Now that we’re deep into summer vacation — and the joy of no school has faded into a whiny chorus of “Mom, what are we going to do today?” — I’m searching for entertainment. Preferably of the low-cost, expend-lots-of-kid-energy, kill-the-whinys variety.
I’ve discovered a few local options that, in the spirit of parenthood, I’ll share with you.
• Kid movies (cool, dark, sometimes quiet):
Regal Cinemas offers free kid movies nationwide for nine weeks every summer. This means that Beaucatcher 7 is the air-conditioned spot to hang on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Both G and PG movies are offered each day. 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. Did I mention that these are free? Unless you get suckered into buying the over-priced popcorn, that is.
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, this is a great deal. Plus you can sip a microbrew while the kids chug lemonade. Last summer, a showing of Madagascar was particularly fun when five little girls jumped on stage and began gyrating as the lemur king sang “I like to move it, move it!”
• Outdoor activities (wear your babies out!):
Asheville Parks and Recreation pools are open until Aug. 10. There are three: Recreation Park, Malvern Hills and Walton Street. For $3 per person per visit, the rec pools are a good deal. You also can buy 15-visit passes for $40 (www.ashevillnc.gov). And don’t forget the pools operated by Buncombe County Parks and Rec (www.buncombecounty.org).
Public parks are free and open to raucous kids, and there are 54 of those in the county! Again, 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.
Also free are most local waterfalls and hiking trails, although these can 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 element. The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Web site gives good directions and details about local hiking trails (www.exploreasheville.com).
• Feed the hollow leg:
If you’re as sick of making peanut-butter sandwiches and 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. Recently, my boy ate five pieces of pizza and two bowls of ice cream, and drank two sodas there in a single sitting.
A number of restaurants also offer “kids eat free” nights (with a fully paid adult meal). Locally owned Urban Burrito becomes Romper Room central on Tuesday nights. A number of chain restaurants also feature “kids eat free” nights (Fuddruckers, for one), and damn, I don’t like being chained down, but if the price is right … .
• Put ‘em to sleep with music:
The Concerts on the Quad at UNCA are almost over for the season — but you can enjoy Jibblin’ the Froeline on Monday, July 7, and The Buckerettes on Monday, July 14. 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 the new location on North Lexington, although there’s no longer a comfy grassy area for the kids. Ultimate Ice Cream’s cart is there for you, however. More at: www.ashevilledowntown.org.
Shindig on the Green gives mountain music a home at MLK Jr. Park, most Saturday nights until Sept. 2, starting around sundown. More at: www.folkheritage.org.
If you know of other fun and freebie kid opportunities, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Coming soon:
I usually don’t announce future columns (because I usually have no clue what I’m going to write about from week to week), but soon I’ll be writing about my experiences as part of the Eat Carolina Challenge. I’m telling you this now in case any Edgy Mama readers want to try the challenge with me. All you have to do is eat and drink foods grown or processed in North and South Carolina for a week (July 7-13). Enviro-spouse and I are both answering the challenge and trying to bring the kids into the “locavore” fold as well. Anyone know where I can get North Carolina-grown bananas?
Join us by contacting Kari Brayman of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association at 275-0017. Check out their Web site at www.carolinafarmstewards.org.