San Antonio is in my mind a city of water and a great summertime family destination. There’s SeaWorld (and the new Aquatica), Splashtown, the Riverwalk and perhaps most popular among locals – tubing along the Guadalupe or Comal Rivers. This can be a great family, children included, experience when in San Antonio. But getting a good tubing experience requires some insider knowledge and planning. Here are some tips:
1) Find a tubing company that is either right on the water or that offers free shuttle service. Tubing companies are plentiful but are not all equal. Many have Groupons but consider extra costs on top of the tube itself. We got a cheap deal on tubes, but ended up paying $6/person for round-trip shuttle. Another one dropped us at the river entrance and then we were able to walk back from the exit.
2) Know the laws of the river. On the Comal, no open containers of food or drink. On the Guadalupe, farther out from New Braunfels, no glass. Bring a cooler bag, or waterproof food and drink, or rent a cooler tube.
3) The Comal is a bit of a more man-made float. There are a couple fun sliding parts but most of it is floating lazily past the Schlitterbahn. It takes a couple hours. On the Guadalupe, you feel more out in nature and there are a lot more rocks. When the water is at the right level, this adds a lot more fun. But when the water is low, this makes for a slow, tiring and painful float. The Guadalupe also has a longer option, with the shorter one being about 3 hours.
4) Children are welcome but make sure you borrow a life jacket from the tubing company. My children first tubed at 6, and we have so far left the now-3 year old at home, but I saw babies laying on mamas. Know your own kids and if you can keep them safe while enjoying yourself, take them along.
5) Call the tubing company the night before to let them know you are coming – not all are open at the advertised times.