Texas Family Road Trip: San Antonio or Bust!
Hey friends! This blog post is overdue, apologies. May has kicked my butt. The combination of the end of the school year + finalizing summer camp plans for my girls + teacher and school staff appreciation notes and gifts + class parties + dealing with anxiety in our house from STAAR testing + wrapping up some major work projects and continuing to grow Enriched Family + the not-insignificant-task of packing up the house our family of four (plus our dog) has lived in for 10 years and moving to a rental while we do some home remodeling + slowly getting over a sinus infection and bronchitis has me like, “I just want to lie down” (shout out to Ali Wong! Love you.). I know y’all can relate ‘cause I have seen the May and May-cember memes for parents on the Internets.
Not surprisingly, I am dreaming about a vacation. I would love to go to a beach somewhere tropical, but given all.the.things, I think a short-ish Texas road trip is more realistic. So, I have rounded up a Texas family road trip idea and stuff to do, destination: San Antonio. Stay tuned for a future post on Houston. I’ve also created a couple of favorite kids’ podcasts lists (ages 5+ and under 5) to make your trip(s) more pleasant. Enjoy!
Please note, the following is provided for informational purposes only; the information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes, and no guarantees are made.
Destination: San Antonio
San Antonio is a great city for a family road trip. Super close to Austin (only about 80 miles to the south), it is a very easy trip and there are loads of fun things to do with kids. I’ve included a few highlights below…
Stuff to Do
Details: The DoSeum is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)-focused children’s museum. The DoSeum serves as a “charging station” to power up kids’ minds and support the important work of schools and community organizations. Their exhibits and programs promote play, invite discovery, spark interest, and develop positive attitudes towards learning across critical content areas. Check out current exhibits here.
Location & Hours:
2800 Broadway St., San Antonio, TX 78209
Summer Hours June 1 - August 25: Monday-Saturday: 9am-6pm & Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Admission: $14 per person; Free for children under 1 year of age. Purchase tickets here.
Details: Enjoy an 8-mile long paddling trail along the San Antonio River from Roosevelt Park downstream to the Camino Coahuilteca takeout by Mission Espada for a very special view of San Antonio’s mission region. Check out the map here, which includes kayak and canoe entry points. Bring your own canoe or kayak or rent some on-site or in the nearby community. Canoe/kayak rentals and shuttle information is provided for each individual Texas Paddling Trail (TPT) site here. These businesses can answer specific questions about rental and shuttle fees, shuttle availability and current river conditions. You should call ahead to reserve boats and schedule a shuttle.
There are a number of water access sites. Check the website for details.
The 8-mile Mission Reach Paddling Trail flows from just south of Downtown San Antonio through over 400 acres of restored riparian habitat and is bordered by 15 miles of hike and bike trails, City parks, County Parks, and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. There are 30+ “Canoe Chutes” that will allow vessels to pass through riffles during low flow levels. Access points are marked by Blue buoys on the waters edge that can be seen from both the hike and bike trail as well as the water.
Please note, the San Antonio River is a natural river that is unrestrained by flood control dams or other man made structures. As such, the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River is readily influenced by rainfall runoff from the urban area that surrounds it. 72 hours following rain events, paddlers should expect high flows and undesirable water quality conditions. Although paddling trails are open 7 days a week, some access sites may have park curfews.
Details: The River Walk is a 15-mile long city park and urban pedestrian walkway (bicycles are allowed on some parts of the River Walk, but prohibited on most parts; if you want to ride bicycles, I recommend you check out the San Antonio River Walk Hike and Bike Path). Walk, shop, dine, and enjoy the hospitality of the world-renowned urban waterway. Learn more about the history of the River Walk here and check out the destination guide here.
Location & Hours:
The River Walk flows through approximately 5-miles of downtown San Antonio. As such, there is no one address. For GPS purposes, use the address for the Shops at Rivercenter, located directly on the River Walk, in the heart of downtown, at 849 E. Commerce Street, San Antonio, Texas 78205. See an overview map of River Walk here.
The Downtown and Museum Reach sections of the River Walk are open 24 hours a day. Please check with businesses directly for their hours of operation. The Mission Reach section of the River Walk is open during daylight hours only.
Admission: The River Walk is a public park and is free to visit. Boat rides, attractions, and other activities will have various costs associated with them.
Details: The San Antonio Zoo®, operated by San Antonio Zoological Society, is a non-profit organization committed to securing a future for wildlife. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals representing 750 species on 56 acres, of which 34 acres are public pathways. Through its passion and expertise in animal care, conservation, and education, the zoo’s mission is to inspire its community to love, engage with, act for and protect animals and the places they live. The zoo welcomes more than a million visitors each year and is open year-round. San Antonio Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Zoological Association of America, and Humane Certified by American Humane. Please note—Outside food or drink is not allowed into the zoo. Exceptions are: bottled water, small snack-sized items, and baby food and formula.
Location & Hours:
3903 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78212. Map of zoo available here. Avoid parking hassles by arriving early. The parking lot near the Train Depot and the parking lot under the 281 overpass are both free.
Summer hours are generally M-F, 9am-5pm; Saturdays 9am-9pm; and Sundays 9am-6pm. Check here for daily hours and calendar of events.
Admission: General admission rates — Adults (ages 12+), $16.90; Children (ages 3-11), $13.35; and free for children under 3 years of age. OR purchase a Fun Day Ticket for $22.99/adults and $19.99/child, which includes your standard admission, one train ride, one carousel ride, and one entry to the Butterflies! Caterpillar Flight School. Purchase tickets here.
Details: The Witte Museum inspires people to shape the future of Texas through relevant and transformative experiences in nature, science and culture. Check out the exhibitions and special exhibitions here.
Location & Hours:
3801 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78209. Free parking is available in the Brackenridge Park Parking Garage on Avenue B. Visitor’s guide and map here.
The Witte Museum is open year-round except for Easter, the third Monday in October, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday Noon-5pm.
Admission: Free for Museum Members. Non-member ticket prices: Adults (12-64), $14; Seniors (65+) and Military with ID, $13; Children (4-11), $10; Children 3 and under are free. Purchase tickets here. The general admission price includes the exhibits in the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center, the H-E-B Body Adventure, Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery, Kittie West & Nelson Ferguson People of the Pecos Gallery, McLean Family Texas Wild Gallery, H-E-B Lantern/Valero Great Hall Orientation Gallery, B. Naylor Morton Research and Collections Center. *Please note that some special exhibits may have an additional fee or surcharge. Admission is free on Tuesdays from 3-8pm.
Roadtrip Survival Tool: Podcasts for Kids
Podcasts Favorites: Ages 5+
1. Wow in the World (NPR podcast)
This is my daughters’ favorite podcast and has been since it premiered in 2017. Hosts, Guy and Mindy, take listeners on a discovery-filled exploration of the many wows in the world. The podcast, for children ages 5-12, focuses on science, technology, discovery, and inventions. Most episodes are between 10 and 25 minutes long.
Based on the global bestselling book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (now in volumes 1 and 2), Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: The Podcast tells the amazing and inspirational stories of extraordinary women: scientists, authors, athletes, artists.... Learn about what made these women passionate as girls, the challenges they faced, and how their passions transformed our world. Most episodes are 15-20 minutes long (no age recommendation listed). My girls love this podcast.
3. The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified (WHYY podcast)
Eleanor Amplified vied closely with Wow in the World for the #1 one spot on this list for a long time. In fact, the only reason I placed it at number three is due to the fact that my girls have listened to all the episodes available (and many episodes multiple times) and are eagerly awaiting a new season. The serial radio adventure story, about an intrepid, investigative radio reporter, Eleanor Amplified, is recommended for kids 8-12, but appropriate for kids of all ages. Episodes are usually 15 minutes or less.
A serialized science-fiction story for kids (recommended for ages 5-10). The story follows Finn Caspian, an "8-year-old boy aboard the Famous Marlowe 280 Interplanetary Exploratory Space Station." Finn and his friends Abigail, Elias, and Vale, aka Explorers Troop 301, are on a mission to explore new planets, help the occasional alien, and solve a mystery that threatens to destroy the Marlowe. Most episodes are 15-20 minutes. This is a fun, adventurous podcast.
5. Tai Asks Why
Eleven-year-old Tai Poole is trying to find answers to life's biggest questions. What happens after we die? What is love? How can we fix climate change? A great program for kids who like to explore life’s big ideas…
An ethics podcast for kids exploring interesting and thought-provoking ideas and questions. A great way to get your kids thinking and talking about thorny topics. Best for kids ages 7-12. Most episodes are less than 20-30 minutes long. If you have older kids, this is a great one.
Podcast Favorites: Ages 5 and Under
These stories are perfect for road trips as they tend to be a bit longer (the longest episodes are around 45 minutes long). There are a lot of episodes available, going back to 2014, and quite a few stories have multiple parts. A full two hours of our December 2017 road trip to Marfa, TX were occupied with the multi-part story, "The Brilliant Firefly." My girls loved it and barely spoke except to ask us to play the next episode. G rated for all ages.
2. Story Time (Bedtime FM)
A great option for short stories for the car. For kids 2-13. Episodes are usually under 20 minutes long.
This storytelling podcast for kids imagines a "what if" world and tells super silly stories for kids (no specific age range specified) inspired by listeners' "what if?" questions and ideas. A sample story title: "What if unicorns and narwhals had jedi sabers for their horns?" Most stories are under 20-25 minutes long.
Stories written by kids for kids and performed by adult actors, comedians, improvisers, and musicians. All ages. Episodes are usually about 30 minutes long.
Original kids’ stories and poems for littles. Range of episode lengths - from under 10 minutes to 20-something minutes. Great for preschoolers.
Happy Texas road tripping!
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