As parents, we hope our little ones will one day look back fondly on the unforgettable ways we spent Spring Break. After the year most of us have had, with still longer to go, I’ve decided to dial back the March madness and embrace a less-is-more approach. This year, I’m trading in long road trips and hotel stays for family memories made right here in our own backyard.
This may not be the year for long road trips and swimming in hotel pools, or the year we bravely venture to loud and crazy amusement parks, but I think it will still be a year my kids remember. The year they welcomed the feeling of sun-kissed concrete under their little toes as the splash pad sprayed their cheeks. The year they courageously climbed to the top of the “scary” slide. The year mom showed them how it was done at the roller rink—yes, I’ve got my scrunchie on my wrist, ready to go. As it turns out, I believe March has the potential to be wonderfully magical.
If you, too, will be joining me in a dialed-back San Antonio Spring Break, I’m happy to share these mostly free ideas for reconnecting with the fam without exerting over-the-top effort. Because, come on, we’ve all been trying so very hard. Pick and choose from three itineraries for full days of fun or break them up into short spurts to sprinkle entertainment throughout the week—the possibilities are endless and the adventure awaits!
Hit The Trail and Play
As someone who ends up hauling a bike or scooter halfway home from every.single.family.bike.ride, I wouldn’t dare suggest just any bike trail as “fun”. Grab your bikes and scooters and try any of these mom-approved options—each boasting playgrounds in addition to paved paths. Pack a picnic, some drawing books, and something to read, and make a day out of it!
We love it here for the castle-esque playscape overlooking the lake and it’s wide and flat bike path that isn’t too long. Feeding the ducks and geese adds another time killer, um . . . I mean…activity, to the day and makes good use of any soon-to-go-bad lettuce in your fridge. It’s a win-win!
Hello, shade! Snag a reprieve from the sizzling spring sun under a canopy of trees covering this trail and mini playground. After you and your budding cyclists have worked up an appetite, hop over to the Alamo Quarry Market for limitless froyo and ice cream options (and maybe a little stronger “treat” for mom). You earned it.
It just became 100 percent easier to enjoy all Phil Hardberger Park has to offer, thanks to the recently added natural Land Bridge. Ride across the bridge, take a trek through the trees on the skywalk, and stop for breaks at various playgrounds. The Nature Play Area was created from trees cleared out for the building of the Land Bridge. Tree stump tic tac toe anyone?
We are crossing our fingers that the splash pad at this epic spot opens in time for Spring Break. There’s no greater feeling than running through the water sprayers after a hot bike ride! In addition to its bike path, Pearsall Park is home to the city’s largest playground. It’s windy slides and climbing structures rival that of any of the noteworthy big city parks we’ve ever been to. Not to mention, it has a zip-line!
Be a Tourist in Your Own City
Yes, most of us locals roll our eyes and groan at the thought of journeying downtown during Spring Break, but here’s the thing: I want to experience the magic of San Antonio through my kids’ eyes instead of these “seasoned” ones that I blinked and somehow ended up with on my face. What better way to take in the sights than alongside (safely at-a-distance, of course) other excited visitors?
For any up-and-coming foodies in the fam, Chart House restaurant inside the tower makes for great “fancy” dining practice. Plus, a reservation at the restaurant scores you a free ride up the elevator and onto the observation deck for 360 views of our one-and-only San Antone.
I’ve lived in San Antonio for a total of five years and had never once hopped on a river barge until recently. Now I can’t stop telling everyone to get on board. Even my squirmy three-year-old enjoyed the peaceful float. You can buy tickets online or grab them at any of the three booths along the River Walk. Don’t forget cash to tip the driver—they keep the ride interesting and make navigating those big barges look easy!
A true treasure right smack in the middle of downtown SA, Yanaguana is one of those stay-and-play all day parks. Start on the north end with ping pong, cornhole, chess, and more. Slip and slide down the giant climbing structure, and don’t forget to pose on the blue mosaic panther. We always save the fan-favorite sand pit and splash pad for last (I’m not above bribery). The kids can play while you watch from one of the many shaded lawn chairs or picnic tables. There are a number of locally-owned eateries surrounding the park, including Paleteria San Antonio, whose icy treats are oh-so-popular among the kid set.
A 24-minute stunning technicolor video art installation from French artist Xavier de Richemont dazzles for free four nights a week with earlier evening shows on Tuesdays and Sundays. For the full San Antonio experience, be sure to grab some fruit cups and a margarita from the Main Plaza vendors.
Family Flashback Day
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind escaping the hustle & bustle of current times. Luckily, San Antonio is not lacking in totally rad throwback spots for the whole family to enjoy. And because I firmly believe in imparting such wisdom as knowing the difference between a malt and a milkshake, here are some fun old-timey spots to slurp some shakes: EZ’s, Cheesy Jane’s, and 410 Diner.
The neon lights out front practically beg your inner child to rock that side pony and lace up your skates. Family skate time is on weekend afternoons, and Tuesday is bargain night ($3 admission, $3 skate rental). Do be careful, falling hurts a lot worse than when you were a teen. Yes, I’m speaking from painful experience.
Appearing to be yanked straight from the set of a Chevy Chase movie (in the best way possible), Cool Crest is just that – extremely cool. With two courses, both suitable for even the youngest family member, and a new biergarten for unwinding after your 18-hole excursion, it’s a real Spring Break oasis.
Vintage vibes ooze from this authentic drive-in movie experience. Just up the road in New Braunfels, you’ll feel fully transported to a previous decade, especially inside the 50s cafe with a classic diner-style menu and tasty treats. Watch from your car or bring lawn chairs for true open-air viewing.
Charter Moms Chats
Gloria lives in Alta Vista with her husband and two kids (6 and 3). As a family, they enjoy weekend scooter rides to their neighborhood bakery and scoping out the best playgrounds for burning energy. Gloria loves cooking, writing, wine-ing, and holds a firm opinion that it’s never too cold for iced coffee.
Find More Family Fun in San Antonio
- “Explore San Antonio’s Greenway Trails System,” Brandon Ross, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 17, 2020
- “Appreciating the Blue Hole, the Source of the San Antonio River,” San Antonio Charter Moms, October 3, 2018
- “San Antonio Botanical Garden Opens New Areas to Visitors,” San Antonio Charter Moms, October 20, 2017
- “PLAY: Public Art in Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair Park,” San Antonio Charter Moms, October 3, 2015
- “Holiday Lights and Landmarks on the San Antonio Riverwalk,” San Antonio Charter Moms, December 21, 2013
- “Main Plaza Farmers’ Market, a Family-Friendly Space,” San Antonio Charter Moms, May 31, 2012