Texas is a big state with lots of great cities to explore, and one of our favorites is San Antonio. We’ve visited several times while making trips across the United States, and we always like to return to our favorite spots and also discover new hidden gems.
You could spend weeks without running out of fun, family-friendly things to do in San Antonio, but in this post I’ll share my itinerary for the perfect 24 hours — in case you’re just passing through. Plus, I’ll share some additional suggestions in case you have more time to spend in this wonderful city.
Many years ago, when our oldest son was just a few months old, my husband and I decided to take a road trip. We were in Tucson, Arizona and wanted to go somewhere new that we could get to in one day’s drive. After consulting the map and Wikipedia, we settled on San Antonio, Texas!
We decided to visit the city over New Year’s and made the drive over. After a few days of discovering the beauty of San Antonio, it made our list of our favorite US cities, and we’ve been back with our other kids several times since!
Family itinerary for one day in San Antonio
Even if you just have 24 hours to spend in San Antonio, you’ll be able to see some of the best parts of the city. If you have more time, there’s plenty to keep you busy and entertained.
Morning: Take a river walk boat tour
The river walk boat tour might seem a little touristy, but hey you’re a tourist. It’s a nice, relaxing way to see the whole San Antonio River Walk and learn a bit about the city’s history. Bonus, you can be on the lookout for where you want to eat lunch!
Lunchtime: Have lunch along the river walk
After you’ve cruised the river, now you can walk it! You can walk the whole river walk in 30 minutes or so, depending on how fast the little ones can go or how much you want to take your time. One of our favorite spots is the Arneson River Theatre. As performing arts professionals, we like to imagine what kind of shows we’d put on there if given the chance!
Head to one of the many restaurants along the way and eat riverside if you can. One of our favorites is The County Line where you can get great BBQ.
Early-Afternoon: Explore the Alamo
You have to visit the Alamo if you’re in San Antonio — I think it’s a requirement. The good news is that it’s free, very well taken care of, and such an interesting piece of history. You can stroll the grounds, see live demonstrations from performers dressed in period-style costumes, and go inside the mission itself, which is awe-inspiring.
While the history is very interesting to read and learn about, it might be a little intense for the most sensitive in your party, so just a heads up on that.
Late-Afternoon: Unwind at Hemisfair Park
If the kids need to blow off some steam, head nearby to the Hemisfair Park playground! When we visited recently, the park was offering free parking when validated by one of the nearby businesses, so we were able to park there all day for the price of a bottle of water.
Tired parents can recline in a comfy Adirondack chair while the kids play, or you can take advantage of the games available, like ping pong, chess, checkers, and corn hole.
Dinnertime: Eat dinner at an Ice House
Just a half-mile walk from Hemisfair Park is The Friendly Spot Ice House, a terrific choice for a relaxed, family dinner. The prices and food are great, the atmosphere is fun, and there is a large selection of adult beverages as well!
Evening: Check out the river walk after dark
The riverwalk is worth another visit after sunset. The lights will all be on, and it’ll be a very pretty stroll. If you skipped dessert at dinner, maybe grab an ice cream to enjoy along the way!
If you’ve done things right, the kids are probably good and tired by now, so it might be time to head back to your hotel for the night. You could call it a day or, if you have a built-in babysitter like we have now, mom and dad can head back out for a nightcap.
Other things to do in San Antonio
It’s not hard to plan a day full of activities in San Antonio. It’s also not hard to plan a full week of activities! If you are lucky enough to have more time to spend in the city, here are some other attractions to consider:
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Six Flags San Antonio is a thrilling amusement park themed around the culture and history of Texas. Daredevils will enjoy the intense rollercoasters, and there are plenty of fun rides for those who prefer a calmer experience. The park also includes a number of water attractions, so bring your swimsuit!
Tower of the Americas
The Tower of the Americas is a 750-foot observation tower, built as part of the 1968 World’s Fair. As it’s the tallest building in San Antonio, it’s the best place to get a great view of the city from the observation deck or the rotating Chart House restaurant.
Declaring themselves to be the oldest children’s amusement park in the country, Kiddie Park is a great place to take small children, as the rides are mostly geared toward the little ones. The park was renovated in 2009 and offers unlimited rides for a reasonable price. If you’re visiting with kids under 12, don’t miss it!
Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum is a unique and fun attraction in San Antonio. The museum is home to over 600 odd and interesting exhibits, including a collection of shrunken heads and a section of the Berlin Wall.
Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden is home to a variety of Japanese plants and flowers, koi ponds, and a waterfall. It is a peaceful and relaxing place to visit — a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. We visited here on our first trip to San Antonio and really enjoyed exploring the beautiful grounds.
La Villita is a small, historic district in downtown San Antonio, originally settled by Spanish colonists in the 18th century. Today, La Villita is home to a variety of art galleries, restaurants, and shops. It’s located right off the San Antonio Riverwalk, so I recommend visiting as you pass by while walking the river walk.
Historic Market Square
The Historic Market Square in San Antonio is a beautiful and lively place to visit. The square is full of historic buildings, shops, and restaurants, and you can find authentic Mexican food, crafts, and other goods. There is always something happening at the Market Square, from live music and dance performances to art shows and food festivals.
The DoSeum is a kid-centered museum in San Antonio, dedicated to interactive learning. It has exhibits on science, technology, engineering, art, and math, plus a theater, a cafe, and a gift shop. If you’ve been to a lot of museums lately and the kids are tired of hearing “don’t touch”, they’ll be thrilled at all the hands-on activities here!
San Antonio Zoo
Animal lovers can head to the San Antonio Zoo to find a wide variety of animals, including elephants, lions, and gorillas. The zoo also has a children’s area with a petting zoo and a playground. And check out their calendar for special events throughout the year.
San Antonio Museum of Art
Located right on the river walk, The San Antonio Museum of Art houses a wide variety of artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and jewelry. They host ever-changing temporary exhibits, so there’s always something new to see. Also check out their special family events.
San Antonio is a great US city to visit, both because of its endless fun activities and important historical significance. You and your family are sure to have a great time, whether you’re visiting for just 24 hours or longer. Enjoy your trip!