jenna and Tim Barely Make it to the Top of Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Overall Rating: 6.5     Good for: Ages 10+     Time Spent: 2.5 hours

IMG_1222 (2)You read that right. Two able bodied, not-quite-adults struggled up Enchanted Rock, outside of Fredricksburg, Texas. You may be asking yourself: “Self? Why in the world would they struggle up a rock that Jenna says is good for 10-year-olds?” and I would answer you “because this rock, is just that. It’s a huge boulder in the ground. It’s not a trail. It’s a 60° angle straight shot up a rock in the middle of nowhere.”

I would say to you that I have hiked 5 national parks in Utah through their crazy 40°-100° in-one-day weather changes and none of those hikes were as challenging as this stupid enchanted rock hike. I was a little afraid I was going to tumble down from the lack of literally anything to grab onto in case I slipped (as I often do) BUT I don’t want these harsh words to discourage you and your loved ones, and maybe a frienemy or two from taking this “hike.” Enchanted rock is what we in the family call “an experience.” It wasn’t my favorite experience, but the sheer ridiculousness of this huge rock just sitting on the ground with no trees, and no proper trail, was something we laughed about all the way up.

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. The view at the top was lovely. The Texas hill country like you’ve never seen it before, and the drive there was beautiful. It wasn’t my favorite hike, but it’s one of my favorite memories.

Some Tips: (1) WEAR GOOD SHOES, as I stated above, its a straight shot up a huge rock with nothing to hold on to. (2) Pack a lunch, it is way too hard to get to the top for you to not be able to sit there and enjoy good food and good company. (3) Stop by Fredricksburg on your way home, but not too late, most places close down at 6pm. There’s a ton of cool stuff to see in the town like the WWII museum, or the Five and Dime store. Good coffee, good sights.

That’s all for now!

Jenna

 

Indoor Adventures

Free is Better at The San Antonio Museum of Art

The San Antonio Museum of Art

Overall Rating: 9     Good for: ages 12+     Time Spent: 3.5 hours

3603956933_cd97d39b97_bHey, Buds!

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting an art museum in SA with my ‘Little.’ We had a blast! Specifically, we visited the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is located downtown San Antonio in this absolutely stunning historic building. I’m talkin’ super old. The best part of this building though? It’s totally free to get into on Tuesday’s and Fridays. Yeah, even parking.

The museum itself is four floors connected on the ground and second floor, and on the fourth by the sky bridge (which is under renovation until January of next year). It is filled with beautiful works of art from Japanese sculpting, Oceanic pieces, Meditterian works, 1800’s paintings from the U.S., Texas made art, and my personal favorite, modern art. It was bustling, but with a quietness that often accompanies museums, and the greatest pieces were nothing short of surrounded.  There was just enough to each collection and just enough variety to keep you captivated.

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The piece that struck me the most was on titled How do you Spell America? by Willie Cole, finished in 1991. This work lives in the contemporary section of the museum, above American art, and on the second floor. It’s not a happy piece, to say the least. What it is, however, is a striking capture of modern day America, of the challenges its peoples face. With every word I read, my stomach sank further and further toward the ground as a began to grasp the reality of this artwork, and both the fear and despair present in its lines. It is daunting and infuriating and amazing. It’s the kind of work you long to see in a museum. It’s not a 1600’s portrait of some white guy in a wig, but it is something that draws you in and forces you to think about its context, and how this context challenges the world around you. After all, if art doesn’t exist to challenge the status quo, then what’s the point of creating it in the first place? This museum delivers art that does just that and more. It contains pieces that challenge us to think, and it contains pieces that map out the history of land across the world. It is a must see in San Antonio, and, even better, it’s free (sometimes).

This museum delivers art that does just that and more. It contains pieces that challenge us to think, and it contains pieces that map out the history of land across the world. It is a must see in San Antonio, and, even better, it’s free (sometimes).

I’ll leave you with the wise words of Jawaharlal Nehru. Have a wonderful, adventurous day. “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

-Jen