5 engaging (and free) outdoor activities to help your kids escape the doldrums this summer

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

What better way to celebrate summer than to explore the beautiful parks near your own backyard? With College Station’s 56 developed parks covering more than 1,793 acres, we have plenty of space and activities to discover.

The best part? It’s free!

Allow us to suggest five adventures:

1. Splash Pads

Slip on your swimsuits and slather on the sunscreen — we have two splash pads open from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

The covered, wheelchair-accessible splash pad at the Fun for All Playground at Stephen C. Beachy Central Park has tipping buckets, a weeping water shower, and directional spray areas. The W.A. Tarrow Splash Pad next to the Lincoln Recreation Center has tipping buckets and directional spray areas.

No lifeguards are on duty, so you must supervise your children. Pets, food, glass objects, alcohol, smoking, vaping, and tobacco are prohibited. We also don’t allow toys, skateboards, rollerblades, skates, bikes, scooters, or similar equipment.

2. Lick Creek Park

The 523-acre Lick Creek Park may be the crown jewel of College Station’s park system. The area’s premier nature preserve, Lick Creek has five miles of marked trails and opportunities for hiking, cycling, bird watching, equestrian activities, and nature study. Restrooms are available at the Lick Creek Nature Center from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday. 

The nature center unveils a new exhibit with interactive activities for all ages from 10 a.m.-noon each Saturday. Admission is free, and the displays are open during regular operating hours throughout the week. Topics feature bugs, nature, dinosaurs, vegetation, and more.

Are you looking for a way to keep your nature lover engaged? Try your luck at Lick Creek Park Trail Bingo.

3. Fishing

It’s catfish stocking season in Texas, and thanks to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Neighborhood Fishin’ program, you won’t have to travel far to catch one. Stephen C. Beachy Central Park pond is stocked with catfish every two-to-four weeks.

Catfish prefer strong-smelling baits, so reel in a big one with nightcrawlers, chicken livers, shrimp, stinkbait, or cut hot dogs. And don’t forget your freshwater fishing stamp if you’re 17 or older. 

For more information on harvest regulations and license requirements, visit Texas Parks & Wildlife.

4. G. Hysmith Skate Park

The G. Hysmith Skate Park is a popular venue for skaters and skateboarders of all skill levels. The lighted facility features a covered spectator area, a sizeable pro-style flow bowl, a pool-type bowl, and a long, linear street course with hundreds of feet of varying terrain and scalable elements. 

Proper safety gear is always recommended. In addition, bicycles and personal ramps are now allowed in the skating area. So have fun, be safe, and respect your fellow skaters.

5. Picnics

What better way to enjoy nature than a simple picnic? Beachy Central Park offers lots of green space to enjoy an outdoor meal. You can set up a classic picnic under the trees by the pond and watch the ducks and fishers, pause beneath the gazebo, or claim a picnic table and fire up the barbecue pit. 

The park also offers climate-controlled restrooms in the pavilion and athletic shed.

Of course, there’s more to picnicking than eating, and Central Park has plenty of fun activities. You can play a pickup game on the basketball courts, enjoy sand volleyball, fly a kite, play soccer, or toss a frisbee. The park also has a pair of lighted tennis courts, a play unit for little ones, a one-mile walking trail, and our newest attraction, the Fun for All Playground.

Take advantage of summer and discover something extraordinary right here in College Station. If you have questions or want more suggestions, contact me at knesbitt@cstx.gov.

<em><strong><mark style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0)" class="has-inline-color has-medium-gray-color">About the Blogger</mark></strong></em>
About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 17 years, the last nine as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.

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