Good Times in Texas-Exploring San Antonio

It had been a few years since I had traveled to San Antonio.  I went once back when I was in middle school and then John and I along with my family went back in 2008 when my brother graduated from Air Force Basic Training.  I was excited to show my girls this Texas town!  There is so much to do in San Antonio for families.  I had no clue until I started delving into the San Antonio travel guide.  There was so much that interested me that we ended up going from spending a couple of days there to six days in the area.  One of those days we did take a day trip to the coast though.  But even though we had numerous days planned here, there were still many things left on our list of to-dos that we could have spent well over a week and still not get to everything.

There was one common thing that we encountered no matter where in Texas we went and that was crowds!!  It happen to be the whole state of Texas’s spring break and like us, everyone was out enjoying the beautiful weather!  San Antonio was crazy and we spent a lot of time waiting in lines or we had to skip things because the lines were way too long.  So if possible-I would avoid traveling to San Antonio the middle of March.  Oh and probably all of the summer if you can because I hear the Texas heat can be brutal!

Even though there were crazy crowds we did get to experience quite a bit.

Brackenridge Park

Our first stop in San Antonio was the San Antonio Zoo .  We designated a whole day to Brackenridge Park, which is where the zoo is located.  All within the park is the Zoo, the Witte Museum, a Botanical Garden, The Sunken Garden Theater, The San Antonio Eagle Train, The Japanese Tea Garden and so much more.  There is also numerous trails throughout the park to walk, run, or bike.  When visiting, I would park your vehicle and either walk around to the different attractions or utilize the train.  We were hoping to use the train but because it was spring break week the train did not stop at the different destinations like normal.  It just went around the park and back to the station without stopping.  Because we arrived early we got a great parking spot right in front of the zoo. This lot was also right by the train depot and was free.

Because we are members at our local zoo we were able to utilize the reciprocal zoo membership and get in for half price for the zoo.  Regular admission fees are $18.99 for adults and $15.99 for children.  This price includes zoo admission, one train ride, a carousel ride, and admission to the butterfly exhibit.

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We really enjoyed this zoo.  We spent a few hours walking around a looking at the exhibits.  I think both my girls are at a great age for zoos.  They both get pretty excited about all the animals.  Elsie’s highlight from the zoo was feeding the Lories.  You can get a cup of Lory nectar for $2.00 and then they all flock to you.

After we left the zoo, we made our way to the train depot to take a ride around the park.  It was a little chilly on the train but I loved how it traversed throughout the whole park. It was fun to see all the different parts of the park in a short amount of time.  There were so many families out enjoying the day and having picnics. Tickets are $3.50/person-under 3 is free.

After the train ride we hit up Cheesy Jane’s.  The restaurant was recommended to me by a friend and it was right next to the Witte Museum, which was our next stop.  Somehow there was a mix up on the wait list to get seated and we ended up having to wait a long time because they kept seating others who had arrived after we had.  I had to finally say something before they realized they kept skipping over us.  So that wasn’t the best way to start the experience.  The food was good and they specialize in burgers and shakes.

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After departing the restaurant, our original plans fell apart.  The area was SO crazy, we could not find a place to park anywhere remotely close to the Witte Museum.  We decided to skip it.  If the parking is completely full by the museum I can’t imagine how busy the museum would be so we made our way to the DoSeum which is San Antonio’s children museum.  Once again, there wasn’t a parking space to be had and the entrance to the museum was packed so we decided to try back later in the week and instead head downtown San Antonio for the afternoon and evening.  We never did make it back to either museum which is a bummer but hopefully someday we will.

Downtown San Antonio

We spent a bit of time in downtown San Antonio.  This where you will find things like the Alamo, Tower of the America’s, and the famous Riverwalk.  We visited downtown on two separate occasions.  The first time we took a 20 minute bus ride from our KOA campground right to downtown.  We walked around a little and then stopped by The Alamo.  This is one a several missions in San Antonio but happens to be one of the most famous due to the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution.

In previous visits to the Alamo, John and I went on a guided tour.  When we arrived, I wasn’t even sure if they were offering one and the crowds were heavy.  We didn’t spend too much time here.  It was difficult to get around the mission.  Elsie got her pressed penny souvenir and we walked around the grounds and around Alamo Plaza.  We didn’t stay too much longer before heading back to the campground for dinner and an early night.

One of the most popular attractions in Downtown San Antonio is the Riverwalk.  It is a unique walk that winds along the San Antonio River.  I will be the first to admit this isn’t the best attraction for children.  Along the Riverwalk is a lot of restaurants, bars, hotels and shops.  The last time we visited in 2008 we enjoyed some meals and drinks and took in the view-this time, not so much which is okay.

The Riverwalk definitely is beautiful.  There are many historic buildings and unique features.  I imagine when the crowds aren’t crazy the area can be much more relaxing.  We did opt to take a Riverwalk boat tour this time and we really enjoyed it!  The line to get tickets and board the water taxi took forever but we were fortunate to be in line to a really friendly older couple who enjoyed talking to the girls and visiting with us.  They also sat next to us on the boat and were understanding of our two year old who struggled to sit still for the 35 minutes tour.  I am a firm believer in guided tours-I get SO much more out of an experience when I learn more about where we are visiting and can make a connection and for me that comes with guided tours.  Cost for a tour is $10/adult and $4/children 5 & Up.

The options for eating at the Riverwalk are endless, however, we chose not to eat here.  We ate at a highly recommended restaurant Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery that is located in Historic Market Square.  We were warned ahead of time that this choice of eatery would result in a long wait time because of it’s popularity so we arrived prepared to wait.  Luckily, we got a spot to wait in the bar where John and I could enjoy some margaritas and the girls could enjoy their drinks along with some chips and salsa.  The bar area surprisingly, was not busy and the girls could get up and dance around to the music.  The wait here flew by! Elsie just had to get her picture taken with her drink like Mom and Dad did.

The food was yummy and the girls fell in love with the colorful atmosphere.  Elsie, of course, had to buy a flower wreath tiara that she wore for the entire remainder of the day (see picture above).  I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting the San Antonio area.

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Market Square

After enjoying our meal we explored the market a little bit.  We enjoyed some churros and wandered around before trying to make our way  HemisFair Park.  It was about two miles from our parking spot (and Historic Market Square).  We were hoping that Evie would nap on the walk and that Elsie would make it there.  I have to say we were very impressed with the mileage that girl put on during the day.

HemisFair Park is a great location to let the kids run around, splash in some water, and enjoy a beautiful day.  This park was created to host the 1968 Worlds Fair and is also linked to the downtown Riverwalk.   The Tower of the America’s is it’s most recognizable attraction and stands 750 ft tall above San Antonio.  Elsie, my brave little girl, was so excited to be able to go up to the top of the tower-me not so much.  At the top of the tower is a restaurant, an observation deck, and a 4D Ride Theater Ride.  I was looking forward to the ride but not being so high up.  At one point I was going to volunteer to stay on the ground with Evie while she stroller napped but when it came down to it I didn’t have to.

We stood in line for 30 minutes to purchase our tickets and when we got up to the window we discovered it would be 90 minutes until we would be able to take the elevator up and 90 minutes up there before we could get down-no thanks!  Have I mentioned that the crowds during the week were CRAZY?!?!  We had one very disappointed little girl since we decided not to wait the 3 hours to go up.  I think there was even some tears from her but we cheered her up by promising to do the boat ride on the River Walk and that seemed to dry her eyes a bit.  We explored the park a little bit-we could hardly pass any kind of sculpture without Elsie striking a pose and asking for a photo.

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We spent a good part of two days exploring Downtown San Antonio and enjoyed doing so.  San Antonio is a very walk-able city with numerous things to do with families.  Elsie loved it and like I mentioned before, was a rock star with how many miles we put on that day walking to everything.  I think there is a downtown trolley/bus system that you can buy a pass for to get you where you need to go but we enjoyed being on foot and seeing what this city had to offer.  Another option would be to rent a bike and see the city on bicycle.  I’ll go more into this on my post about the San Antonio Missions.

Dates of Visit:  3/12/17-3/13/17

 

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