We’re going to San Antonio this summer as part of our cross-country road trip. I’ve never been before, and really, I don’t know much about San Antonio beyond the scene from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when Pee-Wee takes a tour of The Alamo to see the basement and find his bicycle. I know, pretty sad, right?
So, I’ve been doing a lot of research to find out what’s fun for families and what my kids and I should do during our short stay (just two days). Take a look at 15 best bets for kids and families:
1. Visit the Four San Antonio Missions. Just outside of downtown, you’ll find San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Explore the missions on your own or take an hour-long ranger-led tour. Mission San Jose is most popular, offering hourly tours from 10 am to 3 pm.
2. Snap a Selfie with the World’s Largest Cowboy Boots. Just outside the North Star Mall in San Antonio (next to Saks Fifth Avenue), look for the World’s Largest Cowboy Boots. Since they’re the “world’s largest,” you shouldn’t have trouble spotting them for a quick snapshot.
3. Take Tour of the Alamo. Yes, just like Pee-Wee, we’re planning to take a tour of The Alamo. It’s just a few blocks away from the popular River Walk area of town, so it’s a must to explore the symbol of independence in Texas.
4. Dine Outside at the River Walk. San Antonio’s River Walk is among the most popular areas of town, so stop by for lunch or dinner under a colorful umbrella at one of a couple dozen restaurants. Watch people as they pass by and the river cruises as they float along.
5. Explore the Largest Caverns in Texas. Go underground to take in the largest caverns open to the public in Texas at Natural Bridge Caverns. Take a guided tour, find your way out of a maze, mine for gems and fossils, or try out the zip lines and treetop course.
6. Take in the Views from the Tower of the Americas. Take the elevator to the top of the 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas for panoramic views of San Antonio from high above the city. The observation deck is open until 10 pm (11 pm Fri-Sat), so see the city after-dark if you can.
7. Ride the Alamo Trolley. I love a good hop-on, hop-off trolley in order to explore a new city at my own pace (and by that I mean at the pace of my kids). The Alamo Trolley makes 10 stops around town, so use the trolley to get around town or listen to the narration to learn more about San Antonio.
8. Have Lunch with Shamu. Just west of town is SeaWorld San Antonio, which has a popular lunchtime program called Dine with Shamu. Enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet at the park while Shamu, the orca whale, provides lunchtime entertainment in the adjacent pool.
9. Enjoy a Boat Cruise on the San Antonio River. Every picture I’ve ever seen of the River Walk has included one of the sightseeing boats from Rio San Antonio Cruises. River tours are just 35-minutes, so it’s a good length of time for little ones.
10. Enjoy a Chuck Wagon Dinner. Chuck wagon dinners take place on Wednesday evenings during the summer break at Enchanted Springs Ranch in nearby Boerne. Once you arrive, you’ll enjoy a tractor ride through the Wild Animal Park before settling in for dinner and live western music.
11. Watch the New Sea Lion Show at SeaWorld. SeaWorld San Antonio has introduced a new sea lion show called “Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High.” Kids will love watching the sea lions perform tricks and interact with the audience as they go back to school in search of diplomas.
12. Go on a Drive-Through Animal Safari. Next door to Natural Bridge Caverns, look for Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, which enables you to get up close and personal with giraffes, peacocks, even antelopes, from the comfort of your own car. There’s also a petting zoo with baby llamas and goats.
13. Get Wet at a Waterpark. Since we’re talking about Texas, I don’t think I need to tell you that it gets hot in this state. Fortunately, there are several waterparks in the San Antonio area, including Schlitterbahn and Splashtown San Antonio, as well as Aquatica at SeaWorld, to keep you cool in the summer.
14. Spend the Day at Brackenridge Park. One of the most popular parks in San Antonio is Brackenridge Park. It’s perfect for picnics, walking along nature trails and burning off energy on the playground. Inside the park, you’ll also find a Japanese Tea Garden, as well as a train depot at the San Antonio Zoo.
15. Wander around Historic Market Square. Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the U.S. It’s also among the top-ten outdoor markets, so it’s a must-visit when in San Antonio. Go for strolling musicians, cultural events and artists in the plaza.