Deep in the heart of Texas is one of the state’s top tourist destinations: San Antonio. It’s known as the home of the Alamo, as well as the famous River Walk, and visiting families can get a good taste of the city in just one weekend. If your family is looking to get away to this cowboy haven located close to the Mexican border (meaning great TexMex!), take a look at this San Antonio weekend getaway itinerary kids will love.
Written by Lissa Poirot
Day One: Visit the Alamo
Kick off your family's weekend trip to San Antonio with a little education-meets-fun. Spend the morning exploring the Witte Museum, a fantastic science museum where kids can learn at various hands-on exhibits. The H-E-B Science Treehouse overlooks the San Antonio River and provides a two-level treehouse and four floors of exploratory fun for kids.
Visit San Antonio's most famous landmark: The Alamo. Located in the historic downtown area, the old mission and two missions are open for free tours... and your kids will cry: "Remember the Alamo!" for the rest of the day. (Okay, maybe that's not a positive, but any site that teaches the kids part of American history is a win!) Pick up the Alamo Young Courier Program, which is an activity book for kids age 5 to 10.
Just a couple of blocks away from the Alamo is the Amazing Mirror Maze & Vault Laser Challenge, with more than a thousand mirrors to get lost in. Day passes are available and you can go through the maze as many times as you'd like.
Cross the street to find River Walk, the heart of San Antonio, also known as Paseo del Rio. A number of shops and restaurants line the river, but you can always skip the walk and jump on one of the ferries that glide down the San Antonio River, providing 35-minute guided tours. Some tours provide a dinner opportunity, with food provided by River Walk restaurants like Cafe Ole or Michelino's.
Day Two: Head to an Amusement Park
Get a bird's-eye view of San Antonio at the Tower of the Americas' Flags Over Texas Observation Deck. The observation deck is open daily at 10 a.m., and tickets include the 4D Theater Ride that takes you on a "ride" across the entire Lone Star State.
No weekend getaway in San Antonio would be complete without making your way 30 minutes outside of the city to one of San Antonio's most popular family attractions: SeaWorld. The park opens at noon on fall and winter weekends (except for January) and closes around 9 or 10 p.m., so bring your swimsuits, rent a locker, and spend the entire day! You'll love wild rides like Journey to Atlantis and getting soaked at Aquatica Water Park.
Day Three: Go Underground
Above ground, the Canopy Challenge is a ropes course with zip-lines for an adventurous finale to your San Antonio weekend trip. Toddlers can even join in on the fun with the Canopy Kids Course.
Where To Stay With Kids: Luxury San Antonio Hotel
Where To Stay With Kids: Mid-Priced San Antonio Hotel
Where To Stay With Kids: Budget San Antonio Hotel
Top 5 San Antonio Restaurants Not To Miss
1. Republic of Texas Restaurant
Located along San Antonio's River Walk, the Republic of Texas has been serving up Texan fare for more than 40 years. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and caters meals aboard river cruises. Late at night, the restaurant begins spinning tunes and the Colossal 46-ounce Margaritas come out to play, so make this an early dinner spot with the kids.
2. Luby's Cafeteria
Luby's is a cafeteria-style chain scattered across San Antonio, including North Main Street, but don't let that deter you -- the menu provides a fantastic selection of entrees. From Angus chopped steak to lemongrass beef skewers to fried chicken and potpie, Luby's serves up old-fashioned, down-home cooking. Children eat free on Wednesday and Saturday.
3. The Cove
Kids will love the Cove, where Ping-Pong tables and basketball backboards call for fun. Even dogs are welcome at the Cove, where a dog run is available! The Cove offers up large helpings of sustainable, organic and local burgers and tacos, with smaller kids' portions available in a menu of meat or veggie burgers and hot dogs with sides and drinks. Located on West Cypress, The Cove is open all weekend, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It's closed on Mondays.
4. The Guenther House
While there is plenty of dining-with-a-view on the River Walk, the Guenther House is the restored home of a pioneer family with fantastic outdoor dining for breakfast and lunch. You'll feel you have stepped back in time on the property, until you are served a dish from the award-winning restaurant. Try the Champagne Chicken Enchiladas! When you are done with your meal, tour the Guenther House. The home and restaurant is located on East Guenther Street and serves from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
When you're this close to the border, you simply must have Mexican when visiting San Antonio, and Rosarios, located on South Alamo Street, is one of the best Mexican restaurants in town. You'll find it all here: tostadas, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and more in a colorful and artistic setting. Live music is offered on weekends, and kids will love the atmosphere.
Planning & Tips
Take a San Antonio weekend trip during the winter and you'll not only avoid the Texas heat, but you'll also get a sampling of a Texas Christmas. The Ford River Holiday Parade and Lighting Ceremony is popular, as are carolers on the riverboats. In the warmer months, May through August, Fiesta Noche del Rio provides Mexican, Spanish, Argentine and Texan song and dance along the river nightly on weekends.
It's a large, spread-out city, with attractions and hotels equally distanced apart, so driving is a good option for your weekend getaway to San Antonio. Roads are well marked and parking lots are plentiful. If you'd prefer to skip driving, consider staying in a hotel near the attractions you want to see, or grab a taxi or Uber, as buses may be hard to maneuver.
San Antonio's bus system is known as Via, short for Via Metropolitan Transit. Buses and streetcars are just $1.30 each way, with day passes available for less than $3. Children are discounted. The route map is extensive; be sure you review it before you hop on the bus.