San Antonio with Kids: A Perfect Family Day

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San Antonio with Kids: A Family Vacation

Alamy

San Antonio, Texas is unique, and apparently this fact hasn't escaped the 21 million or so tourists that visit each year. With influence from its Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and German heritage, the Alamo City is a colorful mix of historic fun and modern adventure. Families looking for a distinctive escape from the ordinary will find it here.

There are plenty of things to do in San Antonio with kids, from huge amusement parks to zoological gardens. The San Antonio Visitors and Convention Bureau makes it easy for families to plan their trip and save a few bucks along the way with their S.A.V.E. coupons. If you can manage to visit during late March or early April, you will not only enjoy some of the area's best weather, but you will also be able to visit nearby Hill Country while wildflowers are in bloom. Fall is also pleasant and summers are hot, obviously, but no matter when you go, expect the sun to be shining, so bring hats and sunscreen.

For families with small children, the best family vacation day in San Antonio would go something like this:


Morning

Start off your San Antonio family vacation and bring your kids to Zuni Grill, where the breakfast tacos are delicious and you can enjoy the quiet of the River Walk in the morning sun. Although pancakes are the only items on the kid's menu for breakfast, much to my son's delight, they will do a la carte items, and the staff recommends the cinnamon rolls (from $3).

Zuni Grill
223 Losoya Street
San Antonio, TX 78205
210-227-0864
Hours: 7AM-11PM

After breakfast, head to the River Center Mall and take the riverboat tour with Rio San Antonio Cruises. The tours last about 40 minutes, and the guides provide great historical and architectural information allowing you to get to know the city while the scenery entertains your kids. My 1-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son were excited by the boat ride and the wildlife we saw along the way, including ducks, pigeons, herons and squirrels.

Insider tip: Although there is some shade provided by trees along the river, most of the ride will be in the sun, so bring sunscreen, hats and cold beverages.

Rio San Antonio Cruises
Commerce and Bowie Streets
San Antonio, TX 78205
800-417-4139
Hours: Open daily from 9AM-9PM
Admission: $8.25 for adults, $2.00 for children, free for under 12-months in lap

Once you have a feel for the lay of the land, head to the Alamo for a trip back in time. Entrance is free and the indoor/outdoor exhibits make it easy to visit with children short on historical interest. Lines can get long for viewing items within the Shrine, but the Long Barrack, Gift Museum and grounds are easier to maneuver with small children. This historic landmark is one thing you must see when visiting San Antonio with kids.

Insider tip: Print the Alamo's History Hunt before you go and make a game of finding the answers during your visit. Small children will need help with some of the clues, but the questions keep you moving through the facility for an easy, educational tour.

The Alamo
300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, TX 78205
210-225-1391
Hours: Mon-Sat 9AM-5:30PM, Sun 10AM-5:30PM
Admission: Free

After you have completed your visit to the Alamo, head back to the River Walk for lunch at Casa Rio. This historic restaurant was the first to utilize the river setting to attract its clientele back in 1946 and it still entices with outdoor tables that allow families to enjoy the ongoing entertainment of the River Walk. The serenading mariachi band and curious waterfront birds will provide additional entertainment for families with small children needing a distraction. Get the Casa Rio Deluxe Dinner for a taste of everything or the delicious tortilla soup and salad combo for smaller appetites (from $6.50). Children have their choice of standard Mexican fare – enchiladas, quesadillas or tacos – and the gold standard, chicken strips or even corn-dog nuggets ($4.25, includes drink). Another bonus is that Hemisfair Park is a short distance away, and the water gardens are a great place for a quick rest or nap before undertaking the afternoon's activities.

Casa Rio
430 East Commerce Street
San Antonio, TX 78205
210-225-6718
Hours: Sun-Sat 11AM-11PM, in January Sun-Thu 11AM-9PM, Fri-Sat 11AM-11PM

Hemisfair Park
600 Hemisfair Plaza Way
San Antonio, TX 78205
210-207-3677


Afternoon


An afternoon during the best family vacation in San Antonio with your kids begins at the Witte Museum. The museum provides an entertaining escape from the heat of the afternoon for families interested in learning more about the art, heritage, and natural history of Texas.

Insider tip: Be sure to use your coupon from the S.A.V.E. program to get $1 off admission per person.

When we visited, the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit was a huge hit with my 3-year-old son, but my 1-year-old daughter made a hasty retreat to the exhibit about Texas birds. Both of them enjoyed the snakes and prairie dogs in the Animals Alive exhibit, but we almost missed it, so be sure to check the viewing times posted on the door. I also highly recommend the H-E-B Science Treehouse for hands-on, energy-burning activities for kids who need some noisy, active fun.

The Witte Museum
3801 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78209
210-357-1900
Hours: Mon and Wed-Sat 10AM-5PM, Tue 10AM-8PM, Sun noon-5PM
Admission: $8 for adults, $4 for children 4-11, 3 and under free, additional fees for special exhibits


Once you have had your fill at the museum, head for an early dinner at Good Time Charlie's, a family-friendly restaurant serving some great home-style cooking. The burgers are great, and I was happy to see the grilled chicken on the kids menu, even though my son was ready to have his second helping of chicken fingers for the day (from $5, kid's menu from $4).

Insider tip: If parking at Charlie's is full, head across the street to the Kiddie Park lot for additional space, since that is where you will finish out the evening.

Good Time Charlie's
2922 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78209
210-828-5392
Hours: Open daily 11AM-midnight

Evening

The final stop for the day is the Kiddie Park, which is the perfect destination for any family vacation with kids in San Antonio. The Kiddie Park is a small amusement park perfect for the under seven crowd. Rides are small, lines are short and entrance to the park is free. If your children want to ride, as I am sure they will, it is $2 per ride or $12 for unlimited rides. This park is perfect for parents who don't want to take on a giant amusement park like Fiesta Texas or SeaWorld. And since the last ride is at 7PM, you don't have to drag your kids kicking and screaming from the action when it is time to go. My son thought the boat ride was tops and my daughter finally sat on the horse for the entire carousel ride!

The Kiddie Park
3015 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78209
210-824-4351
Hours: Open daily 10AM-7PM

If you and your children still have energy to burn, complete your day with a dip in the pool at your hotel to cool off from the last of the day's heat.

From now on, when you hear the phrase, "Remember the Alamo," not only will you have a better understanding of its significance, but you will also remember the best family vacation day in San Antonio.


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