Five Reasons to Join the SA Botanical Garden This Summer

I’ll admit that I’d lived in San Antonio for five years before venturing to the city’s botanical garden for the first time, which I now know to be a real oversight.

Located at 555 Funston Place, the garden spans some 38 acres, occupying a large site between the historic Monte Vista district (and Brackenridge Park) and Fort Sam Houston. More than just a “garden,” the SA Botanical Garden is a museum of plants, a research conservation facility, a living classroom, and a tranquil escape from the city all around it.

Open since 1980, the botanical garden has changed relatively little in the past 40+ years. The historic Sullivan Carriage House was moved, brick by brick, to the garden and restored; and in 1988 the Lucille Halsell Conservatory opened to the public. Designed by renowned Argentinian architect Emilio Ambasz, it remains one of the botanical garden’s most striking, beautiful, yet functional features. In 2017, the GROW capital initiative allowed the garden to expand and better serve its users. With a new entrance, culinary garden and outdoor kitchen focused on teaching health and wellness, and a family adventure garden, the San Antonio Botanical Garden offers something for everyone.

While zoo and museum memberships are high on family wish lists, it can be easy to overlook all the benefits of membership at a place like the garden. Coupled with our fiery summer temperatures, this can be something of a tough sell! Nonetheless, if you’ve been on the fence—or just haven’t known all that SABOT offers—keep reading about what’s happening in the garden this year.

1. Bunnies, Magic and More

This summer, delight your little one’s imagination by stepping into Huntopia, the world premier of the first-ever garden exhibition from famed artist, Hunt Slonem. Opening early May, step into a whimsical world filled with the iconic colorful bunnies, birds, and butterflies the artist has been painting for decades.

Huntopia showcases a series of monumental pieces and curated installations – combining large-scale art sculptures and a joyful, glittering array of show-stopping pieces created with various mediums, including works featuring tens of thousands of hand-cut, hand-applied pieces of glass – with the natural beauty of the 38 acre garden.


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Huntopia runs til November 3, 2024, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy this incredible spectacle. In the heat of summer, make the most of extended opening hours – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, with a members only hour beginning at 7 a.m – and see the colors and sculptures come to life in early morning and at dusk.

Celebrate Bees, Birds, and Butterflies is a hands-on family morning of activities inspired by the Huntopia installation. It takes place on Saturday 10th August, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and tickets to register are available on the SABOT website.

2. Sensory Fun

There is so much for kids of all ages to explore at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. If, like me, your little outdoor lover is happier in soil, grass, or water than anywhere else, the garden’s summer weekend activities offer the fun sensory stimulation they crave.

On Saturday, June 1 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) families are invited to celebrate International Mud Day 2024 with Celebrate Soil and Mud! Find a whole host of activity stations manned by garden educators, encouraging hands-on mud play for the whole family! Similarly, Saturday, July 13 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) is all about celebrating water. What better way to spend a morning in one of the hottest months than splashing in the garden’s No Name Creek and letting the kids enjoy a range of water-based crafts and activities?

These events are free with paid admission and for members. Registration is not required for the soil or water events, but you’ll need to be on the button to get a spot at one of the Garden’s popular summer camps. 

3. Switch Up Your Date Night

On Thursdays in May, June and November, get to know another side of the garden with LUSH: a celebration of abundance, food and drink, and after-hours entertainment. With extended hours, live music, cocktails, and beautiful flower displays, LUSH is the perfect way to switch up your date night routine or spend a fun evening with the girls.

Your ticket comes with a complimentary boozy beverage, matched to the theme of the evening. Additional food and beverages are available for purchase, and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the sunset and make the most of the evening. These events run 7:00–10:00 p.m.; both regular and VIP experience tickets are available (and at a discounted rate for members).

Sip on Rosé while surrounded by roses on Thursday, May 16; enjoy margarita madness on Thursday, June 20; and listen to the sound of dueling pianos on Thursday November 21.

Families can discover the enchantment of Garden Nights on select Wednesdays from April through September. Enjoy extended hours (these events run 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) savor delicious food and beverages, explore a vibrant vendor market, and enjoy captivating live entertainment, all amidst the mesmerizing beauty of the gardens during the summer season. Keep up-to-date with upcoming themes on the SABOT website calendar, and find out about other, one-off events. 

4. Members-Only Benefits

If you’re starting to think you’re missing out on everything that is happening at the garden, becoming a member might be a great option! Memberships are available for an annual fee or monthly subscription, beginning at $75 for one adult, and $95 for two adults, with daily access for children and grandchildren under 18.

Along with free admission for a year during operating hours, you’ll also have access to a quiet, members-only hour before the garden opens. Complimentary admission to certain events; discounts on classes, camps, and birthday parties; and reciprocal membership benefits at 345+ gardens and conservatories across North America are some of the other perks to membership.

Lastly, members-only events like the Conservation and Collections Guided Tour (Tuesday, May 14), a Bonsai Workshop (Saturday, May 18) and seasonal bouquet workshops (Saturday, May 18 and Saturday, August 17) allow members to learn to arrange and display flowers with Layni Langham, Horticultural Exhibits and Education specialist at SABOT.

5. Looking Ahead

The San Antonio Botanical Garden is continually updating its schedule and adding new, exciting events. Looking ahead to the end of the year, fall will see a whole host of children’s and members workshops about planting, plant sales, and more.

Lightscape has proved to be a big success for the garden and has quickly become a must-see event during the holiday season. Here’s hoping that its captivating light displays, tasty treats, and holiday spirit will be back again this year!

If you’ve yet to go to the San Antonio Botanical Garden, or it’s been a long time since you visited, I hope this post encourages you to check it out. It’s an incredible resource for families – and kids – in the Alamo City. 

Natalie is the editor and content manager of Alamo City Moms. A proud Brit, she moved to Texas in late 2017 to be with her husband, a native San Antonian; she became a US Citizen in 2022. Their son was born in October 2020, and they are one and won! She spent the frivolous years of her early 20s pursuing a PhD in Renaissance history, living in Venice, Italy, and teaching. She pivoted into editing when she moved to the US, and joined the ACM team as a contributing writer in summer 2021. The rest, as they say, is history! Natalie lives on the north side of San Antonio with her husband, son, and their English cocker spaniel Oban. She loves searching out and sharing the best places to eat, drink coffee, and shop in San Antonio, and she’s never shy about sharing the highs - and lows - of motherhood. Favorite Restaurant: Tardifs Brasserie Favorite Landmark:World’s Largest Cowboy Boots Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Riverwalk Christmas Lights