Learning by Doing
I’m THAT mom. I’m always looking for ways to enhance my child’s education, to allow him to learn more about the world around him, and to explore the Alamo City. The following list offers a handful of places that serve as unique learning experiences appropriate for varying ages. You don’t need to have a big vacation planned, you can find many neat things to do close to home.
SAS Factory Tour
A few years ago, I took my son and some friends to the SAS Factory for their factory tour. If you’ve never been, you should add it to your list. It is fascinating to see the process of how these shoes are made and how each pair can go through up to 100 different steps. During your visit, you can also shop in their general store.
Visitors ages six and up are welcome to participate in the free tour. Tours are approximately 45 minutes long and are offered Monday–Thursday at 9:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Please call ahead to check availability and make a reservation, as these tours are currently limited to five people at each time slot. Visitors must wear closed-toe shoes.
The SAS Shoe Factory and General Store, 101 New Laredo Hwy, San Antonio, TX; Phone: 210-921-8103.
Tour Mission San Jose
If you want to learn more about the history of Mission San Jose, you can participate in a free, ranger-led walk. These guided walks begin at the San Jose Visitor Center and are conducted daily at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. The tours last approximately 45 minutes and are wheelchair accessible. Note: There are no ranger-led tours on the first Wednesday of every month.
6701 San Jose Drive, San Antonio, TX 78214
Did you know you can take a FREE tour of the Toyota manufacturing plant? I did this years ago with my son and his boy scout group and it was awesome! Children ages five and up can take the tour with a parent or legal guardian. You must visit their website to RSVP for a specific date and time. Tours are currently offered Tuesday–Thursday at 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Visitors must wear closed-toe shoes and long pants. No phones are allowed on the tour, but you can take pictures outside or in the experience center lobby.
Toyota Texas Experience Center, 1 Lone Star Pass, San Antonio, TX 78264
Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Holocaust Memorial Museum allows visitors to learn more about this time period in history. This museum is free and open to the public for self-guided tours. The museum is open Monday–Friday from 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., as well as the first and third Sundays of each month from 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. Their website also offers a virtual experience. You can take a virtual tour of the museum, listen to stories from survivors, and explore through interactive resources.
While it is free to visit, the museum does happily accept donations with a suggested donation amount of $1 per student and $3 per adult. Their website also offers educational resources and virtual tours here. If you’d like to schedule a guided tour, you may do so on the website. Due to the nature of the content, the museum allows tour requests for students in grades six and higher. For groups of 50 or fewer, please schedule at least two weeks in advance, and for larger groups, schedule at least one month in advance.
12500 NW Military Hwy, San Antonio, TX 78231; Phone: 210-302-6807
Canyon Lake Gorge
The Canyon Lake Gorge was carved by the flood of 2002. According to their website, the gorge “is a real-life classroom where visitors can experience the geology of the Texas Hill Country first-hand through visible faults, fractures and seeps in the limestone as well as fossils and 110 million-year-old dinosaur footprints.”
If you want to explore on your own, you can purchase a trail pass at the Visitor Center for $5 (FREE for kids under age 12). This pass allows you to walk the nature trail and hike along the North Rim of the Gorge. This self-guided hike is open from 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday. While a reservation is not required for a trail pass, they are only available until the daily capacity has been met. The trail allows you to move at your own pace and features eight overlooks with plenty of areas to stop and take photos or enjoy a picnic. It is definitely a family-friendly trail.
You can also take a guided, in-depth tour that takes you to the bottom of the 64-acre gorge. Public tours are available to visitors ages seven and up and start at $15 per person. Educational and youth organization tours are available at a discounted rate. For more information and reservations, visit their website.
16029 S. Access Rd., Canyon Lake, TX 78133; Phone: 830-964-5424
San Pedro Culture Creek Tour
The San Antonio Culture Creek Park is located on the western edge of downtown San Antonio. This family-friendly park allows visitors to experience nature, art, and culture simultaneously.
I recently visited and loved walking around in the beautiful weather, viewing the art along the walk. You can take a self-guided tour and use materials from the website for key information. Check out this part of their website here. If you want a more in-depth experience, the San Antonio River Authority conducts in-person walking tours of the area on the first Friday of every month at 10:00 a.m. You must RSVP on their website here. Space is limited and available on a first come, first served basis; visit the site to RSVP.
Free parking is available at 201 Piazza Italia, behind the Christopher Columbus Italian Society.
715 Camaron Street, San Antonio, TX 78204; Phone: 210-227-1373
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
Check out one of the best spots for birding in San Antonio. The Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is a place where you can learn about plants, birds, and other wildlife as well as explore and spend time in nature. The center offers family-friendly Beginner Bird Walks (for ages five+) on the fourth Saturday of each month for $10 per person. They also host guided birding tours, ideal for birders aged 15+, on Sundays for $10 per person. This experience starts at 8:00 a.m. and can last up to four hours, although you may leave at any time.
On March 25, the center is hosting a free community festival where you can find live birds, games, crafts, and more.
If you fall in love with the center, you can purchase an individual membership for $45. This includes free entry to the center for a year, as well as free and/or discounted programs and workshops in addition to many other perks.
10750 Pleasanton Road, San Antonio, TX 78221; Phone: 210-628-1639
Want to Invest in an Incredible Experience?
San Antonio ProTours
If you love guided tours and want one that is 100% worth the investment, check out San Antonio ProTours. Michael, a former history teacher and stand-up comic, offers a variety of private and corporate tours.
As an incredibly frugal person, I can tell you with confidence that Michael’s tours are worth every penny. I met him on a corporate tour and then booked an in-depth tour of the San Antonio missions as a unique birthday gift.
Michael is incredibly knowledgeable and fun, and he attends to every detail to ensure an unforgettable experience. You can contact him for additional information here: [email protected] or 215-380-0204.
Get to touring while the weather is beautiful in San Antonio! Get out and explore everything our city has to offer. Know of other great tours around town? Let us know in the comments.