get out there

Austin Parks Foundation packs summer with free films, fitness, and fun

Austin Parks Foundation packs summer with free films, fitness, and fun

Movie-goers lay out blankets at the park to watch a film in front of the Austin skyline.
The "In the Park" series returns with movies and fitness classes, plus a new schedule of creative playdates. Photo by Liz Kreutz

There’s no limit to what Austinites will do in a park. That’s largely thanks to the Austin Parks Foundation, which manages the city’s green spaces and creates programming to make sure communities can connect outdoors. A beloved series, active for more than a decade, called “In the Park,” came back this May, and is running through December for a very full extended season of free movies, fitness classes, and playdates.

The movie series kicked off on May 27 with Raya and the Last Dragon — a 2001 PG animated film inspired by real Southeast Asian women around screenwriter Adele Lim — at Northwest District Park. Next up, at Dick Nichols Park on June 23 is the 1985 classic, The Goonies.

The rest of the schedule, running through November 18, includes The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Encanto (in Spanish), In the Heights, Luca, and Soul for a fun, multicultural playlist with something for viewers of all ages. Local food trucks, snacks from home, and pets make this outing an extra-special occasion.

After a low-key night in lawn chairs, it’s time to get moving with all-level fitness classes at 10 am. The classes from July 9 to December 10 cycle through kickboxing; Zumba; and MixxedFit, a cardio-heavy hybrid of dance and calisthenics. Classes take place every other Saturday, so it’s easy to fit into an existing exercise schedule, or start a low-commitment new one that can be continued at the YMCA or with lots of online videos in all three styles.

This year, the series adds a third branch: Playdates in the Park. Like the fitness classes, these get-togethers are set to music and designed to get everyone moving — this time with less complicated choreo. Starting at 10 am, these playdates also include story time, arts and crafts, singing, and even free books from BookSpring (while they last). The Parks Foundation doesn’t list a recommended age range, but families will stick together throughout each event.

“When Austin Parks Foundation began 30 years ago, the organization set out with the goal to improve Austin’s parks by building community through our parks with people at the forefront of our work,” said Parks Foundation CEO Colin Wallis in a press release. “Parks take a lot of funding and maintenance to keep up and the fruits of those labors are meant to be enjoyed by all members of the community.”

To participate in these free events, check out the full calendar and RSVP at