San Antonio, Texas with Kids
We recently spent a week in San Antonio while visiting my husband on one of his work trips. This multicultural city was more than I had imagined it was going to be. I was born and raised in South East Texas for 11.5 years before moving to Virginia. I am familiar with Texas, but I was happily surprised with this family friendly city and all of it’s delicious food.
Day 1: DoSeum
After dropping my husband off at work, we went back to the Airbnb for my son to take a morning nap. The weather in SATX was dreary every single morning, but by the afternoon, it would clear out and be beautiful. Our rental was about 30 minutes outside of San Antonio’s city center and only about 10 minutes from the Air Force base. Once my son woke & everyone was fed, we headed for the DoSeum! This 3 story, fully interactive museum is a must for any age. The sprawling complex hosts indoor and outdoor attractions, a very nice snack/coffee bar, plenty of family restrooms, elevators and a large store where you can shop for educational toys featured throughout the museum. If you don’t have kids or want time away from your kids, be sure to check out the museum’s “ReDo” events that are created for adults only. You must be 21 to attend those events and refreshments are provided with your ticket.
Day 2: The San Antonio Missions
On our second full day we decided to spend the afternoon (once it stopped raining) exploring the San Antonio Missions. There are 4 located within San Antonio, so I made the decision to start with Mission San Jose which is the largest of the 4. As we were driving, we actually went right past the entrance to the Mission Concepcion, so we decided to stop there first. All 4 of the Missions are run by the National Park Service and free to visit. We made sure to go in and get our National Park Passport stamped! We walked around, taking in this gorgeous piece of Spanish/Texas history. The churches located on the missions are still active and host weekly mass. After the kids played in giant water puddle and ran around the complex for a while, we packed up and headed to San Jose. This mission was different in that it had a larger parking lot, larger bathrooms, and a larger welcome center with a decent size indoor museum. The other striking difference was that this Mission is fortified with a large exterior wall much like a fortress would have. Once inside, it was mesmerizing. Turns out, all of the resident Indians lived within that wall, shared communal brick ovens, and shared a large common space near the church. The mission also had a very large grassy plaza within the walls. It was a beautiful day to walk around and see this piece of living history. OH and these Missions have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, so for all my avid travelers, get this one on your list!
Day 3: Downtown, The Alamo, The Riverwalk, San Fernando Cathedral
Jimmy ended up having a 4 day weekend over President’s Day, so we headed straight for the Riverwalk on his first day off. Parking is expensive downtown, but it’s very convenient and, in my opinion, worth it. We paid $19 to park for an entire day in the downtown public parking garage. Once we got everyone unloaded we headed toward the Alamo first! I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and it was much smaller than I remember, but felt very nostalgic as I spend my first 12 years of life learning Texas history while living South East Texas. The incredible story of how a group of volunteers surprised and overtook the Mexican garrison within the Alamo, ultimately seizing control of San Antonio is one that will not soon be forgotten. The entire complex is free, full of artifacts and special memorials for the courageous fighters. While we were touring, they had a living history demonstration within the courtyard that included firing off several muskets. Our kids were a bit scared, but they actually really enjoyed seeing the characters dressed up in old military uniforms.
We walked from The Alamo to its neighbor, the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is one of San Antonios most famous tourist attracts, but is a unique place that is worth visiting if you’re in town. We stopped for some delicious street tacos at Rita’s, then jumped on one of the famous riverboat tours. I highly recommend taking one. The guide gives you a detailed history of San Antonio and the boats are child friendly. They even let us park our stroller on it and move to sit in the front. Once we navigated the river, our boat moored near the San Fernando Cathedral, so we disembarked and headed over to check out this gorgeous gem. This massive church sits in what is called “The Heart of the City” and has a large, pedestrian friendly plaza with tables, snack bars, and fountains. We visited mid-day on a Friday and there weren’t many people out, so we didn’t have to try hard to get some amazing photos with this beauty. At night on Tuesdays, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the city projects a free light show onto the cathedral, so be sure to check it out if you’re having drinks on or near the Riverwalk!
Day 4: Brunch & The Witte Museum
On Saturday we headed downtown early to grab some of San Antonio’s delicious food. We were given the recommendation to eat at Commonwealth Coffeehouse. There are a couple locations in San Antonio, but the menu is the same; FREAKING DELICIOUS. I had a Spanish influenced brunch while Jimmy had the French toast (it was gigantic) and the kids had an assortment of freshly baked pastries and cookies. I also had a yummy and very well made cappuccino! After we were so full you could have rolled us out of the shop, we headed over the Witte Museum for a tour.
This museum is more geared toward school aged children or adults. Our kids did love the new dinosaur exhibit, the expansive Texas Wild Gallery and they loved running around inside the HEB Body Adventure. However, since they are only 1 and 2 years old, they couldn’t really understand any of the exhibits fully or participate in all of the Body Adventure because they were just too small. If we could go again, we would wait until they both can read and sit still for longer than 30 seconds. While we did enjoy looking at all of the incredible wild life (both stuffed and alive), it was more education for Jimmy and I than our kiddos. If your kids love animals and dinosaurs and are older than about 5, it’s worth every penny.
Day 5: Brunch & The Alamo Beer Company
There isn’t much to say about this particular day, except we ate some DELIOCUS food and drank some Texas brewed beer with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. If you are looking for the best tacos in San Antonio – go to Torchys Tacos. If you want to spend an afternoon drinking local brewed beer while playing cornhole or sitting outside, head over to The Alamo Beer Company. Both places are family friendly. The Alamo Beer Company is set up nicely where kids can see the trains go by, run free, but also are kept confined to the large courtyard by several large buildings and the parking lot.
Day 6: Japanese Tea Gardens
We had nothing planned for our last full day in San Antonio, so we drove around looking for Brackenridge park, but instead we stumbled into the Japanese Tea Gardens. We were not disappointed at all. We walked the gorgeously laid out grounds. The path takes you down to the coi ponds, over several bridges, by a tall waterfall, back through a bamboo forest and back around to either the fish or the café. Yes, you can actually get tea here too!! We indulged in some bubble tea and lemonade at the little café. This would be a fantastic place to bring a picnic and have a quirky photo op. The grounds are completely free too, so it was a great surprise on a day with good weather!
- Torchys Tacos: From Breakfast tacos and mimosas to Lunch tacos with local beer -- you MUST EAT HERE
- Rita's: Located on the Riverwalk & serves DELICIOUS street tacos
- Commonwealth Coffee: the master of coffee and brunch
- The Alamo Beer Company: For some local beer and a fun atmosphere, check them out!
A 3 bedroom, 2 bath Airbnb near Randolph Air Force Base, but still an easy drive to downtown San Antonio. (Don't forget to USE OUR LINK to save $40 off your first Airbnb stay and help support our blog!)
Have you ever traveled with your family to San Antonio? What is your favorite place?