San Antonio Summer On a Budget 2019: Free and Cheap Activities for the Whole Family

Bring on the paletas and sunscreen, a San Antonio summer is upon us! There are so many budget-friendly ways to explore our great city this summer. Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities, a chance to cool off in the water, or prefer to stay in the AC, we’ve compiled a list of free and cheap options for all Alamo City families.

Free Admission to Museums

The WitteFREE! Tuesdays, 3:00–8:00 P.M.

San Antonio Museum of ArtFREE! Tuesdays, 4:00–9:00 P.M., and Sundays, 10:00 A.M.–noon.

The DoSeumFREE! The first and third Tuesday of the summer months are free for the first 1,500 guests from 6:30–8:30 P.M. In the 2019 summer months, free dates are June 4th, June 18th, July 2nd, July 16th, August 6th, and August 20th.

The McNay Art MuseumFREE! Thursdays, 4:00–9:00 P.M., free general admission (special exhibits: $10). Also FREE on the first Sundays of the month from 12:00–5:00 P.M.

Briscoe Western Art MuseumFREE! Tuesdays, 4:00–9:00 P.M. 

Institute of Texan Culture: FREE! Second Sundays of the month. In the 2019 Summer months, free dates are June 9th, July 14th, and August 11th. 


Summer Movies

Santikos TheatersFREE! Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10:00 A.M. from June 11–July 31 at eight area locations.

Regal Theaters$1 per ticket! Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10:00 A.M. from June 11–September 4 at four area locations.

Alamo Drafthouse$1–3 per ticket! Monday–Thursday at one of the three area locations. Showtimes are at 10:30 or 11:00 A.M.  

Movies by Moonlight at Travis ParkFREE! Tuesday nights. Pre-entertainment, 7:30 P.M.; movie starts at 8:30 P.M. More information here.  

Free Movies at the Marquee (Mission Marquee)FREE! Various evening dates throughout June, July, and August. Movie starts after dusk.  

HEB Cinema on the Plaza at The Tobin CenterFREE! Every second Friday. Plaza opens at 7:00 P.M.; movie starts at 8:00 P.M. 2019 ssummer dates: June 14th and July 12th.

Summer Reading Programs

Barnes and NobleFREE! Return this completed form to Barnes and Noble for a free book. 

Chuck E. Cheese: FREE! Return this completed form to Chuck E. Cheese for 10 free tokens.  

Half Price BooksFREE! Return this completed form to Half Price Books.

San Antonio Public Library: FREE! Register at any SAPL location online and log books throughout the summer to earn a free book.  


Splash Pads

Yanaguana Garden at HemisfairFREE! Open daily, 7:00 A.M.–midnight.

The Pearl Splash PadFREE! Open daily.

Pearsall ParkFREE! Open daily, 9:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M.

Fischer Park in New Braunfels: FREE! Open daily, 9:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M.

San Antonio swimming poolsFREE! 23 locations; see website for information on specific pools.  

Want more? Beat the Heat: The Best Splash Pads and Water Fun in San Antonio

San Antonio Story Times

The Twig Book ShopFREE! Summer Fridays, 10:00 A.M. and 11:00 A.M.

San Antonio Public LibraryFREE! Multiple daily options throughout the city.  

Barnes and NobleFREE! Saturdays, 11:00 A.M. at La Cantera location, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 11:00 A.M. at both the Ingram Park location and Northwoods location.  

HemisfairFREE! Tuesday mornings, 10:00 A.M. in the Schultze House or Central Games Plaza. Check the website to confirm each event’s location.

Miscellaneous Fun

SAS Factory Tour

FREE! The SAS Factory offers free tours Monday–Friday. Read more here

San Antonio Missions

FREE! All San Antonio Missions have free admission. 

San Antonio Public Library

FREE! The San Antonio Public Library has multiple free events and activities each week throughout the city.  

San Antonio Parks 

FREE! San Antonio is home to more than 240 city parksClick here to read ACMB’s guide to San Antonio Parks.  


FREE! San Antonio has several great geocache spots!

The Rollercade

Tuesdays are Bargain Day: $3 admission and $3 skate rental on Tuesdays, 4:00 P.M.–10:00 P.M.

Toyota Factory Tours

FREE! Tours are offered Monday–Friday year-round, and reservations are required

YMCA Teen Program – VolunTEENS

FREE! Teens can get a free summer membership in exchange for volunteering 3 hours a week.  Learn more here.



More Ideas for Summer Fun

San Antonio Summer Camp Guide (2019)

2019 Guide to Vacation Bible Schools in San Antonio (2019)

Top 10 Playgrounds in San Antonio (2019)

Beat the Heat: The Best Splash Pads and Water Fun in San Antonio (2018)

Towering Fun Exploring Hemisfair (2018)

A Working Mom’s Summer Survival Guide (2018)

ACMB’s Ultimate Guide to summer in San Antonio (2017)

10 Single Mom Survival Tips for Schlitterbahn (2015)


Michelle moved to San Antonio eight years ago and yet still feels like a newcomer. She is rather smitten with the Alamo City. She and her husband met at Texas A&M and started their marriage in Minnesota. After six years of very cold winters, they returned to Texas. Michelle has two kids (12 and 9), along with a very quirky rescue dog and two rather cute guinea pigs. A former corporate food scientist turned part-time yoga instructor, she still takes her food very seriously—she just doesn’t get paid for it anymore. She is fueled by tea, cold brew coffee, yoga, dog walking, books and quickly googling answers to her kids eleventy million questions.


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