What pops into your mind first when you think about fun kids’ summer activities in San Antonio? Fiesta Texas? Sea World? The San Antonio Zoo? When I lived out in the suburbs, those were the destinations I sought out when out-of-town guests with kids came to visit. Do you realize, though, just how much there is for the kids to do in this part of town? Much of which is free? There’s a lot!
I’ve spent a bit of time scouring websites and Facebook pages looking for kids venues and summer activities that are coming up. Let me make a few suggestions so you can start making summer plans.
Yanaguana Garden in Hemisfair
Movies at SAMA: The San Antonio Museum of Art will be showing a few free films this summer. First up is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on June 17th; next is The Lego Batman Movie on July 8th, followed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on July 29th. See everything going on this summer at the SA Museum of Art here.
Movies in the Park, at the base of the Tower of the Americas, has a fun lineup of animated films on the schedule. Take the kids to see Luca on June 11th, Space Jam on July 9th, and Raya and the Last Dragon on August 13th. Click here for more information on these free films, including the lineup of shows for the fall.
Movies by Moonlight, in Travis Park, has a lineup of super-hero and action movies on tap for the summer. See Captain Marvel on June 7th, Guardians of the Galaxy on June 14th, Ant Man on June 21st, Black Widow on June 28th, Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5th, Black Panther on July 12th, Doctor Strange on July 19th, and Shang-Chi on July 26th. Click here for more information on these free films and to see other Slab Cinema area movies.
‘Six of 007’ films in Hemisfair may not appeal to the real little ones, but I expect teens and pre-teens will enjoy them. Enjoy these free films: Dr. No on June 4th, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service on June 11th, The Spy Who Loved Me on June 18th, The Living Daylights on June 25th, Golden Eye on July 2nd, and Skyfall on July 9th. See more about this series here.
Sensory Friendly Films at AMC Rivercenter: “AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing…” Sensory Friendly family-friendly films will be available on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. Click here for more information.
Magik Theatre’s “mission is to use the power of theater to create Magical storytelling for children that Activates imagination, Grows young minds, and Inspires creating and a love of learning that is Key to a more literate future for our community.” Every year the theater, located in Hemisfair Park, offers several children's shows, each with performances spanning several weeks. ‘Junie B. Jones Toothless Wonder' wraps up the 2021 - 2022 season with performances through June 12th. The 2022 - 2023 season kicks off with ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show’ with performances from June 14th through August 14th.
Tobin Center: ‘Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous’ is a real treat for dinosaur-loving young ones. This National Geographic Live production will be at the Tobin Center on June 12th.
Venues and other cool events
LEGOLAND Discovery Center, located in the Rivercenter Mall, is a great place for your child to unleash energy and get the creative juices going. Enjoy seeing MINILAND (a replica of San Antonio made out of over 1.5 million LEGO bricks), a 4D cinema with movies running every 20 to 30 minutes, the Kingdom Quest ride, Merlin’s Apprentice ride, and the LEGO play zone. And for the real LEGO enthusiasts, there’s Master Model Builder Boot Camp — a five day LEGO building class which will run from June 13th thru June 17th and again from July 11th through July 15th. Read more about all that LEGOLAND has to offer here.
SEA LiFE San Antonio: Have you taken the kids yet to San Antonio’s new aquarium located right here in downtown? See sharks, jellyfish, clownfish, seahorses, sea turtles, and more, living and playing in beautiful exhibits including Ocean Tunnel, Interactive Rockpool, Stingray Bay, Shipwreck, Seahorse Mangrove Exhibit, and more. Find out more about Sea LiFE San Antonio here.
The San Antonio Museum of Art: Expose the little ones to the world of art! SAMA offers regular events and programs for children all year round, including ‘Playdates’, Art Crawls and Sunday Family Hours. Check out its schedule of events here.
Briscoe Western Art Museum is San Antonio’s premiere center of western art and culture, and regularly offers events and programs for children. For example, there’s a monthly ‘Full STEAM Ahead’ hands-on learning event. “Learners of all ages will work together and learn about the American West by engaging in hands-on, STEAM learning experiences. Sharing the American West through STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics – each of the activities ties back to the Briscoe’s art and artifacts, bringing the West to life in a new way…” June’s event is “Red Moon”; July’s event is “All A-Gnome” and August’s is “Whimsical Windmills”. And the Briscoe usually offers mini western ‘camps’ in the summer for the little ones, so keep an eye on its calendar.
The San Antonio Public Library: I don’t think any place in San Antonio offers as many regular events for kids as the library. There are regular, weekly events for babies, toddlers, young kids, pre-teens and teens… all free. Many are online and many are in person. If you want to keep the young ones busy with fun, educational, free activities, check it’s calendar every week!
The Twig Book Shop: Every Friday, the little ones can enjoy ‘Miss Anastasia’s Wild and Wacky Pre-Weekend TWIGLET Storytime. “Come join Miss Anastasia for a seriously fun storytime and a delightful craft! Young and old TWIGLETS will get a real kick from her highly entertaining storytelling.” This event is offered in-person at The Twig Book Shop in the Pearl, and online.
Ghost Tours: Maybe not suitable for the really little ones, but what older kid doesn’t enjoy a good ghost story? There are a few regular ghost tours offered right downtown. Check out RJA Ghost Tours, Bad Wolf Ghost Tours, and Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours.
There’s certainly a lot for the kids to do this summer in the downtown area!
The suggestions I’ve made here are just the tip of the iceberg. Many venues haven’t yet posted their summer events. Be sure to look at the LNF Weekly newsletter that goes out every Wednesday… it includes a section every week on upcoming events for kids. If you don’t get the newsletter, you can subscribe here.
Let's go to the movies!
Hemisfair — just across César Chávez from Lavaca — is one of the most beautiful parks I’ve been to. If you haven’t spent much time there yet, now is the time to start. It’s chock full of great play areas for the kids — including a splashed, a sand play area, and a fabulous playground — and its calendar is filling up will all kinds of fun summer activities for the little ones, all of which are free! There are regular story-times, Super Fun Saturdays, and more coming up. In fact, Hemisfair intern Kate Hernandez wrote an article for this issue of LNF Weekly on kids activities in Hemisfair over the summer. You can read it here.
Labor Street Park, located at Labor and Refugio Streets, is a great neighborhood gathering spot and activity center. It’s got a terrific playground with swings, slides, and all kinds of climbing apparatus. There’s a basketball court and a baseball field, and even outdoor workout equipment for the grownups. Here’s a link to information on the park.
Milam Park, on the west side of downtown right next to Market Square, is a nice place to take a break when you’re in that part of town. It’s got game tables, a children’s playscape, and exercise stations. Read more about Milan Park here.
Travis Park, right across the street from the St. Anthony Hotel, hosts events all year round, most of which are kid-friendly. It’s a great place to stroll with the little ones and your pets, have a picnic, and enjoy family time outdoors. And enjoy a free outdoor movie every Tuesday night in June and July (see the ‘Movies section below for more information). Learn more about Travis Park here.
Jane Gennarelli is co-editor of LNF Weekly. She also edits the Lavaca & Friends weekly arts and entertainment newsletter.
What are your kids doing this summer?
Tuesday, May 17, 2022