Family Fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and rodeo with a calf and cattle mom
A mama and her baby at the stock show

It’s time to saddle up, San Antonio! Family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is easy to wrangle. If you’re new to the rodeo or look forward to it all year, read on for what you need to know to lasso family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. Horses, cattle, pigs, rides, food, fun… the annual showcase of all things cowboy and cowgirl has something for everyone. And family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is easy to lasso.

We’ve been rodeo regulars since our little was two, enjoying his delight at the large and small animals and more. We’re not alone: Check out Jill’s list of what she enjoys with her family. The rodeo is all things livestock and ranching, but it’s also Texas wildlife, every variety of food on a stick, funnel cake, carnival fun, tractors, and more.

If you haven’t been—or don’t know where to start—read on for a guide to family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

First, a primer: If you are a rodeo regular or new to it all, there are things you’ll want to know about tickets and parking. Check out this great FAQs video for the scoop.

family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo with a little boy riding a tractor

Baby chicks!

The “rodeo” is what we all call it, but it’s actually two things, and it’s all in the official event name, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. Rodeo competitions happen each night (and matinees on the weekends), when very talented cowboys, cowgirls, and amazing horses compete in barrel racing, bull riding, roping, and more. Each competition ends with a concert.

The stock show portion is what runs all day, every day, showcasing different animals throughout the event. From swine, sheep, and goats to Brahmas, Holsteins, mini-Longhorns, and more, there’s an array of animals to see and admire throughout the stock show.

family fun at the stock show and rodeo with BMX bikers doing daring stunts
Image courtesy of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

The fairgrounds houses all of the fun that surrounds the rodeo and the stock show. That’s food booths, shopping, live music, games, carnival rides, and everything from BMX bike demonstrations to racing pigs. And there are always educational exhibits so kids can learn where milk comes from and how to care for animals.

Schedule: The rodeo runs through February 26 this year, giving you plenty of time to take in the fun and make some memories. Hours vary, but the fairgrounds are open 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily and most attractions open at 10:00 a.m. You can see the details here. Note: Hours/activities are different on weekdays vs. weekends. If the carnival is your thing, it doesn’t open until 4:00 p.m. most weekdays. You’ll see that the grounds open at 9:00 a.m., but most of the fun isn’t available until 10:00 a.m., even on weekends, and the carnival opens at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday/Sunday and President’s Day (February 20). There are also different entertainment options through the run of the rodeo. To be sure you know all that’s going on when you’re there, check out this great interactive schedule. You can search by family entertainment, food options (*ahem*, free samples, including wine tasting!), music, and more.

Location: The rodeo takes over the AT&T Center and Freeman Coliseum, as well as the grounds around the two. The area that usually seems like miles of parking lots bursts with activity during the rodeo. Did you know there’s a cattle barn, horse show arena, horse barn, auction barn, swine barn, and more surrounding the home of the Spurs? And all of those buildings come to life during the rodeo. If it sounds daunting, it’s not. The grounds are easy to navigate, so don’t let the size of everything—or the livestock!—scare you.

Admission: Here’s where it’s good to know the difference between the rodeo and the grounds. The action that happens inside the AT&T Center is a different ticket versus standard grounds admission. A rodeo ticket admits you to the grounds, so you don’t need to buy both, but a grounds ticket does not admit you to the AT&T Center.

family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo night image of carnival games and rides
Image courtesy of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

Tickets for the rodeo performances, as well as fairgrounds admission and both parking and shuttle options, can be purchased here. Grounds admission to the rodeo is $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 3–12, and free for children two and younger. Seniors (65 and older) are $5. Guests with military IDs get in free every day (and it’s not just the military member—dependents are free too, even littles too young for an ID card).

Pro Tip: If you buy your ticket online, adult tickets are only $12. Be sure your ticket (not a screen shot) is pulled up in your mobile wallet.

A Must Know: The rodeo has gone digital and mobile, and the AT&T Center is cashless, so you must buy your tickets digitally. There’s a great guide to help make ticketing a breeze.

Corn dogs, and anything edible on a stick, make great rodeo nutrition.

Thursdays and President’s Day (Monday, February 20) are $2 Days, so grounds admission, rides, hot dogs, popcorn, and sodas in the carnival area are only $2 each. The discount is valid 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. Yes, that means you and the littles can get in for $2 each, then enjoy carnival rides, hot dogs, popcorn, and sodas for $2 each. (FYI: The $2 food options are located in the carnival area, not throughout the grounds.) Promotions and special offers can be found here.

Parking: Parking in the AT&T Center lots is available, and as with all events at the AT&T Center, there are private lots available that have varying prices. Park & Ride is available and parking can be purchased in advance. Details on parking can be found here. And if you’re wondering how to navigate the traffic flow, check out this map to help “steer” you in the right direction (a little rodeo humor for you!).

A glimpse of carnival fun

The rodeo grounds are somewhat divided into areas, the grounds map is easy to follow, and volunteers are everywhere to answer your questions. You’ll also see where to find food options, including free sampling conducted daily on the grounds. (Chuckwagon sampling is listed under the Food Court options.)

Food: The food court, and the rodeo itself, includes anything you can eat on a stick, huge turkey legs, ears of corn, and random finds like gator (on a stick, of course), Greek gyros (no stick), pizza, Chinese food, kettle corn, and funnel cake. The food court is huge, so you’re sure to find something you like or feel like you have to try, like deep-fried candy bars. (I haven’t been brave enough for that, but please let me know if they’re good.) On $2 Days, food options can be purchased for $2 each in the carnival area.

A hard-won championship buckle and ribbon

Fun to See: The livestock barns feature a variety of livestock, including bulls, goats, pigs, longhorn cattle, horses, and more. You can walk the barns and see whatever is being shown at the time, all proudly raised and cared for by kids hoping to earn scholarship money. Walking the barns is a fun way to connect with what fuels the stock show. But please mind your manners and don’t touch the animals—they aren’t for petting, and some of the animals could get easily spooked. Do talk with the owners/caretakers—they’ve worked hard to get their animals to the show. If you’re there at the right time, you might see the cows getting a bath or any other number of things being done to keep them ready for show.

Pro Tip: When our son was little, we always took our stroller. There’s a lot of walking around the grounds, and it makes it easier on little legs. Both strollers and wagons are welcome, and there’s stroller parking outside of events/activities that don’t allow strollers. If your stroller days are behind you, make sure everyone wears shoes that fit the occasion. The rodeo is not a place for sandals unless you want to deal with straw, sawdust, and the more-than-occasional animal poop. Closed-toe, comfortable shoes are best. Your shoes/stroller may roll through some animal deposits. It all rolls off, but watch the wheels before you toss the stroller back in the car. Strollers cannot be taken into the AT&T Center, so if you’re going to a performance, you can’t have your stroller with you.

Game fun in the carnival area

Fun to Do: Family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is available throughout the grounds, but be sure to visit the Expo Hall, where you’ll find Buckaroo Farms and Dan-Dan the Farmer Man. The Expo Hall is also where you’ll find the Petting Farm (filled with goats, sheep, donkeys, llamas, deer, chickens, and more).

In the Food Court and Outdoor Activities area, you’ll find pony rides, the BMX Freestyle Team, Bustin’ in the Barn (where your littles can go mutton bustin’, but we HIGHLY recommend you reserve a space online before you go as it sells out FAST). There are also livestock talks and a goat ranch in the area around the Food Court, making it a good family destination overall.

One of our favorites is the Swifty Swine Pig Races, and yes, it’s just what it sounds like. Similar to a naked toddler on the run, the pigs are much faster than you’d think. They also squeal really loudly. Races are scheduled throughout the day but get your seat early: the stands always fill up to watch the likes of Tony Porker and Hamu Ginobili race to the finish line.

Another stop to enjoy: Freeman Coliseum. Wildlife, TX, is there, so you’ll see some of the native animals that call Texas home, and the Longhorn of Texas where you’ll be amazed by the size of those looooonnnnnggg horns. And don’t miss the free shows in the coliseum, including bull riding, charreada, the youth rodeo, and more.

A one-day-old sheep to be seen, not yet ready to be petted, at the petting zoo

Rodeo tip: Like every other mom, I’m always armed with hand sanitizer, but for the rodeo, I make sure I’m fully stocked. There’s a ton to see, do, and touch, and no one wants animal germs. There are also hand sanitizer stations throughout the grounds.

Pony rides are a fan favorite.

So what are you waiting for? Saddle up and find family fun at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo before it’s too late. And if you have any rodeo tips or favorites I didn’t list, please share—I love to hear how others make the most of their rodeo adventures.

An Army brat who came to Texas for college and ultimately managed to make the Lone Star State her permanent home, Dawn became a mom “AMA” (advanced maternal age), giving her the opportunity to use a stroller vs. a walker as she navigates the world of motherhood. Her growing up way too fast native Texan loves all things Star Wars, Legos, dinosaurs and keeping his parents on their toes. When she’s not busy parenting the original strong-willed child, Dawn runs Tale to Tell Communications, a San Antonio-based PR and marketing agency. An award-winning writer, Dawn also contributes to San Antonio Woman, Rio Magazine and Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She and her family enjoy exploring all that San Antonio has to offer, going on adventures and playing tourist together as much as possible. Favorite Restaurant: Clementine Favorite Landmark: The beauty of the River Walk, especially La Villita Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Celebrating anything and everything with color, music and food