San Antonio Free Attractions
Here’s a guide that will take you all over San Antonio and beyond — for free — for a vacation filled with memorable glimpses into the past without the fear of paying a single admission fee. There’s a treasure trove of fun free things to do in San Antonio, TX, just waiting for budget-conscious travelers.
A San Antonio native has shared five free things to do with kids in her hometown of San Antonio, adding, “We love this city, and these spots are both free and fun!”
Japanese Tea Garden at Brackenridge Park
This a pleasant surprise for those who expect this part of Texas to look dry and desert-like. Instead, what you find is lush and peaceful. The lily pond, which is filled with colorful fish, is entertaining for kids of all ages. Little ones will also enjoy walking over the stone bridges and climbing the stairs to the pavilion area, which overlooks the garden. After exploring the garden, check out the rest of Brackenridge Park. You’ll find tall shade trees, old stone bridges, and lots of friendly ducks and geese hanging out in the San Antonio River.
The tea garden attracts tourists, particularly lovers, due to its picturesque setting. If you’re traveling with your significant other, the Japanese Tea Garden is one of the best free things to do in San Antonio for couples who are getting married or renewing their vows.
San Antonio River Walk
Located below street level, the winding walkways hug the river, making it a peaceful place even when crowded. This is a great place for people-watching, plus there are lots of kid-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating. One piece of advice for those traveling with small children: consider using a stroller. Many areas of the river walk don’t have a guardrail, and it would be very easy for a distracted little one to fall into the river.
With festivals such as Fiesta Noche del Rio, Fiesta de Las Luminarias, and many others, the River Walk comes to life in bursts of lights and colors. Check their calendar to see if they have any upcoming events. There could be something planned for this weekend.
No visit to San Antonio is complete without a visit to the Alamo, the old Spanish mission where the Battle of the Alamo was fought. Although lines can be long during the summer, the pedestrianized road in front of the building offers plenty of open space for children to play while you wait. Also, there’s an ice cream shop right across the street. Enjoy a nice evening out with the kids: eat your ice cream in front of the Alamo and see what the building looks like when it’s all lit up. (The Alamo is closed at night, so this is a great option if you’ve already spent time inside or want to skip the long lines and simply enjoy the building’s exterior.)
The Alamo played an important role in the formation of San Antonio, and it underwent an interesting transformation from a Spanish mission church to a military garrison that served five different armies. If you’ve ever wondered why San Antonio is known as Military City USA, the Alamo is the place to go.
Orsinger County Park
This park has it all: swings, climbing structures with bridges and slides, a large sandbox—and one other important factor, especially if you’re visiting San Antonio in summer—lots of shade! You’ll also find picnic tables, restroom facilities, and a walking trail.
Cibolo Nature Center
Plan a day trip to nearby Boerne, located in the scenic Texas Hill Country, 30 miles northwest of San Antonio. After the big city excitement of San Antonio, this is a great place to explore the Texas wilderness. The nature center includes a variety of landscapes from forested land to prairies to marshes. This is a great learning experience for older children, and younger kids will love all of the open spaces in which to roam.
If you come here on a Saturday, you can visit a nearby farm that hosts a weekly farmer’s market. Take home fresh produce while taking in garden views, music, yoga, and community events or workshops.
More Free San Antonio Attractions
- Brackenridge Park
- San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
- San Antonio Art League and Museum
- Market Square
- The DoSeum
- Pearl Brewery
- Institute of Texan Cultures
- Phil Hardberger Park
- Yanaguana Garden
- San Pedro Creek Culture Park
- Witte Museum
- Briscoe Western Art Museum
- Quadrangle and Fort Sam Houston Museum
- Headwaters Sanctuary
- Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio
- McAllister Park
- Hot Wells
- San Antonio Fire Museum