Guide to a Less-Crowded Spring Break in San Antonio

Less Crowded.jpgThere is a certain level of panic involved as a parent when you are used to your child/children being in school – be it full-time or part-time – as Spring Break approaches. There is suddenly an entire week of time to fill with fun, because, let’s be honest, a certain standard of Fun-ness is placed on Spring Break. Unlike summer, where sunscreened water activities are a given, SB weather isn’t always quite bikini and floaties ready. Summer also provides many opportunities for camps and various commitments during the day that provide a solace from the expectations of grandeur. But unless you’re the lucky ones packing up and heading for snow-capped peaks or the promise of golden sunsets on the beach, you’re here.

The good news? HERE, San Antonio, is a pretty great place to be. People vacation here. Like, this is their SB destination. Which can also, in my throngs-of-sweaty-people-packed-together-to-see-a-whale-phobia way, can make here a little… well, crowded. And while having lots of popular destinations at our fingertips, SB can also make cash dwindle faster than _______. So in an effort to keep screen-time and fanny-pack packed destinations at a low and the fun-factor at a high, here are a few SB suggestions.[hr]

Walk Drive on the Wild Side: Natural Bridge Caverns Wildlife Ranch
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I am sure most of you have either experienced this fabulous adventure or have, at the very least heard of it, but if you’re like me, I sometimes forget about it. The great thing about this exotic animal haven is that kids can experience both new animals (trust me, first-timers, there are some unique animals), and classic favorites. After you drive through the ranch and feed the animals (don’t cheap out on the bags of food – it’s really fun to feed them!) you can get out and see the giraffes and go to the petting zoo.  These petting zoo animals will not attack you and take your bags of food, which is an added bonus – although it might be said that they have the opposite problem – we couldn’t find a single animal hungry enough to eat from our palms!

QUICK FACTS:

  • Located between New Braunfels and SA, off 300
  • Prices: $19/adult; $10/child (ages 3-11)

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Bring a sack lunch – there are shaded picnic tables
  • Buy the food for the animals – it’s worth the few bucks to see these exotic creatures up close (and they      will come CLOSE!)
  • Check for coupons before you go![hr]

The Museum Less Traveled: McKenna Children’s Museum

There are so many fabulous museums right in the heart of SA, but these can be hot-spots for the vacationing masses. My kids and I have always loved the New Braunfels children’s museum, a toddler and early elementary age wonderland. There is a fabulously unique (and very tall) climbing structure along with water fun and large-scale building blocks outside, and everything from camping-simulation and NASA spaceships to hospital and grocery-store pretend-play meccas on the inside. I have personally seen employees wiping surfaces down with antibacterial wipes every time I have been there, which makes my Boogie Wipe-buying heart happy. Additionally, if you’re toting a non-walker, there is a great newborn play area with mirrors, play mats, and soft, colorful toys.

QUICK FACTS:

  • Located just a quick shot down 1-35 on Business 35 (near Schlitterbahn)
  • Non-summer admission is CHEAPER! Only $5.50/person

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Again, bring a lunch – there are picnic tables under a covered patio
  • Forget the stroller! Find a cross-body baby bag so you can keep up with the constantly moving flow of your kids throughout the place. It’s a relatively small area and the strollers were unnecessary, as the kids don’t need to walk long distances for different activities. Got a non-walker? Wear ’em! The sling or wearable baby carrier will be your best bet here. [hr]

More than just snakes: Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo
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This place is great – it’s all the fun of a zoo, without the hoards of people busyness of the zoo. Yes, there are snakes (and the smell of snakes), and very cool snakes – think anacondas and every one of the most venomous snakes in the world. Boys are smitten. Inside the facility, along with the snakes, are alligators and lemurs. Outside the building there is a petting zoo, but more fun is the unique animals like wolves, hyenas, a buffalo, tons of birds, and these huge rodent things that look like a cross between a prairie dog and rabbit on steroids. Animal World is a great option for animal lovers and provides a unique and fun animal experience without the massive spaces and walking distances that create very tired toddles.

QUICK FACTS:

  • Another quick trip down I35, I’m sure you’ve seen this one on the way to the outlet mall!

SUGGESTIONS:

Beams and Bars and Tramps, Oh My: “Open Gyms”

Open Gym.jpg There are several gymnastics businesses in San Antoniothat offer “Open Gym” times. This basically means that they – wait for it – open their gym for anyone to play! Genius. Most places require the parents be there to aide/chaperone their children, but a few will watch the children so mom can rest be productive. Alamo City Gymnastics (just behind Brook Hollow Library) has play times on Thursdays and Saturdays,  Boerne Gymnastics (in Boerne, of course, right by Boerne High School) has times each week day, and Aerial Gymnastics (there’s one off Vance-Jackson and one in Schertz) offers a Friday option for ages 6 and under. Also look in to the Little Gym and/or Gymboree near you; both often offer open-play times even for nonmembers.

QUICK FACTS:

  • This is a great option because there are so many different gyms around the city that offer (very inexpensive) fun, without a long car ride.

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Call ahead of time to make sure the gym is having their normally-scheduled times – some gyms with regular OG times are closed or have moved them for camps or other SB activities.
  • You can also find other great tips for surviving open gym here.  [hr]

Best wishes to you all as you embark on a WEEK of fun… Stock up on the coffee and cheetos (former for you, latter for them) and I hope you find just enough to keep you from going crazy entertain your tots!

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Although not a native Texan, Maggie has enjoyed getting to know the city of San Antonio with her husband, a native to San Antonio. If she were a bumper sticker type of person (which she vehemently is not) she might have one of those “I didn’t grow up in Texas, but I got here as soon a I could” stickers. Maggie enjoys staying home with her children and loves the daily calamity that is raising her son (born 2011) and daughter (born 2009) in Boerne. She would always chose outdoor activities over indoor, sweatpants over dresses, crafting over TV, and cupcakes over… anything. It feels like her life has been full of “learning experiences”, and Maggie loves to share about having a micro-preemie in the NICU, her experiences as an adoptee and a heart patient, and about her family’s experiences with adopting a child on her blog Mondays with Maggie. Life is an adventure and she’s thankful to have the perfect amount of OCD and ADHD to keep up (most days).

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