I am usually a Type A stickler for bedtimes. At least with my family, a well-rested kid equals a happy kid (and a happy mom). However, I try to relax this on summer nights when there’s fun to be had.

Summer night splurges we have planned:


Thursday Nature Nights at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: From 6–8pm, take your little naturalists for some free and fun interactive presentations (snakes! birds of prey! wildfire!), along with expert-led hikes and nature crafts.


Friday Family Movie Nights at Ski Shores: The movie starts at dusk with free s’mores for kids. Come a little early to enjoy a lakeside dinner or cold beer, while the kids enjoy the playground. It’s our low budget version of owning a lake house.


The fabulous and family-friendly Soul of A Musician Series: This gem runs on select Sundays from 6:30pm-8pm at the Iron Cactus. It’s a bedtime-friendly way to enjoy the best of Austin’s live music scene with your kids. You can come for dinner or sit in the chairs up front for just drinks. My kids can vouch that listening to great musicians in your pajamas over Shirley Temples is a really nice way to end a week.

What on your family’s calendar for summer night fun? Please comment below so we can all ride each other’s summer fun coattails.

Nicole Vickey is co-founder of Dinner Elf, a company that helps busy families sit down to home-cooked dinners.

This is part of her series on “hacks” for busy families to make limited time off into memorable summer fun.