You’re sipping a morning coffee and asking yourself, Should I grab the kids and go somewhere today? Or should we stay in? Our family usually answers, “Go somewhere!” San Antonio has tons of fun things for families to do. Let’s talk about activities that will keep your kids active and healthy, support them as they discover talents and learn new skills, and help them build memories of a rich and beautiful childhood.
My kids are getting big now, ages 12 and 9, but lately I have been organizing photos from when they were infants and toddlers. It’s bringing back memories of our early explorations. I want to share some tips that made things easier for us and hope that they inspire you to go explore San Antonio as a family, too.
Our plans for going out of the house were actually built around one of our essential activities inside the house: sleep. You know that kind of deep sleep you get when you have spent the whole day hiking in the hills or swimming in a lake? As much as possible, I wanted my kids to get that kind of sleep. We will revisit this question in our post about rainy days, but in my experience the only way to get kids that tired is to play outside.
Residents know that San Antonio has a humid subtropical climate; the summers are long and hot, and the winters are cool and mild, with occasional cold fronts. In the summer, we learned to go to parks and playgrounds in the cool of the morning. We stayed inside during the heat of the day to enjoy lunch, took an afternoon nap (while Mom furiously did chores), and avoided sunburns. In the afternoon and evening, it’s still hot outside, but water helps, so we looked for splash pads, neighborhood pools with a baby pool or a zero-entry side, or water attractions at local sites—more on that below.
In cooler weather, we timed our biggest outing for late afternoon, after nap but before dinner. Have you ever heard that time of day called the “witching hour”? It’s when tired kids are prone to meltdowns. However, sometimes a change of scenery and some fresh air can reset the mood.
For young children, sometimes it’s enough just to go out on the front porch, visit your apartment complex’s common areas, or go for a walk around the block. It’s also good to find your “get up and go” and see more of what San Antonio has to offer for families.
- San Antonio parks—here is Heather’s guide.
- San Antonio Zoo—The Riverbank is a summer favorite. Did you know that Annual Pass holders get early entry in the summer? Here is Jill’s post about recent changes at the Zoo.
- San Antonio Botanical Garden—Here is my earlier post about the Family Adventure Garden, including the water feature at No-Name Creek.
- Splash pads—Natalie wrote a post about places to stay cool.
- Morgan’s Wonderland—I wrote a post about this place for inclusive play for all ages.
Based on our experience, you will get more out of your museum memberships once your kids are at least four years old—except for The DoSeum, which is fun for crawlers, too.
There is a lot of baby gear you don’t really need, but then again there are a few items that will make a world of difference when you are going out of the house with young children.
If you’re driving, make sure your kids’ car seats are the right size and installed properly. Here is an earlier post by Celina with links to good resources. If you find out you’ve been letting the straps get too loose or the chest buckle slide too low, don’t beat yourself up about it. But when you learn better, do better.
The best kind of stroller is the one you actually use. We have found a time and place for everything from lightweight umbrella strollers—they are easier to fold and carry—to giant jogging strollers that provided a smooth ride on bumpy streets but took up a lot of space in the garage. Sometimes a stroller is essential, but there are also good reasons to leave it behind: your kids will get more exercise if they are walking rather than sitting.
Babywearing was a lifesaver for us. Both of my kids needed lots of contact and carrying them was the best way to do that. When my son was three or four years old and my daughter was an infant, we used a series of carriers, from a front-wearing Baby Bjorn to a Kelty frame backpack, so she could come with us while Big Brother ran around. I wore a fanny pack around my waist to carry my phone, keys, and ID and left my purse at home.
Packing a diaper bag is personal for every parent. My general advice is to keep taking it apart and putting it back together so that you only carry what your kids need now; that way you can count on the supplies staying fresh. My favorite diaper bag was less like a purse and more like a backpack.
When you are a mom going out with your kids, you want to be extra careful. We got in the habit of texting someone—usually my husband or my mom—to let them know where we were going. However, we didn’t post about it on social media until after we got home.
When you are going places with young children, it’s hard to be as aware of your surroundings as if you were by yourself. I learned to always look around as we were leaving an area to make sure we picked up all our things, including car keys and cell phones. If you’re going to an unfamiliar place, then plan to meet a friend there, or go when there is a public event.
We keep some supplies on hand. In the diaper bag, pack an extra water bottle and a miniature first aid kit; keep a bigger supply in your car. Know who to call for roadside assistance, whether it’s a service or a family member. Install the VIA go mobile app and rideshare apps on your phone so you have backup transportation. With planning, you can stay safe and model self-reliance and independence for your children.
Even as our kids get bigger, it’s fun to think back about our earliest explorations in our neighborhood and around the city. The habits we built back then have served as a foundation for more adventurous journeys. Our kids have stayed active and healthy. They have gotten to know San Antonio and its cultural heritage. Also, they have learned about themselves and their interests as they start to think about their future. Find your “get up and go!” now, and your kids will be on their way to independent lives filled with curiosity.