San Antonio

The Best 3 Day Itinerary for San Antonio

National Parks of Texas. Alamo
Visit the Alamo along with the other San Antonio Missions. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

As the top destination in Texas, San Antonio is a favorite with just about everyone from families to retirees. The River Walk is hopping all day and into the night. The Alamo Plaza is another top attraction and has opened a new facility in early 2023. The San Antonio Zoo is one of the top zoos in Texas and a must for the animal lovers. From Spring through Fall and into Christmas, San Antonio is a top pick for a weekend getaway. Here is the best 3 day itinerary for San Antonio for families.

Day 1 The Alamo and the River Walk 

Since The Alamo is a top attraction in San Antonio, it is best to tour it early in the day. It is one of the top things to do during a 3 Day Itinerary for San Antonio. The grounds are lushly landscaped and not to be missed.

The Alamo

Long before the battle that made the Alamo famous in 1836,  it was called the Mission San Antonio de Valero. It offered protection and sustenance for people in 1718.

Secularized in 1793, the original residents continued to live and farm this area. As Texas Revolution escalated the Alamo became the center of the conflict. On March 6, 1836, after nearly two-week long siege, the battle broke out between William B. Travis, commander of the Alamo and General Santa Anna and the Mexican troops.

Though the defenders of the Alamo were lost in the battle, the history lives on and now the Alamo reminds people of heroic struggles against overwhelming odds. In 2015, the Alamo and the four other San Antonio missions were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ralston Family Collection Center 

The Ralston Family Collections Center is a new facility that opened in 2023 to house the Phil Collins Collection. The legendary singer and Texas Historian has been collecting artifacts for years. He donated his collection in 2014 to the General Land Office and the people of Texas. To enter the new collection, a separate ticket is required. Adults enter for $14 and kids (12 and younger) enter for $10.

It is located in downtown San Antonio at 300 Alamo Plaza. To enter the church (the Alamo), online reservations are  required for a timed entry ticket. There is a guided 45-minute tour several times a day. Tickets are $35 for kids (12 and younger) and $45 for adults.  Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free to enter.

The Hilton Palacio del Rio was a score on a hotel consolidator and conveniently located in the heart of the River Walk.
The San Antonio River Walk. credit: Catherine Parker

The River Walk

Since 1946 the iconic River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, has delighted San Antonio visitors and locals alike. The river bend section that loops around the restaurants and hotels in downtown is the most famous section. It is one of the top things to do during a 3 Day Itinerary for San Antonio.

Though the River Walk is longer than the entertainment area. It actually extends for 15 miles in total, The  Museum Reach heads north to Breckenridge Park. The  Mission Reach connects the  San Antonio Missions. Both sections can be walked, biked, or explored on a kayak.

The stone and iron bridges that cross the San Antonio River add to its ambience. The River Walk is also a destination for public art. This is one of the top things to do during a 3 day itinerary for San Antonio. First time visitors should stroll the River Walk from La Mansion Hotel to the Briscoe Museum to experience it to the fullest.

The River Walk is free to stroll. Open daily, 24 hours a day.

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Arneson River Theater

As visitors stroll the River Walk, the Arneson River Theater on one side of the river and its amphitheater seating on the other. During the summer, the stage lights  flip on for the weekend production of Fiesta Noche del Rio, a traditional song and dance production. 

The Briscoe Western Art Museum is more than art, with a stagecoach. a windmill and a covered wagon. Credit: Catherine Parker

Briscoe Western Art Museum

The Briscoe is more than western landscapes and my boys loved the Briscoe. The life-sized stagecoach, wind mill and the Alamo diorama were hits with them.

The antique guns and military uniforms added to the adventure for them. I liked the western landscapes and the cowboy scrulptures.

Located at 210 W Market St. along the River Walk, Open Thursday through Mondat from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult sdmission is $14 for adults and kids 12 and younger are free.

La Villita Historic Arts Village

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this area protects the first neighborhood in San Antonio from the 1700s. It is a charming place to stroll with pedestrian walkways that house galleys, boutiques along with several restaurants.

Located at 418 Villita St., between the River Walk and HemisFair Plaza, next to the Paseo Del Rio Hilton. Free to enter.

Yanaguana Gardens in San Antonio
Yanaguana Gardens is a artful playground in downtown San Antonio. credit: Catherine Parker

Yanaguana Garden

This downtown play scape wows even the older kids. Yanaguana Garden, named after the Payaya Indians that inhibited this area, offers challenging climbing structures, a sandscape, a splash pad, public art areas, Ping-Pong tables, changing rooms and restrooms.

The Yanaguana Garden is located in HemisFair Plaza at 434 S. Alamo St. It’s open every day from 7 a.m. to midnight and is free to enter.

The Tower of America guides the way during Fiesta San Antonio.
Rising up 750 feet, the Tower of Americas stands as a beacon for visitors to downtown San Antonio.

Tower of the Americas

Built for the HemisFair, a world’s fair in 1968, the iconic tower is as much a symbol of San Antonio as the River Walk. Rising 750 feet above the ground, riding the elevator is part of the fun and my boys pressed their faces against the glass on the way up.

Located at 739 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. Open daily at 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. 11 p.m. (on Friday and Saturday). Adults admission is $16.50, $12 for kids (4 to 12) and kids 3 and under are free.

San Antonio River Boat Cruise

The fiesta-color river boats are an icon on the San Antonio River. A few years ago, the boats switched to electric and now fully accessible. A San Antonio River Boat Cruise  is as much a part of the River Walk experience as sipping a margarita while listening to mariachi band.

During our cruise, our boat captain and tour guide piloted us down the San Antonio River while pointing out the history, infamous residents and architecture that defines the River Walk. Each tour takes about 35 minutes. Great for all ages.

The Rio San Antonio Cruises are operated by Go Rio. Open for 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. General admission is $14.50 and $8.50 for kids (1 to 5). Tickets are available online. Several ticket locations at 849 E. River Walk, 706 River Walk and 731 River Walk.

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San Antonio Zoo.
San Antonio Zoo. credit: San Antonio CVB

Day 2: Breckenridge Park and the Museums

Families can spend the whole day in the Breckenridge Park and Broadway area. Start the day outdoors then head to one of the museums in the area for an afternoon break. The San Antonio Zoo is tops for all ages along with the train and the Japanese Tea Gardens. For younger kids, the DoSuem is perfect for the afternoon while older kids should enjoy the Witte Museum and its dinosuars.

Breckenridge Park 

As an 343-acre park north of downtown, it is a top thing to do in San Antonio for kids. It houses the San Antonio Zoo, the Witte Museum and the Japanese Tea Gardens. There are several other museums in the area.

Located at 3700 N. St. Mary’s. Free to enter and attractions are extra.

San Antonio Zoo

Since 1914 the San Antonio Zoo has delighted kids and adults alike. With 750 species across 56 acres, it was one of the first cageless zoos in the U.S. It is home to endamaged species and actively breeds several.

The San Antonio Zoo offers an area for animals of the African savannah and plains. In addition, visitor will find a bird house, an aquarium and Big Cat alley.

Located at 3903 N. St. Mary’s St. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Standard adult admission is $31.99, kids (3 to 11) are $27.99 and kids under 3 are free for advanced tickets.

Miniature San Antonio Zoo Train 

Winding through Breckenridge Park, the San Antonio Zoo Train stops at the Witte Musuem and the Japanese Tea Gardens. It departs from the San Antonio Zoo Depot.

Located at 3903 N St Mary’s St Building A. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday). General admission tickets are $5 a person (kids 3 and younger are free).

Japanese Tea Garden

Set in an old rock quarry that dates back to 1899, this garden features paths and foot bridges that meander through the tropical oasis. Kids love to walk along the paths and pass shallow ponds shocked with Koi fish. The Japanese Tea Garden also feature a waterfall.

Located at 3853 N. St. Mary’s, Open every daily from dawn to dusk. Free to enter.

The DoSeum had my kids running, doing and tinkering across this interactive space. San Antonio,
The DoSeum had my kids running, doing and tinkering across this interactive space. credit: Catherine Parker

The DoSeum

As San Antonio’s Museum for Kids, my boys loved the DoSeum with exhibits like spy-training and a crazy tree house. The DoSeum had my boys touching, doing and tinkering from one room to the next.

Located at 2800 Broadway Open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. General admission is $16 for everyone over 1-year-old. Babies are free.

Witte Museum

With its expansive dino display, this is the ideal afternoon (indoor) activity with kids. With an eye towards Texas dinosaurs, visitors learn about the plant and meat eaters of the area.

It also offers exhibits about Texas History along with the animals of Texas.

Located at 3801 Broadway. Adult admission is $15, students (13 to 18) are $14 and kids (4 to 12) are $10 with those under 3 entering for free. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

San Fernando Cathedral Light Show

Visitors will get a visual history of San Antonio in an brilliant color. The night-time light show blasted on the facade of the San Fernando Cathedral is a must.

Located at 115 Main Plaza in the Plaza de Las Islas Canarias. The light shows are held on Tuesday to Sunday at 9 and 9:30 p.m. Free

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Mi Tierra Cafe San Antonio
Mi Tierra Cafe offers Tex Mex and year-round Christmas decorations. credit: Catherine Parker

Day 3: Market Square and the Caves and Bats of San Antonio

With the Papel Picado, or colorful hanging cut-outs, hanging above at the historic Market Square, it is a festive place to stroll. Though food is always first and Market Square offer a legendary restaurant.

Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia

Inside diners get a double dose of decoration with the year-round Christmas decorations and lights mixed with Fiesta decorations. It’s a feast for the eyes.

The Tex-Mex staples on the menu include heuvos rancheros or chilaquiles. For the picky eaters, bean and cheese breakfast tacos please most. Sweet eaters will want to grab a bag of pan dolce (Mexican baked goods) for a snack.

Located at 218 Produce Row in Market Square. Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday).

Historic Market Square

Across the pedestrian walkway, shoppers will find the best place for souveniors. In fact, this is the largest Mexican market inside the U.S.

Inside El Mercado, the shopping ranges from Mexican dresses, maracas to Mexican hand-blown glass and tiles with its 32 individually owned shops. Next door, the Farmers Market Plaza offers 80 more shops with Mexican

Located at 514 W Commerce St. The shops are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The outdoor areas are open late.

Natural Bridge Caverns

Less than an hour from downtown San Antonio, visitors can enjoy nature’s air conditioning with a cave tour. Natural Bridge Caverns is one of the top show caves in Texas. It is a must for a 3 day itinerary for San Antonio.

Four college students discovered the caverns in 1960. Though the National Park Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife were consulted, ultimately the landowners developed Natural Bridge Caverns. As one of the top caves to explore in Texas, it offers more than a cave tour.

The 60-foot natural limestone bridge at its opening is a showstopper and that where the cave got its name. As an easy daytrip for San Antonio or Austin, this is a popular attraction year-round, thanks to its moderate temperature.

Located at 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, northwest of San Antonio. Several tours available with adult admission starting at $24.50 with demand pricing so the earlier the tickets are purchased the lower the price.

Braken Cave Bat Flight 

Summertime visitors can reserve a special viewing of the bat flight at Braken Cave. On select summer nights, visitor can see about 10 million bat swirl out of the Braken Cave for a night bug feast.

Always first on my list, the San Antonio River is lined with Tex-Mex Restaurants, art galleries and luxurious hotels.
Always first on my list, the San Antonio River Walk and Casa Rio Restaurant. credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat and Drink in Downtown San Antonio

Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia

A San Antonio classic located in the Historic Market Square, serving Tex Mex classics all day. Also it features a bakery with traditional Mexican sweets, packed to go.

Located at 218 Produce Row in Market Square. Open from breakfast through dinner.

Iron Cactus on the River Walk

For a Brunch on the River Walk, the Iron Cactus serves up brunch favorites with Tex Mex tastes.

Located at 200 River Walk, Suite 100. Opens at 11 a.m. 

Casa Rio

Since 1946, diners have enjoyed Tex Mex classics under the candy-colored canopies overlooking the water. With ducks floating by, the outdoor tables are worth waiting for. For picky-eaters, a cheese quesadilla are the go-to menu item.

Located at 430 E Commerce St. Open for lunch and dinner.

Boudro’s on the River Walk 

Since 1986, Boudro’s has been one of the top restaurants on the River Walk. To start, indulge in the tableside Guacamole then  pair it with a Prickly Pear Margarita. 

421 E Commerce St. Open for lunch and dinner.  Reservations are recommended.

Paleteria San Antonio

Steps from the Yanaguana Garden, kids will see the paleta because their adults. Mexican popsicles are fruit forward and a cheap snacks to keep the kids in a good mood.

Located at 510 S Alamo St. Unit 104. Open from lunch through dinner. 

The Menger Bar

For history buffs looking for a night cap, the historic Menger Hotel serves up one of best Bloody Marys. It is rumored that Teddy Roosevelt, U.S. President and founder of the Rough Riders, has been known to swagger up to the bar and nod to the barkeep after the tourists have moved on.  

Located off E. Crockett St. Open late

Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub

Join the Sing-Along fun at Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub, a replica of the Irish original. The piano player knows all the classics and the fun goes into the wee hours. 

Located at 200 S. Alamo St. Open late.

Esquire Tavern

Slip into an original Speakeasy from 1933 for the mixologist’s best concoction from the classics to modern cocktails. It also features the longest wood bar in Texas.

Located at 155 E Commerce St. Open late.

Where to Stay in Downtown San Antonio

Park the car and forget about it by staying in the River Walk of San Antonio.

Grand Hyatt San Antonio River Walk

Marriott Plaza San Antonio

Hilton Palacio del Rio on the River Walk

From the Alamo to the River Walk to the San Antonio Zoo and beyond, families love San Antonio. Here is where you need to go and stay during your weekend getaway. Also find recommendations for downtown San Antonio hotels and restaurants. Top Things to do in San Antonio with kids | Where to Stay in Downtown San Antonio #Texas #SanAntonio

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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