We are a family of four and have lived in San Antonio for nearly three years. We love our city so much, we recently had a 10-day staycation. We still found we did not get to do all the things we wanted to do here! We hope when you visit, you will get to fall in love with it as well. Here are our top picks for kids in San Antonio…
1. The River Walk is 13 miles of winding river passages one level below the downtown streets. Families walk along the San Antonio River, looking at beautiful bridges, artwork, dance shows, little ducks swimming buy, and beautiful plants and flowers. There is an abundance of restaurants, all with outdoor patios, serving a variety of expensive or inexpensive cuisines and some child-friendly restaurants, such as Rainforest Café. A popular activity is to take a river cruise – a small boat will take you on a short cruise, during which you will hear some entertaining stories about the history of the River Walk and some of the buildings surrounding it. You can choose to stay in one of the many hotels on the River Walk as well, but it may be too noisy for families, as night life is quite rowdy. If you are visiting the River Walk, don’t miss the Alamo, the fort, where, in 1836, the Texans fought against Santa Ana’s army. Carriage rides are available at night to take families around the Alamo and downtown.
2. For families who love the outdoors, Lost Maples (an hour and a half drive north of San Antonio,) offers a great place to hike and/or camp. Visitors enjoy picnicking, camping, backpacking, sightseeing, hiking, photography, bird watching, fishing, swimming and nature study. There are several hiking trails available. The hike is somewhat strenuous, so may be difficult for very young children. The views from the top of the hills are amazing, and you will not regret driving so far. The drive to Lost Maples will take your breath away. Lost Maples is most popular in November as this is the only park in Texas where you can see changing leaves! Bring food to have a picnic as you will likely spend a whole day here (you will not want to leave!) and there are no restaurants around. There is a small grocery store nearby.
3. Sea World offers a full-day of sea animal shows, encounters, and a great new water park – Aquatica. It is a great place to spend the day during hot days in San Antonio as most shows include some water splashing on the audience and there is a water park. You can book behind the scenes tour, feed dolphins, and even stay overnight. There are also many roller coasters, as well as a playground, a splash park for toddlers, and Sesame Street rides for younger children. Families with younger kids will particularly enjoy this park.
4. The Enchanted Rock is located in the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area near Fredericksburg, Texas, about an hour and a half north of San Antonio. It is a 500-foot-high dome of pink granite, the second largest such formation in North America. It is reported to be one billion years old! It is featured in many Indian legends. It is truly an impressive site and extremely popular with hikers. Anyone, young or old can hike this quite easily, but it does take some time. This hike is not to be done in the heat of the summer, unless the heat does not bother you at all! Bring a picnic lunch and lots of water. Families will enjoy lunch on top of the Rock, which is very flat and offers the most amazing view of the Texas Hill Country. Families can choose to camp near the Rock, to travel back to San Antonio, or to stay in nearby Fredericksburg, a great small town full of restaurants, boutique and antique shops, and wineries. Mom and dad will love sampling the wine for $10 at the nearby wineries.
5. Families love The Witte Museum, the city’s science and natural history museum. While it is rather small, you will find it will occupy your children for hours. It has beautiful grounds and several buildings. The younger kids will enjoy the HEB Tree house with many hands-on activities. Older kids will enjoy the science and natural history exhibits. Some exhibits are permanent, while others are temporary. There is a building dedicated to Texas history and has many things for kids to touch, play with, sit on, etc. Restless kids can run around the outdoor area and climb the rock wall or ride the aerial bicycle.
6. This Mexico-themed amusement park, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, is on the small side, but has rides for many different ages/abilities. There are rides even for toddlers and there are plenty of roller coasters for teens and parents to enjoy. There is a water park to help cool off on a hot day. At night, there is a fabulous firework/laser show telling stories about Texas. The park is particularly popular around Christmas time, as there are less crowds, there is Santa Claus to meet, there is hot chocolate, and there is a mock ice-skating rink. Our kids enjoy all the carnival games at the park, as many guarantee prizes.
7. Natural Bridge Caverns place offers a full day of fun. You can start by exploring the caves – fun to do in the winter as it is hot and humid inside – about 85. The caves take about 90 minutes to go through – it is a guided tour. Our family did get hot and claustrophobic in the end, but the caves were worth the trip for sure! I just would not bring very young children. Outdoors, there is a lot to do. There is zip lining and a ropes course for small children or older children up to adult. – called Canopy Challenge. Finally, there is rock mining for less adventurous families. There is a lunch area and a gift shop. Next door, there is a drive-through safari adventure.
8. Big’z is a great family-friendly burger joint in town. It offers made-to-order burger, fries, salads, chicken fingers, hot dogs, and fish sandwiches. It has giant kids meals. Mom and dad can get beer and wine with their meals. The burgers are giant, have multiple toppings available and are angus beef. The best reason to go – the place has mainly outdoor seating and a giant backyard with trees where children run to play. Some outdoor toys are always provided, but most families bring their own soccer balls, hoops, footballs, bubbles, etc.
9. The San Antonio Zoo is located on the grounds of a beautiful park with a nearby free Japanese garden popular for pictures. The zoo is full of exotic birds, monkeys, reptiles, and a great selection of animals. It has many animals in a rather small space, so small children are able to walk most of the grounds without getting too tired. A great attraction is the butterfly garden. It is the only butterfly garden I have been to that allows you to actually touch butterflies as much as you want. They encourage it! There is a great train ride around the park outside the zoo – it will also take you to the Witte museum – see above.
10.Very popular with local families, the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa offers a beautiful hotel, spa, and a lazy-river pool when you just want to cool off in the summer and enjoy the beautiful Hill Country.There is a 36-hole golf course, the six acre River Bluff water park, seven restaurants, a luxury spa for moms. The resort has a kids’ camp and there is smores at a campfire at night.
Got any more tips for San Antonio with kids? Leave them in the comments!