If you’re looking for summer fun, set your course for San Antonio. Yes, we live here. And no, you don’t have to roam far to dive into summer fun. There’s a reason San Antonio is a top tourist destination: we have cool fun to enjoy no matter what the season. But our favorite museums and attractions are rolling out the red carpet this summer—and we mean that literally!
From movie fun at the San Antonio Art Museum and the Briscoe Western Art Museum, to undersea exploration at the new SEA LIFE San Antonio, or getting into a submarine for pretend exploration at The DoSeum, San Antonio has you covered. If that’s not enough, there are strange creatures at The Witte, prehistoric and mythical beasts at San Antonio Zoo, and the San Antonio Botanical Garden transports you to Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico. So make time for summer fun here in San Antonio—explore and enjoy all that you can, no packing required!
Dinosaurs have invaded the zoo this summer, making it a great spot for animal and dinosaur lovers. Dino Land gives you a glimpse of what a prehistoric zoo might have included, featuring 20 dinosaurs throughout the zoo. You can also enjoy special programming that includes appearances by Dinosaur George on select days. Dino Land is included with zoo admission.
Take another step back in time with the zoo’s Dragon Forest exhibition, where fantasy becomes a reality. Open select days through October 31, this festive medieval kingdom brings to life 15 dragons and an enchanting time, in a land far, far away. (It’s tucked away behind the zoo’s parking garage, but it’s summer fun AND an area of the zoo’s property we haven’t seen before, so no complaints here! This video shows you how to find the forest.) Dragon Forest is a separate ticket (Combo packages are available and zoo members receive discounted admission.) and has different hours than the zoo.
Explore the lost city of Atlantis and go “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” in the deep-sea adventures of Captain Nemo, his fantastical Nautilus submarine, and the mythical world he inhabited at The DoSeum’s summer exhibition, Voyage to the Deep. Through September 25th, littles can helm the Nautilus like undersea sailors, slide down a giant squid, and roam through a kelp forest.
Gulping down a snack ten times your own weight, living in crushing depths where there is no sunlight to support life—no, that’s not a description of pandemic life or how we survived Snowpocalypse. It’s a sneak preview of some of the cool creatures featured at the Witte’s Extreme Creatures: Life at the Limits exhibition. Extreme Creatures highlights an array of living things with surprising ways of thriving in harsh environments, finding a mate or their next meal, and more. As with all things Witte, there’s fun to explore and cool science to learn, which makes it a great family destination.
Yes, I said art museum. It’s one of our favorite ways to escape the heat and surround ourselves with beauty. And YES—children are welcome at art museums. San Antonio’s museums are all kid-friendly and terrific spots to inspire creativity. Museum escapes were one of the ways we safely explored last summer, too, so if you’re hesitant about being out in public, you can get out and explore.
For a dose of movie art, check out SAMA’s Movie Metal exhibit through June 20. But don’t miss America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution, June 11–Sept. 5, exploring the development of Impressionism in the United States. While Impressionism made its public debut in Paris with a shocking exhibition in 1874, the style did not fully take hold in America until more than a decade later. You can see American works inspired by the likes of Monet and other French masters. Through more than 70 works assembled from public and private collections, the exhibition shows how American artists created an independent movement, uniquely shaped by American sensibilities and regional landscapes.
SAMA is also kicking off its Museum Market this summer, featuring an array of products from local artists, designers, collectors, bakers, and other local makers. The market will be an ongoing effort held in SAMA’s Sculpture Garden the second Saturday of each month.
Summer fun takes on a Hollywood flavor as the Briscoe Western Art Museum showcases the cinematic art and storytelling of the Western. From an actual red carpet, velvet ropes, and the unmistakable smell of popcorn, to film clips rolling throughout the exhibition, the Briscoe transforms into a 1960s movie theater for its new exhibition, Still in the Saddle: A New History of the Hollywood Western. Including costumes worn by John Wayne in three different movies, the exhibition takes visitors through iconic Westerns from 1969 through the 1980s.
The museum’s Summer Film Series features movies from the era, including Little Big Man, True Grit, The Long Riders, and The Shootist. Each screening includes free beer from Ranger Creek Brewery and Father’s Day features a whiskey tasting. For the whole family, don’t miss National Day of the Cowboy on July 24, with free admission to the museum.
On view through Sept. 19, Limitless! Five Women Reshape Contemporary Art features the artwork of five female artists who create without boundaries. From a cocktail party created from cheese puffs to the infinity pumpkins, the exhibition is designed for all ages and features Yayoi Kusama’s “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins,” one of the Japanese artist’s signature Infinity Mirror Rooms (masks and reservations required).
You can also check out Optical Dazzle, a collection of optical illusion art that includes works that seemingly vibrate as you look at them. And of course, don’t miss Selena Forever/Siempre Selena, the McNay’s tribute to Selena, on view through August 1.
The natural beauty of the San Antonio Botanical Garden is even brighter this summer thanks to a fantastic exhibit featuring Frida Kahlo. In the midst of the garden you’ll find a captivating rendition of the famous Mexican artist’s iconic blue home and lush green sanctuary, Casa Azul, that profoundly influenced her timeless art. On view through November 2, Frida Kahlo Oasis transports visitors to a special environment of shades, scents, sounds, and sights that enveloped Frida Kahlo’s own garden in Mexico City. Enjoy Thursday evenings in the garden with Noches de Frida, SABOT’s Summer Nights series with food, drinks, and performances by local DJs. Bring blankets and chairs and let the littles dance until the stars come out.
Dive into new fun on the River Walk: the long-awaited neighbor to LEGOLAND® Discovery Center San Antonio opened just in time for summer fun. SEA LIFE includes ten interactive exhibit areas where you can roam through coral reefs, fresh water displays, a sea harbor, and a seahorse nursery before you ooh and awe at the center of SEA LIFE fun: San Antonio’s only underground ocean tunnel. Check out our inside look at SEA LIFE to help plan your visit.