Popcorn & More: Central Texas Movie Theaters near Kyle, Texas


The movies are coming to Kyle! Construction on the city’s first movie theatre and entertainment complex – the EVO Family Entertainment Center – has begun. And by November of this year, residents of Kyle will be able to go to the movies, play bowling and laser tag just minutes away from home.  The complex will feature an 11-auditorium theatre, a 14-lane bowling center, a “casino style” arcade floor featuring video and redemption games, and a full-scale restaurant and bar.  In anticipation for the November opening, here are some other movie entertainment options available around Plum Creek for date nights, girls’ night out or for family-friendly entertainment.

Central Texas Movie Theaters

In South Austin at the intersection of Mopac and Slaughter Lane lies The Alamo Drafthouse, an Austin establishment that offers visitors movies, alcohol, delicious food, and themed/special events. The Drafthouse hosts special screenings, the latest blockbuster releases, as well as sing and quote-a-longs for adults and children to enjoy. Additionally, the Slaughter Lane Drafthouse is home to 400 Rabbits, a cocktail lounge adjacent to the movie theater that features Spanish-inspired bites and specializes in tequila and mescal based cocktails. The programming at Alamo Drafthouse changes every month and can be viewed on the theater’s website. This month they’ve been featuring the Bring it On Cheer-Along and special subtitled showings of Hayao Miyazaki’s newest movie, The Wind Rises.  The Alamo Drafthouse also offers convenient ticket purchasing via their official app available in the iTunes app store. And remember – events at the Drafthouse are popular, and unlike a traditional movie theater, the Alamo Drafthouse requires movie-goers to reserve seats online before attending a show.

Central Texas Movie Theaters

Photo courtesy of the Austin Chronicle

Deeper into Austin (downtown to be exact) Violet Crown Cinema is another food-and-movie establishment located in the 2nd Street District that offers moviegoers an upscale theater experience. The theater’s four screens are devoted to independent, documentary and international and the cinema bar and café offers a full cocktail bar and an appetizer menu with a wide range of options, too. Tickets for the cinema can be reserved and purchased online and the schedule of shows can also be found on the Violet Crown website.

Just south of Kyle, Texas Cinema Showplace in San Marcos offers a movie experience on the cheap – $1 to be exact. It’s a small theater, with only three auditoriums that show movies once they’ve left the big screen, but they’re a dollar or less and close to home – can’t beat that!

With these theaters and more around Kyle, there are plenty of entertainment options available for Kyle residents to  enjoy until November when EVO opens its doors!

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Let’s Go Fly a Kite: The Zilker Kite Festival


Spring is in the air. Which means that in Austin this weekend, kites will be too! The Zilker Kite Festival is one of Austin’s favorite springtime events. Usually held the first Sunday in March, this year’s festival was postponed due to the unseasonably cold weather, and will take place this Sunday, March 9th. The event is free and open to the public and is a great springtime activity for the whole family. Because, honestly, who doesn’t love kites?

Zilker Kite Festival

Photo courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman

In its 85th year, the Zilker Kite Festival (originally called the “Kite Tournament”) was created by The Exchange Club of Austin in 1929 with the mission of encouraging creativity in children. In 1936, The Exchange Club partnered with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department to bring the event to newly-opened Zilker Park, which is still the home for the annual event.

The festival continues to be presented by The Exchange Club of Austin, which is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. The group encourages good citizenship, community service, and uses the Zilker Kite Festival as a way to bring attention to the mission of the nonprofit. To find out more about The Exchange Club, visit The Exchange Club of Austin website.

Zilker Kite Festival

Photo courtesy of the Downtown Austin Alliance

The Kite Festival begins at 10 a.m., and at 11 the Kite Making workshop, registration for the kite contest and kite flying demonstrations by professional fliers begin. The afternoon of fun continues with the kite contest launching at 1 p.m., and hours of free-range flying. Categories for the kite contest include: highest angle kite, steadiest kite, strongest pulling kites, smallest kite, most unusual kite, largest kite and mass kite ascent.

The festival will host several booths for food, crafts and other services. Check out the entire list, which includes local Austin favorites such as Amy’s Ice Creams, Daily Juice, Hat Creek Burgers and more. The vendors will be open for the entirety of the Zilker Kite Festival, so when all that kite flying activity wipes you out, nutritious local Austin food can revive your energy levels for many more hours of kite-flying fun!

Prepare for the Zilker Kite Festival by buying or creating your own special kite and viewing the map of the park for the event.  More information can be found on the festival’s Facebook page and on their website. The festival accepts volunteers for the event and donations to continue the growth of the event and the associated nonprofit. So check it out – and let’s go fly a kite! Up to the highest heights!

You knew it was coming at some point, didn’t you?

Plum Creek Challenge Kicks Off in Kyle This Saturday


With miles of hike and bike trails, wide open spaces and pocket parks galore, Plum Creek is a neighborhood that privileges fitness and outdoor activities. And being in Central Texas, there is no end to the kinds of outdoor and fitness-related activities you can get your hands on around Plum Creek. This year, the fitness offerings within the neighborhood itself expand significantly with the Plum Creek Challenge Race Series, a new, year-long fitness experience that is open to the general public and to Plum Creek residents as well. The family-friendly race series expands upon existing races and the fitness culture of the neighborhood, with plans for expansion in future years, and kicks off this year with the Negley 5K, which takes place in the neighborhood this Saturday, March 1st.

In its fourth year, the Negley 5K was originally created as a fun way to get Negley Elementary students moving and active. Over time, parents and other people from Plum Creek and beyond have begun participating in the annual race, which has 5K, 3K and 1K courses to accommodate participants of all ages, and is probably the most popular race in the community, to date.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

The idea for the Plum Creek Challenge Race Series germinated from the popularity of the existing races in the neighborhood, including the Negley 5K and two races associated with community-wide events in the neighborhood, Front Porch Days and Hootenanny on the Hill, which take place in May and October, respectively. These races are popular among Plum Creek residents and those from the Central racing community, but participation fluctuates considerably from race to race. Thus, the Plum Creek Challenge came into fruition: to encourage people to stay active and participate in all of the races throughout the year.

As one of the Plum Creek Race Coordinators, Jennifer Crosby put it: “My ultimate goal for this series is to build an active community, and to get people off their couches and into this beautiful neighborhood. And that is done in small, consistent steps. We already have some great races here in Plum Creek that draw elite runners and families from outside the neighborhood because they enjoy our closed courses and the difficulty of the courses themselves. But if you don’t have a natural progression for people to sign up for future races, then that momentum is lost. The Plum Creek Challenge was created to keep people coming to the starting lines.”

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

So, the Plum Creek Challenge unites the three existing races in the neighborhood, the Negley 5K, the Front Porch Days 10K / 5K and Hootenanny on the Hill, and adds a 4-mile Fourth of July race to the neighborhood’s repertoire – while also creating an incentive for people to participate in all of the races, all year long. The Challenge is divided into four racing divisions: the long track and the short track for adults, and the same for kids. To encourage committed participation in all races, finisher medals and exclusive long-sleeved t-shirts are awarded for each individual who completes all four races, and there will be overall male and female Series Champions for the overall times for the long and short track adult divisions.

Over 30 people have signed up for the Plum Creek Challenge to-date. Depending on the success and participation in this years’ Plum Creek Challenge, the two Plum Creek Race Coordinators, Jennifer Crosby and Brandee Otto, hope to add even more races to the neighborhoods repertoire, so that those who wish to participate in the whole challenge will be able to run an entire marathon or a half marathon over the course of the year. This would eventually manifest in approximately one race every two months, and could include such exciting races as the Color Run, scavenger hunt races and more.

So, if you’re in the area Saturday March 1st, come cheer on the racers and learn more about the Plum Creek Challenge, so you can participate in the rest of the races throughout the year. Details and more information are available here.

Hill Country Lights for the Holidays


Chilly nights in December are the perfect time for packing up your family and friends to explore some of the beautiful holiday light displays available across Central Texas and the Texas Hill Country. The annual Texas Hill Country Regional Christmas Lighting Trail is an assemblage of  lighting displays from small towns throughout the region, including  Austin, Bandera, Blanco, Boerne, Burnet, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, Marble Falls and Wimberley. To help you navigate the displays, the lighting trail website offers a helpful map and schedule of events and activities in each city.

Bandera is one of the stops on the Regional Lighting Trail, and, as the ‘Cowboy Capital of Texas’, Bandera will be hosting its annual Christmas Singing in the Saddle event at the Longhorn Saloon tomorrow evening, December 18th. Visitors are encouraged to bring, or rent horses, for Christmas caroling down Main Street at this event, and there will be hot chocolate and sweet treats available for visitors at the end of the parade ride.

While Fredericksburg, Texas is a popular getaway year-round, the town is extra special during the holiday season. Over the course of the holidays, Fredericksburg’s unique German heritage is on display with holiday décor, which includes a 26-foot-tall Christmas Pyramid at the town’s Marktplatz. Other attractions include an outdoor ice skating rink, 150 specialty shops with crafts from local artists, 75 restaurants serving everything from traditional German cuisine to unique Hill Country dishes, and over 400 bed and breakfast options for overnight guests.

Central Texas holiday

Photo courtesy of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce

Just down the road from Fredericksburg, the Johnson City courthouse lighting display is one of the largest lighting displays in the state. Millions of lights cover the historic Blanco County Courthouse, creating a visual treat.  The lights are up until January 1st, and the inside of the courthouse is open on Saturday and Sunday nights throughout December from 6:00-9:00 p.m. for photos in front of the large Christmas tree, and the local Garden Club will be on hand to sell crafts and ornaments.

Located on Highway 281, just 40 miles west of Austin, Blanco, Texas celebrates the holiday season with the lighting of Blanco’s downtown Bindsiel Park. The park lights are open for holiday visitors until January 6th and, while in Blanco, visitors can enjoy the many antique shops and boutiques along the courthouse square as well. Another notable lighted courthouse in the area is the historic Burnet County Courthouse in Burnet, Texas, which shines  with thousands of white lights all over the building’s façade. Burnet is also home to a massive 18-foot multi-color Christmas tree, which is perfect for photo ops.  The Burnet lighting display is open nightly until January 1st.

Since 1991, the Marble Falls Walkway of Lights has also delighted visitors of all ages. Over 2 million lights dot  150+ decorated sculptures, which create a magical reflection on the waters of Lake Marble Falls. This enchanting self-guided tour is open nightly beginning at 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. until January 1st.

Central Texas holiday

Photo courtesy of the Marble Falls Walkway of Lights Facebook Page

Also just outside of Austin, Wimberley hosts its 16th Annual Trail of Lights at the EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens. This year’s trail features 8 acres of glowing displays decorated by local businesses and community groups, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to celebrate the season every Friday and Saturday evening until Christmas.  Nearby, in Austin, the beloved Trail of Lights at Zilker Park is open nightly until December 22nd, with an exciting schedule of entertainment from local bands.

Holidays in the Hill Country are unlike any other celebration. The region offers free, easily accessible lighting displays and events sure to charm visitors of all ages.  So pack up your crew this weekend and experience the joy of the season.

Elgin and Bastrop This Holiday Season


Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means the Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm is open for business. The Christmas tree farm has been a beloved Central Texas tradition since it opened as a small retirement business in 1984; and today, the farm has the largest selection of Christmas trees in Central Texas.  Each year the Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm plants over 6,000-7,000 seedlings, and they have multiple fields that they sell from each year. Their farm has a variety of different trees, including Virginia Pines, Loblolly Pines, Leyland Cypresses and pre-cut Fraser Fir Trees, and not only are you getting an authentic, Central Texas-grown Christmas tree  at their farm, you’re getting an experience along with it as well! The farm  features fun, family-friendly activities including a petting zoo, scenic hayrides, mazes, a Christmas Cottage and a children’s playground. They’re open every day until 5:30 p.m., except later on Thursdays and Fridays, when they’re open until 8:30 p.m.

Central Texas

Photo courtesy of YNN

Elgin is a bit of a drive from Kyle for a Christmas tree. (And totally worth it, for the experience of the farm and the smell of fresh pine in your home throughout the holiday season.) But if you need another reason to make the journey worth your while, Bastrop is hosting their annual Lost Pines Christmas celebration this weekend (Thursday , December 12th through Sunday, December 15th). Each day of the holiday party offers something different and unique, including stargazing and other activites at McKinney Rough Nature Park, the Christmas Street Market in downtown Bastrop, Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Bastrop Public Library, an array of shows and performances including The Nutcracker, as well as lighted Christmas parades, the Bastrop River of Lights and more.

More than 30 family-friendly activities occur throughout the four day weekend, and each event is distinctly and uniquely Bastrop. Visit the Lost Pines Christmas website for a full schedule and details about the event. It’s a great way to have some holiday fun away from home, for a day or for the weekend!

Central Texas holidays

Bastrop River of Lights courtesy of the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce

Holiday Films and Live Showings in Central Texas


Of all of the holidays throughout the year, those in December are often the ones that are most celebrated in pop culture – whether it’s through song, films, plays or other live experiences. Such mainstays as The Nutcracker, The Grinch and It’s a Wonderful Life have become holiday traditions for many people this time of year; and across Central Texas, there are countless opportunities for experiencing your favorites.

Austin is the perfect place for getting your holiday fix this December, as it’s a mere 20 minute drive away from Kyle – and nearly every movie theater or theater house in town is celebrating the holiday season in their own way. The Alamo Drafthouse, for example, is showing both holiday classics and modern favorites (many with their own special programming) including a Home Alone Pizza Party, a Christmas Vacation Quote Along, It’s a Wonderful Life and more.  Most of the special programs are shown at the original Drafthouse location on 6th Street, just down the road from I-35, making it an easy stop for those of us traveling to the theater from Kyle. Plus, there’s the Paramount and Stateside Theaters a little further into downtown Austin which are also showing holiday films throughout the month.

Plum Creek Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of Ballet Austin

If a live experience is more your thing, the ZACH Theater in Austin is showing their own take on the Christmas classics A Christmas Story and This Wonderful Life the whole month of December; and Ballet Austin will be performing their annual presentation of The Nutcracker at The Long Center for the Performing Arts as well.  The Nutcracker will also be shown in San Marcos at the San Marcos High School Performing Arts Center thanks to the River City Ballet, and THIS THURSDAY, the famous jazz version of the classic ballet from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, will be put on by the Texas State University Jazz Ensemble and the Department of Theater and Dance at Texas State’s Evans Auditorium. The Evans Auditorium will also be home to the Hill Country Youth Chorus’ free presentation of the “Holidays in the Hill Country” on December 9th as well.

Plum Creek Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of the San Marcos Mercury

In Kyle, the Hays CISD Performing Arts Center located in Plum Creek is host to another array of holiday shows and events throughout the month, including holiday performances from the districts’ choirs, orchestras and bands, a performance of The Nutcracker on Sunday, December 15th and The Night Before Christmas on December 20th and 21st.

So to get you and yours in the holiday spirit this month, complement the holiday classics you have on VHS and DVD with some live film and theater experiences, and celebrate not only the season, but the talent and creativity that’s present here in Central Texas!

 

 

The Best Places in Central Texas to See Fall Foliage


Texas isn’t exactly New England when it comes to turning trees. Even so, there are still some absolutely breathtaking places for experiencing the fall colors of Central Texas – just a day or weekend trip away from Kyle.

One such area is the Lost Maples State Natural Area in Fredericksburg, about 86 miles northwest of San Antonio. Lost Maples is one of the most popular places for seeing the changing trees in the whole state, with over 200,000 visitors to the park a year. The natural area covers 2,000 acres and includes 11 miles of hiking trails, camping sites, and fishing in the Sabinal River.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Photo courtesy of the Lost Maples Facebook Page

The area predominately features big tooth maples, and in the past week or so, the trees have changed to display some bright colors along the main road. The drought of the past few years has been challenging for the trees in Central Texas, but the last cold front and the recent rain in the area has made a difference in the color show. The next color change this season will be the Red Oaks, which will turn in late November and early December. So bundle up and hop in the car this week for a beautiful day amid the trees, for a hike, or a picnic to catch the colors in their prime. Weekends, of course, are the most popular time for witnessing the colors so make the journey on a weekday to get the most out of the experience.

The Devils Backbone, Ranch Road 32 from Wimberley and Blanco, is another great place for a beautiful drive to see fall colors in Central Texas. The Devils Backbone is a winding journey through the hills and canyons of the Hill Country, and both sides of the road are riddled with trees, which seem to go on for miles and miles in either direction. And this time of year they are even more breathtaking than usual. Further west, the scenic drive from Camp Wood to Leakey is another excellent spot for witnessing fall colors. The route has been named one of the most scenic drives in Texas, with roads climbing some of the highest elevations in the Hill Country at over 2,300 feet, and numerous roadside lookouts that offer great views of reds, greens and golds.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

The Devil’s Backbone, courtesy of Active Rain

So, this week before or after the Thanksgiving celebrations begin, pile the family into the car for a day trip out to the Hill Country to catch Central Texas trees in one of their most beautiful states.