When you’re looking for a daytrip or easy getaway, San Antonio is a perfect spot to take the kids for fun adventures. Only about an hour drive south of Austin, San Antonio provides SO MANY amazing things for kids to see and do. Of course there’s the beautiful River Walk and the historic Alamo, but there are also plenty of engaging museums, parks, zoo, and more. So take a little trip down and enjoy being a tourist for a day or two.
We had a great experience taking our family of five for a weekend getaway where we really packed in the activities. We’re happy to share all the details of our trip to help you plan your next visit to San Antonio…
Where to Stay: Hotel Contessa
With three kids in our family, we always look for a hotel that offers suites to give us ample room and sleeping arrangements. We had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Contessa, an all-suites hotel right on the River Walk. We were so impressed with Hotel Contessa’s friendly staff and thrilled with the location just steps from all of the River Walk’s restaurants and entertainment. The hotel is beautifully designed with a chic modern look that the kids declared “super fancy”. The boys loved riding the glass elevators that gave views of the lobby (might sound silly, but definitely had the wow factor for kids). We loved the rooftop pool, where we could splash and play and soak our tired touristy feet in the hot tub.
The hotel’s restaurant, Las Ramblas, was so delicious. We ended up eating both dinner and breakfast there (once inside the restaurant and again on the River Walk patio). We appreciated that they offered a kids menu in the evening with safe bets such as pepperoni pizza and mac-n-cheese while also serving a variety of dishes for grown-up diners such as Grilled Ribeye, Texas Striped Bass, and Pasta Bolognaise. But the kids’ favorite thing was the breakfast buffet, where they could pile on fresh fruit, pancakes, eggs, bacon and muffins to fuel up for a day of activities.
We had a great experience at Hotel Contessa and look forward to heading back on our stay in San Antonio. Click here to visit Hotel Contessa’s website to check out rates and special packages.
What to See & Do in San Antonio:
Our family is pretty enthusiastic about being “on the go” and exploring lots of new things, so we really packed a LOT into a two-day visit. However, you could absolutely kick back and take it slow, only picking one or two activities. We’d suggest that you first start by checking out the Visit San Antonio website. Or you can stop into the actual Visitors Center next to the Alamo (317 Alamo Plaza) for maps and more. Below are the fun things we enjoyed on our trip:
— Rio River Walk Cruise
Informative and relaxing, taking a 35-minute cruise of the River Walk was a great way to see the sights and enjoy a little boat ride. You’ll hear narrated history of the San Antonio River along the cruise. Click here to see a map of the ticket stations where you can hop aboard a cruise. Click here for details on pricing and hours.
— The Alamo
It would be hard to take a trip to San Antonio without a stop at their most famous landmark. The Alamo shaped the city of San Antonio, ignited the battle for Texas independence, and influenced American history. You can take a guided tour and learn much about the history and importance of this site or do a self-guided walk around the grounds. Click here for all the details about visiting the Alamo and for listings of special events.
— Witte Museum
This was a huge favorite among our family! It was our first time visiting the Witte, and we especially loved their current exhibit, Whales: Giants of the Deep (there through Sept. 4, 2017). The Witte Museum is located next to Brackenridge Park on the banks of the San Antonio River. It’s focus is on natural history, science and South Texas heritage. You’ll find dinosaur bones, cave drawings, Texas wildlife dioramas, Texas art & textiles, and a fun four-story H-E-B Science Treehouse. Click here admission info and all the details about visiting the Witte.
— Tower of the Americas
The 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas can be spotted from all over the downtown area. Visitors are invited to take the glass-windowed elevator up for spectacular views of the city. The tower was built as the theme structure of the 1968 World’s Fair. The kids thought the ride up and down was quite fun, and they enjoyed using the coin-operated telescopes for views of landmarks down below. The Tower also has a revolving restaurant and a 4D Theater Ride. Click here for admission, hours, and more info about the Tower.
— Hemisfair Park – Yanaguana Garden
This playground within downtown’s Hemisfair Park is amazing! Yanaguana Garden includes a splash pad, sand play area, giant chess & checkers, really cool climbing structures, swings and slides. It’s a clean, pretty park perfect for kids of all ages. Click here to learn more and get directions and parking info.
— San Antonio Zoo
The San Antonio Zoo, located in Brackenridge Park, includes 35-acres and houses a collection of over 3,500 animals representing 750 species. The kids were most excited about the African safari area where you can find elephants, zebras, rhinos, big cats and even feed giraffes. For little ones, bring along a swim suit and let them cool down with water play in the Tiny Tot Nature Spot area. Click here to learn all about zoo admission and attractions.
— Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
The kids call this one the “drive-thru zoo” because you will mainly stay in your car, driving through the 400-acre private property in the San Antonio hill country, where animals roam freely within the pastures. The ranch features more than 500 animals representing over 40 species, including giraffe, gazelle, zebra, ostrich, llama, African buffalo, emu, elk and more. It’s a pretty crazy experience to drive by and feed animals from your car along your way. Click here for the full details about visiting this Wildlife Ranch.
Note: The Natural Bridge Caverns are located just next door to this ranch. While they are not affiliated, they are in such close proximity that you might wish to include both attractions on your trip. Sadly, we ran out of time and didn’t get to tour the caverns, but we hope to check that out soon. Click here for info about the caverns.
— The DoSeum
While we didn’t actually fit in the Doseum on this trip, we can’t leave it out of this roundup of things to do in San Antonio. It’s one of the best children’s museums we have ever been to! It’s a very fun place to spend a day. Read all about it in our review.
We know that there’s so much more to check out in San Antonio — Kiddie Park, the Botanical Garden, the Pearl area, the Missions, and theme parks, too. You can view Visit San Antonio’s list of Trip Ideas and their roundup of Family Entertainment for many more suggestions.
In the comments below, please feel free to share what you love to do in San Antonio with your kids!