San Antonio's full of fun diversions that fit a college student's budget

This list of fun, affordable San Antonio spots should be on any college student's list when it comes time to socialize, have fun and unwind.

click to enlarge San Antonio's Blue Star Arts Complex has become a mainstay in the art community, offering more than just galleries to stroll. - Facebook / Blue Star Arts Complex
Facebook / Blue Star Arts Complex
San Antonio's Blue Star Arts Complex has become a mainstay in the art community, offering more than just galleries to stroll.

There's more to college life than late-night study sessions. It really should be the time of our lives, even if we're not always flush with cash. This list of fun, affordable San Antonio spots should be on any college student's list when it comes time to socialize, have fun and unwind.

Bombay Bicycle Club

This spot on the northern end of the St. Mary's Strip has been a favorite among pool-playing, dart-throwing, beer-drinking college students for more than 40 years. The space's eclectic collection of vintage tchotchkes makes a cozy background for sipping award-winning margaritas or sharing ice-cold beer pitchers while catching up with friends. 3506 N. St. Mary's St., (210) 737-2411, bombaybicycleclubsa.com.

San Antonio River Walk

No, San Antonio's primary downtown attraction isn't just for tourists. For those over 21, it's a great place to hop a barge to the many bars along the water, or those with an interest in art can stroll the Museum Reach stretch to take in spectacles such as glowing fish sculptures that dangle from the underside of a highway. For those looking to get into shape, the 15-mile stretch serves as an ideal place to run, bike or walk at your own pace. 849 E. Commerce St., (210) 227-4262, thesanantonioriverwalk.com.

Japanese Tea Garden

For those looking for a romantic outing, Brackenridge Park's Japanese Tea Gardens has been a mainstay for inexpensive and relaxing couples strolls since 1942. The free attraction isn't as expansive as the San Antonio Botanical Garden, but its majestic greenery sets the stage for a perfect date — and it's a nice piece of San Antonio history. 3853 N. St. Mary's St., (210) 212-4814, saparksfoundation.org/japanese-tea-garden.

San Antonio Missions

Spring semesters in San Antonio can get hot, so why not cool down and enjoy a game from the city's minor league baseball team once the time approaches? The Missions offer $2 tickets, $2 parking, $2 sausage and $2 beer for any of 11 Tuesday home games during the season. Yes, the Spurs are SA's most-beloved sports team, but it's hard to beat the entertainment value of a $2 ballgame at Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium. 5757 US-90 West, (210) 675-7275, milb.com/san-antonio.

McNay Art Museum

The McNay is billed as Texas' first modern art museum, and it remains a worthwhile destination, offering a collection that spans from the medieval to the contemporary. The facility also allows free admission every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., offering another no-cost option for students looking for a cheap date night or seeking to expand their artistic horizons. 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., (210) 824-5368, mcnayart.org.

Chicken N Pickle

There's a reason folks keep flocking to this UTSA-area restaurant and entertainment complex. In addition to its namesake pickleball, Chicken N Pickle offers a formidable craft beer selection on draft and a variety of chicken dishes on its menu. Its location near San Antonio's largest university campus makes it a popular spot for students to take the stress out of studying with an athletic activity. And it's perfectly acceptable to be a little bit tipsy when you play. 5215 UTSA Blvd., (210) 874-2120, chickennpickle.com/san-antonio.

The St. Mary's Strip

If you're already a student in San Antonio, chances are you've already found the St. Mary's Strip. If you just got here, chances are you'll discover it soon enough. Located on North St. Mary's Street just off U.S. Highway 281, the walkable entertainment district includes bars, restaurants, retail and plenty of live music. Nightlife destinations including Midnight Swim, Brass Monkey and Paper Tiger all attract plenty of college students looking to dance, drink or catch a band. stmarysstrip.com.

San Antonio Spurs

What can be more classic than attending a game by the five-time NBA Championship-winning San Antonio Spurs? While a championship shot is unlikely this season, a youthful team roster promises to bring new energy into the AT&T Center. Sure, courtside seats are out of most college students' budgets, but check the prices on nosebleed seats. They may be less pricy than you expect. attcenter.com/teams/detail/ san-antonio-spurs.

Bonham Exchange

The historic downtown nightclub — a longtime center point for Alamo City LGBTQ+ culture — has three levels, multiple DJs and more than 10 bar stations. The 18-and-up staple offers plenty of dancing and spectacles for students not yet old enough to imbibe, while the affordable drink specials are bound to be hits with those 21 and older. The building's roots date back to the 19th century, and it's hosted musical acts ranging from the Ramones to Tina Turner over the years. In its current incarnation, it stages drag shows featuring a variety of local and touring performers. 411 Bonham St., (210) 224-9219, bonhamexchange.com.

Blue Star Arts Complex

San Antonio's Blue Star Arts Complex has become a mainstay in the art community, offering more than just galleries to stroll. If you're tired and need to study, visit Halcyon Coffee and Bar Lounge. If you're looking for a quick bite or a craft brew, Blue Star Brewing Co. is right next door. The complex is the epicenter of a free First Friday art walk, and it also provides an ideal entry spot for the city's Mission trail system or for exploring the nearby King William historical neighborhood. 1414 S. Alamo St., (210) 354-3775, bluestarartscomplex.com.

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