Summer picks help ease back-to-school blues

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Manny Muniz and his daughter, Phoenix, 4, wade in the waters of the Colorado River at “Secret Beach” July 24 ,2011. Located on the east side, Secret Beach is a secluded spot on the river where locals continue to flock to stay cool.

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

Despite the buzzkill of all things back-to-school related, there are still 26 days of summer left. And while it does feel like summer all year round in Texas, with record heat most likely scorching our skins until mid-October, what defines summer — golden tans, shorts, snow cones and sweaty nights of dancing — will eventually fade out. Until then, here’s a compilation of some of The Daily Texan’s favorite summer to-do’s in between classes, just to make summer last just a little bit longer.

Watering Holes
The mantra of summer is to beat the heat and find the best watering holes to cool down — virgin and alcoholic. Just off of East Riverside Drive and Grove Boulevard and down a few narrow paths is a sandy “secret beach” haven complete with a bed of loose sand and a trickling riverbank. Known as secret beach for its hidden gem of sand, shade and water, the sudden popularity of the hideout recently resulted to city signs warning guests to keep their dogs on leashes and no alcohol allowed.

While popular watering holes such as Hamilton Pool, Krause Springs, Barton Springs and the Greenbelt still rank high on the places to lounge, bake in the sun and splash into cool water, this secret beach offers a different, special vibe — a mellow ambiance that’s fitting for its mysterious location. Though news of the location has spread like wildfire and is beginning to ruin the fun secrecy of the watering hole, secret beach still stands out because of its proximity to campus, charm, and well, it’s free.

Dance, Dance
There’s almost nothing more exhilarating than a sweat-drenched summer night of dancing, period. Whether it’s the infamous TuezGayz night of top hits from divas such as Britney Spears, Robyn and Beyoncé or its rounds of classics from James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Fontella Bass on Thursday’s Soul Night, Barbarella is the place to let loose and get funky. The video dance club off of Red River and 7th streets offer two dance floors and an open outdoor patio for those shy on their feet. There’s no cover, but it is only for ages 21 and up.

Another fun, free decade dance party is the Highball’s ’80s dance party on Fridays. Guests are encouraged to dress up in their best ’80s get-up of leg warmers, parachute pants, shoulder pads and Member’s Only jackets. The venue, which is a combo of bar, ball room and amusements such as karaoke and bowling, also hosts a variety of themed dance parties on Saturdays. Check its event calendar for more information.

All summer, ACL Live has been hosting Wine Down Wednesday, an evening of live music, Clos du Bois vino and food from neighboring 2nd Street restaurants, on the open patio of the Moody Theater. This Thursday will be the music venue’s last summer hurrah and features music from Tje Austin, a local musician who competed on the singing competition “The Voice,” and food sampling from Malaga Tapas & Bar.

Cool Treats
Possibly one of the best ways to cool down during the summer is indulging in an ice cream cone. It is, after all, a ubiquitous signature of the season. While local favorite frozen treats such as Amy’s Ice Cream, GoodPop and Sno Beach suffice, there’s a new delight in town that ups the bar. Wanderlust Ice Cream and Sorbet offer a refreshing melt to the palate of ripe fruits and exotic concoctions of sweet, savory and tangy.

Some of the best flavors for summer include peaches and cream, Vietnamese coffee, ginger and brandy, and strawberry buttermilk for ice creams, and blueberry mint and mango lime for sorbets.

The creams are made from naturally raised, pastured cows in Texas and locally-sourced fruits, veggies, herbs and free-range eggs. And the flavors are based on the season’s freshest offerings. The company also boasts never using high-fructose corn syrup, additives or preservatives such as artificial coloring and flavors. They also always offer vegan, gluten-free options.

Specializing in artisanal ice cream sundae bars for personal occasions, Wanderlust is more of a catering company than a store, but the ice creams are available for all on Saturdays at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market and on Wednesday at the Triangle Farmers’ Market. 

Printed on Monday, August 29, 2011 as: Cool summer picks help ease back-to-school blues.