Fun & Free Things to do With Baby in North Texas in the Summer
As much joy as a baby brings, that little bundle can also bring a screeching halt to your social life. Yep, the freewheeling, do what you want, WHEN you want, goes "bye-bye" once your baby is born. Netflix is AMAZING for 3 a.m. feedings, but if that is your entertainment all day, you'll blow through ALL seasons of your favorite binge-worthy shows in less than a week.
Never fear, there are plenty of places beyond your living room where you and your little one are welcome during the summertime. Here are some fun and free things to do with your baby in tow in North Texas that will get you out of the house, offer learning opportunities and give you some social time with others.
STORYTIME AND OTHER FUN AT THE LIBRARY
If the blazing Texas sun is too much, go inside and stay cool during Storytime at your local library. Many libraries now offer storytimes just for babies. Check your local library website for dates and times. Some libraries require registration. Libraries can also be treasure-troves of fun events for kids of all ages, including music and science classes, writing, crafting and more.
Dallas Public Library: Baby Basics Storytime — lots of fun for infants up to 18 months with interactive music, nursery rhymes and stories.
Plano Library: Babes in Arms for infants 0 to 9 months with rhymes, music and movement — including simple baby sign language, and Rhyme Time for ages 0 to 24 months with songs, nursery rhymes and books.
Frisco Library: Babies Storytime for pre-walkers and Toddlers in Motion for walkers up to 23 months. Storytimes are created and presented by early literacy experts and are designed to be developmentally appropriate for each age.
STORYTIME AROUND TOWN
The local library isn't the only place you can enjoy a good story with your baby. Think outside the box and check with your local toy store, indoor playgrounds or baby stores.
Klyde Warren Park: Get some fresh air and check out the multi-dimensional playground, caterpillar fountain, storytelling tree and lots more.
Barnes & Noble: Your local Barnes & Noble bookstore offers storytimes all throughout the week.
Pottery Barn Kids: Storytime held every Tuesday from 11 to 11:30.
Take some free classes! Many retailers will offer a "try before you buy" class to see if it's a fit for your family. It's certainly worth checking out, and you never know what you and your baby may fall in love with!
Emler Swim School: This swim school has several Metroplex locations and offers classes for infants and toddlers. The Waterbabies class is designed for babies 6 to 35 months old with no water skills, and it teaches underwater breath control. One Waterbabies Orientation class is free. Bathtime Babies is a free weekly program offered to parents of newborns ages 2 to 5 months old. Parents are instructed on how to use bath time at home for socialization, bonding and introduction to the wonderful world of water. There are locations in Allen, Dallas, Firewheel, Fort Worth, Frisco, Flower Mound, Plano and Southlake.
Kindermusik: Give your baby or young toddler a leg up musically and developmentally with free introductory classes for babies up to 18 months old.
Gymboree Play & Learn: This seven-level program is designed to support your child's growth at her individual pace. From sensory stimulation to problem-solving games and storytelling, the classes use play-based activities to stretch the body and mind. There are locations in Southlake and Dallas.
SIGHTSEE AND MUSEUMS
It's always enjoyable to appreciate art and the wonderful places around our city, even when you have your little one in tow. Strap on the Baby Bjorn and head to a museum or photo gallery. Talk to your baby as you roam about, and tell him what you're looking at as babies love listening to their parents' voices.
Dallas Museum of Art: Offers free admission for regular exhibits during regular museum hours, as well as lots of fun interactive opportunities such as free Art to Go family totes containing a variety of activities that allow families to WRITE, TALK, PLAY, or MAKE.
Irving Arts Center: The center is a Smithsonian affiliate showcasing art, music and theatre. It offers daily exhibits and several free, annual events for families and children of all ages. The Sculpture Garden showcases several permanent works along with touring pieces amidst flowers and fountains.
Kimbell Art Museum: Have a museum adventure! Explore galleries using thematic guides designed for kids, then play in the free family area. The museum also holds special events and family festivals. Admission to the permanent collection is free. There is a charge for special exhibitions.
Gaylord Texan: Take a stroll through the Gaylord Texan Resort. It's stroller-friendly and often buzzing with activities. Of course, the Lone Star Christmas is a highlight, but during the summer months it offers other events. You can also walk around Grapevine Lake while you're there for some fresh air.
Fort Worth Stockyards: From 1866 to 1890, more than 4 million cattle were driven through Fort Worth on their way to points further north. In 1876, the railroad arrived, and Fort Worth became a major shipping hub for cattle sent by rail. The Fort Worth Stockyards were built to support this booming industry, and restaurants and hotels sprang up around it. Today, it's a National Historic District and entertainment complex. There are still daily cattle drives, but they're just for fun. This is a great opportunity for parents and older kids to take in some history and for baby to be overjoyed with sights and sounds.
The mesmerizing motion of fish swimming and the trickle of water — aquariums can be Zen for baby! Off-season and in the mornings are usually less crowded.
Dallas World Aquarium: Basically an indoor zoo, complete with a rain forest habitat full of monkeys and birds. A virtual feeding ground for sights and sounds for baby, plus kids 2 and under get in free.
Cabela's/Bass Pro Shops: Walk through these mega-stores Allen, Fort Worth, Garland or Grapevine to see huge aquariums stocked with a variety of fish, giant taxidermy displays and more.
Get your baby snuggled into a car seat, turn on your favorite music and explore. "Shop" for the house of your dreams or explore a new town near you. You don't need a destination; this drive is about getting out and exploring.
How many billions of photos have you taken of your baby propped on the Boppy? Get out to your local park or botanical garden. Take a nature hike or stroll. Check out Trails.com to find a local path. The walk doesn't have to be long, but the fresh air and exercise are good for both of you!
White Rock Lake Park: Parents can get some exercise with baby in tow while checking out the nine-mile hike-and-bike trail. Watch the sailboats and ducks. The 1,088-acre lake is also brimming with fish. Sunset Bay on the eastern shore is a prime spot for picnics and watching the sunset.
Erwin Park Hike & Bike Trail: Locals call this the best-kept secret in Texas. It's a great place to go mountain biking, hiking and camping!
Try an outdoor jazz or classical music concert. During the summer months, many DFW cities offer performances in parks with picnicking on blankets. Great fun for parents and baby!
There is something magical about a big screen, dark theater and bucket of popcorn. Watching a movie with your baby can be tricky, but it can be done! If your baby is a good sleeper, choose a matinee during naptime or search for a baby-friendly showing near you. Babies get in free; parents pay the matinee price.
Baby Day at Alamo Drafthouse: The Alamo Drafthouse offers Baby Day for regular shows that start before 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons, excluding national holidays and special festival screenings. Infants are welcome to these shows and are allowed in for free. Adults pay regular price. For Baby Day shows, the theater keeps the lights up and the sound down a bit.
Angelika Film Center: This theater features many indie and foreign-language films and even sells gourmet coffee and cocktails at the café. It offers Cry Baby Matinees, a program designed for parents and infants. The theater has low lighting to assist with nursing moms. Crying babies are regular occurrences, so parents don't have to worry about disturbing other moviegoers.
I hope this gets your creative juices flowing on what you can do to keep you and baby thouroughly entertained all summer and all year long. That way, you can keep Netflix binges in your back pocket for those middle-of-the-night feedings!
Laura Thornquist, North Texas mother of two, to Nicholas and Ava, shares ways to save and live in the Metroplex, scattered with straightforward, honest and down-to-earth advice on being a mommy and wife while still taking the time to treat yourself on her blog, MyDFWMommy.