We live in a great part of Texas for outdoor fun. Although it does get quite hot in the summer, we have lots of opportunities to beat the heat with splash pads all over town, SeaWorld, Six Flags, and Inspiration Island at Morgan’s Wonderland. My family tries to get as much time in the sunshine as we can and I want to share some of our favorites that are reasonably priced or even better, free! These options have grown with my family as we’ve moved from toddlers to bigger kids who want more freedom to move and play. Here are my top recommendations for outdoor spots for families in and around San Antonio.
Friedrich Wilderness Park
My daughter and I recently started hiking together. Not just light hiking, real hiking! Friedrich Wilderness Park is a new discovery for us but one we will return to frequently. The trails are clearly marked and they vary from paved and flat to quite challenging. After just a few minutes of easy walking on a recent hike, we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. It’s a great place to walk and talk or just listen to the sounds of nature. Be aware though that no dogs are allowed, so leave Fido at home.
San Antonio Zoo
From the giant sculptures that greet you at the entrance to the snake path that we use to ooze our reluctant kiddos out the exit, the San Antonio Zoo offers opportunities for learning and entertainment for the whole family. We have witnessed full-sized dinosaurs come to life, wandered through a hay maze, and watched baby joeys grow in their mama’s pouches. At Halloween, the kids know they can trick or treat at Zoo Boo! and the Zoo Lights during the holiday season are beautiful even after the animals are all asleep. That said, we love the San Antonio Zoo on a regular Saturday, too. The snake house is my kids’ favorite. Though I’m not a reptile lover, I love the snake house mainly because, in the summer, the air conditioning is heaven. We always have to check out the flamingos and most visits the kids convince me to take a turn through the butterfly house. Still on our bucket list is to eat breakfast or dinner with the animals and to do a behind-the-scenes tour. And, of course, no trip to the zoo is complete without a ride on the zoo train.
We have several playgrounds we love but Hardberger Park is our favorite. At the NW Military end of the park (PHP West), there is a playground that works for a variety of ages, a dog park, a giant open field great for running or flying remote control helicopters, the Urban Ecology Center, and lots of trails for wandering. At the Blanco end of the park (PHP East), there is also a playground and a dog park with lots of trails. This end of the park connects to the Salado Creek Greenway. I started going to Hardberger Park when my kids were barely walking. As they have grown, we keep finding new ways to enjoy the park. Our most recent excursions together include hikes through the park followed by some swinging to close out the visit. Hardberger Park also offers fitness classes, outdoor education, a children’s garden, and so much more. As my kids get older, I know this is a place that will continue to grow with our family.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
Do you know you can go on safari in the Hill Country? You can! At Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, you can drive through and see lions and tigers and bears…oh my! Okay, so it’s more like zebras and giraffes and ostriches, but it’s still a great trip. The animals come right up to your windows for food you can purchase upon arrival. When you’re done driving, there is a petting zoo so everyone can stretch their legs and get up close and personal with the animals. We took a picnic lunch for my family when we went but you can also buy food on the property.
San Antonio Botanical Garden
This is a great place for kids and adults. My kids love playing in the Family Adventure Garden. My husband and I had day dates here before we had kids. We loved wandering around the lake and just spending time together. We’ve been to the Brews and Blooms event and Magik Theatre products at the Garden. Next year, our kids want to have their own garden plot with the Children’s Vegetable Garden Program.
We are always looking for new places to explore. Where do you like to take your family to get quality outside time?