Because of its comparatively low costs for lodging and activities, its casual attitudes, and its general family friendliness, San Antonio is a major destination for those traveling with children. Many come and stay at one of the large resorts on the outskirts of town, where there are so many kid-friendly activities that there’s little need to leave the property—except to go to one of the city’s three major play lands: Six Flags Fiesta Texas, SeaWorld, or Morgan’s Wonderland and Inspiration Island. That’s especially true if you’re visiting during the summer, when they’re open every day for long hours. We'll assume you’ll allot one full day to visit whichever of these theme parks you chose. The following itinerary suggests ways to spend your other days in San Antonio.
1. The Alamo
To make sure your kids get the most out of visiting San Antonio’s top historic landmark, consider watching the 3D film The Alamo, playing at the nearby Shops at Rivercenter, before going to see the real thing. The Alamo itself has tours geared for kids of all ages, which bring into perspective the dramatic 1736 battle that made this 18th-century Spanish Colonial mission famous. The grounds themselves are lovely, with live oak trees, gnarled mesquites, fronded palms, and prickly cacti and ocotillo all growing within the mission walls.
2. River Walk
Kids tend to love secret paths and underground places, so once they’ve found their way down to River Walk, they’ll be intrigued by its lush landscaping, underpasses, cunningly tucked-in restaurants, and back hotel entrances. There are lots of maps mounted on the railings so they can get the whole picture. Getting to the next stop is part of the fun: You'll be riding a river taxi.
3. The Pearl
Northeast of downtown, The Pearl dining-and-shopping complex has plenty of kid-friendly food and lawns on which to picnic. You can buy the fixings for a picnic in the Hotel Emma's Larder, an upscale grocer, or go to the Bottling Department Food Hall, which has several fast-casual choices for kids.
4. The DoSeum
About a mile north of the Pearl (a 20-min. walk up Broadway, if your kids are good walkers), you’ll find the DoSeum, the city’s world-class children’s museum, full of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. If your children are ages 10 or younger, it may be hard to get them out of this place. Plan your visit for a weekday if you can—local families keep it busy on Saturday and Sunday.
5. The Witte Museum
Another 15 minutes’ walk up Broadway, the Witte Museum will intrigue older kids, with its dinosaur gallery exploring the huge inhabitants of Texas's prehistoric eras. The H-E-B Body Adventure takes participants on a virtual tour of San Antonio through a series of fun activity stations.
This is essentially a reversal of Day 1. You'll be starting out in Brackenridge Park and, after lunch, heading south to downtown.
1. The San Antonio Zoo
The morning is a good time to visit the San Antonio Zoo: Animals are friskier in the cool part of the day—and it's more comfortable for humans to walk around. You can choose your exotic environment for creature ogling—giraffes and zebras in the savannah area, say, or rope-swinging gibbons in a forest setting—and then interact with domestic goats and pigs in a petting zoo.
2. The San Antonio Botanical Garden
About a 10-minute drive east of the zoo, the San Antonio Botanical Garden debuted its interactive Family Adventure Garden in 2018. Education about local ecosystems is made fun with such features as Tumble Hill (the name says it all), and the Retama Recharge, a wading area that demonstrates how the city’s aquifers work. There's a cafe at the garden, but you might also consider the nearby (15-min. walk or 3-min. drive) Smoke Shack barbecue food truck, with its kid friendly Pig Pen playground/beer garden out back.
3. Hemisfair Park
On the southern edge of downtown, less than 15 minutes south of the botanical garden by car, Hemisfair Park was originally built for San Antonio’s 1968 world expo. Head for the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, where interactive displays and a film detail the 26 ethnic groups that contribute to the state of Texas. It’s a fun way to pick up some social history. Also in Hemisfair Park, the Tower of the Americas—the tallest building in San Antonio at 750 feet—has an observation deck with views of the entire city.
4. San Pedro Creek Culture Park
After an early dinner in the downtown area—Schilo's is a good option—head to the northwest corner of downtown and San Pedro Creek Culture Park, where something really cool happens after dark. At the head of the project, on Camaron Street, an enormous steel plate box designed to filter the creek water doubles as a piece of art and a free outdoor planetarium. Holes punched in the metal, backlit at night, re-create the constellations of the night sky on May 5, 1718, when the Spanish founded the area.
Take a Hill Country excursion to Bandera, where you can visit the Bandera Natural History Museum, with its replicas of dinosaurs and Ice Age animals on an 8-acre spread; stop by the small Frontier Times Museum; enjoy a casual lunch at Brick’s Restaurant, overlooking the Medina River; and even go horseback riding in the Hill Country State Natural Area. In fact, we suggest you plan to spend 2 or 3 nights here, bunking with the family at a guest ranch in Bandera. It’s a great way to experience Texas and the cowboy lifestyle.
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.