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Texas: San Antonio, Family Vacation Ideas - Parks, Music and The Alamo. The city is really a vacation playground for families. From beautiful Brackenridge Park with the Witte Museum and the San Antonio Zoo to the lively city center with the energizing River Walk and the historic Alamo, the city is spunky and fun.
 
Stroll the River Walk. The best place to feel the spirit of the city is along the banks of the San Antonio River. The River Walk winds its way for 2 1/2 miles criss-crossing over bridges, passing cafes, shops, and cart vendors. The atmosphere is festive and lively. Flowers frame the walk ways and music wafts from shops and restaurants. Discovery: Tour boats cruise the adorned river way and guides provide anecdotes about the city, the river and the birth of the River Walk. (Yanaguana Cruise. River Walk. (210) 244-5700 or 1-800-417-4139)

Spend a day in the park.
Brackenridge Park, a 343-acre urban park provides a pleasant escape for families. From time-travel at the Witte Museum and an animal encounter at the zoo to a mini train ride and poi counting session with the kids, the park offers families good old-fashioned fun. Discovery: The Japanese Tea Garden is a place of harmony and beauty where kids are free to climb winding stairways and walk pebbled walkways. Bonus points: The Brackenridge Eagle Miniature Train runs a two-mile circuit around the park passing by the zoo and Witte Museum. (The Brackenridge Eagle Miniature Train, (210) 736-9534 and The Japanese Tea Garden, Brackenridge Park, (210)734-0816)
 
Meet ancient Texans. The Witte Museum showcases everything that is naturally Texas. From a living eco-lab of native species to an outdoor butterfly and hummingbird museum, the nature of Texas is enchanting. See dinosaur bones and 8,000 year-old rock art. The results of more than 50 years of scientific research convey the essence of the hunter-gatherer society that once flourished in Southwest Texas. Bonus points: The new H-E-B Science Treehouse engages visitors in hands-on activities and provides a two-level tree house complete with binoculars. Their website has a clever series of “televentures” created for kids.Discovery: The Pioneer, Trail Drivers & Texas Rangers Memorial Museum is located adjacent to the Witte Museum. It features 19th and 20th century guns, saddles, badges and pictures of the prominent men who used them in the American West. (Witte Museum. 3801 Broadway, Brackenridge Park, 78209. 1(210) 357-1900 or www.wittemuseum.org and Trail Drivers & Texas Rangers Memorial Museum, 3805 Broadway, Brackenridge Park, (210) 822-9011)
 
Feed a lory. In a shaded park like setting not far from downtown, the San Antonio Zoo offers families an easy way to walk around the world. Home to more than 600 species, the man-made habits replicate habitats around the world, providing visitors with a glimpse of the daily life of more than 3400 animal residents. For adults seeing one of the most varied collections of antelope in the world may be interesting but for kids, it is the lories that cause excitement. More than 40 colorful lories provide interactive fun as they welcome visitors, some perching on shoulders and landing on unsuspecting heads. Gregarious by nature the birds love to sip from nectar cups. Discovery: Kronkosky's Tiny Tot Nature Spot is the perfect place for your under 5 explorer. Toddlers and their parents can experience willdlife up close with one of a kind exhibits like laby bug releases or feeding guinea pigs. In the seven major areas toddlers can "fish", hang like monkeys, go face to fin with a giant fish, and help plant a garden.(San Antonio Zoo. 3903 North St. Mary's Street, 78212-3199(on the corner of Tuleta and North St. Mary's), (210) 734-7183 or www.sazoo-aq.org)
 
It’s a small world. Discover the heritage of more than 25 ethnic groups that make up the cultural essence of Texas. University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures engages visitors. The uniqueness of being Texan is depicted through pioneer heritage exhibits. Artifacts are available to touch and feel the past. Discovery: Not-to-be-missed, the Dome Theatre features "Faces and Places of Texas." Bonus points: The Bluebonnet Puppet Theater presents “Magda’s Tortillas/Las Tortillas de Magda,” the first bilingual puppet show based on the book by Becky Chavarría-Cháirez and featuring the voice of Henry Cisneros and music by George Cisneros. (University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio. 801 S. Bowie at Durango, HemisFair Park, 78205-3296. (210 458-2300 or www.texancultures.utsa.edu and The Bluebonnet Puppet Theater at the Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 S. Bowie at Durango, HemisFair Park, (210)458-2282)

Play pretend and learn. At the San Antonio Children's Museum near the heart of downtown, kids can be kids. The multi-story Vance Building, once a dime store, has a new lease on life providing space for youngsters to play, pretend and learn. With more than 80 hands-on, activities in one location time melts away as fun takes priority. Kids can try out their skills on a Holt Front End Loader or use the kid-powered elevator; open a banking account or go grocery shopping; serve food at a café or pretend to be a dentist. (San Antonio Children's Museum. 305 East Houston Street, 78205. (210) 212-4453 or www.sakids.org)

Theatre time with the kids. Educate, entertain and enrich, the Magik Theatre, a professional repertory theatre does it all. From their base in HemisFair Park near the River Walk, the energetic actors create spellbinding theatrical experiences for families. From original plays to seasonal favorites like "Best Christmas Pageant Ever," the cast demonstrates versatility and provides exceptional theater experiences for children of all ages.(Magik Theatre. 420 South Alamo 78205. (210) 227-2751 or www.magiktheatre.org)

Drive the ”Mission Trail.” In addition to the famous Alamo the Spanish colonial influence was through a matrix of missions run by Franciscans. Part of this influence may be seen today in an 819-acre complex. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park includes four missions: Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion, San Francisco de la Espada, San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo and San Juan Capistrano. They combine history and nature along the San Antonio River south of the city. Bonus points: The Junior Ranger Program includes activities at all four missions and is ideal for ages 7 to 11. (San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Visitor Center is located at Mission San Jose, 6701 San Jose Drive at Mission Road. (210) 932-1001, (TTY) 922-7152 or www.nps.gov/saan)

Take the blue trail. Walking through time has its advantages and The Texas Star Trail provides the opportunity. The 2.6-mile history walk is marked by blue disks in the sidewalks. A map is available from the San Antonio Conservation Society. It outlines more than 80 historic sites and landmarks. Advice: Even if your children are too young for the facts following the blue disks is an adventure in navigating and a healthy way to enjoy the city. (San Antonio Conservation Society. 107 King William Street, (210) 224-6163)

Remember the Alamo? On the not-to-be missed list for families, The Alamo stands as a Texan tribute to the value of freedom and symbolizes the courage necessary to remain free. On the grounds of the historic Mission San Antonio de Valero, the events are explained through displays of personal items belonging to the Alamo heroes. The chapel and the Long Barrack have been restored and are part of the museum experience. Audiovisual presentations provide visitors with a perspective that includes Republic of Texas and the events leading up to the arrival of Mexican General Santa Anna and his army. There are also audiovisual shows and exhibits on early Texas history. Bonus points: For families the best benefit is the storytelling conducted on the grounds by uniformed staff members. Admission is free. (The Alamo and Mission San Antonio de Valero. Alamo Plaza, 78299. (210) 225-1391, www.thealamo.org)

Park and shop. Adjacent to the River Walk at the heart of San Antonio, The Rivercenter Mall offers hours of browsing and some bargains. The first stop is the information kiosk. Helpful staff will quickly provide a shopping coupon book which is at the very least a plan for a shopping adventure. Bonus points: San Antonio IMAX Theatre Rivercenter provides hourly giant film adventures. The 6-story screen and 6-track surround sound makes the “Alamo...The Price of Freedom," truly awesome. (San Antonio IMAX. Located in Rivercenter Mall, 803 Commerce Street. (210) 247-4629 or www.IMAX-SA.com)

Content researched onsite and created by FTF and images provided by staff. Copyright 2012.
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