Friday, August 10, 2012

Spend the least and make the most of summer's final days

From today's Briefing:

Most families have two weeks left of summer. Depending on whom you ask, that statement can be read with despair or with mirth.
In these waning days of summer, you might feel compelled to cram in as much fun as possible with whatever remaining funds you have left. Or at least get one last outing in.
These are some of my family’s favorites and what I consider a good value.
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History: I’ve got high hopes for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, set to open in Dallas in 2013. Until then, our favorite science museum in North Texas is in Fort Worth.
We can easily spend a full day here. Our itinerary usually includes the water tables and dinosaur dig outside, the DinoLab and the children’s section.
The biggest draw, though, is Innovation Studios. Activities in each studio change frequently, so every visit to the museum feels different. We’ve sculpted with foil, created stop-motion animation videos, built tall wooden towers and more.
The only difficult decision is deciding which IMAX movie to watch — there are multiple offerings daily. If you have time, walk across the campus to spend at least an hour in the National Cowgirl Museum; admission is half price with proof of science museum admission.
Details: $12-$16, with films and planetarium shows extra. 1600 Gendy St., Fort Worth. 817-255-9300.
Sci-Tech Discovery Center: Sci-Tech isn’t a museum, but it’s got the hands-on exhibits that make science museums especially entertaining.
We usually spend about two hours in the center. It’s small enough that I feel comfortable letting each child go separate ways. Katie can spend as much time as she chooses building structures with thin, flat blocks, while Cooper can build small cars for racing.
Exhibits change every few months. The current two exhibits — Amusement Park Science and Team Up! Explore Science & Sports — leave Sept. 2. The stations allow children and adults to explore properties of physics and math while having fun. There are also daily stage shows and story times.
Details: $5-$6.50. 8004 N. Dallas Parkway, Frisco. 972-546-3050.
Nasher Sculpture Center: Our family loves all of the Arts District, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the Nasher.
The kids and I wander inside and out, never feeling rushed even when the crowds are thick. We often pose for silly photos near Bronze Crowd and take in Like a Bird from different angles. We love squeezing through the steel piece My Curves Are Not Mad.
There are just a few weeks left to experience the temporary indoor installation “Kink,” a colorful crocheted piece that patrons can walk on and through.
In the summer, it’s best to arrive when the doors open at 10a.m. so outdoor viewing is bearable. Or try to make nighttime hours; there’s a ’Til Midnight at the Nasher scheduled for Aug. 17. Admission that night is free, and you can enjoy a concert by Smile Smile and a movie (Midnight in Paris) on the lawn.
Details: $5-$10. 2001 Flora St., Dallas. 214-242-5100.
Hawaiian Falls: When I was a teenager, my favorite summer getaway was White Water, a sprawling, long-since- demolished water park in Grand Prairie. As a mom, I prefer smaller water parks, where it’s easier to park, walk to the gates and keep track of children.
Hawaiian Falls is just right for us in size and cost. Admission is reasonable; I don’t feel like we have to stay for eight hours to get our money’s worth.
Cooper and Katie are content to hang out in the wave pool and the lazy river, but there are plenty of slides for when they’re feeling adventurous. You can pay $10 to bring a cooler in, avoiding concession costs and less-than- healthy food and drink choices. We do like to splurge on snow cones from the park.
Details: $19.99-$25.99, with discounts online. Locations in Garland, Mansfield, Roanoke and The Colony.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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