I’m boooored! 50 things to do with your kids this summer
by Julia Ehringhaus and Lisa Davis
Star Staff Writers
May 29, 2011 | 11611 views |  2 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
1. Visit the new murals and educational markers at the first two sites on the Anniston Civil Rights Trail. The two murals commemorate the Freedom Riders, Civil Rights activists who took bus rides through the South in 1961 to test desegregation laws. Two buses were attacked by the Ku Klux Klan after they stopped in downtown Anniston. The murals are at the sites of the old Greyhound station at 1031 Gurnee Ave., and the old Trailways station at the corner of Ninth and Noble streets. FREE

2. Then go visit “Courage Under Fire,” an exhibit of photos at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County documenting the attack on a Freedom Riders buses, that was firebombed outside Anniston. The photos were taken by Joe Postiglione, a photographer working for the Anniston Star. FREE.

3. Go to the drive-in. The Starlight Drive-In in Anniston is showing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides this week. Showtime is approximately 7:30 p.m. 256-741-1411.

4. Visit 32 Degrees, the new serve-yourself frozen yogurt bar at Oxford Exchange, and put a little bit of everything in your bowl.

5. Go to the bookstore, claim one of the comfy chairs and read comic books. FREE

6. We don’t know if it’s good timing or bad timing, but the Imax theater at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham is showing Tornado Alley, which follows storm chasers on the most ambitious research project yet to understand the origins of tornados. Also new at the McWane this summer (all opening this weekend): seahorses in the aquarium; an exhibit on healthy living; and the Imagination Lab, which features a bubble room, an indoor zip line, a giant maze, giant foam building blocks and a Messy Art Studio. 205-714-8300, www.mcwane.org.

7. Remember Sue, the T. rex? The most famous Tyrannosaurus in the world broke attendance records when she was at the Anniston Museum of Natural History. The full-size skeleton cast of Sue — 12 feet high, 42 feet long — is back in Alabama this summer at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. There’s also a new “Be the Dinosaur” simulator pod, in which you can experience life as a dinosaur, from communicating with others in your herd to using your sense of smell to find food. Through Sept. 5. 1-800-63-SPACE, www.ussrc.com.

8. Mark your calendar for the big summer kids’ movies: Kung Fu Panda 2 (playing now), X-Men: First Class (June 3), Super 8 and Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (both June 10), Mr. Popper’s Penguins with Jim Carrey and Green Lantern (both June 17), Cars 2 (June 24), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1), The Zookeeper (ooooh, the animals can talk!) (July 8), Winnie-the-Pooh (the first big-screen Pooh in 35 years) (July 15), Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22), Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs (wait… are the Smurfs the aliens?) (both July 29). Tuesday is Super Saver day, with tickets only $6 all day, $9 for 3D.

9. Oh, we almost forgot: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2, JULY 15.

10. The AmStar movie theater at Quintard Mall will show Summer Kids Flicks at 10 a.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday. A ticket is $3 and includes popcorn and a drink. www.thegrandtheatre.com.

11. Have a family water balloon fight. FREE.

12. Have a family sidewalk chalk art exhibit. FREE.

13. Weiss Lake is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. Explore the lake with an easy flat-water paddle (no experience needed). The tour will include historic sites, flora, fauna and maybe some wildlife. 5-9 p.m. June 24. Contact the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, 256-927-8455, www.cherokee-chamber.org.

14. Or take a guided paddle along Terrapin Creek, led by JSU Field Schools, the Terrapin Creek Outdoor Center and the Anniston Outdoor Association. (Not recommended for children under 12). 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 4 at the Terrapin Creek Outdoor Center, near Centre. $30 per person kayak, $25 per person double canoe, $20 bring-your-own canoe or kayak. Pre-registration required. 256-782-8010, epic.jsu.edu.

15. Picasso, it’s definitely not. “Who Shot Rock & Roll,” the blockbuster summer exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art, features photographs of rock stars from 1955 to the present. L.L. Cool J, Radiohead, the Ramones, Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones — even a young Jimi Hendrix in a suit and tie. June 24-Sept. 18. $10. The museum also offers free hands-on art activities for kids every Saturday at 11 a.m. 205-254-2565, < a href="http://www.rockbma.com">www.rockbma.com.

16. Music at McClellan offers a series of free outdoor concerts at the recently restored Monteith Outdoor Amphitheatre at McClellan. Bring your own chairs or picnic blankets (don’t forget food! or there will also be vendors). Join them on June 4 (artist TBA) or June 11 (Etowah Youth Orchestra) from 6-8 pm. Doors open at 5 p.m. 256-782-8010, www.musicatmcclellan.org. FREE

17. Calling all crafty kids! Hobby Lobby at Oxford Exchange has plenty of ideas for summer projects. We particularly like the dozens of ways you can style up a pair of summer flip-flops. www.hobbylobby.com.

18. New at the Birmingham Zoo: two giraffes, names Zuri and Keyara. Zuri is 12 months old, and is easily recognized because she’s the shortest in the herd of five giraffes. Keyara is 15 months old, and is the niece of the zoo’s oldest female giraffe, Willow. There are also three White Stork chicks at the zoo, and Wally the alligator is back in the newly renovated swampland exhibit. The zoo will be open for extended summer hours until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 205-879-0409, www.birminghamzoo.com.

19. The Little River Canyon Center in Fort Payne hosts free nature and art programs for preschool kids the fourth Friday of the month, 11 a.m.-noon. The center also leads free family hikes the fourth Saturday of the month, in which kids are led along a trail to find objects that don’t belong there. 1 p.m. 256-782-8010, epic.jsu.edu. FREE.

20. Make a stop-motion movie with Legos or other toys. Set up a scene, shoot a couple of seconds of video, change the scene slightly, shoot more video, repeat. FREE

21. Make up a superhero and draw your own comic strip. FREE

22. Build a valet organizer (June 4) or a kid-sized toolbox (June 18) at Home Depot’s kids’ workshops, 9 a.m.-noon the first Saturday of every month. For ages 5-12. FREE.

23. Or, over at Lowes’ free kids’ workshops, build a Goofy Golf game on June 11. FREE

24. We’re deep into the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Check out the three local sites on the Alabama Civil War Trail. The collection at the Berman Museum of World History includes Civil War weaponry and a set of traveling pistols that were presented to Jefferson Davis by the Belgian government. The burial site of Confederate war hero Maj. John Pelham — nicknamed “Gallant Pelham” — is marked with a statue, in the cemetery at Church and James streets in Jacksonville. Janney Furnace, an iron furnace in Ohatchee, was almost completely destroyed by Union troops in 1864. MOSTLY FREE

25. Visit Alabama’s bat cave. The Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge near Decatur is a summer roosting site for 200,000 gray bats from June through August. Every night, near dusk, they emerge from the cave. It takes about an hour for all of them to fly out. For best viewing, park at the entrance gate and walk about 100 yards to the cave entrance on your right. The cave itself is closed to the public, but you can hike around the 264-acre refuge. 256-353-7243, www.fws.gov/sautacave. FREE

26. Now that the huge “Chocolate” exhibit has closed, the Anniston Museum of Natural History has returned to its regular schedule and ticket prices. Special summer programs include a “Build a Birdhouse with Dad” workshop on June 18; “Critters with the Curator” live animal show on June 21; and “Kids Night at the Museum” on June 30 — drop off the kids and let them explore the museum halls by flashlight. 256-237-6766, www.annistonmuseum.org.

27. Sign up for the summer reading program at your neighborhood public library. Read books, win prizes, enjoy special programs throughout the summer, from JSU drama performances to mapmaking. Libraries in Oxford, downtown Anniston, Carver branch, Hobson City and Jacksonville are all holding summer reading programs. FREE

28. Catch fireflies. FREE

29. Play “Firefly,” a nighttime game we found at the Family Fun website. You’ll need at least three people and one flashlight. One player is the firefly. She takes the flashlight and heads away from the group, with the flashlight off, while she counts to 60. When she gets to 60, she flashes the light once. The rest of the players then count to 100 before heading off to try and catch the firefly. The firefly can keep moving and hiding — but she must keep counting, and flash the light once every time she reaches 60. First person to tag her becomes the new firefly. FREE

30. Make yard art. This idea for a painted rock playset also comes from the Family Fun website. Take all those rocks that pop up in the yard, wash them, then paint them in vibrant colors and patterns with outdoor acrylic paint. Kids can use them to make rock cities, rock sculptures, rock patterns … FREE

31. Have a watermelon seed spitting contest. FREE

32. Visit the cows at Wright Dairy in Alexandria. There might be baby cows in the barn, or the cows might have been herded across the road and into the milking barn. Wright Dairy sells its fresh milk right on the premises, along with cheese, jams, honey and other goodies. Oh, and the chocolate milk and the premium ice cream are downright addictive.

256-820-1020, www.wrightdairy.com. FREE

33. Tramp across the Coldwater Covered Bridge at Oxford Lake — the oldest covered bridge in Alabama. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places — a piece of history right in our backyard. FREE.

34. Visit the farmers market. The market at Zinn Park in Anniston features music, arts and crafts and cooking demos as well as fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays starting June 18. The Jacksonville Farmers Market is open 7-11 a.m. Saturdays, in the pocket park behind Roma’s on the Jacksonville square. FREE.

35. Go blueberry picking. In Calhoun County, there are many farms where you can pick blueberries, peaches, apples, sweet corn, purple hull peas, squash, heirloom tomatoes and lima beans. Several area pick-your-own farms are listed at www.pickyourown.org.

36. It doesn’t have to be race weekend to visit the track. Take a tour of Talladega Superspeedway — cruise down pit road, around the track, cross the finish line and stop in Victory Lane for a photo op. The International Motorsports Museum is chock full of racing cars and other memorabilia. 877-462-3342, www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.

37. All you Percy Jackson fans can go look up a god’s toga at Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham. The god of the forge was called Hephaestus by the Greeks, or Vulcan by the Romans. The statue of Vulcan in Birmingham is the largest cast-iron statue in the world; an elevator takes you to an observation deck at the top of the statue. Vulcan’s 107th birthday bash will be noon-4 p.m June 5, with all kinds of kids’ activities. 205-933-1409, www.visitvulcan.com.

38. Continue your tour of the Iron City with a trip to Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham. Kids can walk through an underground rail tunnel, blowing engine room and see the furnaces. Follow the tour with a picnic by the spray pond. 205-324-1911, www.slossfurnaces.com.

39. Make light sabers out of old pool noodles. Cut them in thirds, wrap the ends in silver duct tape, then whack each other with them. FREE

40. Make goofy red-white-and-blue hats for the Fourth of July. FREE

41. Play in the sprinkler. FREE

42. There are now dolphins at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. The new Dolphin Tales gallery includes an underwater viewing window and a special-effects-laden performance by dolphins and humans. Advance reservations and tickets required. 404-581-4000, www.georgiaaquarium.org.

43. The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta has loaded up its summer schedule with family-friendly shows, including “Jack and the Beanstalk” (May 31-June 12), “Cinderella Della Circus” (June 16-July 17), “Martha Speaks” (July 19-31) and “Frog Belly Rat Bone” (Aug. 4-14). The center also has an extensive permanent exhibit of Jim Henson puppets and Muppets. 404-873-3391, www.puppet.org.

44. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta featured guided tours for families at 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. There are also brochures available for self-guided tours, and special family audio tours. Or check out a Discovery Backpack at the coat check in the lobby; it’s a DIY gallery hunt of art projects, puzzles, books and games that takes about 30-45 minutes. 404-733-5000, www.high.org.

45. The highest rated aquarium in America, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is a fun and educational outing. New this month is the nature exhibit “Ranger Rick’s Backyard Safari.” Don’t forget to check out the Imax theater. Outdoors on the Aquarium Plaza, the new Chattanooga River Market offers live music, a farmers market and craft vendors every Saturday. 800-262-0695, www.tnaqua.org.

46. Drag the tent and the sleeping bags into the backyard for this year’s National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout on June 25. (OK, you can do this anytime.) FREE.

47. Check out a book on constellations and spend an evening stargazing. FREE.

48. The Alabama Wildlife Center at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, a wildlife rehabilitation center specializing in Alabama birds, is a wonderful place to learn about the world around you and your family. With tours and wildlife education programs, your family can enjoy a walk on the wild side. 205-663-7930, www.awrc.org.

49. The Ruffner Mountain Nature Center — just 10 minutes from downtown Birmingham — is a 1,000-acre nature center and certified wildlife habitat. Expect beautiful wildflowers and exciting native plants. Admission is only a suggested $2 donation. There are several summer events and programs for kids. (205) 833-8264, www.ruffnermountain.org.

50. Rickwood Caverns State Park in Warrior offers panning for gemstones, cave tours, picnics and swimming. Make a weekend of it at one of the campsites. 205-647-9692, www.alapark.com/rickwoodcaverns.

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I’m boooored! 50 things to do with your kids this summer by Julia Ehringhaus and Lisa Davis
Star Staff Writers

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