Get Outside Without Leaving the City Limits

click to enlarge Yanaguana Garden at Hemspfair Park - Photo by Gabby Mata
Photo by Gabby Mata
Yanaguana Garden at Hemspfair Park

San Antonio has no shortage of green spaces. From secluded wildlife habitats to pristine picnic spots to tiny railroad rides, the Alamo City’s parks can provide a refreshing break from the sun, an all-ages educational experience, or a place to let your pups run free.

San Pedro Springs
San Pedro Springs is the second oldest public park in the country — and, of course, the oldest park in San Antonio. The natural spring-fed pond, once the center of a Payaya Indian village, now serves as a shallow and refreshing swimming pool for the Tobin Hill neighborhood. Not wanting  to swim? Visit the neighboring tennis courts, skateboard park, library, or theatre. 1315 San Pedro Ave., San Antonio, TX 78212

Japanese Tea Gardens
Sure, this isn’t a traditional park, but the tea gardens offer just as much outdoor splendor than the city’s other grassy spots. The tea gardens invite visitors with peaceful paths winding through calm ponds and delicate greenery. Bring a book to read over a cup of tea or under a pagoda. 3853 N St Mary’s St., San Antonio, TX 78212

Brackenridge Park
Built on top of a limestone quarry in the late 1800s, the 343-acre Brackenridge Park is now home to the San Antonio Zoo, a tiny train, golf course, playgrounds, gardens, fishing spots, birdwatching, and a wild vaiety of scenic picnic spots. Pedal along the San Antonio River (which begins just north of the park), set up an all-day picnic, or set the kids loose in the expansive playground. 3853 N St Mary’s St., San Antonio, TX 78212

San Antonio Botanical Garden
The botanical garden manages to fit all of Texas’ diverse ecosystems (and beyond) into a mere 33 acres. From the East Texas piney woods to Southwest deserts, visitors can take in all of the state’s wild and beautiful plant life. And it’s not just easy on the eyes. The garden’s Watersaver Trail, Herb Garden, Biblical Garden and others all offer educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. 555 Funston Pl., San Antonio, TX 78209

Phil Hardberger Park
Named after a recent San Antonio mayor, Phil Hardberger Park has set the bar exceptionally high for the city’s public parks. Tucked within the Shavano Park neighborhood, this urban green space is home to meandering paved trails, BBQ spots, native wildlife, a colorful playground, and an extremely popular dog park. 13203 Blanco Rd., San Antonio, TX 78216

Pearsall Park
This brand-new city park has just about everything you could ask for: A disc golf course, expansive dog park, delightful public sculptures, a “fitness challenge zone,” skate park, playground, dozens of picnic areas, and a splash pool for kids. I know, it’s a lot. Visit the Southwest San Antonio park (right next to Lackland Air Force Base) and choose your own adventure. 4700 Old Pearsall Rd., San Antonio, TX 78242

Yanaguana Garden
Visit Yanaguana garden on a sunny day, and you’ll find friends playing ping-pong on the permanent outside tables, kids tangled in the massive playground’s web system, and families sharing popsicles under the shady trellis arches. With mosaic benches straight from Barcelona sidewalks and a hands-on water park for inventive kids, it’s hard to avoid this central San Antonio spot. 434 S Alamo St., San Antonio, TX 78205

San Antonio Missions
Okay, so maybe the city’s most historic landmarks are more than just a casual “park,” but don’t let their professional facade trick you: These missions are meant for enjoying. Many of the city’s five missions are accompanied by a playground and picnic area, ideal for families looking for both a history lesson and playdate. Wander along Mission San Juan Capistrano’s ancient outer wall, or sit by the San Antonio River as Mission Concepción’s bells ring for Sunday mass.

Chris Park
This small private park, created in memory of its founder’s son, opens its gates to the public from Tuesday to Sunday. While only one acre, there’s plenty of space for an afternoon picnic, sustained silent reading, or a peaceful, zen-like stroll. 111 Camp St., San Antonio, TX 78204


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