Many San Antonians head for the hills—that is, nearby Hill Country—for outdoor recreation.
Biking—In the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, 8 miles of paved pathways are laid out as the Mission Hike and Bike Trail (www.nps.gov/saan/planyourvisit/hikebike.htm), which has become extremely popular with cyclists as well as trekkers. The trail is not a loop, so the round-trip path is 16 miles long. It’s about 3 miles between each of the five missions (the trail starts at the Alamo), however, so you can park at one of the southern four missions and tailor the length of your ride. Other options within San Antonio itself include: Brackenridge Park; McAllister Park on the city’s north side, 13102 Jones Maltsberger Rd. (tel. 210/207-7275 or 207-3120); and the area near SeaWorld. If you didn’t bring your own bike, San Antonio’s SWell bike share bicycles (https://sanantonio.bcycle.com) are available all over town. Download the SWell Cycle app and it’s as easy as using a credit or debit card to pick up a bike at any SWell Cycle station. Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual rates are available. If you’d rather rent from a local who can give you personalized advice, Blue Star Bike Shop, in Southtown at 1414 S. Alamo St. (www.bluestarbikeshop.com; tel. 210/858-0331), will rent cruisers and other bikes.
Fishing—For good angling close to town, try Braunig Lake, a 1,350-acre city-owned reservoir, a few miles southeast of San Antonio off I-37; and Calaveras Lake, one of Texas’s great bass lakes, a few miles southeast of San Antonio off U.S. 181 S. and Loop 1604. A bit farther afield but still easy to reach from San Antonio are Canyon Lake, about 20 miles north of New Braunfels, and Medina Lake, just south of Bandera. Fishing licenses—sold at most sporting-goods and tackle stores and sporting-goods departments of large stores such as Wal-Mart or H-E-B, as well as at county courthouses and Parks and Wildlife Department offices—are required for all nonresidents; for current information, go to www.tpwd.texas.gov/business/licenses/online_sales or call tel. 512/389-4800, ext. 3. Tackle Box Outfitters, 6330 N. New Braunfels (www.tackleboxoutfitters.com; tel. 210/821-5806) can refer you to private guides for fishing trips on area rivers and on the Gulf coast ($500–$800 per person).
Golf—Golf is a big deal in San Antonio, with many visitors coming to town expressly to tee off. Of the city’s municipal golf courses, two of the most notable are northwest San Antonio’s Cedar Creek, 8250 Vista Colina (tel. 210/695-5050), repeatedly ranked as south Texas’s best municipal course; and Brackenridge, 2315 Ave. B (tel. 210/226-5612), which is the oldest 18-hole public course in Texas (laid out in 1816), featuring oak- and pecan-shaded fairways. For details on these and other municipal courses, go to www.alamocitygolftrail.com. Other options for unaffiliated golfers include the high-end Quarry, 444 E. Basse Rd. (www.quarrygolf.com; tel. 210/824-4500), one of the city’s most popular public courses; and Canyon Springs, 24405 Wilderness Oak Rd. (www.canyonspringsgc.com; tel. 210/497-1770), at the north edge of town in the Texas Hill Country, lush with live oaks and dotted with historic rock formations.
Top-notch resort courses in San Antonio include the two at La Cantera Golf Club, 16641 La Cantera Pkwy. (www.lacanteragolfclub.com; tel. 210/558-4653)—one designed by Jay Morish and Tom Weiskopf, the other by Arnold Palmer—with knockout designs and dramatic hill-and-rock outcroppings. Equally nice are the resort courses of the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa, 23808 Resort Pkwy. (www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/satjw-jw-marriott-san-antonio-hill-country-resort-and-spa; tel. 210/491-5806). Its AT&T Canyons Course was designed by Pete Dye and PGA Tour Player Consultant Bruce Lietzke; its AT&T Oaks Course was designed by Greg Norman and PGA Tour Player Consultant Sergio Garcia. Both are built with the infrastructure to host PGA tour tournaments. The JW Marriott resort offers a nice “Stay and Play” golf vacation package, too.
Expect to pay $50 to $80 per person for an 18-hole round at a municipal course, plus a $16 (not including tax) fee for a cart, and from $70 up to $205 (Sat–Sun) per person at a private resort course. Twilight (afternoon) rates are often cheaper.
Hiking—The 600-acre nature preserve Friedrich Wilderness Park, 21480 Milsa St. (www.sanantonio.gov/parksandrec; tel. 210/207-3780), operated by the city of San Antonio, is crisscrossed by 5.5 miles of trails that attract bird-watchers as well as hikers; some stretches are accessible to people with disabilities. The Mission Hike and Bike Trail along the River Walk Mission Reach has 8 miles of dedicated paved pathways for hikers and bikers (see “Biking,” above). Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, near Fredericksburg, is the most popular spot for trekking out of town.
River Sports—For tubing, rafting, or canoeing along a cypress-lined river, San Antonio river rats head 35 miles northwest of downtown to the 2,000-acre Guadalupe River State Park, 3350 Park Rd. 31 (www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/guadalupe-river; tel. 830/438-2656), near Boerne. About 5 miles north of Hwy. 46, just outside the park, you can rent tubes, rafts, and canoes at the Bergheim Campground, 103 White Water Rd. (www.bergheimcampground.com; tel. 830/336-2235).
Swimming/Waterparks—Most hotels have swimming pools, but if yours doesn’t, the Parks and Recreation Department (www.sanantonio.gov/sapar/swimming.asp; tel. 210/207-3113) can direct you to the nearest municipal pool. Morgan’s Wonderland, SeaWorld, and Six Flags, all have water park sections; Splashtown is another prime place to get wet. Many San Antonians head out to New Braunfels to get wet at the huge Schlitterbahn.
Tennis—With a reservation, you can play at the 22 lighted hard courts at San Pedro Springs Park’s McFarlin Tennis Center, 1503 San Pedro Ave. (www.sanantonio.gov/ParksAndRec/Home/tennis; tel. 210/207-5357), for the very reasonable fee of $6.25 per adult per hour before 5pm, $7.25 per adult per hour after 5pm ($3.25 per hour for students/seniors before 5pm, $4.25 after 5pm). For more about this court and others in the area, as well as details about tournaments, contact the San Antonio Tennis Association (www.satennis.com; tel. 210/735-3069).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.