Our family enjoyed a quick four day trip to San Antonio in January which included a visit to the Alamo, Riverwalk, Sea World and other popular attractions.
Things to Do in San Antonio with Kids on Vacation
San Antonio is almost 300 years old and rich with history. The most famous attraction is The Alamo which is one block from the River Walk. Next on the list for animals lovers and families is Sea World. Then there are several other options like caverns, museums, Legoland, a zoo and more.
We stayed a mile from the riverwalk which offers a vibrant food scene and fun river cruise for all ages. Our hotel was next to a grocery store and has a small indoor pool. We even took a detour on the way to SeaWorld to check out the world’s largest boots!
Visiting the Alamo
The Alamo is where Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Travis were in a group of 189 soldiers that held off 3,00 Mexican soldiers in the Texas war for independence. We learned how states rights versus centralist federal control is at the center of the formation of Texas.
For $9 each we got a phone like recorder that played messages on a self guided tour. The tour takes about 45 minutes. Prepare kids to be quiet and respectful at this historic site where hundreds died in an important battle in history.
This is a can’t miss stop for all ages when visiting San Antonio! We parked our Turo rental car in the garage by the mall, but there is a cheaper option called the Houston Street parking garage that works well!
San Antonio Riverwalk
A few steps away from the Alamo is a chocolate and ice cream store to grab a treat and relax before strolling down the Riverwalk. There are small stores to grab ice cream, other treats, bars and restaurants all over the river walk!
The first thing to do on the riverwalk is get tickets to the Go Rio River Cruises. We really enjoyed seeing everything and getting a brief history as well as run down of popular places to stop.
Go Rio river cruises which is a 35 minute ride with a very interesting information about the city and a bunch of “dad jokes” to make you smile. Some guides will even interact with the patrons enjoying a drink or meal at Casa Rio as they float by.
There are three locations to get on a tour. You will start and end your cruise at the same location. There may be a line, but we didn’t have to wait for long.
Best Family Restaurant on the Riverwalk
Our family wrapped up the day with an early dinner at Casa Rio which was one of the first restaurants on the river walk and a classic.
Relaxing with chips and salsa and a margarita is a must do experience in San Antonio!
Joe got “The Regular Plate” which is a great sampler of Mexican food. I ordered a taco salad with beef that was wonderful and we enjoyed the leftovers for a couple future meals. Eating on the edge of the river made a fun snack.
SeaWorld San Antonio
The best unique family friendly thing to do in San Antonio is Sea World. Being one of only three locations in operation visiting SeaWorld San Antonio was a major highlight of our trip.
The Orca Encounter or killer whale show is an experience that is unmatched to any other other amusement park.
Watching these whales soar through the air, do tricks and flips is majestic and the best part of our trip to San Antonio. The show is about 35 minutes long and I would recommend planning your day around the Orca Show and Sea Lion show which is very cute!
Know that they are only open weekends in the off season. The hours seemed to change a bit and most of the attractions including all roller coasters were closed due to high wind, but the Orca Show and Sea Lion Show were fantastic! We also enjoyed the large penguin exhibit, aquarium and with sharks, dolphin interactions, and Sesame Street rides and character meet and greet in the center of the park.
We arrived early which is not necessary at all as crowds were very small. Our first stop was looking at the dolphins, sharks and huge aquariums.
Then we checked out the Sesame Street Bay of Play area with rides and character meet and greet for little kids.
We left after the Sesame Street parade was over at 3:30.
The Bengals were in their first play-off game of the century so we ate at Texas Roadhouse where we knew there would be TVs.
This was a good day, but know that Sea World ticket prices are significantly lower priced when purchased more than 24 hours in advance.
San Antonio Caverns
We drove 40 minutes from downtown to the Natural Bridge Cavern and paid $93 for the first 35 minute cavern tour of the day at 9 a.m.
Then paid $108 for a surface attraction of a high ropes course with zip lines. It was a challenge and opportunity for most of our family to be brave. The time limit was 45 minutes but we ended up spending a little bit longer and the staff didn’t mind because it wasn’t very busy when we arrived at opening at 10 a.m.
Since you can’t have anything at all in your pockets we don’t have any pictures of us on the equipment.
Since we had done everything we wanted to by noon we decided to take an hour drive to Fredericksburg, Texas.
A Day Trip From San Antonio – Fredericksburg, Texas in The Hill Country
About an hour outside of San Antonio in the rural Hill Country of Texas lies Fredericksburg. This town has a few blocks of cute shops, restaurants, wineries and breweries with multiple museums.
As farmers we enjoyed the drive through the country side observing homes, ranches, tractors and the type of vegetation on land and farming.
We’re not big buyers but looking through the shops, picking up a snack and enjoying some hill country BBQ for lunch was perfect for us.
We spent our final hour taking our family to the Pioneer Museum to learn more about how the area was settled. This museum consists of nine small buildings that depict the life of early settlers. The visuals and audio are age appropriate for young kids and a teenager. Hopefully they got a little perspective on how easy our lives are!
After driving back to the city we grabbed a made to order pizza at the local HEB Grocery store along with a few snacks.
Half A Day in San Antonio
We began with breakfast at the hotel then loaded up our bags and parked in the Houston Street parking garage for a flat rate of $10.
We took the ten minute walk to San Fernando Cathedral for church at 10 a.m. The cathedral is beautiful and has the remains of the Alamo hero’s in the left entrance way of the church.
We bought tickets to the Buckhorn and Ranger Museum which are all connected and a part of the Buckhorn Saloon where we had burgers and sandwiches for lunch. While the museum tickets were a bit expensive they did get us 10% off our lunch and rounded out our family trip to San Antonio very well.
The portions were filling but not overwhelming and the food is delicious!
Warm Family Trip In January
We live in a farm in the Midwest which means January is typically pretty cold with some snow. Hooded sweatshirts and wind breakers were a must, but this was a wonderful break from heavy winter coats! Walking outside for the day in January feels good!
San Antonio makes a great family trip over a long weekend like Martin Luther King weekend. Crowds were very light in 2022 and there were plenty of outdoor or semi outdoor activities for our family with a preschool aged young kid and teenager to enjoy.
If you are able to plan ahead of time and get to multiple popular attractions this Go City Pass may save you some money. But once you buy and start using you are committed. Not knowing how health issues would hold out we didn’t commit to much ahead of time. Thankfully we stayed healthy and got to do everything we planned and more!
More Family Fun Ideas in January
When we’re at home in the frigid cold my son loves building more custom toys for his Planting and Harvesting Farm Toy Display. Whether he’s finding homemade ways to make toy round bales of hay or cutting toothpicks to look like stalks of corn a farm scene is great indoor entertainment!