Years ago, I attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, but, I didn’t see much beyond Lackland’s gates. Then, I was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, and while there, my friends and I visited San Antonio at least a handful of times. We strolled the River Walk and rode the waves at Schlitterbahn, but it’s not until you actually live in a city that you get the opportunity to fall in love with it. Or not!
Almost two years ago, my husband received orders to Randolph Air Force Base. We haven’t been here long, but I’ve fallen in love with the city already. What’s so great about San Antonio?
Here are 10 of my reasons. I’d love to hear yours!
1. The Outdoors
San Antonio can be very hot. Very hot. That is why playgrounds with water components are such an amazing find. Yanaguana Garden downtown in Hemisfair Park is a beautiful park that even has its own Splash Pad. The Pearl also has a new splash pad. There also is a great one at Fort Sam Houston.
When the weather isn’t terribly hot, our favorite family spot with great views is Friedrich Wilderness Park. Seriously, San Antonio is filled with parks and trails overlooking the city, many of which are dog friendly, perfect for biking and/or walking and running. Don’t mind a little drive? Then, Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg is a must see. The view from the top amazes everyone.
2. The History
My family and I spent five years in Yorktown, Virginia, and I never thought I’d find a place as rich in history. Jamestown, the first English settlement in the Americas, was just up the road from us. So dare I say it, Yorktown spoiled me.
But in San Antonio, we spent our entire first summer visiting historical sites. The Alamo usually comes first to mind when people think about the history of San Antonio, but The Alamo is the fifth (albeit the most famous) Spanish mission in San Antonio. There are four others: Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San José and Mission Espada. They are not only located close to San Antonio, as in you can bike between them with the amazing Mission Reach Trail, they also preserve the Mexican, Native American and Spanish heritage in the area.
Want to go really far back historically? I visited Government Canyon with my oldest son to see real dinosaur tracks. The 5 mile round-trip hike down the Joe Johnston trail was well worth it. Read more about my experience here.
3. The Festivals
Every month in San Antonio, take your pick from a festival — tamales, basil, paella, coffee, beer, and San Antonio’s signature event, Fiesta. Fiesta involves 10 days packed with parties and parades. Hit up the Fiesta website here and take your pick.
Personally, my favorite festival is the Poteet Strawberry Festival. which takes place in Poteet, Texas, every April, just down the road from San Antonio. It’s a festival complete with strawberry picking, strawberry wine, strawberry desserts, live music and a parade. It’s definitely worth the trip!
I do associate cowboys, desert terrain and rodeos with Texas. And, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo doesn’t disappoint. It takes place every February, and runs nearly all month. There is something for everyone, between the exhibits at the grounds, carnival, concerts, and actual rodeo with roping, horse riding, mutton bustin’, etc. And don’t miss Dollar Days on the grounds. It is always nice when I can make my kids happy with H-E-B samples and a few dollars for rides.
But what about the other months in the year? The Tejas Rodeo Company offers the same kind of Texas family fun each Saturday. An evening at the Tejas Rodeo Company isn’t complete without live music, a rodeo, and some petting zoo fun. It even offers mutton bustin’ if that’s your cup of tea.
Brisket. Need I say more. Nobody does brisket like Texas. The only thing more common than brisket is tacos. And you can always combine the two!
6. Multiple Military Bases
Camp Bullis, Randolph AFB, Lackland AFB and Fort Sam Houston are all in San Antonio. It is no wonder the city’s nickname is Military City. The many bases offer residents plenty of opportunities to see displays. For military families, the bases mean that you have resources all around the city. Plus, the city is very military friendly. Never hesitate to check whether a place has a military discount. In most cases, it does.
7. Location, Location, Location
San Antonio provides the perfect mixture of desert terrain, city life and hill country. Plus, Austin is just up the road; Houston isn’t far, nor is the beach.
8. Caves, Caves and More Caves
The Bracken Cave and the Cave Without A Name lie just beyond San Antonio. Both are amazing; however, the Robber Baron Cave lies within city limits. It’s only opens to visitors once every eighteen months. For a military family, a Robber Baron visit may mean a once in a lifetime opportunity.
San Antonio has so many museums, and they are fantastic. Most have reasonable membership fees, and many have free nights or days each month. Don’t miss The DoSeum, The Witte Museum and the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Your kids will love them and won’t even realize they are learning while playing.
10. Riverboat parades
Many cities have parades, and San Antonio will not disappoint. However, San Antonio’s parades often commence along the San Antonio River Walk, including the Ford Holiday River Parade, the Haunted River Parade, the Mardi Gras River Parade and the Fiesta River Parade.
I’ve heard Texans say that Texas has a little bit of everything, and that’s why they have no desire to leave. Well, San Antonio is no exception.