Party at the Pavilion: A Guide to Parties San Antonio Parks

When my kiddos were babies and toddlers, a portion of our day was made up of park playing and stroller riding. (I was the one running behind the stroller!) I took advantage of the plethora of parks here in SA as my feet and the wheels of my trusty running stroller took to the paved trails that wound us in and out of nature and beyond the busy highways.

Upon stopping at one of the many playgrounds, we would utilize the benches under the shade of the park’s pavilion to enjoy our packed lunch and take in the scenery around us. Sometimes we would spot deflated balloons or stray pieces of candy, which were no doubt the remnants from a party the weekend before.

Back then, I wondered what steps were necessary for securing the pavilion and benches for personal use. I asked myself many questions when scouring San Antonio to find a party location fitting for celebrating a child’s birthday, and one that suits various ages as well.

Given our weather is somewhat agreeable with hosting outdoor parties, why not celebrate a special occasion at one of our park’s pavilions? Well, if you’re anything like me, the process of reserving a pavilion may have you asking ten questions before knowing where to start. I took some commonly asked questions, made a few calls myself, and tapped into my personal experiences with certain pavilions to bring what you need to know about a party in our parks.

I want to reserve a pavilion for my son’s first birthday. Is there a number to call to do so?

San Antonio Parks and Recreation has a website and phone number that you can utilize when wanting to secure a pavilion:

San Antonio Parks & Recreation Online Reservations | Phone: (210) 207-7275

Per the website, all emails and inquiries can be sent to [email protected]

Because I enjoy talking to a person, I called the number listed above to gain more insight into the reservation process. I was informed that the website provides the most accurate and up-to-date information, however, the SA Parks employee advised going through some “trial runs” of the pavilions before requesting to rent. She suggested scoping out the layout to take in if the parking situation, location, etc. is ideal for your party and guests. Once you have chosen the pavilion, you can hop back onto the website to check the availability for your desired dates by selecting the park by name. A time frame is given, along with the “BOOK” tab on that block in the calendar. You will be prompted to create an account (I know, I know) and follow the steps afterward.

For example, my family and I enjoy bike riding at Walker Ranch. This park has a large pavilion with ample seating and a playground just a few baby steps away from the tables. If I wanted to reserve this pavilion for a party, I would do the following:

Since I already know where I want my party to take place, I will choose the A-Z Parks and Facilities Index under the ALL PARKS AND FACILITIES category. If you are unsure, you can refer to the map under this same tab to locate a park close to you!

Upon clicking on the index, I can easily find Walker Ranch under the “W” tab. This page is going to be my go-to from now until the party date. It will have park closure information, hours of operation, the amenities, a trail accessibility map, the park’s history, and a map of the park itself.

This is the page where you can access the calendar to secure a date and proceed from there. The calendar will state if the pavilion is booked on that date, and allow you to book right then and there if the date is open. Once you have created an account (again, annoying, but a must), you will be able to provide your information to complete the booking.

The cost to rent the pavilion Monday through Thursday is $15 an hour with a 4-hour minimum. The cost for Friday through Sunday and holidays is $30 an hour with a 4-hour minimum. You will be provided a permit once the transaction is completed and asked to keep said permit somewhere on you during the party. While it is not mandatory to display the permit, it will come in handy should any questions arise during your party.

What if another party arrives at the same time?

Park pavilions are not on a “first come, first serve” basis for parties. Now that doesn’t mean that you need to go through the reservation process for a quick picnic with your toddler, but if a party with balloons, streamers, and cake arrive, you might want to set up your picnic elsewhere.

The handy dandy permit that I mentioned above will be put to good use should another party arrive and insist that they have reserved the same space as you. If showing the permit doesn’t appease them, you can direct them to call the number listed on the plaque that is visible on the pavilion. While they discuss their situation with the SA Parks and Facilities office, you can keep on keeping on with YOUR party!

Does each park here in San Antonio have a pavilion? How can I know what amenities each park has?

Each park does not have a pavilion and the amenities really do vary from park to park. I have found the main website to be a great reference point when trying to decide which park is best for my party’s purpose. The details, amenities (because we all need to know where the closest bathrooms are), and other pertinent pieces of information are just a click away.

During our many visits to the zoo, I observed a few pavilions that would be ideal for a party. Close to the zoo, the train, a duck sighting or two, and plenty of space is exactly what I needed for a two-year-old’s birthday!

Heading to the website above and selecting the Brackenridge Park option allowed me to learn the ins and outs of those pavilions. You can even rent the softball field near the zoo! The hours of operation, rates, and specific details will vary from park to park, so be sure to make a note when you have made your decision. If all else fails, call the SA Parks and Rec office line to speak with someone directly.

I’ve noticed that Landa Library in the historic Monte Vista neighborhood has a covered porch area and a playground? Am I able to rent that as a party space?

The grounds at Landa Library are not part of the San Antonio Parks and Recreation department. Do not be discouraged though, the area is available for rent. The playground is amazing for all ages, and the forest-like atmosphere cannot be beaten. Simply reach out to the San Antonio Public Library Events Coordinator at (210) 207-2577 or at [email protected]

What are my clean up responsibilities as the host?

Don’t.Mess.With.Texas. Seriously, don’t litter. SA Parks asks that you use the trash cans provided to properly dispose of ALL garbage that your party created (there are extra trash can liners as well). Keep in mind that feeding wildlife is never encouraged and you should only leave footprints and memories.

Whether you are looking to celebrate a fifth birthday or a fiftieth, the parks here in our great city provide a beautiful backdrop for any occasion. From biking trails and nature walks to indoor restrooms and spacious playgrounds, take the party outdoors for the day. The pavilions have you covered, after all. 

I’m a native Pittsburgher through and through, but transplanted to Texas with my superhero cape to teach elementary school. I am a proud Mama to a spirited girl (2011) and a laid back boy (2014) who keep my days full of laughter, Legos, books, and more stuffed animals than should be allowed. As a stay-at-home Mama, I am constantly yearning for new ways to engage their minds, hands, and bodies with the city and community around them, while stealing a run and a cup of coffee or two. I can be found at the local library for storytime; the park for an afternoon swing; either of their schools to lend a helping hand; and/or the local splash pad to escape the heat. I’m not hard to miss due to the donning of Steelers gear in the fall and Penguins attire in the spring. I welcome and thrive on new conversations, friendships, and methods of rearing little humans. Favorite Restaurant: Paloma Blanca Favorite Landmark: Any of the Missions around San Antonio Favorite San Antonio Tradition: It's a tie between The Texas Cavaliers River Parade and The Battle of Flowers Parade, both occurring during Fiesta. Viva!