San Antonio is a historic, exciting, and foodie-friendly American city that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. And like many Texas destinations, there are lots of ways to experience San Antonio without breaking your travel budget or spending a fortune. This is great news if you’re traveling with your family! Here are some of our favorite ways to spend your vacation in San Antonio for free.
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Stroll Along the Riverwalk
One of the most iconic places in all of San Antonio is the Riverwalk, and you can take a scenic stroll along it for no cost at all. This is the most famous Riverwalk in America and draws in millions of visitors each year. Keep in mind though that many of the restaurants and shops along the Riverwalk are pricey because of the detestation’s popularity. But that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t take in the sights and smells for free along the way. Also check out the Historic Market Square, which is a large Mexican-themed market that has been delighting visitors since the 1820 and has over 100 locally owned shops today. The La Villita Historic Arts Village is also fun to explore just south of the Riverwalk, as this is a center for regional arts and crafts that celebrates the city’s artistic side.
Remember the Alamo
Isn’t it nice when a city’s top attraction is completely free to visit? The Alamo is open year-around is free for everyone to check out. As the most popular historic landmark in Texas, the Alamo tells the story of heroes who fought and died for freedom and led to the formation of the great state of Texas. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to check out living history demonstrations and special events here too. The Alamo is open between September and May from 9am to 5:30pm and from 9am to 7pm during the rest of the year for peak season. For a fee of $12-15, you can join a guided tour of the Alamo, but self-exploration is always free.
Visit the Other Missions Too
Many travelers stop their exploration of San Antonio’s historical buildings at the Alamo, which is a shame. There are other missions worth visiting here too, and admission to the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park is free too. It’s fun to start your exploration of them from the Riverwalk’s Mission Reach, which is an eight-mile stretch of trail that includes pedestrian bridges, picnic areas, and pathways to four Spanish colonial missions. Take some time to see the mission of Concepción, San José, San Juan, and Espada in addition to the Alamo to learn about the city’s history and marvel at the impressive architecture.
Summer Movies in the Park
Summer is a wonderful time to visit San Antonio because there are lots of events and festivals happening in the parks. Once the sun starts to go down, head to one of the city’s local parks to watch a film outside with your family or a loved one for free. A few outdoor movie screening venues here are Cinema on the Plaza, Slab Cinema at Travis Park, and the Mission Marquee Plaza Family Film Series. Travis Park offers free movies by moonlight on Tuesdays in June and July with free parking nearby as well. You can also check out the free movies at the San Antonio Museum of Art that are family-friendly for ages six and up and bring along your own food, beverages, chairs, and blankets.
Free Museum Admission Days
Like most American cities, San Antonio allows you to visit museums for free on certain days and at certain times. Museums that occasionally offer free or very discounted rates include the McNay Art Museum, the Witte Museum, and the DoSeum. The McNay has a lovely art collection that focuses on 19th and 20th-century art, with famous pieces from Picasso, Cezanne, and more. It’s also fun to visit the Briscoe Western Art Museum to learn about the American West right on the Riverwalk. Make sure to check individual museums’ websites for updates on free days and hours before your visit in case the free opportunities have changed.
Catch a show at The Saga
There’s a light show in San Antonio known as The Saga that lights up the San Fernando Cathedral and the entire Main Plaza. You can watch the award-winning projection show on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 9pm, 9:30pm, and 10pm. It’s free and open to the public and is truly something unique to see when you’re in town. The historic and visually appealing show lasts for 24 minutes and was first debuted in 2014 with choreographed music in surround sound.
Enjoy a Craft Brewery Tour
Although there’s rarely such a thing as free beer, you can take a free brewery tour at several of San Antonio’s craft breweries. These are great opportunities to learn about the brewing process and gain a deeper appreciation for your favorite beverages. Breweries to visit here include Busted Sandal Brewing, Freetail Brewing, and Alamo Beer Co. At Busted Sandal, for example, you can stop by for a free tour or purchase a pint or flight of your choice. Pets are welcome here, and beer discounts are offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The tap room at Busted Sandal is open on Wednesdays through Fridays from 4:30-10pm, Saturdays from noon to 10pm, and Sundays from noon to 6pm.
Get Outdoors at Brackenridge Park
To get outside and active for free in San Antonio, plan to spend some time at Brackenridge Park, which isn’t far from the downtown area and has a deeply rooted history in the city. Locals have been gathering here since prehistoric times, and it’s still a lovely park with oak trees and picnic tables today. Come here to let your kids play on the playground, to walk around the pond, or to go for a bike ride. Popular park destinations to check out include the Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Gardens, San Antonio Zoo, Alamo City Golf Trail, Sunken Garden Theater, and the Witte Museum.