Landa of beer and brisket

In venturing out to Landa Park on a few occasions since the summer season unofficially kicked off over Memorial Day weekend, it’s rather apparent that park officials are not lost on the notion that San Antonio ranks among the cheapest — and, yet, most good-timing — cities in the nation. How else can one explain why Landa Park proffers so much for so little?

Sure, the previous paragraph might read like a covert press release from a Landa Park operative, but the park truly does have a little something for everyone at a rate suited for today’s trying economic times.

For the family crowd — which comprises a majority of Landa Park visitors — there are playgrounds aplenty, not to mention a plethora of grills and picnic tables ($10 per picnic plot), paddle boats ($3 per half-hour), miniature golf ($2 per person per game), and even a miniature train ($2.25 per traveler) that weaves through the park. And, of course, there is the park’s main attraction — an aquatics complex that includes three swimming pools of varying size and scope.

In addition to the “zero depth” kiddie pool, Landa Park also offers a standard Olympic-style pool and a spring-fed, lake-like pool with zip lines, rope-style monkey bars and a water slide that ends in a deep pool of frigid water. Adults gain admission to all three pools for $4, while children ages 3-12 are admitted for only $3.

Not that Landa — located a few miles off I-35 — caters solely to families.

Even if you’re a broke-ass college student, or perhaps an aging townie who has simply grown tired of the local tubing circuit, Landa Park promises the opportunity to chug alcohol (no glass bottles allowed, and only in designated picnic areas), bake in the sun (best get yourself some sunscreen), and barbecue (in the age of propane grillery, charcoal has a nostalgic feel to it) — all for a nominal fee.

Of course, Landa Park is not all sunshine and waterfalls; it does have a few drawbacks.

For one, the crowds — due in part to the park’s convenient location and bottom-line prices — can be a bit much for members of the social-anxiety scene. On weekends and holidays, lines begin forming around the pool area an hour before the gates open (10 a.m. on Saturdays, noon all other days). Portions of the aquatics complex are undergoing renovations, so certain attractions — on a recent trip, these included the “zero depth” pool and children’s slide — will be closed at various points throughout the summer.

For avid tee-timers, the miniature golf course — even at $2 per round — is rather pedestrian. The full-scale Landa Park Golf Course — though a quality course — will run you approximately $35 for 18 holes (cart included) on weekends.

But, hey, at least hitting the links will save you from witnessing firsthand what is unquestionably the lowlight of any trip to Landa Park — overweight, under-shaved, bare-chested, 40-something men who more resemble George Clooney in Syriana than George Clooney in, well, pretty much everything else.

Oh, well. For better and worse, as evidenced by Landa Park, in certain areas, you get what you pay for. •

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