San Antonio is a destination that holds something for everyone. Originally known as a spot to “Remember the Alamo!” and tour it, it is now a major Southern United States travel destination both for business and leisure. With a bustling downtown corridor and a huge outer city to explore, San Antonio offers you tons of things to do with kids.
Things to do in San Antonio with Kids
When I first moved to San Antonio in 2003, I didn’t have kids. There was time to explore the bars, fantastic food options and a wealth of shopping. After having my first son, I moved away, only to return nine years later with a total of three children. Exploring San Antonio was a whole new adventure with kids. Everywhere you look, there are things to do with kids in San Antonio. Now I have a grand total of four children and a home three hours away, yet San Antonio remains one of our favorite family weekend trips.
- San Antonio River Walk
- San Antonio River Walk During the Holidays
- The Saga Light Show
- Hemisfair Park and Yanaguana
- San Antonio Missions
- The Alamo
- Legoland Discovery Center
- Natural Bridge Caverns
- San Antonio Botanical Gardens
- The Doseum
- The San Antonio Fire Museum
- The Witte Museum
- The San Antonio Aquarium
- Japanese Tea Garden
- Morgan’s Wonderland
- Market Square and Mi Tierra
- San Antonio Zoo
- Kiddie Park
- Splashtown San Antonio
- SeaWorld and Aquatica
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Before we start with our list of fun things to do in San Antonio I would be remiss to mention that we also have a post on Free Things to Do in San Antonio with Kids! Some items may appear on both lists and you should definitely check out both if you’re headed to Alamo City.
1. San Antonio River Walk
One of San Antonio’s most famous features may be its downtown River Walk. Fifteen miles long (with five of those miles in the heart of downtown), the River Walk offers visitors and locals alike a lovely stroll along the landscaped edges. One level below street level, shops and restaurants abound. If you are visiting San Antonio, the River Walk simply can’t be missed. Photos on the stone bridges with the San Antonio River in the background will showcase your time in Texas.
To learn more about the history of the River Walk, we highly recommend the entertaining cruises. These 35-minute long boat rides do a set loop on the River Walk and talk about its history, the river system and buildings along the banks. While there are numerous spots to line up to get on a boat, not all of them are near a ticket booth, so be sure to buy a ticket at a booth early in the day to avoid a wait. You can also purchase tickets online up to 30 days before a cruise. Adults $12, Children $6, Seniors & Military with ID $9.
One thing to note about San Antonio’s River Walk is that it is drained for cleaning annually (or close to it). I remember the first time I was down there while it was drained and tourists were shocked that it was empty. You can look updates here. They are always in January.
2. San Antonio River Walk During the Holidays
If you happen to be in San Antonio in late November or during the month of December, you are in for a treat. The San Antonio River Walk’s first Holiday River Parade was held in 1981 and continues to this day. The parade takes place with decorated barges and boats on the San Antonio River. Each year has a theme and folks line the river to watch how it plays out. You can either purchase an assigned seat ticket (~$27.00) or try your luck in a free seating section.
I strongly recommend booking a River Walk hotel room. As long as you are a guest, you will be allowed to enter the hotel (they check room keys) and can watch from one of the public hotel patios or from your room if you have a river view. The last boat contains Santa and Mrs. Claus, who turn on the Christmas lights.
Expect larger than normal crowds. Light-sighting at Christmas is a really popular reason for locals from all around the Texas Hill Country to visit San Antonio.
3. The Saga Light Show
For a truly unique San Antonio experience, visit the San Fernando Cathedral to view The Saga. This multimedia show covers years of San Antonio history. If you have older kids who stay up late, try this art installation by Xavier de Richemont, which is projected onto the side of the Cathedral on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and 10 p.m. It covers centuries of San Antonio history. Located at 115 N. Main Avenue, San Antonio Texas.
TravelingMom Tip: We recommend checking the Main Plaza’s calendar before your visit, especially if it falls during April and Fiesta. Some showings of The Saga are cancelled due to Fiesta events.
4. Hemisfair Park
Hemisfair Park–site of the 1968 World’s Fair–and Tower of the Americas is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. One reason locals flock there? The amazing Yanaguana Gardens. It’s a playground for the kid in all of us with a sand pit, climbing structures, outdoor games, a splash pad and more. All of this is located a short walk from the River Walk. The best part? The improvements are continuous. Recent additions of gardens, a chicken coop, food trucks and more restaurants make it fun for grown ups too. It’s one of my favorite places in San Antonio. If you swing by, be sure to order an Avocado Paleta to enjoy in the sun. Delicious!
5. San Antonio Missions
San Antonio is home to five Spanish colonial missions: San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo), Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan, and Espada. You can visit them via The Missions Trails hike and bike trail or by car. There is no charge to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which is home to four of the missions. Kids can learn about Texas history and become Junior Rangers while exploring the park. Activity books can be picked up at any mission. To read about visiting the Missions in more depth check out TravelingMom Catherine Parker’s great article.
6. The Alamo
Most folks heading to San Antonio have the Alamo on their to-do list. The Alamo, originally known as the Mision San Antonio de Valero, was one of six Spanish Catholic missions founded on the San Antonio River. It was later used as a fort during the Mexican battles for independence from Spain. In 1835, during the Texas Revolution, a group of Texans occupied the Alamo. They maintained position until March 1836 when 187 died during a battle with the Mexican army. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark and museum. Admission is free, although donations are accepted.
Hours Monday- Sunday 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Open until 7 p.m. in the summer. 300 Alamo Plaza San Antonio, TX
7. The Legoland Discovery Center (NEW)
Opened in April of 2019, the Legoland Discovery Center offers a place in downtown San Antonio for your budding builder to let their imagination run wild. Located in the Shops at the Rivercenter, it features ten different themed zones to explore. Be sure to check out the gift shop and Lego cafe.
TravelingMom Tip: Book online to guarantee entry and save money.
Open daily. Check here for hours. 849 E. Commerce Street San Antonio, TX
8. Natural Bridge Caverns
San Antonio may not seem like an obvious place for wonders of nature. After all, it is one of the fastest growing cities in the US. But it also holds a natural treasure. Some of the largest caverns in the United States are located in San Antonio, and the temperature is a solid 70 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Natural Bridge Caverns is privately owned and operated, although it is a registered United States National Natural Landmark.
View stalagmites and stalactites on tours. Available tours run the gamut from discovery tours to adventure tours. There are other things to do on the grounds as well like a maze and zip line (charges apply). You’ll want to buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid higher day of pricing. Prices run in the $20-$30 range.
Open daily but hours vary. Check here before you go. 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio, TX
9. San Antonio Botanical Garden
You may be thinking, “Wait! You want me to take my kids to see a garden?” Trust me- they’ll love it!
There are the standard walking trails and native plant gardens that you’d expect. But the real gem here for families is the Family Adventure Garden. It’s made up of fifteen spaces that encourage your littles to explore and discover. They can roll down Tumble Hill, play in the sand in the Secret Garden or splash in No Name Creek (be sure to bring a towel).
Want to make it more educational? Download the Family Exploration Guide before you go! One other thing that my kids love is checking off birds on the birding checklist. There are also guided walks that you can go on but be sure to check for and book these events in advance. The gardens also feature an outdoor kitchen, featuring the green idea of farm to table cooking.
Admission is $11 for adults and $9 for kids.
Hours 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. 555 Funston Place San Antonio, TX
10. The Doseum
This fairly new children’s museum in San Antonio is full of hands-on experiences and family fun. Located just north of Downtown, the Doseum is a great option for indoor (translation: air-conditioned) breaks during the hotter months (hint: all of them). With areas on robotics, a Spy Academy, and a tree house, this unique museum has something for everyone. The current special exhibit on How People Make Things is fantastic for inquisitive children. STEM is a big focus here and the First Tuesday of each month H-E-B and Community First Health Plans sponsor free admission.
Hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday 12 noon-5 p.m. 2800 Broadway San Antonio, TX
11. The San Antonio Fire Museum
Steps away from the Alamo, this museum has fire apparatus that your kids can climb on and turnout gear for them to try on. A great way to get the wiggles out after a more solemn Alamo visit. The Museum is free the first Tuesday of every month from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Kids under 3 are always free.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 801 E. Houston Street San Antonio, TX
12. The Witte Museum
Kids 3 and under are always free. Admission for all is free on Tuesdays from 3 p.m.-8 p.m. Great exhibits for kids include the H-E-B Body Adventures. Be aware that some of the “active” exhibits require closed toed shoes.
Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday-Saturday, Tuesday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday 12 noon-5 p.m.
3801 Broadway San Antonio, TX
13. The San Antonio Aquarium
Here at TravelingMom, we don’t dance around things. That being said, I’m a meh on the aquarium in San Antonio. When it was first created, there was a ton of negative feedback. Many people (myself included) felt that the animals weren’t being properly cared for and that exhibits didn’t adequately protect the animals from tiny exploring hands. There was a remodel and it appears that staffing has improved. Part of the reason people are either disappointed or elated with this place lies in the description. It isn’t really an aquarium.
Roughly half of the aquarium contains marine life. The other half contains other species such as lemurs, kangaroos, and reptiles. It’s more like an epic petting zoo than an aquarium. You can touch and feed multiple types of animals. Feeding costs extra. If you like closeup animal interaction and are willing to pay extra for it, you’ll be a happy customer.
TravelingMom Tip: The “aquarium” is 50,000 square feet. The building used to be a Dodge dealership. It can get extremely crowded, so try to visit on a weekday morning. It has been shut down by the local fire department in the past due to code violations for being over capacity. Avoid weekends.
14. Japanese Tea Garden
Brackenridge Park is a 343-acre park in San Antonio. Within the park are attractions like the San Antonio Zoo (which charges admission), multiple playgrounds, and the Japanese Tea Gardens, which should be on every visitor’s list. Beautiful Japanese architecture draws the eye and you can stroll along paths next to koi ponds. It is a gorgeous spot for pictures, so don’t leave it off your list!
15. Morgan’s Wonderland
Morgan’s Wonderland is truly a special San Antonio attraction. Think of it as a fully accessible, inclusive amusement park. Covering over 24 acres, it is wheelchair accessible. Guests with special needs are free. All others pay under $20 a person, depending on the time of day, age and which area of the park they visit. A combo pass for admission to both Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island (water area) for an adult runs $27. Optional is the GPS tracker wristband that can locate your other family members in the park.
Plan a day to ride the train, enjoy the Ferris wheel, and test out your off-roading abilities. You can also participate in imaginary play and performances. On warmer days, buy a double park ticket and head over to the water park. You can pack and bring in a picnic lunch to enjoy.
Closed in January and February. Seasonal hours may vary. Check here. 5223 David Edwards San Antonio, TX
16. Market Square and Mi Tierra
Market Square is an outdoor plaza covering a three-block area downtown. Filled with shops and restaurants, it also makes a fantastic spot for photos with its vibrant colors as a backdrop. You’ll feel like you were transported to Mexico. During San Antonio’s famous Fiesta in April, Market Square hosts its own Fiesta de Los Reyes with daily performances and family-friendly fun.
Plan to eat at Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia. They have a roaming mariachi band, delicious and affordable food, and are open 24 hours a day.
17. San Antonio Zoo
Encompassing 56 acres, the San Antonio Zoo is home to more than 750 species. Some highlights at the zoo include its Africa Live! improvements with a new hippo habitat and giraffe viewing area. The crane area is unique. You feel like you have just stumbled across them in the wild.
If your kids are bananas about monkeys and other primates, they may be disappointed. While the zoo has gibbons and a few small monkeys, they don’t house orangutans or gorillas.
I consider this to be a half day zoo. It’s a good manageable size and won’t require a full day. San Antonio can get hot. Mornings tend to be the best for animal viewing. After you finish, there are other things to do in the area. The kids will love to ride the San Antonio Zoo Eagle train throughout Brackenridge Park. It stops at the Witte Museum, Kiddie Park and the Japanese Tea Gardens. The train costs $4. There is also a carousel at a cost of $3. If you’re visiting during Halloween or Christmas check out Zoo Boo and Zoo Lights for added fun.
18. Kiddie Park
If you’re feeling a little nostalgic, Kiddie Park has always been the place to go. It is America’s oldest kids’ amusement park, featuring rides from the 1920s that have been updated and preserved. Recent construction near Kiddie Park hampered parking and made its future questionable. The Zoo has stepped in and the rides and picnic tables are being relocated near the San Antonio River outside of the Zoo. It will be closed briefly in the Summer of 2019 for relocation and will then be an add-on to the Zoo. You will not need to pay zoo admission; however, there is a fee for ride bands in the Park.
TravelingMom Tip: The Zoo offers several Beastly Encounter breakfasts. If it’s in your budget, you may want to consider them. The Giraffe one includes an all-you-care-to-eat breakfast and giraffe feeding before zoo hours. Cost is $19.99 for adults and $16.99 for kids.
Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 3903 N. St. Mary’s San Antonio, TX
19. Splashtown San Antonio
Major cities and downtown water parks may not seem to go hand in hand, but in San Antonio, you can travel less than five minutes from where the Spurs play to a water park with 50+ rides.
Like at many other attractions, we recommend a weekday visit if it fits in with your plans. Weekends can be crowded, which often leads to the bathroom facilities becoming questionable.
Open April-September. Hours vary seasonally so check here. 3600 IH-35 San Antonio, TX
20. SeaWorld and Aquatica
Located on the far western side of San Antonio, SeaWorld has many options for families. Their kids’ area features five rides and a giant overhead play area. San Antonio sun getting to you? There’s a splash pad for that with the kid favorite – the dumping water bucket.
Several playgrounds with tables provide a place to sit and relax while you watch the kids. A special tiny kids playground let’s the under 3 crowd play without getting stomped on. Sesame Street shows occur and encourage your kids to dance.
Make sure you catch a show. Not only are they cute, they’re also educational. Show topics vary but we’ve seen ones that include orcas, sea lions, dolphins, birds of prey, and rescued pets. Personally, Pets Ahoy is my personal favorite because it has cats, dogs, birds, mice, pigs, and even a skunk!
Everything we’ve mentioned doesn’t even include Discovery Cove or Aquatica.
Discovery Cove is a separate section of the park that is included with your admission. Seeking dolphins? They chill over here along with a whole aquarium. The aquarium has species of fish from tang fish to sharks.
TravelingMom Tip: The aquarium is a great place to relax in some air conditioning!
Aquatica, the water park, has a separate entrance and admission. If you don’t want to get in the water yourself, check out the kid areas. They’re great places to relax and let the kids play on slides. There are some out of the way quiet areas here too, that are perfect for really little kids.
In both parks, the food prices are what you can expect from a theme park, but we’re happy to report that the quality is superior. The food is so delicious with so many options around the park. You can have B-B-Q, Chinese food, or just a good burger. You can get a one-day dining pass, which gets you a new entree, dessert, and drink every 90 minutes, so you can try it all if you’re up for the challenge!
21. Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Six Flags Fiesta Texas may seem like a grown-up destination. Commercials always show the biggest, fastest, tallest roller coasters. However, it has more rides for kids that people are aware of. There is a kids area with five rides and a small playscape. The best part of this park? The setup is perfect for families. Near most of the major rides, there are a rides for the little ones. Therefore we recommend using the Rider Swap option. Have one parent go ride with the older kids, while the rest of the family isn’t too far away. Then simply switch to make sure everybody rides their favorite rides!
If your kiddos aren’t big enough for the bigger coasters but want some thrills, they’ll need to be at least 36″ tall. Kids who are 36” can ride the water rides and an awesome kiddie coaster. Brave kids can even get dizzy in the Boardwalk area on WaveBreaker and Spinsanity. Are your kids 42” tall? They can ride the bigger “kiddie coasters” and bumper cars.
Need a break for the whole family? Check out Pirates of the Deep Sea and the Grand Carousel. Or take in a live show so you can sit for a bit.
Too hot? Simply check out the water park, which is included in admission! It has a lazy river, a tidal wave in the shape of Texas (everything’s bigger in Texas) and a whole separate kid’s area.
Big thanks to my friend Bonita Hall from Luggage and Strollers. Not only is she a Six Flags lover but she works there and helped me out with all the details in this section!