Thanksgiving break, holidays ahead, and you’re finally welcoming visitors again? There’s always something fabulous to see and enjoy in San Antonio—so much so that it can be overwhelming to remember all the options available when you’re ready to get out and explore. The most wonderful time of the year feels even more special this go-round and our local museums and attractions are ready to help entertain you and your visitors. Even if you don’t have visitors you need to entertain, check out all of this fall and winter fun in San Antonio.
Many of these spots offer free hours or special days for locals to visit, making affordable family fun. For instance, you can add the San Antonio Museum of Art to a Sunday morning stroll on the Museum Reach, or pop into the Briscoe Western Art Museum on the third Sunday of each month for half-off general admission. Enjoy an afternoon at the museum, then watch the holiday lights glow on the River Walk.
And gifting hint: a membership or season pass makes a holiday present that ensures fun throughout the year. If you’re looking for a great gift that doesn’t end up as clutter, give the experience of dinosaurs, cowboys, animals, or LEGOs to fill their weekends with San Antonio adventures.
Fall and winter are wonderful times to explore SABOT, where kids can roam and play amongst gorgeous plants and trees and enjoy a space meant for littles in the Family Adventure Garden. But the garden takes on a new glow through Jan. 2 with Lightscape, with magical light displays set along a beautifully illuminated one-mile path winding through the garden grounds. With lasers, lights, and actual flames, the garden is absolutely magical at night. Enjoy a field of glowing bluebonnets, a walk around the lake where you’ll swear fairies and fireflies are strolling with you, and IG for days in the light cathedral. Coming to San Antonio after sold-out shows in the U.K. and Chicago, Lightscape is a must for families to enjoy this season.
Kid favorites at this museum right along the River Walk include a fantastic Alamo diorama that helps them understand the battle, cowboy gear that includes fantastic saddles and spurs, and eye-popping art that takes you West with fantastic works that show cowboy life, Native American heritage, the wildlife of the West, and the rich influence of Mexican heritage. On view through Jan. 24, Vaqueros de la Cruz del Diablo: Contemporary Photography of the Northern Mexican Cowboy offers stunning images that showcase the birthplace of the modern cowboy. The exhibition includes hands-on activities for kids and a selfie spot that transports you to Sonora, where the images were taken. The museum’s McNutt Sculpture Garden also offers a nice spot to pause during any River Walk visit, including roaming through on your way to enjoy the annual Holiday River Parade.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight … unless the zoo is lit up with holiday lights! Go at dusk and be there to see the animals getting ready for bed, then stay to see all of the holiday fun. Zoo Lights is included in general admission. And don’t miss the latest addition to the zoo, Neotropica, where jaguars walk over your head and you can see birds from the Amazon Rainforest, monkeys, fish, and reptiles living side-by-side.
Art excursions are something we always enjoy as a family. SAMA is a favorite spot thanks to its location on the Museum Reach, its interesting campus, and the wide range of art you can enjoy. On display through Jan. 2, “40 Years, 40 Stories” is an exhibition of works drawn from the museum’s collection of almost 30,000 pieces to celebrate the museum’s 40th anniversary. The works on display span the globe, representing cultures on six continents and thousands of years of human endeavors. It includes the oldest work in the collection, a female figure made in northern Mesopotamia more than 6,000 years ago, to present-day pieces. It also gives you a behind-the-scenes perspective with images of the process of moving and handling the works, something the public doesn’t usually get to see.
Through Jan. 2, it’s all aboard at The DoSeum! The DoSeum Express: Tiny Trains and Trolleys is a new holiday experience that features miniature worlds created by artists-in-residence Kallie Cheves, Daniel Rivera, Randall Rudd, Linda Vivenza, Robert Wurzbach, and Emily Kinder. Travel through the fantastical and wacky miniature worlds created by the artists: five wondrous lands that include a mysterious cavern, a snowy town where mice live and play as humans do, and a vibrant fairy village.
The McNay has been undergoing a fantastic outdoor transformation, making its already beautiful grounds even more welcoming. With new outdoor art to explore alongside family favorites (the ponds and fountains are a must for turtle and fish exploration), enjoy the weather with a family picnic and roam the McNay to say hi to the likes of Monet and Picasso. (You can explore the museum’s collection online, too.) On display through Jan. 16 and timely for the season of pie, enjoy “Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings,” including his tantalizing paintings of desserts.
Dinosaurs! Animals! Texas History! Bacteria! Wait, what? Yes, you can explore the world of both good and bad bacteria at the Witte’s “Secret World Inside You” exhibition open through April 10. Ever wondered how many bacteria are inside your belly button? Or how many dead skin cells you shed in an hour? Learn more than you ever wanted to know about the bacteria in and on the human body and prepare to hear, “Ewww, gross!” from all the kids when you tour the exhibition. A favorite: you walk into the exhibition through lights that show how microbes are all around you. You can also explore an important part of American history in “Black Cowboys: An American Story.”