Beat the Heat

How to get your outdoors fix — indoors — in Austin this summer

How to get your outdoors fix — indoors — in Austin this summer

REI backpack class hiking
Stay outdoorsy ... without the heat. REI/Facebook

I am big on everything outdoors, which is why I live in Austin. But there comes a time, about mid-August every summer, when I've had it with the heat. I can't enjoy even the most amazing hike with the sun baking my brains and sweat blurring my vision. Rather than give up completely, I start looking for ways to get an outdoor fix indoors.

Here are a few favorites:

Watch a nature-themed movie
One of the storylines in Tiny Giants, currently playing at the Bullock Texas State History Museum's IMAX theater, takes place in the even-hotter-than-here Sonoran Desert, while another occurs in a slowly-freezing-over northern woodland. Ahh, 3-D ice and snow seems so real. Plus, you'll feel cooler just seeing those rain drops fall in IMAX 3-D.

Explore wildlife exhibits
Sure, the animals in the Texas Memorial Museum are all stuffed (the proper term is taxidermied), but they're the real deal. In the Hall of Texas Wildlife on the top floor, learn what sort of critters you might encounter next time you hit the trail or pitch a tent. In the Hall of Geology and Paleontology on the first floor, meet those that lived here millions of years ago. Many of these fossil discoveries happened by accident; keep your eyes open when you get back out in the wilderness.

Gaze at the stars
Pretend you're camping some place far away during a trip to the planetarium at the Texas Museum of Science & Technology. Regularly scheduled presentations of the night sky cover seasonal constellations and deep-sky objects, so next time you gaze at the stars for real you can impress your fellow adventurers by pointing out a few of them.

Take a class
While it's too hot to go hiking or camping, you can prepare for when it cools off. The three Austin-area REI stores offer classes on everything from camp-out cooking to bike maintenance. Other topics include photography, wilderness survival, kayaking, and more.

Read about it
Pop into BookPeople and pick up some outdoor-themed reading material. May we suggest an inspiring picture book such as Surf Texas (about the Gulf coast, of course) or Crazy from the Heat: A Chronicle of Twenty Years in the Big Bend? Or browse the travel book section and plan your next trip.