Cool escapes for hot days

By KATHRYN ACREE

It’s July, and summer is in full blast. Well, a blast of heat that is.  If you and your family or friends are ready to enjoy fun minus the sun, here are some cool places not too far away to beat the heat:

DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park, Childersburg

This Alabama landmark is only a few miles east of Chelsea off Highway 280. The cavern tour begins in a room that is 12-stories high and larger than a football field. And talk about cool—the cave stays a comfortable 60 degrees year round, but with the 100 percent humidity inside the caverns, the temperature feels closer to 70. The walking tour through the caverns is a 1/3-mile journey; the entrance and exit to the caverns are wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Regular park hours during July are Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m.- 6:30 p.m.  For additional information on availability and rates for all park activities, go to http://www.desotocavernspark.com.

Tree Top Family Adventure, Chelsea

This four-acre entertainment destination has become known for go-karts and mini-golf. But when the sun is blazing, it’s still a great place to be inside their 18,000-square-foot facility. They boast Birmingham’s largest arcade and prize redemption center. Among activities not to be missed are 66 mini-bowling lanes and a state-of-the-art laser tag arena. Children age 10 and under can enjoy the indoor playground and toddler area. Animaland offers a large selection of stuffed animals where you can build your new best friend. The TreeTop Café is inside for snacks or a sit-down dinner.

For more information on pricing and all the activities available, call 637-3780 or visit their website, http://www.treetopfamilyadventure.com/

iJump, Inverness

With 20,000 square feet of indoor entertainment space, iJump offers inflatable play equipment, party rooms, indoor go-karts, a rock climbing wall and arcade games. For parents, there is a lounge area with computers and Wifi access. New reduced pricing includes activities that can be purchased separately or in combo packs priced from $11 to $15. Remember that socks are required for playing on inflatables and appropriate shoes are required for the rock wall and go-karts.

New summer hours are Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 6 p.m. iJump is located on Resource Center Parkway behind Logan’s Roadhouse. For more information, call 981-2696.

McWane Science Center, Downtown Birmingham

Located downtown off 19th Street North, McWane Science Center offers four floors of interactive exhibits. From dinosaurs to a weather center to a shark and ray touch tank, this world-class museum appeals to visitors old and young.  This summer’s buzz has been all about McWane’s new special exhibit, the Imagination Lab, featuring a bubble room, zip line, giant maze and messy art studio.

Summer hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 6 p.m. They are open every day during the summer, even the Fouth of July. For admission prices and additional information, call 714-8300 or visit their website, www. mcwane.org.

Free Movies, Lee Branch

Nothing beats free family fun! The Rave at Lee Branch is offering a free movie showing each Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. during the summer. For July 5 and 6, the movie is Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, on July 12 and 13, it’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and on July 19 and 20, it’s Gulliver’s Travels. Doors open at 9 a.m., and the concession stand offers $1 off their movie meal combo during this time. For more information, call the Rave at Lee Branch box office at 408-7857.

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