AUSTIN — On one of many of my drives to Austin to visit my girlfriend, Navina Bhatkar, I noticed a giant putt, putt, go-kart place off of I-35 and wondered what went on over there.
“One day, we should check that out,” I often said to her.
Well, last week, I finally made good on that promise and a group of us discovered what exactly this place had to offer.
Austin’s Park and Pizza offers a variety of outdoor and indoor activities to patrons of all ages.
Immediately, the girlfriend and I headed outside and waited in line to test out the go-karts. Of all the things to do outside, batting cages, bumper boats, a slick track, golf and an assortment of rides for kids, these go-karts seemed like the main event. So we waited, and waited, and seemed to wait a really long time for the short drive. Unfortunately, the gf and I got stuck with the slowest part of go carts in the pack. Because of these slow carts, we had a very casual drive while the rest of the drivers zoomed past.
After spending about 30 minutes in the heat (two hours according to the girlfriend), the pair of us sought nourishment. We sat down at one of the bars and ordered meals. Navina grabbed some fish tacos while I devoured tiny chicken tacos in a matter of minutes upon arrival. Yes, the food is excellent and well worth the price.
Next, we moved to the back of the bigger bar towards a giant curling area. We watched our friends, John and Michelle, play a giant version of Connect 4 nearby where we noticed other games such as giant Jenga, darts and several pool tables.
From here, Navina revealed that she never played laser tag. Naturally, we strong-armed her over there, assuring her that she’d have fun. “We will be on the same team and it’s fun shooting people,” I said. After putting our vests on, I launched a few salvos of laser fire at the enemy family. I did notice her hiding behind a wall and blasting opponents like Princess Leia on the Death Star. We all had a fun time, but as a laser tag pro, I was surprised that the small battlefield only seemed able to hold about a dozen people. There’s not really much to it, so expect a small-time skirmish rather than a big team battle. In other words, I’d recommend just playing laser tag once per outing.
Soon, temperatures dropped so we all decided to show off our golfing skills. We picked the yellow course which seemed pretty straightforward most of the time. Although a few holes challenged the group, this miniature golf experience felt extremely basic. The 18th hole disappointed me so much, that I complained about it after. The final hole consisted of a ramp and a skeeball-style finish. Probably the easiest hole on the course that just requires hitting their ball up a little incline. Sure, I won another round of putt-putt, but I always feel that the 18th hole should feel like a dénouement, rather than a disappointment.
Again, the Texas heat forced us to head back inside where we lingered around the arcade area. I quickly pointed out some pinball machines to my girlfriend, the world’s greatest pinball enthusiast. Navina, started with Guardians of the Galaxy and then quickly moved on to the Led Zeppelin machine, where she questioned if I had heard of them.
“I’m more ancient than you!” I exclaimed.
From there, we spotted a giant Centipede machine for three people to play together. I tried to help her after making her play with our friends, but I soon learned why she seemed to struggle once I set down after her. Our spot suffered from an extremely wonky, broken controller.
After that, we all headed back outside to try out the other set of go carts on the slick track. Luckily, this time I landed one of the fastest rides and the slick track ensured some sliding would happen. In fact, my kart was a bit too loose around the turns as I had to slow down to avoid spinning like the batch of drivers we watched earlier.
I asked my girlfriend to take a few pictures of us driving, but returned to find a bunch of photos of her favorite driver, me. It seem like she was a bit too impressed by my driving (and passing skills).
Finally, when we went back inside one final time while watching our friends play another game, I suddenly noticed a machine I hadn’t seen in years. The set of four Daytona 500 machines helped me to introduce the girlfriend to a game I played every Saturday as a smaller, younger human. Something went wrong, and we didn’t actually compete against each other, but we noted the overall finish. Navina, performed extremely well to finish 15 among the 40 cars, especially with her first time playing. Me, on the other hand, I won the race (which I don’t ever remember accomplishing as a child) and had the credits rolling. So, maybe she’s right to get impressed by my driving skills.
Overall, I expected to go to Austin’s Park and Pizza for a few hours, but
we stayed there all day and left when the sun went down. With temperatures cooling and summer ending, I’m sure we will return soon, “slow-karts,” or not.