It’s raining, y’all! Sadly, you know what this means: No, you cannot go play outside (unless you like getting soaked and messy). But, because every Austinite knows that the skies might not open back up and dump on us for a while, we’re going to make the best of it.
In cases like these, we use this handy list of 11 perfect indoor activities that will be your boredom umbrella (or your life jacket, in certain cases) until the storms pass…
Book an Escape Game
This may actually be the best item on our list here, especially if you’ve got a house full of rambunctious people who need to blow off some energy. The Escape Game Austin will engage your body and mind as it immerses you into a real-life mystery adventure, tasking players to collaborate on finding clues that will lead to their eventual escape. With five uniquely themed games to choose from, you’ll have plenty of adventure to choose from and take part in.
We recently played their game “The Heist” that had us trying to recover a stolen art masterpiece and had a total blast! We did everything from scouring fine art with magnifying glasses to using secret maps and a black light to reveal cryptic messages; from uncovering hidden panels behind wall-sized bookshelves to bouncing lasers off mirrors (Indiana Jones-style) to unlock a secret area (shh!). We can’t wait to go back and try the other games and definitely recommend this as the perfect activity for occupying your group’s time on a rainy day.
Let’s nerd our way out of this muddy mess
When it pours, unashamed nerds everywhere flood into Austin’s best local arcades and comic book stores to escape the rain in the form of geeking out. Wade on into Pinballz Arcade if you’re all about variety, but if you dig old school Japanese arcade games, you should make Arcade UFO your storm shelter of choice. If you like to read comic books on rainy days, grab a new issue at Austin Books and Comics. But for the total storm escapism package, slog your way over to Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy or Tribe Comics and Games, which are essentially a slices of heaven for comic, RPG, and board game fanatics.
Sweet music can soothe your stormy soul
Stressed or annoyed by the rain? Slightly deficient in vitamin D from the cloudiness? In these dark and dreary days, you need to take care of yourself. What’s our prescription? Music, of course. Head into Waterloo Records & Video and treat yourself to a new album. Like only a local company would, Waterloo will happily allow you to listen to entire CDs on-site before you purchase them to ensure that you are totally satisfied with your choices. Waterloo’s “Our Picks” list is a excellent place to start your search.
Maybe you’d rather see a concert? Use this handy list to locate your favorite live music venues and figure out who’s playing when.
Erudite? Find a good book and a comfy nook!
Austin may be known for its numerous live music venues and record stores, but we also have some amazing libraries and local bookstores at our disposal as well. As far as libraries go, Austin Public Library is doing things right; they operate 21 individual branches, a history center, and a recycled book store, on top of maintaining a prolific events schedule with programs for all ages and an extensive virtual catalog for those who would prefer to read from the comfort of home. Of course the new Austin Central Library was just named one of the world’s greatest places by Time Magazine, so it’s kind of hard to beat that. The LBJ Presidential Library is a great place to brush up on your knowledge of local heroes Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. If you’re into rare and research-oriented books, spend some time at UT’s Harry Ransom Center for a nice fix.
We highly recommend visiting BookPeople, a shop on Lamar that has been providing Austinites with great reads of all genres since 1970 and is easily ATX’s favorite independent bookstore. They’ve even got book clubs, a webstore, a snug on-site cafe, a consignment program, and a massage chair! If you’re looking for something a bit more revolutionary, we also recommend Monkeywrench Books and Brave New Books for all of your anarchist reading needs.
Don’t let a little rain stop you, Ms. Adventure
We’re willing to bet that you outdoorsy, adventurous types are feeling more than slightly stir-crazy. Don’t let Mother Nature steal your thunder! There are plenty of indoor Austin activities that you can do to expend some of your pent-up energy and experience that adrenaline rush you’re dreaming about.
Want to go skydiving? It’s totally possible inside, thanks to iFly, a company who uses wind tunnels and aerodynamic flight suits to simulate the exhilarating feeling of true skydiving. You’ll experience a similar rush if you spend a day at one of Austin Rock Gym’s two facilities. For $15, you can learn bouldering at the North gym — which regulars affectionately refer to as the NARG — or classic indoor wall climbing at the SARG. Make sure to factor in $12 for gear rental into your adventure budget unless you have your own climbing shoes, harness, and belay device.
Are you competitive? First suggestion: check out The Goodnight. This bar + bowling center hybrid offers bowling, pool, table tennis, board games, shuffleboard, dinner, drinks, karaoke, and more. You might also drag several of your friends along with you to play laser tag and arcade games, gorge yourself on pizza, and navigate your way through an aerial ropes course at Blazer Tag Adventure Center. Finally, consider taking a Israeli Krav Maga course at The Mat Austin. Learning self defense can be a huge confidence booster and provides a killer workout!
Do not panic, as there are plenty of ways to entertain bored little goblins
Face it — your kids are cute, but they’re dangerous when they’re bored. Before they transform into gremlins and tear your house apart, get out. Dress ’em up in rain jackets, load ’em into the van, and cart ’em somewhere they’ll learn, laugh, run themselves into the ground (in the best of ways), and fall fast asleep on the car ride home.
Formerly known as the Austin Children’s Museum, The Thinkery is guaranteed to delight your kids’ minds and invigorate their imaginations. In fact, this museum’s elaborate and interactive science, art, technology, and math exhibits not only entertains kids, but it also teaches them that learning and problem solving can be really fun!
When it’s raining, you can’t really take your kid to a classic outdoor playground — so why not take them to an indoor playground like Mount Playmore or Jumpstreet instead? Mount Playmore is a locally owned and operated facility that features a gigantic playscape, an arcade, a kid-friendly restaurant, and 1400 square feet of sequestered toddler play area. Jumpstreet specializes in all things bouncy and provides the young at heart with opportunities to do traditional trampoline jumping, play dodgeball, practice safe stunt jumps, a ride mechanical bull, and play in the arcade.
Call them gloomy, but cloudy days do have a way of encouraging reflection
You might not particularly enjoy drizzly days like Portland natives, but you have to admit: it’s easy to be pensive when it’s cloudy outside. As the rain comes down, you may prefer to curl up in a chair by the window, ponder life’s mysteries, and all that, but if you want to be out and about, visiting a history or art museum would be a great way to spend your day.
As the Capital of Texas, Austin’s got more than enough history to go around. Together, The Bullock Texas State History Museum, The Texas Military Forces Museum, UT’s Texas Memorial Museum, and The Republic of Texas Museum, will give you a holistic run-down of Texas’ colorful roots, while the Austin History Center provides the opportunity to learn about Austin’s past, specifically. Two awesome museums that every self-respecting Austinite must visit at some point are the South Austin Popular Culture Center and the Texas Music Museum, since both are focused around Austin’s rich musical heritage.
With regards to art, gallery-hopping between venues like Yard Dog, grayDUCK, and The Contemporary Austin is the best method for admiring locally-flavored modern art, but if your tastes run more toward the classics, the Blanton Museum of Art is where you’ll feel most at home. Now, if you’re the type who likes to explore off the beaten path, or the type who likes to mix your art with your history, visit the O. Henry Museum, where you’ll learn about the life and times of Austin’s own famous writer, or the Elisabet Ney Museum, the former studio and residence of an independent lady who worked as a sculptress long before women were widely accepted as artists.
Maybe if we laugh at the storms, they’ll leave us alone…?
Comedy clubs like Esther’s Follies and The Velveeta Room will have the stress of rainy days rolling off in waves, and they’ll stuff you full of awesome eats and drinks while they’re at it. We’ve got a number of awesome classic theatres and production venues around town as well. ZACH Theatre, Paramount & Stateside Theatres, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, and the Texas Performing Arts Center all maintain year-round program schedules for folks looking to learn, listen, and laugh.
But hey, maybe you’re not in the mood for comedy. If that’s the case, why not buy tickets to see something epic, like a film at the Bob Bullock IMAX Theatre? And if you’d like to dine and drink while you watch, there’s no better place to kick back than the infamous Alamo Drafthouse.
Looks like you’ve worked up quite an appetite
Stuffing your face with amazing Austin eats is never a bad idea. If rain puts you in the mood for breakfast food, you know exactly where to go: Kerbey Lane Cafe, where queso + pancakes = pure and utter bliss. Skip Franklin and Stubb’s this time, since eating at either generally involves waiting for hours outside to get in; instead, for good old fashioned Texas barbecue, get to The County Line or The Salt Lick by any means necessary. If you have a hankering for burgers and ice cream, make your way over to Sandy’s Hamburgers near Auditorium Shores or the Phil’s Icehouse and Amy’s Ice Creams conglomerate on Burnet Rd. Pizza, you say? Try a Nature’s Choice or Lonestar pie from Promise Pizza — you won’t regret it!
And don’t you think for one minute that you have to forsake food trailers on rainy days. You just need to find trucks with covered outdoor seating, such as the ones parked at South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery. There, you’ll find Torchy’s Tacos, Conscious Cravings, and Holy Cacao, as well as a magnificent covered pavilion complete with picnic tables, couches, ceiling fans and heaters, foosball, ping pong, a flat screen TV, and more.
You’re looking a bit parched, too
Want drinks? Rather than cavort down waterlogged 6th or Rainey, take a sit and savor craft beers at one of Austin’s favorite brewpubs. Take it from us — you really can’t go wrong with anything from Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery, Draughthouse Pub & Brewery, and Austin Beerworks’ Taproom. Along with its drinks, Black Star serves its patrons standard Texas pub fare made with fresh, sustainable ingredients sourced from local farmers and ranchers, and is known for its pet-friendly patio and Geeks Who Drink trivia quiz nights. Draughthouse and Austin Beerworks both host a rotating assortment of local food trucks out in their parking lots, so check the schedules on the breweries’ websites to see which trailers will be there before you go.
Now get out there and keep it weird, kids!
Assuming you don’t want to buy a hippie hat, craft a nifty trash bag rain poncho, and do some “for the love of Texas, rain, stop!” dancing and drinking like this guy, there are a number of indoor activities available throughout the city that will allow you to let loose your inner weirdo.
Your first stop should definitely be one of Austin’s two most beloved, quirkiest toy stores: Monkey See Monkey Do! and Toy Joy. No matter your age or sensibilities, you’re guaranteed to find something that tickles your fancy on their shelves. Next, slosh on over to Museum of the Weird, whose collection of exhibits and oddities will make you face the facts: you’re probably not very weird. Not really. Not like this. Finally, take this time to buy some crazy trinkets at Uncommon Objects or Lucky Lizard Curios & Gifts to spruce up your own home or to gift to your buddy, who just moved into a new 10′ x 10′ micro-home in Hyde Park, as his first taste of authentic Austin culture.
Now, if you do decide to play in puddles or go for a run in the rain, just make sure there’s no flash flooding or lightning when you venture out there, folks. If you plan to drive, check weather predictions and road closings before you leave. Be weird, not dumb!
And hey, as you plan your next great indoor adventure, consider saving a little cash to help out central Texas flood victims via the Austin Disaster Relief Network. These guys have a good thing going!
Featured photo: Flickr user Sanjoy Ghosh, CC licensed.