Fun Things To Do
1. DOWN BY THE RIVER Stroll along the sidewalks of River Walk/Paseo del Rio along the San Antonio River, one level below the city streets. The paths wind among stores and restaurants (try Paesano's for yummy Italian, 111 W. Crockett St.; 210-227-2782), or you can hop aboard a Rio San Antonio Cruises passenger barge for a 35-minute ride (210-244-5700).
2. EXPERIENCING THE ALAMO Known as "The Shrine of Texas Liberty," this downtown landmark was the scene of a famous battle between settlers and the Mexican army in 1836. Kids will enjoy seeing Davy Crockett's buckskin vest and exploring the old church and scenic grounds (300 Alamo Plaza; 210-225-1391).
3. TEXAS HERITAGE With exhibits that include a buffalo-hide tepee, the Institute of Texan Cultures celebrates the many ethnic groups who settled the Lone Star State (801 S. Bowie St.; 210-458-2330). Hungry? Sip soup at El Mirador (722 S. St. Mary's St.; 210-225-9444).
4. HAPPENING HISTORY The artifacts and hands-on exhibits at the Witte Museum delight visitors. Kids rule inside the H-E-B Science Treehouse, with four levels of fun (3801 Broadway; 210-357-1900). Earl Abel's is a nearby local favorite, known for its fried chicken, catfish, and pies (4210 Broadway; 210-822-3358).
5. A DAY IN THE PARK Take a picnic to Brackenridge Park (3700 North St. Mary's St.) on the banks of the San Antonio River, where you can visit the zoo (210-734-7184), ride a miniature train, and visit the Japanese Tea Garden. Kid-friendly restaurants in the area include Jim's (4108 Broadway; 210-828-5120) and Taco Cabana Inc. (2908 Broadway; 210-829-1616).
6. PLEASE TOUCH Kids can step inside a giant bubble, hoist themselves up a kid-powered elevator, and make crafts at the San Antonio Children's Museum (305 E. Houston St.; 210-212-4453). For lunch, try Schilo's Delicatessen, famous for its wursts and homemade root beer (424 E. Commerce St.; 210-223-6692).
7. UP, DOWN, ALL AROUND For a bird's-eye view, ride to the top of the 750-foot-high Tower of the Americas at HemisFair Park, site of the 1968 World's Fair; there's also an upscale restaurant inside (200 S. Alamo St.; 210-207-8572). Within walking distance is La Villita ("Little Village"), which is one of the city's original settlements (418 Villita St.; 210-207-8610).
8. SAY SÍ TO SHOPPING Peruse 100 shops and pushcarts at Market Square/El Mercado, where you'll find pottery, textiles, and a piñata for your next fiesta (514 W. Commerce St.; 210-207-8600). Eat out at Mi Tierra (210-225-1262), then explore downtown aboard one of the city's red reproduction streetcars.
9. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED To learn about the Spanish priests and Native Americans who called the area home during the 18th century, visit four missions (San Juan, Concepción, San José, and Espada) along a historic trail. Tours explore religion, architecture, agriculture, and cooking (Probandt Street exit off I-10 East; 210-932-1001).
10. THRILLSVILLE The San Antonio area boasts two major theme parks and two water parks: SeaWorld San Antonio (10500 SeaWorld Dr.; 800-700-7786), Six Flags Fiesta Texas (Interstate 10 and Loop 1604; 210-697-5050), Splashtown (3600 N. Interstate 35; 210-227-1400), and Schlitterbahn Waterpark (381 E. Austin St., New Braunfels; 830-625-2351). Schedules and attractions vary seasonally.
Where to Stay in San Antonio
LA QUINTA INN MARKET SQUARE Well-priced for its location and within walking distance of many downtown attractions, La Quinta Inn Market Square offers a free continental breakfast and outdoor pool. Double rooms begin at $89 per night. 900 Dolorosa St.; 210-271-0001; reservations at 800-531-5900; www.laquinta.com
HILTON PALACIO DEL RIO Every room has a private balcony and is decorated in Spanish style in this comfortable hotel located along the River Walk, two blocks from the Alamo. There's an outdoor pool and kids' menu, plus a fitness center with whirlpool spa for parents. Double rooms start at $179 a night. 200 South Alamo St.; 210-222-1400; reservations at 800-HILTONS; www.hilton.com
HYATT REGENCY HILL COUNTRY RESORT AND SPA Located across from SeaWorld San Antonio (a 20-minute drive from downtown), this resort caters to families, with programming such as cowboys singing around a campfire while guests make s'mores. Other highlights: a warm-weather spa for children only, bicycle rentals, and a four-acre water park. Double rooms begin at $140. 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive; 210-647-1234; reservations at 800-55-HYATT; www.hillcountry.hyatt.com
THE FAIRMOUNT HOTEL Built in 1906, this hotel became the largest structure ever transported on pneumatic tires when it was moved through downtown San Antonio in 1985. Kids will get a kick out of the hotel's history and feel comfortable in its casual Victorian ambience. The location's great, too, across the street from Hemis Fair Park and near major downtown attractions. Double rooms start at $149 a night. 401 S. Alamo St.; 210-224-8800; www.thefairmounthotel-sanantonio.com
Copyright © 2005. Reprinted with permission from the April 2005 issue of Child magazine.