Free Things to Do: Outdoor 

click to enlarge JEREMIAH TEUTSCH
  • Jeremiah Teutsch

Don’t worry, most of these activities actually happen in the morning or evening, so you can enjoy them even throughout our brutal summer months.

Downtown Walking Tour
Love Downtown? Love to walk? Then this activity is right up your alley. Sponsored by the Paseo del Rio Association, this daily tour offers participants a unique look at some of the best sights that our city has to offer. The tour takes place daily and lasts for one hour. When you take part in this guided tour, you will visit the Alamo, the River Walk, La Villita and many more spots. 10am daily through June 3, in front of the Alamo, (210) 227-4262, thesanantonioriverwalk.com/events/free-downtown-walking-tour.

Community Pools
It’s a fact that summertime and swimming go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department runs a number of free community pools across the city for people to scratch their aquatic itch. Four regional pools, Heritage, Lady Bird Johnson, Lincoln and Woodlawn, are open for free now, during specific hours and during Memorial Day weekend. The regular pool season begins June 14. Lap swimming: 7:30-9:30am Tue-Thu; open swimming, 4-7pm Tue-Thu; Memorial Day weekend: 1-7pm Sat-Mon, May 24-26; regular season (June 14-Aug 17) hours: Tue-Sun, 1-7pm, 25 community pools in San Antonio, (210) 207-8480, sanantonio.gov/parksandrec/swimming_outdoor.aspx.

CHRISPark
There is probably no better place in San Antonio to walk, get in touch with nature and indulge your inner art enthusiast than CHRISpark. This oasis nestled in the heart of Southtown is a short distance from Downtown. The park’s curators have cultivated 18 species of plant life, which co-exist with five separate public art installations, combining for a truly unique open-air experience. Check out Tumble Hill and give in to your roll-down-the-hill-like-you’re-a-six-year-old urge! 9am-5pm Tue-Sun, 111 Camp, (210) 226-6663, chrispark.org.

Start a Butterfly Garden Workshop
If you’re an amateur lepidopterist, a backyard gardener or you just dig butterflies, Rainbow Gardens has got you covered. The nursery supply store will hold a workshop on how anyone with the right tools and know-how can start their own butterfly garden. Instructors will teach people which types of plants will attract butterflies as well has how to identify the different species of butterflies and caterpillars. 1pm Sat, May 24, Rainbow Gardens Thousand Oaks, 2585 Thousand Oaks, (210) 680-2394, rainbowgardens.biz.

Common Garden Mistakes Workshop
Some say that gardening is an art, not an exact science. That might be a way of simply covering up for the fact that many people really don’t know what they’re doing. This workshop held at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm should right many horticulture wrongs. A Bexar County Master Gardener will lend a green thumb to the cause of exploring many common mistakes made in vegetable gardens, ranging from improper irrigation to over-fertilizing and many more: Bring your gardening gloves and your questions. 10:30-11:30am Sat, May 24, Cibolo Nature Center, Herff Farm Inspiration Garden, 33 Herff (Boerne), (830) 249-4616, cibolo.org.

wabiStory
It is extremely trite to say that we live in an age of connectivity and instant information—but that’s what this is, and wabiStory is a fascinating way to take part in it. (Full disclosure: wabiStory’s creator, Ben Judson, is married to the Current’s editor in chief.) Interaction and connection are what it is all about, as group of local authors and artists has left recordings at unique places across the city. The catch is you can only hear the songs, poems, stories, etc. if you are standing at the exact spot the author left them. An app is available for iPhones and iPod Touches; it is also available as a cross-platform web app. wabistory.org.

San Antonio League of Sidewalk Astronomers
There is literally nothing more free than gazing up at the sky. What can be better than doing that while staring through the lens of a high-powered telescope? The San Antonio League of Sidewalk Astronomers (note the cleverly designed acronym of SALSA) gathers on a weekly basis to take in and enjoy all the wonder and mystery that the heavens have to offer. Membership is free and astronomers of every level are welcome. Sunset every Weds (weather permitting), McAllister Park Dog Park Parking Lot/Salado Creek Trailhead, info@astronomysanantonio.org, salsa-astro.com.

Downtown Highlife Ride
If you love cycling and have an appreciation for the unique sites our city’s downtown has to offer, then take a spin with the Downtown Highlife Ride Club. The group’s mission is “communal existential wandering,” and what better way to do that than cruising around on two wheels through downtown San Antonio? 9pm last Fri of every month, in front of the Alamo, facebook.com/DHBClub.

Tours of the San Antonio Missions
Park rangers or docents lead a guided tours of each of the historic, 18th-century Spanish colonial landmarks that make up San Antonio’s Missions. Visitors will learn what a mission was, who built them and why. Tours last 45-60 minutes. Starting at 10am, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Visitor Center, 2202 Roosevelt, (210) 932-1001, nps.gov/saan/planyourvisit/guidedtours.

Bat Conservation International
Just a short drive outside of San Antonio one finds Bracken Cave, the summer home of the world’s largest bat colony. Literally millions of Mexican free-tailed bats inhabit the cave from March through October each year. From May through September, Bat Conservation International invites visitors to watch a truly spectacular sight as the bats emerge from the cave each evening for their nightly feeding in a great, swarming cloud. Don’t put this spectacular sight off, developers are circling Bracken Cave for a planned housing development. Around 7:45pm, Bracken Cave, (800) 538-BATS, batcon.org.

City Skate Parks
Did you know that there are more a dozen City-run skate parks in San Antonio? Well, there are. If you have a burning need to fine-tune your sketchy ollies or the passion to be the next Stacy Peralta or Tony Hawk, these parks are what you’re looking for. Bring your board down to Bellaire, Martinez or Lady Bird Johnson park, which features a 7,000 square-foot skate bowl, ranging from 5-feet to 9-feet deep and has a 1,800 square-foot deck. Not all parks are lit, however. 5am-11pm, all city skate parks, sanantonio.gov/parksandrec/
skate_parks.aspx
.

Pub Run
They may not sound like they belong together, like that hard to believe but true marriage between Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett back in the day, but, yes: Running and drinking can happen concurrently. And so, Pub Run! Area running store We Run San Antonio masterminds the Run A Tab Pub Run, which is held in Downtown on the first Friday of every month. Participants only pay for what they consume in each of the nine establishments visited (although Pat O’Brien’s is frequented twice on the circuit). FYI, drinking is not mandatory. 7pm, starts at Pat O’Brien’s, 121 Alamo Plaza, (210) 698-7600, facebook.com/pubrunsanantonio. –Eric Moreno

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