Summer 2023 was one for the books. It was the hottest summer ever on record in San Antonio with a whopping 64 triple digit days. The heat was so oppressive and unpleasant, I am now reading about a sort of reverse seasonal affective disorder in which people experienced depression related to too much sun and heat, as opposed to a severe winter lack of it. It was seriously an unpleasant few months. But blessed October is here and along with it, approximately 8 or so months of beautiful weather in San Antonio.
Now’s the time to get outside and enjoy much of what SA has to offer besides its reliable indoor air conditioning. But if the last four months have been a drain on your own AC, and therefore on your bank account, we have 5 FREE ideas for how to take advantage of some of the best outdoor activities that the Alamo city has to offer that won’t break the bank.
How to Get Outside and Enjoy the Beautiful Weather in San Antonio
Take a Hike
San Antonio has some really great hiking trails in and around the metro area. Local favorites include Government Canyon, Friedrich Wilderness Park, and Comanche Lookout Park, which rewards hikers with great views at the 4thhighest point in San Antonio. All three of these parks include a number of trails with varying difficulty and shade, so hikers of all abilities can enjoy the great outdoors.
Photo Credit: Yelp Joey P.
If you’re willing to drive a little further afield to hike, Guadalupe River State Park and Blanco State Park ramp up the outdoorsy stuff with options for camping, fishing, picnicking, and swimming. Hikes in each of these parks will take you around rivers and lakes, as well as beautiful foliage and greenery. For information on these parks and more, check out our post on the best hiking in San Antonio.
Bike the Mission Trail
You’ve been thinking about it for a while now, so maybe it’s the time to pull the trigger on one of the most puro San Antonio outdoor activities around. Biking the mission trail is a perennial favorite among locals and tourists alike and is not only a great way to see the missions, but to enjoy the full Riverwalk, spy some local wildlife, get a bit of exercise, and relish the beautiful weather in San Antonio.
Starting on the south end of town, begin your tour at Mission Espada, and work your way north along the 10 mile or so stretch of trails that wind through Mission San Juan, Mission Concepcion, the Alamo, and concludes at Brackenridge Park. Check out the San Antonio River Authority’s printable map for info on interesting sites, and places to stop for water or to use the restroom.
If you don’t happen to own a bicycle, pay a quick visit to BCycle San Antonio’s website for info on where you can easily and cheaply ($15/day) rent a bike along the trail. BCycle has bike loans at every mission and many other points along the trail.
Bonus: San Antonio’s newest outdoor culture park, the San Pedro Culture Park, opened up at the end of 2022 and is a lovely place to spend a bit of time outdoors in. While the culture park isn’t directly on the river trail, it is only about a 10 minute side trip if you exit the trail around the Crowne Plaza Hotel Riverwalk. Overall, it’s well worth even a short visit to lay eyes on the art and nature that is celebrated in the park.
Visit the Japanese Tea Gardens or Gilbert Denman Estate Park
If you want to enjoy the great outdoors sans the noise and busyness, you can head to what are arguably the two most zen sites in San Antonio – the Japanese Tea Gardens or Gilbert Denman Estate Park.
The Japanese Tea Gardens are adjacent to the zoo and are open daily from dawn till dusk. With trickling koi ponds, paved walkways, blooming lily ponds, and a 60-ft. flowing waterfall, the tea gardens are an especially lovely retreat despite being located smack dab in the middle of bustling San Antonio. For more information, see our post on the Japanese Tea Gardens.
Photo Credit: Yelp Sara M.
Gilbert Denman Estate Park is located on San Antonio’s northwest side near the Medical Center and is another excellent tranquil sanctuary in the city. Denman Estate Park boasts tree lined walking trails that circumvent a lake, and views of a gorgeous Korean monument built by artisans in sister city, Gwangju, South Korea.
Picnic in a Park
San Antonio has a bunch of first rate parks and outdoor urban green spaces that are perfect for picnicking. Three popular parks for an outdoor meal include the expansive Brackenridge Park, Woodlawn Lake Park, and Hardberger Park. Each of these parks has great shade, lots of trees, and many beautiful views and vistas of the lakes, rivers, and trees that run through each of these parks.
But if you are looking for something fresh, check out the brand spanking new Classen-Steubing Ranch Park which just opened on the city’s far north side in Stone Oak. The park opened up in May of 2023, right before the worst summer on record, when it became difficult to enjoy being outdoors. Now that temps are down, it’s a great time to visit this brand new 204-acre park with walking trails, sports fields, and a ginormous pirate themed outdoor play area.
Stroll the Weekend Pearl Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday and Sunday, the Historic Pearl Brewery plays host to the biggest farmer’s market in San Antonio. With more than 50 on-site vendors and upwards of 6,000 shoppers each week, the Pearl Farmer’s Market is utterly hopping with loads of families, leashed pets, and lots to see. It is a terrific way to spend a few hours soaking up the sun and beautiful weather in San Antonio as you support local farmers and artisans. You can check out the website for info on vendors and times.
And should decide to make a whole day of it at the Pearl, here are our recommendations for the best restaurants at the Pearl Brewery.
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