Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Going to an interesting local store can make for a fun mini-field trip with kids. You get in for free, it doesn't take up your whole day like a museum can, and the stores are often conveniently located for doing other errands. Some of the kid-friendly stores we've written about in the past include Cabela's, The MT Supermarket , The Natural Gardener, and ZooKeeper Exotic Pet Store.
Nature's Treasures is a super-cool rock and fossil store in central Austin. If you go you're likely to find as many fascinated kids wandering around there as there are serious collectors.
Recently, I saw one little boy who couldn't get enough of the displays. He ran from rock to rock and filled the store with his "Whoa! Guys, look at this!" and "Amazing!" At one point, he turned to me and said, "I've bought things from here, you know." And in fact, one of the fun aspects of Nature's Treasures for children is the variety of brightly colored rocks they can buy for just a quarter or fifty cents each.
For those without quarters to spend there is a large statue that offers free rocks to visitors upon exiting (one per child).
As one might imagine at this kind of store, there is a strong mystical element. My family is not appreciative of that sort of thing, but we still found plenty of interesting geological displays to thoroughly enjoy our visit. My kids were amazed at the crystal geodes so large you can sit in them. It was exciting to be able to handle the petrified wood, and to touch real dinosaur bones.
One of the neat aspects of this store is the complete accessibility to kids who are free to run their hands over all the neat textures on the rocks and even to hold many of them. They can climb up on a bench made entirely of crystal and try their hand at playing a tune on the singing bowls.
It's a great way to escape the summer heat while still having a fun (and even educational) encounter with nature!
(Northbound Frontage Road of IH-35 between 38 1/2 and Airport Boulevard)
4103 North IH-35
Austin, Texas 78722