<strong>By Cate Latting</strong><br><br>A rich history, modern-day cultural institutions, kid-friendly resorts and restaurants, and variety of theme parks and outdoor amusements all combine to make San Antonio a fantastic choice for family-oriented fun.<br><br><em>Photo Caption: Visitors outside the Alamo.</em>
Cate Latting

San Antonio in a Family Way

Seeing San Antonio with the Kids
By Cate Latting

A rich history, modern-day cultural institutions, kid-friendly resorts and restaurants, and variety of theme parks and outdoor amusements all combine to make San Antonio a fantastic choice for family-oriented fun.

Photo Caption: Visitors outside the Alamo.
Though there's plenty of fun to be had throughout the central Texas city, your family could check-in to the <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/H38818.html" target="_blank">Westin La Cantera</a> (tel. <strong>210/558-6500</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.westinlacantera.com" target="_blank">www.westinlacantera.com</a></strong>), never leave the property, and still make fabulous memories in San Antonio. Perched on a hilltop 15 miles from downtown, the resort looks out over San Antonio and the surrounding Texas Hill Country. Among the more than 500 guest accommodations available are standard doubles, suites, and the more private casitas, "little houses" which have private porches and ample, luxurious living space. From the pools to the golf courses to the kid camps, there is something for every member of the family. The younger kids can splash around in one of the Lost Quarry pools, which occupy 17,000 square feet, or sign-up for Discovery Junction, a kids program that offers activities ranging from arts and crafts to water balloon tosses to movie nights under the stars. Teens can hang out at Rock'n T Lounge playing video games, watching movies, or testing their rock star potential with a round of Guitar Hero.<br><br>Meanwhile, mom and dad can hit the links and take advantage of scenic 18-hole championship golf courses, one of which was designed by Arnold Palmer. They can also enjoy the full-service fitness center and spa or take a dip in the adult-only pool. Most of the on-site eateries are family friendly, too. The staff at Westin La Cantera couldn't be nicer. Everyone from the valet parking attendants to the restaurant servers is friendly here. When and if you ever feel like leaving the resort, the whole family can catch a hotel shuttle and head directly to the renowned Shops at La Cantera (15900 La Cantera Parkway; tel. <strong>210/582-6255</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.theshopsatlacantera.com" target="_blank">www.theshopsatlacantera.com</a></strong>), a world-class shopping center with stores such as Tiffany's, Neiman Marcus, and Betsey Johnson. In addition to nearby shopping, Fiesta Texas and Sea World are also closeby. The resort runs shuttles (on request) to these destinations as well as to points downtown and elsewhere in the city.<br><br>While the La Cantera location might be the place to hole-up on the property, a family-friendly option downtown is the <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/H38813.html" target="_blank">Westin Riverwalk Inn</a> (tel. <strong>800/937-8461</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.westin.com/riverwalk" target="_blank">www.westin.com/riverwalk</a></strong>). Featuring many of the same amenities as the Westin La Cantera, including Westin's famous Heavenly Beds, this location, on the River Walk, is ideal for families who want to be in the center of the action. With child-oriented perks, such as bedtime stories told over the phone and kids' treat packs handed out at check-in, this is a good option for parents who want easy access to the attractions downtown without compromising family value.<br><br><em>Photo Caption: The pool at Westin La Cantera.</em>
Cate Latting
Where to Stay
Though there's plenty of fun to be had throughout the central Texas city, your family could check-in to the Westin La Cantera (tel. 210/558-6500; www.westinlacantera.com), never leave the property, and still make fabulous memories in San Antonio. Perched on a hilltop 15 miles from downtown, the resort looks out over San Antonio and the surrounding Texas Hill Country. Among the more than 500 guest accommodations available are standard doubles, suites, and the more private casitas, "little houses" which have private porches and ample, luxurious living space. From the pools to the golf courses to the kid camps, there is something for every member of the family. The younger kids can splash around in one of the Lost Quarry pools, which occupy 17,000 square feet, or sign-up for Discovery Junction, a kids program that offers activities ranging from arts and crafts to water balloon tosses to movie nights under the stars. Teens can hang out at Rock'n T Lounge playing video games, watching movies, or testing their rock star potential with a round of Guitar Hero.

Meanwhile, mom and dad can hit the links and take advantage of scenic 18-hole championship golf courses, one of which was designed by Arnold Palmer. They can also enjoy the full-service fitness center and spa or take a dip in the adult-only pool. Most of the on-site eateries are family friendly, too. The staff at Westin La Cantera couldn't be nicer. Everyone from the valet parking attendants to the restaurant servers is friendly here. When and if you ever feel like leaving the resort, the whole family can catch a hotel shuttle and head directly to the renowned Shops at La Cantera (15900 La Cantera Parkway; tel. 210/582-6255; www.theshopsatlacantera.com), a world-class shopping center with stores such as Tiffany's, Neiman Marcus, and Betsey Johnson. In addition to nearby shopping, Fiesta Texas and Sea World are also closeby. The resort runs shuttles (on request) to these destinations as well as to points downtown and elsewhere in the city.

While the La Cantera location might be the place to hole-up on the property, a family-friendly option downtown is the Westin Riverwalk Inn (tel. 800/937-8461; www.westin.com/riverwalk). Featuring many of the same amenities as the Westin La Cantera, including Westin's famous Heavenly Beds, this location, on the River Walk, is ideal for families who want to be in the center of the action. With child-oriented perks, such as bedtime stories told over the phone and kids' treat packs handed out at check-in, this is a good option for parents who want easy access to the attractions downtown without compromising family value.

Photo Caption: The pool at Westin La Cantera.
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Nestled on the edge of San Antonio's centrally located Brackenridge Park, the <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/A7671.html" target="_blank">Witte Museum</a> (tel. <strong>201/357-1900</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.wittemuseum.org" target="_blank">www.wittemuseum.org</a></strong>), is a fascinating wonderland for kids of all ages. Whether kids are interested in learning about dinosaurs or Texas ecology, a visit to the museum is interactive and fun. And be sure to visit the treehouse, which contains science-oriented exhibits, and is the destination favored by most of kids who visit the museum. Adjacent to the Witte, in Brackenridge Park, is the <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/A7679.html" target="_blank">San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium</a> (tel. <strong>210/734-7183</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.sazoo-aq.org" target="_blank">www.sazoo-aq.org</a></strong>). It may be on the small side, but it's got plenty to entertain the little ones. From the lion and tiger cages to the more tame petting zoo area, the sweet zoo is a friendly, relaxed place. Morning hours, when it's coolest out, are best for viewing the animals. Just across from the zoo's entrance, you'll find another beloved San Antonio institution. Catch a ride on the Brackenridge Eagle, a child-size train that travels a 2-mile loop through Brackenridge Park. Young children especially will get a kick out of a ride on this choo-choo. Parents will like learning about the history of the park property.<br><br><em>Photo Caption: The Witte Museum.</em>
Cate Latting
Sights to See
Nestled on the edge of San Antonio's centrally located Brackenridge Park, the Witte Museum (tel. 201/357-1900; www.wittemuseum.org), is a fascinating wonderland for kids of all ages. Whether kids are interested in learning about dinosaurs or Texas ecology, a visit to the museum is interactive and fun. And be sure to visit the treehouse, which contains science-oriented exhibits, and is the destination favored by most of kids who visit the museum. Adjacent to the Witte, in Brackenridge Park, is the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium (tel. 210/734-7183; www.sazoo-aq.org). It may be on the small side, but it's got plenty to entertain the little ones. From the lion and tiger cages to the more tame petting zoo area, the sweet zoo is a friendly, relaxed place. Morning hours, when it's coolest out, are best for viewing the animals. Just across from the zoo's entrance, you'll find another beloved San Antonio institution. Catch a ride on the Brackenridge Eagle, a child-size train that travels a 2-mile loop through Brackenridge Park. Young children especially will get a kick out of a ride on this choo-choo. Parents will like learning about the history of the park property.

Photo Caption: The Witte Museum.
If it's theme parks you're family is interested in, San Antonio's got those, too. Part of the <a href="../../../destinations/sanantonio/A7647.html" target="_blank">Six Flags</a> family, Fiesta Texas (tel. <strong>210/697-5050</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas" target="_blank">www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas</a></strong>) is a first-class amusement park. With hair-raising roller coasters, water rides, and rides for very young children, everyone in your family is sure to find something to scream about. The La Cantera Resort &amp; Spa is just up the road from Fiesta Texas, and they offer daily shuttles back and forth to the park. At <a href="../../../destinations/sanantonio/A7653.html" target="_blank">Sea World</a>, (tel. <strong>800/700-7786</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.seaworld.com" target="_blank">www.seaworld.com</a></strong>), the family can explore a wide-array of aqua-based entertainment. From leaping Orcas to smart-alecky sea lions, Sea World is an ideal outing for kids with a bent for marine mammals. Rides like the Rio Loco and the Texas Splashdown help keep things cool on hot summer afternoons. For more water-based fun, head to <a href="../../../destinations/sanantonio/A7684.html" target="_blank">Splashtown</a> (tel. <strong>210-227-1100</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.splashtownsa.com" target="_blank">www.splashtownsa.com</a></strong>), a 20-acre waterpark that's home to water rides and pools, among other water-based entertainment options.<br /><br /><em>Photo Caption: The Scream at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.</em>
Cate Latting
Theme Parks
If it's theme parks you're family is interested in, San Antonio's got those, too. Part of the Six Flags family, Fiesta Texas (tel. 210/697-5050; www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas) is a first-class amusement park. With hair-raising roller coasters, water rides, and rides for very young children, everyone in your family is sure to find something to scream about. The Westin La Cantera is just up the road from Fiesta Texas, and they offer daily shuttles back and forth to the park. At Sea World, (tel. 800/700-7786; www.seaworld.com), the family can explore a wide-array of aqua-based entertainment. From leaping Orcas to smart-alecky sea lions, Sea World is an ideal outing for kids with a bent for marine mammals. Rides like the Rio Loco and the Texas Splashdown help keep things cool on hot summer afternoons. For more water-based fun, head to Splashtown (tel. 210-227-1100; www.splashtownsa.com), a 20-acre waterpark that's home to water rides and pools, among other water-based entertainment options.

Photo Caption: The Scream at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
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No trip to San Antonio is complete without a visit to the <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/A7646.html" target="_blank">Alamo</a> (tel. <strong>201/225-1391</strong>; <strong><a href="http://" target="_blank">www.thealamo.org</a></strong>), a former Spanish mission turned battle site that made heroes of such men as William Travis and Jim Bowie. Kids and adults together can enjoy wandering the historic grounds and learning about the famous 1836 battle, in which Texans held off a siege by Santa Ana and his troops for 13 days before finally surrendering with only two men left standing. Nearby, families can enjoy the scenic San Antonio River Walk (<strong><a href="http://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com" target="_blank">www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com</a></strong>), a rambling paved arcade of restaurants, shops, and bars that follows the banks of the San Antonio River. Pockets of the pedestrian walkway are downright peaceful; others are more raucous, and perhaps not as appealing to families. Boat tours and water taxis are available at points throughout the scenic area. Near downtown is the AT&amp;T Center, where families can enjoy watching the hometown <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/0027010021.html" target="_blank">Spurs</a> shoot some hoops. The top-tier team plays home games between October and May (and June, if they're lucky!). Though they didn't make it all the way this year, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and the rest of the fellas will no doubt start strong in the fall. If you're visit coincides with a home game, be sure to catch one.<br><br><em>Photo Caption: Pedestrians, boaters, and restaurant patrons along San Antonio's River Walk.</em>
Cate Latting
Downtown Doings
No trip to San Antonio is complete without a visit to the Alamo (tel. 201/225-1391; www.thealamo.org), a former Spanish mission turned battle site that made heroes of such men as William Travis and Jim Bowie. Kids and adults together can enjoy wandering the historic grounds and learning about the famous 1836 battle, in which Texans held off a siege by Santa Ana and his troops for 13 days before finally surrendering with only two men left standing. Nearby, families can enjoy the scenic San Antonio River Walk (www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com), a rambling paved arcade of restaurants, shops, and bars that follows the banks of the San Antonio River. Pockets of the pedestrian walkway are downright peaceful; others are more raucous, and perhaps not as appealing to families. Boat tours and water taxis are available at points throughout the scenic area. Near downtown is the AT&T Center, where families can enjoy watching the hometown Spurs shoot some hoops. The top-tier team plays home games between October and May (and June, if they're lucky!). Though they didn't make it all the way this year, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and the rest of the fellas will no doubt start strong in the fall. If you're visit coincides with a home game, be sure to catch one.

Photo Caption: Pedestrians, boaters, and restaurant patrons along San Antonio's River Walk.
When you're in San Antonio, eating is all about Mexican food. Luckily for families, you can get delicious and generously portioned servings for very reasonable prices. And most Mexican restaurants across town are casual, making it a perfect choice for families on a budget. Here are some of my favorite spots. <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/D12652.html" target="_blank">Rosario's</a> (tel. <strong>210/223-1806</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.rosariossa.com" target="_blank">www.rosariossa.com</a></strong>) offers authentic Tex-Mex cuisine including guacamole, chile rellenos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/D12647.html" target="_blank">Mi Tierra</a> (tel. <strong>210/225-1262</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.mitierracafe.com" target="_blank">www.mitierracafe.com</a></strong>) is downtown and makes for a great stop after visiting the Alamo. This sprawling cafe and Mexican bakery is a local institution and serves up mouth-watering margaritas and heaping plates of Tex-Mex classics such as chilequiles and mole enchiladas.<br><br>A tremendous bang for your buck with real San Antonio flavor is the beloved <a href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/sanantonio/D63950.html" target="_blank">Rolando's Super Tacos</a> (tel. <strong>210/732-6713</strong>). Some might consider this place a hole in the wall. Others, including members of the San Antonio Spurs and Quentin Tarantino, would consider it a must-stop dining experience. Their huge and scrumptious tacos (one will serve at least two people) come with a choice of fillings and rice and beans. If you're looking for a bit more of an upscale experience, but still welcoming to families, try La Fogata (2427 Vance Jackson; tel. <strong>210/340-1337</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.lafogata.com" target="_blank">www.lafogata.com</a></strong>), a tried and true San Antonio favorite. Sit inside or out at this charming neighborhood spot and enjoy seafood, tacos, and traditional Mexican favorites. The kids especially will enjoy the roaming mariachi band. Mom and Dad will enjoy the killer margaritas.
Cate Latting
Dining Out
When you're in San Antonio, eating is all about Mexican food. Luckily for families, you can get delicious and generously portioned servings for very reasonable prices. And most Mexican restaurants across town are casual, making it a perfect choice for families on a budget. Here are some of my favorite spots. Rosario's (tel. 210/223-1806; www.rosariossa.com) offers authentic Tex-Mex cuisine including guacamole, chile rellenos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. Mi Tierra (tel. 210/225-1262; www.mitierracafe.com) is downtown and makes for a great stop after visiting the Alamo. This sprawling cafe and Mexican bakery is a local institution and serves up mouth-watering margaritas and heaping plates of Tex-Mex classics such as chilequiles and mole enchiladas.

A tremendous bang for your buck with real San Antonio flavor is the beloved Rolando's Super Tacos (tel. 210/732-6713). Some might consider this place a hole in the wall. Others, including members of the San Antonio Spurs and Quentin Tarantino, would consider it a must-stop dining experience. Their huge and scrumptious tacos (one will serve at least two people) come with a choice of fillings and rice and beans. If you're looking for a bit more of an upscale experience, but still welcoming to families, try La Fogata (2427 Vance Jackson; tel. 210/340-1337; www.lafogata.com), a tried and true San Antonio favorite. Sit inside or out at this charming neighborhood spot and enjoy seafood, tacos, and traditional Mexican favorites. The kids especially will enjoy the roaming mariachi band. Mom and Dad will enjoy the killer margaritas.
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