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Top 5 Things to Do in San Antonio, Texas with Kids

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These are the absolute must-dos of this friendly Texas town. Before my family's visit, I asked a few Texan friends and some fellow travel enthusiasts for the best of the best of San Antonio. And, I discovered a Texas treat or two along the way. Here are five San Antonio experiences not to be missed, no matter how long your stay!

San Antonio's River Walk stairs

My son, Leo, climbing the stairs up to La Villita from San Antonio's River Walk

1) Explore River Walk.

When I asked what we had to see in San Antonio, everyone but everyone suggested River Walk. After wandering along the picturesque paths lined with shops and restaurants aplenty, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular choice. Be forewarned that River Walk is not especially stroller or wheelchair accessible. (This meant a lot of stroller lugging for the hubs!)

It's also fun to experience River Walk on the water itself, My family took a Rio San Antonio Cruise through the main waters of River Walk. The boat tour was a fun little adventure for the kids. Meanwhile, my husband and I enjoyed the entertaining commentary about San Antonio by the boat’s captain. I was impressed by how San Antonio has taken such strides to preserve its history and culture over the years, rather than bulldozing over its past like so many other American cities.

One of the many San Antonio River Walk bridges

One of the many San Antonio River Walk bridges

2) Try a Paleta.

While exploring River Walk, we asked a couple munching on popsicle-like goodies for directions. This incited my daughter to beg for ice cream. They explained the frozen treats were not ice cream but Paletas, a Mexican frozen fruit dessert on a stick. The duo pointed us up the hill to Bolivar Cafe in La Villita where we could purchase some bars of our own. When locals tell me I need to taste something, I listen! These yummy all-fruit treats (in flavors like coconut, lime, strawberry, or mango) were worth the climb.

After your snack, mosey through La Villita, San Antonio’s old town, which is now a charming cluster of galleries and shops.

Strawberry Paleta in San Antonio, Texas with kids

My daughter, Karissa, gobbling up a strawberry Paleta

3) Visit the Alamo.

You can’t leave San Antonio without a visit to The Alamo, right? While it may not be as graceful as the Eiffel Tower or as awe-inspiring as the Egyptian Pyramids, there is something about visiting a place you’ve heard of your whole life. I got that sense of, “So this is the Alamo!” The Alamo was built originally as a mission and was fortified and used for military purposes over the years. I was surprised to find it smack-dab in the middle of downtown (just a couple of blocks from River Walk). I had pictured it as a lone building in the middle of the desert somewhere.

Walk the Alamo’s lovely grounds, toss pennies for luck into a fountain, wander through the compound’s three buildings, and read about why we should “Remember the Alamo,” all for free!

Kids at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

Me with the kiddos at the Alamo

4) Eat Tex-Mex.

Every other restaurant in San Antonio seemed to specialize in Mexican cuisine. There were numerous selections along the River Walk to choose from. A famed location that we stumbled upon along the freeway after our evening flight arrival was The Alamo Café. This place was big on atmosphere, with mini rivers running throughout its interior and giant American and Texas flags draped across one wall. The highlight for my five-year-old daughter was watching the ladies in traditional Mexican garb rolling out handmade flour tortillas. They even tossed her some dough to play with!

Child watching tortilla making at the Alamo Cafe

Karissa intently watching the tortillas being made at the Alamo Cafe

5) Eat a Big Ol’ Steak.

I don’t eat much red meat but I figured, when in Texas, I should eat like a Texan! I ordered a porterhouse at the upscale, yet rustic 18 Oaks at the brand-spankin’ new JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. The restaurant overlooks the resort’s gorgeous golf course and smells of wood burning in the hearth. They serve all local, organic grass and oat-fed beef. They may have converted me to a meat-eater. I keep daydreaming about that dang steak.

If you’re looking to splurge on a delicious steak dinner slathered in parsley garlic butter, head here! You can choose from six sauces; I sampled the blue cheese and the peppercorn. They were both so heavenly, I can’t decide which was better!

18 Oaks steak knives at the JW Marriott San Antonio

I was presented with a variety of steak knives to choose from at 18 Oaks. Hey…a great steak deserves the right knife!

What is your favorite San Antonio activity or food? Leave a comment below!

A Note from the Travel Mama: My family was hosted by the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. I would never recommend a product, service, or steak I didn’t like! I will always let you know if I receive any sort of discount or complimentary goods or services related to a blog post.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. Looks like you had a fun trip! I haven’t been yet, but I had the exact same expectation you did about the Alamo being some lone building out in the middle of the desert. So funny! The River Walk and boat tour sounds like a sure kid pleaser.

  2. I grew up in S.A.–love the River Walk!

    When we went back for visits when our kids were small, we also enjoyed Sea World and Six Flags (then called Fiesta Texas). A few more $$$, but worth it for the kiddos.

  3. Be fore-warned, the boat ride takes a while so be prepared to entertain the little ones with short attention spans! A bag of M&M’s and a game of find-the-candy-in-the-closed-fist kept us going for the last 20 minutes or so. 🙂

  4. A further comment on the RiverWalk – there are no handrails and the edges of the sidewalk can be slippery. Hold hands of wandering toddlers to avoid an unexpected swim!

  5. I loved San Antonio- even though I was 8 months pregnant and it was August! Loved Sea World, The Alamo, the river walk and most def the tex mex!!!! Read about my expiriences here: http://www.dottingthemap.com/2009/08/28/highlights-of-san-antonio/

  6. We’ve been to San Antonio a few times for my husband’s military reserve duty. We love the McKenna Childrens Museum. It’s a little out of town but so worth the drive. It’s not as busy or as expensive as the San Antonio version.

  7. I remember hearing about San Antonio people designing the Riverwalk years ago and I always wanted to see it. This new Marriott sounds like just what I needed to make some plans.

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