10 (non-Pokemon) ways to make summer more fun

A guest relaxes in one of the one of the lounge chairs in the new water park addition in Paradise Springs at the Gaylord Texan Sunday.
A guest relaxes in one of the one of the lounge chairs in the new water park addition in Paradise Springs at the Gaylord Texan Sunday.

It’s hot, the kids are cranky, and there’s another month (and some change) before school starts again.

Don’t let the summertime blues get your family down.

Here are 10 ideas and products for kids, adults and the whole family that will infuse more fun into the rest of the season. Bonus, Mom and Dad: None involves chasing Pokemons down city streets.

1. Splash into a staycation

A fantastic resort with a world-class water park in its back yard? Yes, please. The Gaylord Texan Resort made a splash around Memorial Day when it opened a $5 million addition to its 5-year-old Paradise Springs outdoor water park.

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Nicholas Kuykendall, 15 of San Antonio, enjoys one of the slides in the new water park addition at Paradise Springs water park at the Gaylord Texan. Richard W. Rodriguez

Among the new offerings are more rental cabanas, three winding water slides, cool water features, more pool seating and a more kid-friendly pool area. In fact, the whole expansion was designed with little ones in mind, the Gaylord says.

Guests can float down a 600-foot-long winding lazy river, lounge in a 6,000-square-foot family lagoon with a walk-in beach, dip into two horseshoe-shaped hot pools, play with kiddos in a toddler pool, play water basketball and ride a 27-foot water slide.

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Guests enjoy the water features at the new addition to the Paradise Springs water park at the Gaylord Texan. Richard W. Rodriguez

Access to Paradise Springs is complimentary with a stay of at least one night at the Gaylord, and it is not open to the public. Rates and packages vary; for more information and to book, visit

2. Relax and float away

No longer just for kids, luxury pool floats are the must-have accessory for anyone planning to put in time at the pool this summer. From whimsical white swans (a favorite of pop star Taylor Swift) to over-the-top $6,000 Swarovski-encrusted unicorns, the luxury pool float market is booming with statement-making options to satisfy all tastes.

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SunnyLife pool inflatables SunnyLife

To get your float on in style, check out B Kids selection of Sunnylife pool floats. The newly opened children’s boutique is stocking (and quickly selling out of) the brand’s line of Instagram-worthy inflatables, which come in fun styles like a flamingo, whale, white swan and pineapple.

The pool floats range in price from $60 to $99. B Kids, 6323 Camp Bowie Blvd., Suite 151, Fort Worth. 682-286-1588;

3. Rent a boat

Like Andy Samberg sings, we’d like to grab our swim trunks and our flippy-floppies and be “on a boat” — all summer long. Good news: There’s an app and a website for that, and it’s like the Airbnb for watercraft. GetMyBoat is the largest boat rental and charter marketplace in the world.

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A yacht for rent through Get My Boat Timothy Alexander Phillips

Just about anywhere you’re headed, you can browse listings for privately owned watercraft by boat type (from yachts to jet skis), features and amenities before you go. Then connect with owners and confirm reservations, arrange pay-by-the-day insurance, enjoy the vessel and leave a review.

Got a boat that’s seldom used? Owners can list their watercraft with photos, description, pricing, availability and location. Insurance is arranged through a preferred provider.

GetMyBoat launched in 2013 when the founders were sailing in the Atlantic Ocean and noticed an unusual number of boats idling in marinas. Now they’ve got 58,000 boats in 169 countries, including many in North Texas; recent searches turned up a sailboat in Charleston, S.C., for $200 per hour, a sleep-aboard rental in Paris for $268 per night and a 21-foot Sea Ray wakeboard boat on Lake Lewisville for $450 per day. Learn more, and create and find listings at

4. Shoot under the sea

Check out what’s below the surface without leaving the boat. The Aquabotix HydroView Sport HD Camera allows you to view and document all your underwater adventures.

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Aquabotix HydroView Sport ROV Frontgate

Controlled via iPad or laptop, the easy-to-operate underwater vehicle can stream and record real-time video while capturing high-definition photos (it even creates its own Wi-Fi signal, and footage is easy to share, the company says). Set it to work before you cast a fishing pole to see what might be biting, or just enjoy watching sea creatures in their natural habitats.

In addition to underwater exploration, the HydroView Sport is great for searching for lost objects and inspecting underwater boat parts, the company says. Have your family, friends or fishing club save their pennies and contribute toward a purchase. $5,900, Frontgate, 888-263-9850,

5. Create a no-fly zone

The threat of Zika, West Nile virus and itchy mosquito bites can put a damper on outdoor activities until (sigh) the first freeze of the season — seemingly many months from now.

Bug zapper from sur la tabl
Bug Zapper from Sur la Table Courtesy of Sur la Table

Bug spray often contains chemicals, and citronella candles can’t be used in many public places. A handheld bug zapper, such as this one from Sur La Table, is a portable, eco-friendly way to kill them dead. It may look like an oversize fly swatter, but it’s actually a battery-powered killing machine for pesky flies, gnats, mosquitoes and other flying insects. Just pick it up, hold down the buttons until a red light indicates the net is activated, move it toward the insect and — zap!

Keep it on your patio, throw it in your car, toss it in your picnic basket or tuck it into your suitcase if you’re traveling to a place with mosquito-related health alerts. $14.95, Sur La Table, 1151 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake, 817-416-6257;

6. Pack a picnic with panache

Take your dinner on the road, and don’t forget a thing.

picnic basket
Picnic basket from Roanoke Trading Co. Barbara Berry Special to the Star-Telegram

This picnic basket packs everything you need — service for four with ceramic plates, glassware, silverware and napkins, plus plenty of room for food and drinks inside.

Just BYOBlanket. $120, Roanoke Trading Company, 115 N. Oak St., Roanoke, 682-237-7896.

7. Dine in style, alfresco

Have you noticed? Melamine dishes have gotten gorgeous. No longer do they look like tacky plastic plates just one step above paper. Take, for instance, the Swirl melamine dinnerware collection from Pottery Barn.

Swirl Dinnerware_Blue
Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Each piece looks like hand-painted and glazed Italian pottery, but it won’t break when it’s dropped on the patio. Mix and match the pretty colors — blue, turquoise and stone — to recall the colors of your last Caribbean vacation next to the swimming pool in your own back yard.

Set of four dinner plates, salad plates and bowls, $30-$42; each piece $6-$9. Pottery Barn, 1616 S. University Drive, Fort Worth, 817-332-5707, and 1440 Civic Place, Southlake, 817-251-0290;

8. Make your garden glow

Take advantage of the long days of summer and make your back yard or garden more beautiful for evening parties. The inflatable SolarPuff from Uncommon Goods harnesses the sun’s rays to provide up to 12 hours of illumination.

Made from a sturdy shell of water-tight sailcloth, and designed to pack flat, the light can travel easily. So it’s great for camping, too. $30,

solar puff
Solar Puff from Uncommon Goods Barbara Berry Special to the Star-Telegram

Enhance your garden’s natural beauty with unique hand-blown glass designs from Viz Glass. These refined handcrafted glass sculptures have small solar panels attached, which create an ethereal glow during the evening hours. A variety of colors, shapes and sizes are available. Starting at $34.99, Calloway’s Nursery (various locations),

Calloways sculpture
Calloways garden sculpture Randy Cohen Star-Telegram archives

9. Pour a cuppa cold

When the heat index is 105 degrees at the crack of dawn, the last thing anyone wants is scalding-hot coffee. Cold brew is a refreshing way to start a summer’s day. And have you checked your grocery-store shelves lately? Chilled, ready-to-drink coffees are hot right now.

Chameleon Cold Brew Jeremy Dahl

The best around comes from Chameleon Cold-Brew. The Austin-based company uses 100 percent organic, fair-trade Arabica coffee and limestone-cured water from the Texas Hill Country in a 16-hour brewing process. Going “lower and slower” than most cold-brew makers ensures maximum freshness, resulting in a smooth, less acidic coffee, the company says.

Chameleon Cold-Brew concentrates can be stirred into milk or nut milk for a creamy morning latte, or whirled into smoothies, frozen into ice pops or even poured into cocktails for a delicious java jolt. And new this summer, a Texas Pecan concentrate bottles one of the most iconic flavors of the Lone Star State.

Find Chameleon Cold-Brew at better grocery stores, such as Kroger Signature; Texas Pecan is available only at HEB and Central Market stores ($9.99 for 32 ounces);

10. Toast with the beers of summer

A cold beer can be the ultimate adult thirst-quencher when the summer sun sizzles. But navigating options amid the ever-growing local beer landscape can be daunting. Here are three of this summer’s brand new best bets.

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Martin House grapefruit beer. Ross Hailey

Juice Grapefruit Session IPA, Martin House Brewing Co.: A hop-lover’s summer dream, this seasonal IPA offers a hint of tart grapefruit flavor from a generous addition of grapefruit peel in the brewing process. The 5-percent-alcohol content is lower than most of Martin House’s craft selections, making this a refreshing sipper for lengthier drink sessions. Available in six-pack, 12-ounce cans. $9.99, Central Market;

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Rahr beer Ross Hailey

Drahthaar Double India Pale Ale, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co.: Named for a breed of German wire-haired pointing dog (one of which resides at the brewery and is named Schnapps), this robust brew is refreshingly aromatic with earthy notes of citrus, pine and malty caramel. Available in bomber-sized 650-milliliter bottles, the bold beer boasts 9.2 percent alcohol by volume, making it best for sipping slowly, perhaps by an evening campfire. $5.99-$6.99, Goody Goody Liquor and Central Market;

FoodNews SummerBeer WildAcre
Wild Acre Brewing Co.’s MoonLight Shine

Moonlight Shine Wheat Ale, Wild Acre Brewing Co.: Unfiltered and dry-hopped, Moonlight Shine offers traces of vanilla and orange zest amid a refreshing taste and citrusy aroma. With a light 5.7 percent alcohol by volume, the brew is one of four core beers launched by the new brewery, which is located in the former Ranch Style Beans complex. Founder and CEO John Pritchett says the building provides a practical space with a large yard and high ceilings in a historic building close to downtown. Look for the brew now at The Flying Saucer. Saturday tours at the brewery will begin in the coming weeks and 12-ounce cans in six-pack boxes will hit liquor stores by late July. $8.99;

Correspondent Celestina Blok contributed to this story, which contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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