Article and cover photo by Mira Temkin
If you’re looking for a cool place to hang out with your kids, check out San Antonio, Texas, a family-friendly city with lots of amazing things to do.
Think history, culture, high tech, and fun, with a side of authentic Mexican heritage.
Cruise down the River Walk
Your first stop should be San Antonio’s legendary River Walk, one level beneath the downtown streets. It stretches across a 15-mile long walkway along the banks of the San Antonio River, lined with restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops.
In 2011, they expanded the River Walk by several miles turning it into a green space for walking, running, and biking to the “Mission Reach.” Take the kids for a walk in this direction. It’s just beautiful.
Get a feel for the River Walk by hopping on a 35-minute “Go Rio” boat cruise, which runs every 15 minutes. Learn about the history, monuments, and sights along this historic route.
Check out the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum for history and great food!
If you look up and see a buck’s head, you know you’re in the right place. Buckhorn Saloon is a unique combination of a restaurant and two museums — Exotic Animal Collection and the Texas Ranger Museum. Kids will be fascinated to see this collection of animals up close.
Be sure to say howdy to Buffalo Bill, he’ll sell you a ticket.
The Saloon restaurant is known for its great burgers, chili, salads, sandwiches, and more. Try the Sweet Potato Waffle Fries, and the Lone Star Chili is the best. There is a kids menu, too.
Remember the Alamo
Here’s your chance to give your kids a real history lesson. San Antonio’s most important historic site is the Alamo, where Texas fought for its independence from Mexico. Walk around the grounds to experience living history.
The Battle of the Alamo lasted 13 days, from February 23, 1836 to March 6, 1836 with the Alamo falling. But it mobilized the troops, earning its independence later that year. Today, it remains an enduring symbol of resistance to oppression and a struggle for independence. Don’t miss the movie that tells you more about Alamo history.
Recently opened is the Ralston Family Collections Center which now houses Phil Collins’ collection of Alamo artifacts. You can tour the chapel and outer barracks for free, but you’ll need a ticket for the new museum.
La Panadería – Discover Bread Culture
Don’t let the line outside the door scare you away, this place is worth the brief wait. La Panadería specializes in handmade bread and pan dulce inspired by their mother’s favorite recipes.
Brothers José and David Cáceres opened bakery-cafe La Panadería in 2014 to share their Mexican heritage. Everything I tried came out hot, fresh, and delicious.
Try the “Scrambled” with turkey, egg, and cheese served in a fresh croissant or the french toast that was out of this world. Build your own torta with your favorite sandwich like a Mexican Cubana. Grab a treat or two for your afternoon snack like the Nutella Cruffin or their biggest seller, the Tequila Almond Croissant. With three locations, La Panadería is a San Antonio favorite. Plenty of pan for the little ones, too.
Dough – The Only Authentic Neapolitan Pizza in San Antonio
With a name like Dough, you know it’s got to have great pizza. Dough uses farm-fresh ingredients with authentic Neapolitan techniques, cooking the pizza in wood-burning ovens. I relished the Pizza Margherita and Mista Salad. The menu also features pasta, adult beverages, and a burrata bar.
This is a great place to bring the kids because it not only has great pizza, but because it’s right next door to HemisFair Park. Designed for kids, the urban park has an inclusive playground with a truly innovative design, splash pad, tot lot, games plaza with big blue blocks, oversized checkers, and sand play.
Smoke Texas River Walk
For an authentic taste of Texas Barbecue, this is the real deal. You’ll smell the smoke wafting in the air as you approach this River Walk restaurant. You’ll want to inhale their brisket, turkey, ribs, and chicken, served with cream corn, beans, potato salad, and more. There is a kids menu, too.
SA Side Car Tour – A Real Side of Fun
I couldn’t wait to hop on one of these adorable little sidecars. My driver picked me up at my hotel, and off we went to see the out-of-the-way gems in San Antonio. This is the only place in the U.S. you can ride these cars. My driver took me past the King William Historic District with its elegant European homes and Historic Market Square on our 90-minute ride. We even stopped at a food truck for breakfast tacos. The tours are customized to where you want to go. What a unique way to see the best of San Antonio. Small kids can ride in the car with you.
Hopscotch – Fun for Everyone
Feel like a kid with your kids at Hopscotch for an immersive art experience that’s perfect for families. Check out the 15 installations created by 40+ local, national, and international artists. You’ll love interacting with the larger-than-life art in new and different ways as you immerse yourself in the unexpected. My favorite was the laser graffiti room where you can write your message on the wall with a laser and watch it come to life. Enjoy Texas cuisine, cocktails, and live music, too.
Museums and Open Spaces
Discover the Witte Museum for nature, art, and culture for an indoor-outdoor hands-on experience. Kids will learn more about Texas history and love the dinosaurs. See their video called “Texas Deep Time” showcasing the themes of land, sky, and water. There’s even a play area out back with a climbing wall and zipline for the kids.
Theme Parks Galore
Move over, Orlando. San Antonio’s got some awesome theme parks. Head over to SeaWorld and their newest attraction, Aquatica, where you sit in a raft and come face to face with tropical fish. Slide down the water slides and other rides to max your H20 experience.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas delivers dozens of thrill rides, shows, and water park rides and live entertainment. Lots of kid-friendly rides and attractions.
Grab a passport to Pangea and stand next to giant dinosaurs that actually move at the “Dino Safari: A Walk Thru Adventure.” Dig up fossils, enjoy the interactive dinosaurs, and have a blast with your family at the scavenger hunt.
San Antonio makes a perfect place to play and create wonderful family memories. Coming up: Dia de los Muertos commemoration, October 27 to November 2, and their annual “Fiesta,” April 18 to April 28, 2024. For more information, go to visitsanantonio.com.
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