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10+ Outdoor Things To Do In San Antonio, Texas

From the Riverwalk to the Alamo to the Botanical Garden, there are so many Outdoor Things To Do In San Antonio.

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San Antonio, Texas is a great city if you're looking for outdoor activities. Check out this list of 10+ Outdoor Things To Do In San Antonio, Texas on

The Alamo had been at the top of my bucket list for decades. It was the only place in the world that I really, really, really wanted to go for forever. So, as a surprise for my birthday a few years ago, we went to The Alamo, which is just one of the really cool outdoor things to do in San Antonio, Texas.

San Antonio is a really outdoor-friendly city. And, even when we went in November, it was warm enough that you could really enjoy the outdoors.

If you’re planning a trip to San Antonio, you definitely want to put these outdoor activities on your list.

10+ Outdoor Things To Do In San Antonio, Texas

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The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.

The Alamo

It’s impossible for you to go to San Antonio and skip The Alamo (300 Alamo Plaza). It’s the heart of San Antonio and in the heart of San Antonio. Seriously. The Alamo is smack dab in the middle of the downtown area. There’s the post office across the street one way, bars across the street the other. The Alamo is just … there in the middle of it all.

You have to go inside.

So. Fun fact. The building we all recognize as the Alamo is actually the Alamo Church. It’s free to tour it, but you do need to reserve a time (which you can do at the Alamo itself).

Instead of the free, self-guided tour, we booked a guided historical tour, which meant that for about an hour, we had a nearly personal tour of The Alamo.

Our tour guide took us, and about eight others, into a section of the grounds for tour guests only. He told us the history of Texas and The Alamo, which was far more detailed and nuanced than we could have learned on our own. Plus, he was so animated and interesting. His presentation was definitely one of the more memorable experiences we’ve had.

He then took us in front of The Alamo and explained the history (and falsehood) of the building’s roof. And then he took us inside The Alamo Church (be still my heart).

The tour was probably the best money we spent the entire time we were in San Antonio.

If you're planning a trip to San Antonio, Texas, you need to check out San Antonio | The Saga in the Main Plaza. It's a must-see attraction.

San Antonio | The Saga at San Fernando Cathedral

My heart was so full at the sight of The Alamo. But, my heart swells thinking about San Antonio | The Saga at San Fernando Cathedral (115 Main Plaza). If you see nothing else in San Antonio, see this.

The light show, created by French painter Xavier de Richemont, debuted in 2014 … on the face of San Fernando Cathedral. The nearly 24 minute show is projected onto the cathedral itself.

The Saga tells the entire history of San Antonio, from the Native Americans to the Battle of The Alamo to present day. It’s set to music, using both classical and modern music to set the tone.

The Saga is played three times a night on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s free and open to the public. There is limited seating at picnic tables and stand alone chairs in the Main Plaza, so be sure to get there early (get a beer, taco, and churro from the food trucks in the square) and get ready to be amazed.

If you can’t make it to San Antonio, you can stream The Saga at San Fernando Cathedral on YouTube.

Be sure to check out our full San Antonio | The Saga review.

A waterfall along the San Antonio Riverwalk.

San Antonio River Walk

Our hotel was right off the San Antonio River Walk, so we walked the River Walk multiple times during our trip to San Antonio. After our gazillionth trip along it, Pete finally figured out what the River Walk is: a pedestrian subway.

The San Antonio River Walk is paved pathway, on both sides of the San Antonio river, that’s located (mostly) under the city. Beneath the hustle and bustle of the downtown San Antonio is another hustling and bustling city.

There are restaurants, shops, pathways, and bridges all along the River Walk. There are “stops” at each of the major streets in the city, connecting the River Walk to the street level above it.

And, there are a bunch of events on the River Walk. The day before we were there, the entire River Walk was decorated with Christmas lights, so we were able to see over 100,000 lights illuminating the River Walk for the holiday.

Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, Texas.

San Antonio’s Five Missions

The Alamo is the most popular historic site in San Antonio, but it’s actually just one of five Spanish missions in the city. There’s Mission San Antonio de Valero (aka The Alamo), Mission ConcepciónMission EspadaMission San José, and Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Mission San José underwent reconstruction in the 1930s and (they say) is the most complete mission. Although I do think The Alamo looks pretty complete considering it was a battleground. But I digress.

Some of the missions are part of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which is a pretty confusing park if I’m being honest. The mission trail is actually made up of four distinct areas, which are two to three miles apart.

We tried to get to all of them on our bikes, but we were only able to go between three of the missions before it just felt overwhelming.

We started at The Alamo, then biked three miles to get to Mission Concepción, which arguably has the prettiest exterior of the missions. Two and a half miles from there is Mission San José, which hosts a Catholic mariachi mass on Sundays at noon. We were told the mass was in English, but alas, it was not when we attended (it was in English when my parents went, though).

Three miles from there is Mission San Juan, then Mission Espada, and you have to loop back past Mission San Juan to get back to Mission San José, and then back to The Alamo. It’s an extra 12 miles of trails to get to see Missions San Juan and Espada … and we just didn’t have it in us. Plus, when you’re on vacation, you have such limited time. You can’t do everything.

But if you are planning a trip to San Antonio, I definitely recommend you see at the three missions that are relatively close. They have such a rich history and are really spectacular to see in person.

The BCycle bike share program is a great way to see a city. But, it's a little confusing for tourists. Learn what you need to know, as a tourist, here.

B-Cycle Bike Share

We didn’t rent a car when we were in San Antonio, so we were at the mercy of ride share programs. San Antonio has a great bus system, but it just wasn’t super convenient from our hotel. What was super convenient, though, was B-Cycle Bike Share. It’s ride share, but for bikes.

For a nominal daily fee, you can rent a bike and ride it all over San Antonio — which, thank goodness, is a pretty flat city. As long as you dock the bike once every 60 minutes, you can use a bike all day.

A docking station of bikes that use the BCycle Bike App.

We biked from our hotel, past The Alamo, to Mission Concepción, through Concepcion Park, across the San Antonio river to Blue Star Brewing Company, to Bentley’s Beer Garden, into Roadmap Brewing Co., and back to our hotel. With a few other non-beer related stops in-between.

Riding bikes was such a great way to see the city, get some sunshine, and just enjoy the outdoors. We rode from 10:30 am until 7:30 pm. And Pete would have done it again the next day if we were staying in town longer.

Check out our full Tourist Guide To BCycle Bike Share.

An exhibit at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

San Antonio Botanical Garden

The San Antonio Botanical Garden (555 Funston Pl) is, arguably, the nicest botanical garden we’ve ever been to. From the conservatory to the indoor waterfall to the vegetable garden with the sweetest homegrown spinach (literally — it’s a teaching kitchen so you can try some of the vegetables grown in the garden), we loved it. We spent a long portion of our day there and weren’t bored for a single moment.

The San Antonio Botanical Garden has exhibits often, and it happened to be Bonsai Weekend when we were there. So we got to see a ton of bonsai trees on display, which was cool. OrigamiintheGarden² was also taking place, which was a nice treat for Pete since he missed it when I saw it in Fayetteville.

A wooden house in the children's garden area at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

The garden has a full restaurant, with outdoor seating and a full bar. You’re able to order beverages at the bar and walk through the garden with them.

There’s also an 11-acre section called the Texas Native Trail, which represents three ecological regions of Texas. It’s nice to be able to learn about the ecosystem and native plants of a region you’re visiting, so don’t miss out on that.

And, if you’re traveling with kids, check out the Family Adventure Garden. It has 15 play areas for the whole family to enjoy.

The garden is part of the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admissions Program, so if you have a membership at a participating garden, you may be able to get into the San Antonio Botanical Garden for free.

Check out our full San Antonio Botanical Garden review for more details.

Vendor tents set up in the historic Market Square in San Antonio, Texas.

Historic Market Square

If you want to get a feel for the Tex-Mex culture that embodies San Antonio, go straight to the Historic Market Square (514 W Commerce St).

The three-block outdoor plaza is the largest Mexican market in the United States. There are two long buildings (“El Mercado” and “Farmer’s Market Plaza”) filled with over 100 specialty shops and restaurants. Outside of those buildings are small kiosks selling food (like churros and esquites), trinkets, and drinks.

There are also restaurants there, including the very popular Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia (218 Produce Row). The food there was okay, but the baked treats (and the conchas) were worth the long line.

We went right after Dia de los Muertos, and there were five altares de muertos (ofrendas) on display throughout the Historic Market Square. It was great to go through the shops and restaurants, find the ofrendas, and pay our respects.

San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden

The San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden (3853 N St Mary’s St.), located in Brackenridge Park, is also known as the Sunken Garden because it is built in the pit of a quarry that was used to gather limestone.

The city invited a local Japanese-American artist, Kimi Eizo Jingu, to move into the garden in 1919. He and his wife, Miyoshi, raised eight kids and maintained the park. He passed away in 1938 and his family was evicted three years later because of World War II (and the anti-Japanese sentiment).

That’s the reason it was renamed the Chinese Tea Garden for a stint.

The park’s name was reverted back to the Japanese Tea Garden in 1984, with members of the Jingu family in attendance. The Jingu’s family home was restored and the Jingu House at the Japanese Tea Garden is now a café, serving noodle bowls, bento boxes, sushi, and more.

There’s a pavilion and amphitheater, plus beautiful archways and a waterfall, all worth checking out.

San Antonio River Cruises

If you don’t want to walk the San Antonio River Walk eleventy-zillion times like we did, you can see still it all via a river cruise.

There are a few to choose from. GO RIO cruises offers a narrated river cruise and a river shuttle. The shuttles run along the River Walk, from downtown to Museum Reach.

The narrated river cruises are a 35-minute cruise with tons of points of interest along the way. The river cruises passes the city’s first neighborhood, the Old Mill Crossing where Teddy Roosevelt led the Rough Riders, Selena Bridge (named for superstar Selena Quintanilla Pérez), the Briscoe Western Art Museum, and more.

San Antonio Zoo

We didn’t get a chance to visit the San Antonio Zoo (3903 N St Mary’s St.)  when we were in town. But, we almost went because the zoo was hosting the On A Stick festival, where tasty treats like chicken on a stick, sausage on a stick, cotton candy, and more were being served. And that sounds delicious.

The San Antonio Zoo is 35 acres and boasts a collection of over 3,500 animals in 750 species. There are really cool experiences and interactive exhibits at the zoo, from breakfast with hippos to dinner with Santa. If you’re looking for something to do with kids outdoors in San Antonio, this is a great option.

Carriage Rides

If you’ve ever been to New York or watched a romantic movie set in New York City, you’ve seen carriage rides in Central Park. They’re so sweet and romantic. San Antonio has its equivalent with a ton of lighted carriage rides taking place nightly around downtown.

There are a lot of carriage companies to choose from, if you want to reserve one ahead of time. If not, you can just find one that’s sitting downtown and hop on (for a fee, of course).

Orca sign at SeaWorld Orlando.

SeaWorld & Aquatica San Antonio

If you’re a fan of theme parks, you’ll be excited to know that there’s a SeaWorld in San Antonio (10500 SeaWorld Dr). If you’ve never been to SeaWorld Orlando or San Diego, definitely visit when you’re in San Antonio.

You can add the All-Day Dining Pass onto your SeaWorld San Antonio ticket, which is so much much. You can eat and drink all day. We did that at SeaWorld Orlando and had such a good time.

Aquatica, SeaWorld’s sister water park, is at the same location, but it’s a separate ticket.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

If you’re looking for a thrill in San Antonio, Six Flags Fiesta Texas (I-10 West and Loop 1604) is for you. It’s a theme park, filled with rides and roller coasters.

It also as the largest DC Universe at any amusement park, so if you’re into comic books, you’ll love that.

Government Canyon State Natural Area

A state park is always a great place to spend the afternoon, and the Government Canyon State Natural Area (12861 Galm Rd) is a really good one.

It’s a 12,000-acre wil­der­ness with a playscape and Discovery Trail for kids. But wait. There’s more. You can hike and see dinosaur footprints. They’re the only known ones on public land in Bexar County — and they’re (nearly) 110 million years old.

Scientists think that they’re footprints from acro­can­thosaurus and sauro­po­sei­don dinosaurs. But, regardless of what dinosaur left them, the fact that you can see dinosaur tracks up close is so cool.

Natural Bridge Caverns

​The Natural Bridge Caverns (Natural Bridge Caverns Road/F.M.3009) are more than just caverns, but of course, you should take a cavern tour when you’re there (which, technically is underground and not outdoors). The “surface attractions” as they’re called are a zipline and ropes course, a maze, gem and fossil mining, and more. You really can spend the whole day here before taking one of the Discovery Tours to explore the caverns.

I toured Linville Caverns, North Carolina’s only show cavern, and it was a really cool experience. So definitely do the tour.

And, if you’re really into that, take a day trip to Cascade Caverns. That’s near the San Antonio area, but not in San Antonio’s city limits.

What are some of your favorite outdoor things to do in San Antonio, Texas? Be sure to let us know in the comments.