Now that the joy of no school has faded into that perpetual, annoying chorus of “Mom, what are we going to do today?”, I’m searching for entertainment. Preferably the low-cost, expend-lots-of-kid-energy kind of entertainment. Here are a few local options that are fun and free (or relatively inexpensive).
Inside (where the air-conditioning’s free):
• Beaucatcher Cinemas and the new Biltmore Regal Grande offer free kid movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. You’ll pay $1 at the Carmike on Wednedays at the same time (money goes to charity, though). Both G and PG movies are offered, and your kids probably have already seen them as they’ve already been released to DVD. Family filmfest can be a raucous affair on the days when busloads of camp kids show up, while other days there might be only a few folks in the audience. Try not to be suckered into buying over-priced popcorn.
• For a more local, if slightly pricier, twist on kid movies, visit Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company any day of the week at 1 or 4 p.m. for $3 per person (extra for food and drinks, of course). Plus you can sip an in-house craft brew while watching classics or somewhat recently released kid flicks. Recent showings included Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
• Our libraries offer free story times for kids aged 4 months to 7 years. West Asheville Library even provides Spanish Story Times on request. Call any library for more information on the children’s programs or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outdoor activities (wear your kids out):
• Asheville Parks and Recreation pools are open. There are three city pools: Recreation Park, Malvern Hills and Walton Street. For $3 per person per visit, these pools are a good deal. You also can buy 15-visit passes for $40 (www.ashevillnc.gov). And don’t forget the five pools operated by Buncombe County Parks and Rec (www.buncombecounty.org).
• Public parks are always free, and there are 54 of those in Buncombe County! Go to the city’s Web site or call Parks and Rec at 259-5800. I like to load up bikes or scooters and take the kids to Carrier or Amboy parks. The dog park at Amboy also provides entertainment for both pooches and bored kids (provided your dog isn’t like mine and decides he should attempt to eat canines four times his size).
• Also free are most local waterfalls and hiking trails, although these require a gasoline expenditure. Visit www.romanticasheville.com for a compelling description of area waterfalls. Of course, by telling you to take your kids there, I’ve just obliterated the romantic factor. The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Web site gives good directions and details about local hiking trails (www.exploreasheville.com).
Feed their hollow legs:
• If you’re as sick of making pizza bagels as I am, there are some low-priced restaurant options for the kids. The $2.99 kid lunch buffet at Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company offers variety and volume. Also, Tuesday nights are family night at APBC, complete with food specials, board games, free ice cream sundaes, and the best balloon guy ever.
• West Asheville Earth Fare offers weekly pasta nights every Wednesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. You choose your ingredients, pasta and sauce and Chef Greivin cooks it up for $7.99 for adults and $3.99 for kids.
• A number of restaurants also offer “kids eat free” nights (with a fully paid adult meal). Locally owned Urban Burrito is a family favorite on Tuesday nights.
Put ‘em to sleep with music:
•The Concerts on the Quad at UNCA features Cherokee stories on Monday, July 6, followed by Laura Boosinger the same night, and The Capital Messengers will jazz it up on July 13. Bring a picnic and a blanket and let the kids run circles on the back lawn until they collapse. More information at www.unca.edu/summerquad.
• Downtown After Five rocks North Lexington, Ave., although there’s no longer a comfy grassy area for the kids (remember the festival’s Pack Square days?). Ultimate Ice Cream’s there for you, however. Schedule and more at www.ashevilledowntown.org.
• Shindig on the Green gives mountain music a home at MLK Jr. Park, most Saturday nights until the first week of September, starting around sundown. More at www.folkheritage.org.
• Finally, for a great resource for all things kids around town, visit Kid-Friendly Asheville at www.kidfriendlyasheville.com. Have a great summer!
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.