WHY IT RATES: Travelers looking to visit a city they’ve never experienced before should look at the vast array of offerings in the popular destination of San Antonio.—Donald Wood, Breaking News Senior Writer.
Koalas, rhinos, turtles, jelly fish, pendulum and outdoor adventures – it’s truly going to be a wild summer in San Antonio. A top U.S. destination for families seeking a fun and affordable vacation, the Alamo City offers a myriad of kid-friendly attractions and is a quick non-stop flight from numerous major U.S. cities. In recent years, the city has been undergoing a head-to-toe expansion with family-friendly experiences taking a lead, and this summer, new offerings at popular destinations Six Flags Fiesta Texas, SeaWorld San Antonio and the San Antonio Zoo will be complemented by exciting debuts including SEA LIFE San Antonio Aquarium and the just-opened Legoland Discovery Center Playground.
Rounding out the options for families are a variety of kid-friendly public spaces such as the recently revamped Hemisfair park, the new Confluence Park and Pearl, as well as additional unique attractions such as the city’s iconic 15-mile-long River Walk and the Doseum, an interactive STEM-focused museum dedicated entirely to children. San Antonio also features numerous kid-welcoming — and, for the parents, gourmet — restaurants and accommodations for every budget, making it an ideal U.S. summer family getaway.
Here are some highlights of what’s new for this summer along with some key family-friendly restaurants and accommodations.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas: This Summer, Six Flags Fiesta Texas will debut the new JOKER Carnival of Chaos, one of the world’s tallest pendulum rides. A record-breaking 17 stories high, the giant disk will reach speeds of up to 75 miles per hour as it whips back and forth, higher and higher to give riders a panoramic view of San Antonio.
SeaWorld San Antonio: SeaWorld will host “Summer of SeaWorld,” an array of events throughout the season with extended hours, nighttime animal shows and new rides. Three new attractions include the following: Turtle Reef, an interactive sea turtle attraction, and two family-friendly rides: Sea Swinger, a new pendulum family ride that spins and swings guests, and Riptide Rescue, a sea turtle “rescue mission” spinning ride. Additionally, guests can enjoy three night shows: “Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up the Night,” “Sea Lions Tonite” and “HydroPower: Xtreme FX,” along with nighttime fireworks.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center & SEA LIFE Aquarium: Two premier family attractions, LEGOLAND Discovery Center and SEA LIFE Aquarium, are bringing even more family-friendly activities to downtown San Antonio in the Shops at Rivercenter. LEGOLAND Discovery Center, which opened April 12, is the ultimate indoor LEGO® playground and offers a range of themed LEGO play areas, creative workshops with LEGO Master Model Builders, LEGO-themed rides and the popular MINILAND exhibit which reflects the buildings and skyline of San Antonio.
SEA LIFE will open in May highlighting impressive displays of diverse marine life. Families can explore and learn about unique sea creatures such as octopuses, sharks, seahorses, jellyfish and more.
Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island: The world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment, Morgan’s Wonderland continues to grow with various new additions and renovations. The recently opened Sensory Village offers a variety of interactive play elements designed to stimulate the senses and an Xbox Game Pass providing access to more than 100 games. The park also recently expanded its Welcome Center and transformed the Main Street Pavilion on the shoreline of its lake into a special-events venue that can accommodate up to 80 people. In 2020, Morgan’s Wonderland will open Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, a 102-acre recreational oasis in northern San Antonio that will offer a summer camp-type experience year-round to those with and without special needs.
San Antonio Zoo: May 25 through September 2, visitors can enjoy a summer down under as the San Antonio Zoo introduces “Wild Australia.” After more than two decades, koalas are coming back to the zoo with this all-new Australian-themed attraction. Experiences and educational activities will include an Australian Aviary and the all-new Roo Walkabout. The San Antonio Zoo is a unique combination of global conservation, wildlife education and family fun. “Wild Australia” is included with standard admission and free for Annual Pass holders.
Schlitterbahn: This summer, Schlitterbahn waterpark will celebrate its 40th anniversary with summer fun while giving back. Aside from riding tubes on the famous park river, visitors can ride a continuous wave on the park’s inland surf ride, Boogie Bahn, fly high on the Sky Coaster, tube on the Torrent wave river and get rocketed uphill on the Master Blaster Water Coaster. This year, Schlitterbahn will host its fourth annual American Heroes Week with free admission to members of the military, police, firefighters and EMTs during May 27 through June 2.
Confluence Park: With easy access to the San Antonio’s Mission Reach — the country’s largest urban environmental restoration project— and home to a SWell Cycle bike-share hub, Confluence Park is an inviting gateway to San Antonio’s many outdoor activities. Less than half a mile from Mission Concepcion, the park sits along the pathway connecting the San Antonio Missions, which along with the Alamo are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
San Antonio is lauded for its culinary scene and has a wide range of options available to visitors, many of which are family-friendly. The following are all particularly great for children and adults alike:
The Fruteria: One of Chef Johnny Hernandez’s restaurant concepts, The Frutería at Southtown offers fresh fruit, smoothies, tortas and tostadas by day and transforms into a contemporary Botanero by night. Full of vibrant colors and flavors, The Frutería sources locally and is a perfect restaurant for all ages.
Chocollazo and Sugar Sugar: Local chocolate shop favorite Chocollazo and its new sister candy concept Sugar Sugar opened this past February in the recently restored historic Pereida House at Hemisfair park in downtown San Antonio. Chocollazo features handcrafted chocolates, truffles, desserts and pastries, and Sugar Sugar features candy, soda, gifts and a cotton candy machine sure to be popular with families visiting Hemisfair’s Yanaguana Garden.
Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery: Located in the historic Pearl, Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery brings a modern take on Texas’ cross-cultural cuisine. Influenced by the coastal classics of Chef Jeff Balfour’s upbringing in Galveston blended with southern comfort cuisine, the restaurant features a seasonal menu that has plenty of options for kids. Of particular note for children is a pretzel-making activity where they can roll their own pretzel, have it baked and brought back out to eat, just the way they styled it.
The Cove: One of San Antonio’s many kid-friendly spaces with a giant playscape, The Cove is of particular note as the food is among the city’s best when it comes to casual dining, featuring organic American fare with numerous vegan options. Live music and a large selection of beer and wine are also on offer.
San Antonio features numerous family-friendly hotels for all price points and preferences. A few options that offer a wide array of family-friendly amenities and are in close proximity to some of the city’s main family-focused attractions include the following:
La Cantera Resort & Spa: La Cantera Resort & Spa is situated on 550 acres near the city’s finest attractions, including shopping, dining, amusement parks, the River Walk and Hill Country adventures. Part of the Destination Hotels collection, La Cantera recently launched its Kids Club Naturalist Program. Children will learn about the different trees, cacti, birds and native wildlife — such as raccoons, armadillos, deer, wild pigs and possums — that share the grounds of the resort. Children enrolled in the daylong program will scout animal tracks, observe and categorize trees and wildflowers, and even learn to identify different kinds of animal droppings. The program is under a curriculum co-developed with San Antonio Zoo and San Antonio Botanical Gardens.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa: Sitting on 300 acres of stunning ranch land, this resort offers luxury rooms and suites in addition to a full-service spa, 27-hole golf course and a five-acre water park with multiple pools, a lazy river, the FlowRider Wave Machine and private pool cabanas available for rent.
Drury Plaza Hotel Riverwalk: Located downtown near the River Walk and the Alamo and within walking distance from shops, restaurants and entertainment, this historic hotel offers complimentary breakfast and evening snacks. The property features a rooftop pool with city views and a balcony overlooking The Saga, a video art show displayed on the city’s main San Fernando Cathedral telling San Antonio’s history with free showings four nights a week.
For more information, reach out to your local travel agent.
SOURCE: Visit San Antonio press release.
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