When people ask me about my favorite places in San Antonio, San Antonio Botanical Garden is always on my list. We’ve been members for years, both pre-kids and throughout the various stages of our kids’ lives (it’s stroller-friendly!). And while it’s absolutely gorgeous in the spring, with new, vibrant flowers in bloom and that delicious spring smell in the air, my favorite time to visit is in the fall.
When the summer heat finally gives way to a cool fall breeze (at least a little) and the green leaves start to change color (at least a little…this is Texas, after all), a stroll through the Garden is a special way to enjoy the blessings of the season. And to make it even more special, each fall the Garden hosts a Scarecrow Trail made up of adorable scarecrows created by community organizations and partners. Each team uses found or recycled materials such as old milk jugs, gourds, flowerpots, wood, burlap, yarn, and moss to create fun interpretations of scarecrows for the harvest season. In years past, many of the scarecrows have been visual representations of the organizations or their work, such as a “Garden Dancer” scarecrow by the Children’s Ballet of San Antonio or gardening scarecrows collecting their harvest by the Bexar County Master Gardeners. The creativity of these teams is astounding, and each year brings different scarecrows to enjoy.
One of my family’s favorite things to do at the Garden is to take a stroll around the East Texas Pineywoods area and serene lake. This is easily one of my very favorite spots in town. As you walk along the dirt trail surrounding the lake, it’s easy to lose yourself in the beauty of the tall pine trees, the sounds of birds singing and chirping, and the sight of turtles sunning themselves on logs in the lake. It’s hard to believe that this oasis exists in the middle of a loud, bustling city. And in the fall, you can even get a taste of East Texas fall foliage in gorgeous shades of orange and gold. Most days you can buy bags of food at the ticket booth for $1 each and enjoy feeding the ducks, turtles, and fish in the lake. (Sometimes the Garden runs out of food, which is always heartbreaking for my kids, but this doesn’t happen often.) We could spend all day throwing food to the eager animals from the side of the lake. The log cabin at the far end of the lake has become a favorite play spot for my kids. We talk about what it must have been like to live in a one-room log cabin with—gasp!—no attached bathroom, no privacy, and no separation from annoying siblings. We have had many picnics in the shade of the cabin’s front porch.
In the fall, scarecrows dot the trail surrounding the lake and add to our enjoyment of the area. My kids love finding all the scarecrows and must take a picture with each one. My youngest daughter gives them all hugs (well, except for the headless horseman from last year…). And as we explore the rest of the Garden to make certain we don’t miss any scarecrows, we always find a new favorite.
The Scarecrow Trail is on display from September 28 to November 10 and is included with general admission and memberships. This year’s scarecrows have names such as Marilyn Mon-scare-croe, Bloomin’ Buddies, Give a Hoot About Water, Conserve It, Uncle Sam Antonio, and G.I. Crow, among others.
While at the Garden, also be sure to check out David Rogers’ Big Bugs exhibit. This exhibit runs through December 8 and includes 10 giant insects, such as ants, a ladybug, and dragonflies, made of natural materials. These insects are up to 25 feet tall and are quite fascinating to kids and adults alike. My daughter had to hug each of them as well. No need to worry about any pieces of art feeling neglected at this Garden!
The San Antonio Botanical Garden is absolutely worth a visit this fall. One trip around the Scarecrow Trail and it might become a new favorite fall tradition for your family too. The Garden is located at 555 Funston Place. Admission is $12 for adults; $10 for students, seniors, and military; $9 for children ages 3–13; and free for children under age 3. Museums for All admission is just $3; participants in the program must show their EBT or WIC card with a valid ID. Parking is free. The Garden is participating in San Antonio Museum Month this October, which means that members and employees of participating museums and cultural institutions can receive free admission for two to any participating museum. Check out www.museummonthsa.org for more information.
The Garden is open year-round except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For more information, visit www.sabot.org or call (210) 536-1400. Happy fall, y’all!