There are so many things to do in San Antonio with kids which is why it has always been one of my favorite destinations (even though it is blazing hot there in July!) They have theme parks, upscale shopping, great restaurants, fun hotels, and lots of history, and we have been there enough times to experience a lot of what they have to offer.
Recently, we took the kids on a quick San Antonio road trip – our first in six years – and our main reason for visiting this time was to see the Drum Corps International Southwest Regional Championship. We are proud band nerds who marched in college, and Carrick marched drum corps for three summers. With Andrew getting ready to start band in the fall, we thought this would be a perfect time to introduce the kids to something that holds a special place in our hearts, while having a fun little weekend getaway at the same time. So, here’s how we spent a fun-filled 48 hours in San Antonio, Texas.
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Things to Do With Kids in San Antonio
One of San Antonio’s most well-known sites, the Alamo is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is definitely a must-see for any first time trip to the city.
Located in the heart of downtown and near the famous River Walk, the Alamo is easy to get to and free to tour. There are some paid tours if you are a history buff and would like an enhanced experience, such as the battlefield tour or an after hours or VIP tour. We opted for the free “do-it-yourself” tour of the mission. The site opens at 9AM, and we arrived around 10AM to a manageable crowd. However, when we left, the line stretched down the sidewalk and around the corner, so it’s best to get there early if you don’t like lines.
The kids enjoyed touring the grounds and seeing the artifacts, such as Davy Crockett’s vest and James Bowie’s knife. And, of course, they learned a little bit of history! The Alamo has people on site throughout the day who do free history talks as well.
After visiting the Alamo, we had some time to kill, so we headed over to the River Walk which is a great activity in San Antonio for kids. This beautiful area of town is one of the most popular attractions in Texas, and is home to shops, hotels, boat tours, and most importantly, restaurants.
The River Walk boasts some great TexMex food, a favorite with our family. There are more options besides TexMex, like a good steak, a Hard Rock Cafe, Italian food, or even a Rainforest Cafe, but let’s face it, you’d be crazy to eat anything else first. (Incidentally, the one night we opted for Italian, we were still able to order some fried ice cream from the adjacent TexMex place…man, I love the River Walk).
Many people may not understand why we would want to take a trip specifically to watch “marching bands,” but for our family the DCI Southwest Regional is well worth the drive, and a great reason to head to San Antonio with kids. For those of you who have never been to a drum corps show, first, you’re really missing out. Second, DCI shows are a performance unlike anything else. Imagine the best halftime marching band show you’ve ever seen. DCI shows are like that only louder, faster, more intricate, more theatrical, and more spectacular.
Each drum corps tells a story through music and motion. It is an art form unlike any other, and it is performed by dedicated and talented young men and women from all over the country who give up their summer to rehearse in the heat, tour the country on buses, and sleep on gym floors.
The amount of work and dedication that goes into these 12 minute long performances is astounding. Whether you are familiar with DCI or not, the San Antonio show at the Alamodome is a great one for families because it is indoors and features all of the top corps. With its proximity to the River Walk, there is plenty to do in addition to the show as well. If you have kids in band or kids who are getting ready to start band, you should definitely take them to a DCI show, whether you choose one near you or make a bigger trip out of it.
As for us, the whole afternoon and evening were so fun, and the kids had a great time. We are all pulling for the Bluecoats this year because their show is so mesmerizing! If you’re looking for events in San Antonio for kids, this is a great one! Check out the DCI tour schedule to see if there is a show close to you.
I have visited Six Flags Fiesta Texas several times, even before it became a Six Flags property. I have always enjoyed the vibe of this smaller theme park (and when I say smaller, I mean compared to Disney and Universal).
Each time I have visited, more rides have been added or upgraded, and true to Six Flags form, Fiesta Texas has some amazing thrill rides. They have taken roller coasters to a whole new level, and this is the main reason I prefer this theme park to Universal and its virtual reality rides. To me, the wind in my face and the actual twists and turns of a true roller coaster are so much more fun. As for our day there, we visited on a Sunday and were pleasantly surprised that wait times were relatively minimal. There was a pretty good crowd there, but the park did not seem overly crowded. This may be due to the fact that Six Flags Fiesta Texas has an attached water park that is included in the price of admission. On a blazing hot San Antonio summer day, the water park is a great way to cool off between thrill rides. For this trip, however, we skipped the water park and focused on the roller coasters. Rather than tell you a detailed account of each ride, I’m going to let the family tell you what they thought.
About the Rides
Cadence (age 9):
My favorite thing in Six Flags Fiesta Texas was the Iron Rattler.
It went really fast, and it went upside down in a corkscrew. I liked when it went upside down. The first drop was really steep and exciting.
I liked when it stopped a little at the top before the big drop, and the part when it goes close to the water. I also got to play carnival games because there were some rides I couldn’t ride, like Goliath. I played a carnival game where you throw darts and pop balloons, and I won a little turtle and a Robin from Batman. We also went to a Jelly Belly store, and I got a bunch of different flavors of jelly beans. We rode Boomerang last, and it was awesome.
Andrew (age 11):
My top two favorite rides at Six Flags Fiesta Texas were Superman Krypton Coaster and Goliath. Superman is an unpredictable high-speed coaster that seats four people per car above the track. It contains major loops, corkscrew turns, is super tall, and has epic drops. You now have the option to do a virtual reality version too. I loved the Krypton coaster because of the big loop. It is the biggest loop in Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
Goliath is the first thing you see when you walk into the park. It is a tall high-speed suspended coaster with loops and corkscrew turns. It looks fast enough when you watch it, but when you actually ride it, you have no idea. All that is running through your head is SCREAM!!! I loved Goliath because of the suspended train and the corkscrew turns. They start slow and speed up rapidly mid-turn.
Carrie (not telling my age):
I am a fan of the new Iron Rattler as well. I have experienced this ride in its old wooden form, and even though the old version was great, it sure beat a person up to ride, as wooden coasters tend to do. The improvements made to this ride make it smoother, faster, steeper, and sharper…all great characteristics of a roller coaster.
Carrick (old enough to know better):
I have to agree that the Iron Rattler was the best thing that I rode. It’s a classic with it’s 81-degree first hill, surprise twists, 90-degree turns, and air time over the bunny hops. Kudos to Six Flags for utilizing the cliffs and integrating them into the park and the rides. This is what makes this one of the best Six Flags and certainly the most scenic.
The Rest of the Park
I also like how easy this park is to manage in a day, and even though it’s a little thing, I appreciate their refill mugs. After our experience with Universal’s refillable mugs, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Six Flags offers truly refillable cups for $15.99. They will refill them all day, anywhere in the park, and there’s no chip in the bottom that locks you out of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. They’ll even rinse them out for you if you want to switch drinks.
Really, my only complaint about the park was that they could do a better job of keeping it clean. We found some trash in various lines, and there was some trash on the Gully Washer ride. Overall, though, it was a great day and a wonderful experience for the whole family. If you’re visiting the area, you should definitely try and take a day to go to Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
Other San Antonio Attractions for Kids
If you have a bit more time, you may want to check out these other fun places for kids in San Antonio:
- The San Antonio Zoo – San Antonio has a great zoo that offers lots of shade and is great for kids of all ages. We visited back when we still packed strollers and everyone had a great time.
- Sea World San Antonio – We visited Sea World a few years ago, and it’s a fun park. Kids love the sea life, and the rides and water park are fun also. They have a couple of good roller coasters for the adrenaline junkies in your group.
- Tower of the Americas – Take a ride up to the observation deck for the best views of San Antonio. Have a snack, enjoy a meal, or just take in the views.