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25 Amazing Outdoor Activities in San Antonio

25 Amazing Outdoor Activities in San Antonio

During the blissful cooler months in San Antonio, both locals and visitors yearn to be outside. Fortunately, when it comes to outdoor activities, San Antonio delivers. From exploring the famous Alamo to cruising the San Antonio River Walk, the city is full of opportunities for adventure and relaxation. 

Whether you want to get up close with sea animals at SeaWorld San Antonio or enjoy a picnic at Brackenridge Park, San Antonio has something for everyone. Get ready for family-friendly outdoor activities, San Antonio style.

Fun Outdoor Activities in San Antonio

San Antonio Outdoor Attractions and Amusement Parks

San Antonio River Walk

Visiting the riverwalk is one of the best outdoor activities in San Antonio
Photo via VisitSanAntonio

The San Antonio River flows right through Downtown San Antonio. Follow the beautifully landscaped paths along the San Antonio River Walk. As you take in the landscape, peruse the restaurants, and shops, popping in for a snack or souvenir. 

Throughout the year, a number of family-friendly festivals and parades take place here. Check the San Antonio River Walk website for upcoming events.  You can also find artisans selling unique crafts from market stands.

One of the best ways to enjoy the river is on a flat-bottomed boat. Hop aboard a guided tour and cruise 2.5 miles along the river. On your 35 minute tour, your guide explains the history of the area, including the river.

Some of the top Tex-Mex restaurants in San Antonio line the river. Head into La Margarita’s and eat fajitas at the first place to serve this dish in the United States. Or take your family to Casa Rio with its iconic colorful umbrellas and delicious Mexican fare.

Kayaking on the River Walk

kayaking the river walk in San Antonio
Photo by flickr/Garrett Heath

Another way to enjoy the San Antonio River Walk is by taking a kayak trip. The flat-water is perfect for families and beginners. On Saturdays and Sundays, rent a kayak from Mission Adventure Tours and paddle along a 3.5-mile stretch in the Pearl District.

Children ages two to eight must ride in a double kayak with a parent, but anyone over nine can go on their own. They also rent paddle boards for teens and adults 13 and up. Life jackets are included in the rental fee.

You can bring your own kayak or canoe, but will have to pay a launch fee and wear life jackets. 

Morgan’s Wonderland

Morgans Wonderland
Photo by flickr/matthew egan

Get outside at a place where everyone can play, Morgan’s Wonderland. This theme park was designed to cater to individuals with special needs. Wheelchair accessible carousels, ferris wheels, and playgrounds allow the whole family to play together.

Stimulate your senses at the sand circle music garden, or Sensory Village. Then climb aboard the Wonderland Express train for a ride around the lake. And you won’t want to miss Pirate Island Playground, where kids can transport themselves into a make-believe world of swashbuckling fun.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Photo by flickr/Jon Seidman

Find some thrills at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Looping coasters, family, and even water rides provide fun for the whole family all day long.

The dare devils in your family can get their hearts pounding with some of the most extreme rides in the country. The Iron Rattle combines classic wooden supports with modern rails and hurls rides around over banked turns and into a 360-degree roll. And Dr. Diabolical’s Cliffhanger lifts riders 150 feet before dropping them face first in a 95-degree plummet toward the ground.

Even though the park is known for intimidating roller coasters, there are rides designed specifically for younger children. Take a spin on the swings of Taz’s Tornado. Or climb onto Daffy’s Bus Stop for a ride that’s sure to tickle little tummies.

The fun doesn’t stop at the rides. Six Flags Fiesta Texas offers live shows throughout the day, including comedy, musicals, and stunt shows. They also have a variety of dining options, midway games, and souvenir shops.

When you need a break from that brutal San Antonio summer heat, head over to Hurricane Harbor San Antonio. For an additional fee, families can stay cool in a lazy river, wave pool, or on waterslides. Lockers and cabana rentals are available, as well as food options.

Natural Bridge Caverns

Natural Bridges Caverns
Photo by flickr/gsloan

The stunning underground caverns of Natural Bridge Caverns are one of the most unique outdoor activities San Antonio offers. The awe-inspiring Throne Room and intricate formations in the Discovery Passages enchant visitors of all ages. See living rock formations like soda straws, chandeliers, and stalactites.

A variety of tours teach visitors about the geology and history of the area while helping guests discover all the amazing formations. The most popular is the Discovery Tour, where families travel through half a mile of the cavern with a knowledgeable guide. 

Above-ground, try out the Twisted Trails ropes course and zipline. There is even a TYKES course just for kids. You can also try to solve the AMAZEn’ Ranch Roundup outdoor maze. 

San Antonio Botanical Garden

25 Amazing Outdoor Activities in San Antonio 1
Photo by flickr/Tara Schmidt

Explore, learn, and play in one of the area’s most beautiful outdoor activities, San Antonio Botanical Garden. The 38-acres garden presents visitors with a living museum of local and exotic plants. 

Wander through the Texas Native Trail and discover three of Texas’s diverse ecological regions. Then enter the glass structures of Lucile Halsell Conservatory and find tropical plants from Mexico and South Africa. And be sure to visit the Sensory Garden, where visitors are encouraged to feel the unique textures and inhale exotic fragrances. 

The highlight of the garden is the Family Adventure Garden. Designed specifically for children, this area lets families explore nature together through imaginative play and interactive exhibits. Splash in No Name Creek, build forts in Huisache Way, solve the Muhly Maze, and much more.

Additionally, educational programs are offered throughout the year. Children can partner with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to help grow vegetables in a garden. There are also family workshops about cooking and gardening, guided family hikes through the gardens, and seasonal storytimes. 

Outdoor Activities: San Antonio Animal Experiences

SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica Water Park

SeaWorld San Antonio
Photo by flickr/Nan Palmero

Play with dolphins, ride roller coasters, and get wet at one of the world’s biggest marine life theme parks, SeaWorld San Antonio. Here you can learn about ocean animals through amazing shows and exciting exhibits. 

Make sure to time your day around the Orca Encounter show to see the amazing abilities of the killer whales that made SeaWorld famous. The Ocean Discovery dolphin show and Sea Lion High are also crowd favorites. And make sure to stop by Explorer’s Reef to get an up close look at a variety of sharks.

In addition to animal shows and encounters, families can get their thrills on rollercoasters. Teens love the Steel Eel and the Great White. Smaller children love the play areas and kiddie rides of Sesame Street Bay of Play.

When San Antonio gets too hot, cool off at Sea World’s water park, Aquatica. Choose to beat the heat by relaxing in the lazy river, zipping down waterslides, or splashing on the water playgrounds.  

San Antonio Zoo

Hippo at the San Antonio Zoo
Photo by flickr/Roberto Bolaños

Come enjoy one of children’s favorite outdoor activities, San Antonio Zoo. Over 750 species of animals are on display, including ones that are endangered or extinct in the wild. Visit Timothy and Uma (the world famous hippos), playful lemurs, and majestic giraffes.

If you want to get even closer to your favorite animal, try one of the behind-the-scenes experiences. Feed flamingos and giraffes or meet the hippos or rhinos. You can even have breakfast with a kangaroo.

The Kronkosky’s Tiny Tots Nature Spot provides a safe place for children 5 and under to play and learn. It includes a butterfly rainforest, a nature play area, and an adventure course.

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
Photo by flickr/Colleen Pence

Experience an African Safari adventure in the heart of Texas at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. The park introduces visitors to over 40 species of animals through a self-guided driving tour. See exotic animals like blackbuck antelope and more common favorites like ostrich and buffalo from the comfort of your own car.

The drive through the ranch takes one to two hours and traverses over six miles. Along the way, families can purchase food for the animals and feed animals like giraffes and zebras. The park also has a petting zoo area where kids can interact with goats and other farm animals. 

Before you go, grab a snack from the Safari Camp Grill. They serve up hamburgers, nachos,brownie sundaes, and more delicious treats. Also stop by the Safari Trading Post for a one-of-a-kind safari souvenir. 

Parks and Natural Spaces in San Antonio

Government Canyon State Natural Area

Goverment Canyon State Natural Recreation Area
Photo by wikimedia commons/ Chamberlain2007

Explore the outdoors at Government Canyon State Natural Recreation Area. The 12,000 acres of natural beauty include rolling green hills, flowing creeks, steep cliffs, and narrow ravines. Season wildflowers bloom throughout the year, surrounded by live oaks, cedar, and mesquite trees.

Several hiking trails showcase the hills, canyons, and wildlife of the area. The Joe Johnston Route takes hikers on an easy 2.8-mile loop past scenic views of the canyon. For a stroller-friendly option, try the 0.6-mile loop of Discovery Trail and read the interpretive signs along the way to learn about the local plants.

The trails are also great for all levels of mountain biking. Beginners should start with the short and easy 1.2-mile Recharge Trail, while more experienced riders will appreciate Lytle’s Loop.

Consider extending your visit by camping in developed sites that include fire rings, grills, and picnic tables. While there, keep an eye out for wild turkeys and white tailed deer. Your family might also enjoy hunting for geocaches. 

Eisenhower Park

Eisenhower Park
Photo by wikimedia commons/Biotrope

Discover the rich landscapes of Texas Hill Country at Eisenhower Park. The park features over six miles of nature walks showcasing rocky canyons and dry creek beds surrounded by wooded landscapes. There is also a 1,280 foot observation tower offering gorgeous views of downtown San Antonio.

Make sure to leave your scooters, skates, and bikes at home. The peaceful trails at Eisenhower Park are just for feet. Feel free to bring along your pets, as long as they wear a leash and you clean up after them. 

McAllister Park

McAllister Park
Photo by flickr/Miguel Angel Rodriguez

The open spaces and a variety of family-friendly outdoor activities make McAllister Park a perfect place to spend time with the family. Bring your bike or just hike to explore the many trails here, or let the kids climb on the large playgrounds. Mcallister Park also features a fishing pond, shaded picnic tables, sports courts and a dog park. 

The easiest trail for families is the Salado Creek Greenway Trail. On the Blue Loop Trail you’ll find gorgeous spring wildflowers like bluebonnets and primrose-just watch out for bees. And hike the Mud Creek Loop to try to spy the deer and squirrels who enjoy the shade here.

For kids who are interested in trying out mountain biking, McAllister Park is a great place to start. In addition to some easier dirt trails, there is also a bike skills course and a pump track. More advanced riders will also enjoy these tracks, plus some of the more challenging or longer trails.

Brackenridge Park

Brackenridge Park
Photo by flickr/H. Michael Karshis

Pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon by the river at Brackenridge Park. This 343-acre park  features playgrounds, ball fields, and tree lined paths. There is also a miniature train to take families on a 3.5 mile ride around the park. 

Another feature of this lovely park is the Japanese Tea Gardens. Stroll through the garden’s shady walkways and enjoy the 60-foot waterfall, Koi ponds, and floral displays. We have found it to be a nice place to take family photos as well.

Cultural and Historical Outdoor Activities in San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo

outdoor activities in San Antonio include visiting the Alamo

The famous Alamo is the most historically significant outdoor activity San Antonio offers. Snap some photos in front of the iconic facade, then head inside to tour the grounds.

Your self-guided tour winds through the beautiful grounds and remaining buildings. Be sure to watch the video about the history of the Alamo. There are also several rotating exhibits worth checking out. 

The living history encampment is the highlight of the visit for families. Come to the back courtyard and interact with costumed characters to learn about the various roles of individuals at the Alamo. Doctors, soldiers, gamblers, and cooks share how they worked and lived here.

San Antonio Mission National Historical Park

san antonio missions

In addition to the Alamo, San Antonio is actually home to four more missions-Mission San Juan, Mission San Jose, Mission Espada, and Mission Concepcion- that make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Each mission has unique features, like the grist mill at Mission San Jose or the dam and aqueduct at Mission Espada. 

Pick up a Junior Ranger activity book at the Visitor Center at Mission San Jose, or download it before you go. Complete the book as you visit the missions, then stop back by the visitor center to get your badge. If you finish it later or don’t want to go back to the visitor center, you can also get your junior ranger badge by mail.

My favorite way to visit the missions is by biking the San Antonio Mission Trail. Rent a bike from a B-Cycle stand, and cruise along the San Antonio river, stopping at the missions along the way. Each mission has its own B-Cycle stand, so when you’ve had enough biking, just grab an Uber and head back into town.  

The entire trail is approximately 10 miles with about 2.5 miles between each mission. The path is suitable for hiking or biking and you can do as much or little as your family feels like. B-Cycle does only have full-size bikes, so if traveling with smaller kids, check for kid bike rentals at one of the local bike rental shops.

El Mercado

El Mercado in San Antonio

Every day is a fiesta under the colorful banners at El Mercado. Experience the lively Hispanic heritage of San Antonio at the historic downtown Market Square. Listen to the marimba music play and take in the enticing aromas of authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.

Shop for unique souvenirs at over 100 local owned businesses. Handmade crafts, coonskin caps, mini guitars, and more interesting items fill every window. You won’t find a Mexican market this large anywhere else besides Mexico. 

Outdoor Events and Festivals

Boat paradein San Antonio
Photo by flickr/U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps

All year long San Antonio celebrates its heritage and culture through annual events and family-friendly festivals. In January, participate in DreamWeek San Antonio, a multi-day event to honor Martin Luther King, Jr’s vision. Watch some professional rodeo cowboys at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in February.

Since 1891, San Antonio has honored their history through an 11-day celebration in April called Fiesta San Antonio. The whole city participates in the festivities with decorations, concerts, carnivals, parades, and more. One of the most popular parades is the Texas Cavaliers River Parade where spectators line the San Antonio river banks to watch parade floats drift by on the river.

The fun continues with Cinco de Mayo events in May, including a festival at Market Square. Then in June, San Antonio celebrates all things Texas, like food, music, dance, and crafts, at the Texas Folklife Festival. And the World Heritage Festival in September is a five-day event honoring the San Antonio Missions.

During Dia de los Muertos at the end of October, marvel at the family altars on display around town, watch the Catrinas on the River Parade, and get some traditional face painting at one of the many festivals.

At the end of November, get ready for the holidays with the annual Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony. Then keep the holiday spirit going with Celebrate San Antonio-the New Year event featuring fireworks, family activities, food, and more.