Family Fun in Central Texas, Part 5: San Antonio

This is my fifth post about our family's travels to Central Texas. I recommend reading the firstsecond, third, and fourth posts before this one. Because I blog about educational travel, I was given free admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the attractions we visited throughout the trip. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I recommend whole-heartedly. If you notice any gaps in my narrative, it's because I didn't like a particular hotel, attraction, or restaurant enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


San Antonio, Texas

Before I started researching for this trip, I had no idea that San Antonio is as large as it is. I would have guessed that it didn't rank in the 30 most populated cities in the US; it's actually #7. San Antonio is significantly bigger than Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, Washington DC, Denver, Dallas, and San Jose, just to name a few. All this to say, I wish we'd had more time to spend in San Antonio. I'd recommend at least three days to see the major sites; we only had a single day to pack in as much as we could. 

We left Fredericksburg bright and early on Tuesday, April 9 to drive 70 miles to San Antonio. Well, not bright. It was raining, lightly at first, then we experienced a brief Texas-sized downpour. Fortunately, it stopped before we arrived at our first destination, the San Antonio Zoo

I've been to a lot of zoos in my life, many of them outstanding. Without a doubt, San Antonio's is one of my favorites. It is beautiful and well-designed for both guests and animals. 

The zoo is lush and shady, which is very important in a hot climate like San Antonio. It is packed with themed artwork. Quiet music plays in some areas. It's a very calming and welcoming atmosphere.

I love the many surprise paths and passageways for people....

... as well as the animals. If you look closely in this picture, you can see a net passage that gives the lemurs lots of room to explore and play. 

They didn't use it while we were there. 

The San Antonio Zoo offers a great selection of Animal Encounters. We got to experience three of them, each fantastic. We started at Butterfly Rainforest

It was so interesting to talk with their Keepers and learn everything that goes into keeping them healthy and safe. 

At Flamingo Mingle, we fed flamingos using a slightly different method than we had in Oklahoma City. Both were great fun. This time, flamingo chow went into a dipper instead of a cup.

It rested nicely on the cut-out portion of the fence and allowed for a little more space between guest and flamingo. 

We loved being able to pet the kangaroos at Kangaroo Krossing. They're a lot more plush than I expected. 

Check out those legs! This lounging kangaroo reminded me of Trouble

This is Timothy. He's running for HOTUS in 2024 with the slogan "Naps for All." He has my support. 

The San Antonio Zoo opened in 1914. Obviously, zoo practices are much different 110 years later. We know so much more about what animals need to thrive in captivity. The zoo has repurposed its original enclosures in a lot of creative ways, housing much smaller animals than they once did. Mostly, you'll find fish and birds in these spaces. 

There are two major expansions coming to the zoo: Savannah and Congo Falls. 

We loved this helpful banner identifying the "species" you can see in this exhibit. 

I saved the best for last. You will not believe the children's area in the San Antonio Zoo. It is incredible. There's an enormous, multi-room indoor play area... 

... with a stream. A stream! Toddler Trevor would have happily played here for 8 hours straight. 

But the outside area blows in the inside away. 

There's that same stream...

... perfect for gathering "ingredients" to use in the Mud Kitchen. 

There's a boat and a hut and gardens and other play structures. There's even a Stroller Coaster!

But that's not all. The zoo has a sandy riverfront beach! With a waterfall!! That you can play in!!!

See all those kids in orange? They attend the Smith Zoo School. The preschoolers at this innovative program spend at least 70% of each day doing outdoor, nature-based programming at the zoo. Incredible!

Can you tell why the San Antonio Zoo is one of my all-time favorites? I really hope to return someday. What a neat place. 

After a wonderful morning at the zoo, we hurried to our next location. Fortunately, it was only a few yards away! We hopped onto Old Town Trolley to learn all about the past and present of San Antonio.

We've taken Old Town Trolley Tours in both Nashville and Boston, so we already knew they are a fantastic way to get an overview of a city. They're also great to use as transportation to get from one attraction to another. Technically, Old Town Trolley starts downtown at Alamo Plaza. We usually like to start hop-on-hop-off tours at Stop #1, but in this case, we made the decision to start at Stop #3, next door to the zoo. The main reason was parking. Downtown parking is pricy and can be difficult to find, while parking at the zoo three miles away is free and easy. We rode the Trolley from Stop #3 to Stop #14, enjoying the excellent live narration from our driver, John. 

Since we only had a single day to spend in San Antonio, the trolley was an excellent way to see places we weren't able to fit into the schedule. And we learned so much! San Antonio is a fascinating city and I hope to return someday. 

We saw several sections of San Antonio's famous River Walk, as well as many of its other most popular attractions.  


At Stop #14, the Crockett Hotel, we got off the trolley to have lunch and see San Antonio's most famous attraction. I'll tell you all about that, and the rest of the trolley ride, in tomorrow's blog post.

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