San Antonio is a beautiful piece of Texas history mixed with modern city flair. Not only is this city easy on the eyes, there are so many fun things to do.
Living full time in our RV and traveling with a small child limits some of the activities we can partake in as we adventure to new cities. So with our daughter’s fear of elevators and basketball games (thats a new one to us but a true thing) that cancelled out the Tower of the Americas and catching a Spurs game (which was at the top of my to do list).
Hopefully, these are all phases that she will someday overcome, but at the moment we will not traumatize our child (and lets face it ourselves) and leave those to another time. Good thing for us this city has so many fun things to do and check out check out for people of all fears and ages.
Alamo Plaza Historic District – Our first stop no other than the Alamo. The Alamo is one of the most commonly visited tourist attractions in the US and the most visited attraction in Texas. We know this famous site to be the location of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 but the history goes back even further than that.
The Alamo was originally built and established in 1718 as one of the early Spanish Missions to convert and spread Christianity to area Native Americans. That was the part of the history that either I was never taught in school or probably a better chance I had just forgotten that part.
With that being said when I thought of the Alamo I had just pictured the famous building you see in all the textbooks but I didn’t realize it was a whole community within the walls. Visiting the Alamo was not only a great refresher of a history lesson, but it was a surreal experience walking the grounds of past soldiers fighting for independence and giving their lives for freedom.
This Tennessee girl had to see where her fellow Tennessean Davy Crocket showed his volunteer spirit and went down fighting in the battle. The Alamo is truly an American history icon that you have to witness and see for yourselves. You literally have to because no video or photography is allowed in the church so I can’t help you out there.
It is amazing to have this piece of iconic history right in the middle of downtown San Antonio and it is almost as if you can step back in time and escape to another error of time in the middle of all the city action. It is a free self guided tour but you can pay for guided or audio tours as well. I would suggest brushing up on your history facts before visiting so you can spend your time enjoying the history and not reading everything like you are cramming for a test like I did.
Speaking of visiting, the winter months made for a great time to take a tour. The weather was amazing and not crowded at all. On a side note our daughter did not have a fear of the Alamo so we were good.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park – There are four other missions in the area besides the famous Alamo making up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park . Each mission is three miles apart from the other and all are located south of the Alamo.
My favorite thing to do while in in San Antonio was explore the Missions along the River Walk’s Mission Reach. The Mission Reach is an eight mile stretch with beautiful trails and picnic areas. This was a fun and scenic way to visit the Missions either by foot or bike. You are able to rent bikes from the multiple kiosks or we brought our own to tackle this trail. You are able to drive to the Missions as well, but I am telling you the trail is awesome if you are able to go that route.
The park’s Visitor’s Center is located at Mission San José and is a great place to start. It is located in the middle of the missions so grab a map of the mission trail and check out the film that plays every 30 minutes which tells the story of life in the missions during the 1700s. A museum, bookstore, and restrooms are also located at this center making it a great starting point in my book.
Also if you get tired, it was nice having your vehicle in the middle of the trail so you can always break it up and finish later. How is that for connivence? All four mission churches still have active Catholic parishes that hold regular services.
With the exception of a wedding or a funeral, the churches are open to visitors during regular park hours. I love any excuse to take a fun bike ride and enjoy the sunshine. Throw in some beautiful historical churches and you have a good time if you ask me.
Riverwalk – Referred to as the “American Venice” with its riverboat cruises along side shops and restaurants, the Riverwalk is a beautiful touch to this historical city. Take a stroll by foot or by river cruiser to cover the 15 miles of beautiful scenery both new and old.
New adventure is around every corner as the sidewalks twist and turn around the heart of the city filled with colorful umbrella patio dining and arched bridges. Located below street level, the river cruise is a must do in my opinion to see the beautiful city with a guided tour in the magical daylight or the twinkly night. It can be a romantic or family friendly setting floating on the San Antonio River.
San Antonio Fire Museum – Our little one LOVES firetrucks. Seriously she loves anything with an engine but firetrucks is one of her favorites. A short walk from the Alamo is the San Antonio Fire Museum.
The tour is free and the museum runs off support of donations and gift shop purchases and is ran by the sweetest volunteers you will ever meet. Two men greeted us cheerfully and gave tons of information about the building, trucks, and city. It was a fun stop and so happy we got to go on this tour.
Brackenridge Park is home to the San Antonio zoo and so much more. The San Antonio Zoo is one of the most spacious and beautiful zoos in the US. They have a huge variety of animals but my favorite was the Hippo exhibit. You can get up close and and watch them swim beneath the glass and they will even open their mouths for you. I didn’t want to leave!
However, don’t go on a cold and rainy day because as we found out the animals do not want to come out and play. They are use to the hot San Antonio weather for sure and it showed.
This park is huge! To be honest we arrived and had no idea where to even start. It was kind of confusing getting around so we hoped on the train ride around the park to get a better view. The train takes off across from the zoo and makes stops along the way if you want to hop off and check out a certain location. We stayed aboard and got the full tour.
From there we checked out some of the hike and bike trails and playground. It is a great place to picnic or visit the Botanical or Japanese Te Garden. Witte Museum is also located in this park if that was’t enough to keep you busy. This park has something for everyone.
So there you have it. Our top 5 list of things to do in San Antonio with kids. We had a great visit to this beautiful historical city and I would highly recommend any (or all 5) of these stops if you are in the area!