If you are looking for a vacation spot, San Antonio, Texas is a fantastic place for families to visit. You will find great theme parks, a wonderful zoo, underground caverns, historical sites, museums and plenty of amazing restaurants in this culturally diverse city.
Below is our guide to San Antonio, Texas with kids – the best activities, attractions and places to eat. These are all family friendly and will offer hours of entertainment and education as you explore this city. We’ve divided our list into outdoor activities, indoor activities, accommodations, restaurants and free attractions to make it easier for parents to plan their itinerary.
Family Friendly Outdoor Activities in San Antonio
At Natural Bridge Caverns, you’ll find spectacular underground chambers filled with cool geological formations. A family-friendly guided tour along paved, lighted walkways is your best bet as you see the largest cave in Texas. It is quite slippery and humid inside the caverns and I’d recommend wearing light layers and comfortable walking shoes with good traction. Strollers are prohibited at the Natural Bridge Caverns.
Right next to the caverns is the 400 acre Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. Known for their self guided safari drive where guests can interact or observe animals from the comfort of their own vehicle, this activity is at the top of my recommendations list for families visiting San Antonio. You’ll see species from all over the world as you travel through this Texas ranch land – zebras, ostriches, and goats to name a few. There’s a small petting zoo where families can feed African pygmy goats as well as Lemur Island and a Giraffe Learning Center.
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site consisting of four of the five Spanish frontier missions – Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada. The fifth and most famous mission, the Alamo is not part of the park and can be found in Downtown San Antonio.
The Mission Trail is a fantastic walking or biking experience where you can explore hundreds of years of history and culture. You can visit five missions along the trail, which starts at the Alamo and follows the San Antonio River for nine miles.
More than 2.5 million people a year visit the Alamo, where a small band of Texans held out for 13 days against an invading Mexican general and his army. The death of its courageous defenders (including Davy Crockett) now symbolizes courage and sacrifice in the cause of liberty.
San Antonio’s famous River Walk is famous for a reason. This public park is open 365 days of the year and runs five miles through the heart of the city. The river is surrounded by trees, cobblestone paths, restaurants, museums, shops and much more. Visitors can enjoy a free outdoor performance or show at the north end of the river at the Arneson River Theater. You can walk along the river or ride a river taxi in certain sections – you can even go through the river’s lock and dam. You can also paddle canoes and kayaks along a 1.6 mile stretch of the river.
Six Flags Fiesta is San Antonio’s largest theme park and is filled with rides and activities for all ages. Thrilling roller coasters such as the Iron Rattler, the Goliath and more offer fun for older kids and adults, while little ones will enjoy Buckarooz, ZoomJets and more. The park also features the world’s first 4D free-fly coaster, Batman: The Ride!
Family Friendly Indoor Activities in San Antonio
The newest family educational destination is also a world-class children’s museum. Kids have 65,000 square feet to play, build, invent, dream, discover and more. This state-of-the-art learning facility features interactive exhibits that help kids solve problems creatively. It also includes an interactive robot named Baxter, an interactive puppet parade, a treehouse, a Children’s River, a spy academy and even outdoor exhibit areas with water features.
The 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas in Downtown San Antonio gives visitors a bird’s-eye views of the entire city. Feel free to enjoy the panorama from the revolving Chart House restaurant, watch the scenery from the Observation Deck or take in the thrilling 4D Theater Ride.
The Institute of Texan Cultures features programs, events and exhibits that promote the heritage, history and popular culture of Texas. You’ll learn about the immigrants who settled Texas and made it so multicultural. The Institute is located in HemisFair Park just a short walk from the Alamo and the River Walk.
Free Things to Do in San Antonio with Kids
Just a short walk from the River Walk is the San Fernando Cathedral. Every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9PM, 9:30PM, and 10PM a captivating 24-minute light and music show is projected on the exterior of the cathedral. This show tells the story of the city of San Antonio. I recommend getting there 10 minutes before show time as the Main Plaza gets fairly crowded by the time it starts.
Also located near the Alamo is the San Antonio Fire Museum which opened in June of 2013. The museum focuses on old San Antonio fire memorabilia. Close by are the old Central Fire Headquarters, Fire Station No. 1 and SAFD Shops.
Hemisfair Park was built to host the World’s Fair in 1968, and the future vision is to create a functional urban destination that improves the quality of life in San Antonio. The Mexican Cultural Institute, located in Hemisfair Park and steps away from the Tower of the Americas, shows the many faces of Mexican culture to San Antonio – through sculptures, paintings and photography.
For Resort Loving Families
When people think of San Antonio, Texas, staying near the River Walk immediately comes to mind when looking for family-friendly accommodations. However, for those who want to escape this busy area, there’s Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa that offers a wide range of activities for all ages.
This is a kid-friendly spa and golf resort situated on 300 acres of land and only 30 minutes driving from the River Walk. If you’re looking for peace and quiet and a luxurious place to stay after a packed day of visiting San Antonio’s hot spots then this may be the place for you.
For Foodie Families
Open 24 hours a day, this San Antonio landmark is a favorite of hometown regulars and tourists alike. Located in Historic Market Square, you’ll find authentic Mexican food, a warm Texas welcome and Christmas decor year-round at Mi Tierra.
The spot includes a restaurant, bakery and bar, so no matter what kind of mood you’re in, you are covered. Afterwards, you can explore El Mercado – the largest Mexican market outside Mexico which is home to over 100 locally owned shops and stores.
La Fogata’s beautifully planted patios with splashing fountains and stone columns create an atmosphere of a genuine Mexican hacienda. You’ll relax as you enjoy the flavorful Mexican food in one of San Antonio’s best gathering spots.
La Fogata is famous for its food, margaritas and atmosphere – I highly recommend the guava and cream cheese empanada. Families can arrange for a hands-on guacamole or margarita class too.
Visit San Antonio’s first urban gourmet food truck park, where food diversity is paramount. You’ll find gourmet food and drink as you walk from truck to truck in the shadow of HemisFair’s Tower of the Americas. It can get very loud and busy on weekends so just be aware of that if visiting with young kids.
Chef Johnny Hernandez finds inspiration in Mexico’s beautiful and colorful fruit stands, so he brings that vibe to this casual space where people often gather after work for botana-style Mexican tapas and cocktails. This is a good place to visit if you’re looking for a snack or a drink.
If you love sweet stuff, make sure to stop by Lick Honest Ice Creams in Pearl District. They don’t use artificial colors or flavors, fructose corn syrup or preservatives here and visitors can choose from a variety of uniquely flavored ice creams. The Goat Cheese, Thyme and Honey gets two thumbs up from me!
Guenther House is in one of the oldest historic districts in Texas. Today, located on a bend of the San Antonio River, the home is beautifully restored and includes a museum with mill memorabilia, the River Mill store and a charming restaurant that is a local favorite. Open for breakfast, brunch and lunch, Guenther House offers American and Tex Mex fare. The portion sizes here are very generous – pastries take up the entire plate! – so you may end up having a very light dinner or skipping a meal entirely that day.