One of the best things to do in Austin with your family - and cheapest too!
For 50 years, Zilker Park has hosted a summer musical at it's hillside theater. This year the performance was the Disney Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast and it was spectacular. I can't commet on previous performances myself, but all the reviews led me to believe that the quality of past shows have been equally as good. The performance was wonderful - the set, costumes, live orchestra, and especially the actors. And the best part, it was free! The only cost was $3 parking, which you can avoid if you ride public transportation (first check that there will be buses running there late at night - we got stranded once a few years back when we were seeing a movie at the theater). We went once as a family and once with relatives from out-of-town and it was a great experience both times, but there are some tips.
First, get there early. Unfortunately, the park says that after 6 pm it is okay to leave an unguarded blanket to reserve your spot. I wish they would do away with this rule since the performance didn't start until 8:30 and by the time most people got there around 7, all of the central spots were taken up by people who had dropped off their blanket and then went swimming. The theater is basically a stage at the bottom of a hill and once there is a large crowd, getting a decent spot is difficult. We tried several different spots and figured out that being on the right was much better than being towards the back center, where the ground levels off and most people have chairs blocking your view. You can bring your own food, but there are concessions and restrooms available. If you drive, remember to have a lot of patience when you are trying to leave - it will take you 30 to 40 minutes to get out of the parking lot if you are towards the back. It would be nice if they used some of the money from parking to hire one or two people to direct traffic in the parking lot.
The summer musical was lovely because it was very family friendly and representative of the Austin community. It was a great way to spend an evening (for us - two!) and we plan on making this an annual event for our family.
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