Child’s Play

School isn’t even over yet, but—we’ll stick our necks out here—your kids are already acting like animals! Never fear. There’s more to do than the same old trip to Six Flags or SeaWorld. Get a leg up on your family’s summer fun with this list of 68 cool destinations and activities, including dive-in movies, donkey basketball, cattlepen mazes, dude ranches, and a hungry giraffe. (No popcorn, please.)
Photograph by Randal Ford

URBAN ADVENTURES

Cowtown Cattlepen Maze, Fort Worth

Note to parents: If you’ve ever told your kids to get lost (but you weren’t kidding), this is the place for you. Located in the heart of the Stockyards, the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze is built to resemble a cattle pen straight out of the Old West. And with 5,400 square feet of paths, your kids will need bread crumbs (or the Western equivalent) to find their way out. And for those whippersnappers with good memories: Don’t think you can beat it once and be done with it. The layout changes as often as the weather. 145 E. Exchange Ave., 817-624-6666 or cowtowncattlepenmaze.com

Bat Watching, Austin and Houston

We have spent many an evening between March and November standing along the shores of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake—formerly Town Lake—waiting for up to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats to emerge from underneath the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Though they sometimes disappoint, the most difficult part of the outing is just before the show begins, when your little ones ask in rapid-fire: “Is that a bat? Is that a bat? Is that a bat?” In Houston, residents line up at the Waugh Drive Bridge at Buffalo Bayou to take in the sights, though this colony of 250,000 is a bit different: It remains in Houston year-round.

Water Taxis, San Antonio

Oh, sure, you know all about the River Walk. It’s (a) too crowded, (b) overrated, (c) soooo commercial, or (d) all of the above. The truth of the matter is that the River Walk is a blast for the family—if you can get your kids out of the water taxis. A day pass is best (at $10 it’s a better deal than the $4

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