25 Free Things To Do In San Antonio (2024)

I happen to be an expert on free things to do in San Antonio. Why? I have two young kids, and their attention span is SHORT! So I love finding free things to do in SA so that I don't worry about "trying to get my money's worth" by making them stick around longer than they want. Ha! I love all the free museums in San Antonio, splash pads, live music, free movies in the park, and other fun art and cultural experiences. 

Free Things To Do In San Antonio - The Pearl

If you're planning a trip to San Antonio and you want to add a few free activities to your day, here are 25 free things to do in San Antonio that are great for all ages! 

I've added a map below so you can find a free activity near you, in case location is important. Also, be sure to click on the website link and double check the info. As is the case with live businesses, prices and hours can change quickly (sometimes faster than I can catch!) and you should alway double check with the website before planning your entire day around a free museum entrance. 

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San Fernando Cathedral San Antonio

25 Free Things To Do In San Antonio

1. Visit the Historic Alamo

The Alamo

The Alamo symbolizes Texas' fight for independence in the Texas Revolution and it's definitely the most famous mission in San Antonio. However, there are 5 missions in total...and you can visit all of them in one day via bike, car, or public transportation! 

There's no admission fee at the Alamo, making this one of the most popular and best FREE things to do in San Antonio, Texas. You can go for a 30-minute self-guided tour (also for free), explore the grounds, and learn about its history . 

The Alamo

While the Alamo in downtown San Antonio is definitely the most popular mission in San Antonio, keep in mind that you'll have to make a reservation on the website for a free timed entry. They do this to make sure the fortress doesn't get overcrowded. 

WEBSITE | 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205

2. Visit The Other 4 San Antonio Missions

Other San Antonio Missions

This is honestly one of the most overlooked free things to do in San Antonio because everyone just knows about the Alamo..but the other missions are even more beautiful to visit. 

In addition to the Alamo, the other San Antonio missions are called Mission San Jose, Mission Concepcion, Mission Espada, and Mission San Juan. Visitors can go to any of these for free. Did you know that the San Antonio Missions are a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Very cool! 

Visit the other Missions in San Antonio

Another perk to visiting the other four missions (other than the Alamo) is that you get free parking. And while the Alamo is free, you'll definitely have to pay for parking in downtown San Antonio. 

By the way, if you're wondering which San Antonio mission is best for kids, we cover that in detail here. And you can learn all about the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park here

3. Take a Stroll Along The San Antonio Riverwalk

The Riverwalk

Sure, you're not going to get any free margaritas on the San Antonio Riverwalk...but visiting the Riverwalk is,of course, 100% free!

This scenic San Antonio Riverwalk is one of the most popular attractions in the city. It's known as a vibrant urban oasis lined with a bunch of shops, restaurants, and beautiful landscapes. 

You can enjoy the atmosphere and soak up the local culture all for free! There are also some special events throughout the year, and (of course) fiesta in the spring. Keep an eye out for events that take place along the river walk.

WEBSITE | San Antonio, TX 78205

4. Explore the San Antonio Museum of Art

San Antonio Museum of Art

If you are a Bexar County resident, you actually get FREE admission to the San Antonio Museum of Art on Tuesdays from 4 pm to 7 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 12 pm! This is an incredibly generous offer that the SAMA has offered to residents (generously funded by H-E-B...thank you!!) so that everyone can enjoy the world-class art. 

Explore its diverse collection, including ancient Mediterranean art, Asian ceramics, and contemporary works. Note that non-Bexar Country residents do have to pay a regular admission fee during these free days.

WEBSITE | 200 W Jones Ave, San Antonio, TX 78215

5. Browse The Vendors At El Mercado

Historic Market Square

One of my favorite free things to do in San Antonio? Wander around the historic Market Square, also known as El Mercado. 

It's a vibrant outdoor plaza in downtown, San Antonio. It's the largest Mexican market in the US covering 3 city blocks. You can browse more than 100 shops for local crafts, food items, and more, or enjoy live music, and savor authentic Mexican cuisine. 

Sure, if you decide you want to buy some crafts or souvenirs you'll obviously have to pay... But you could definitely enjoy some time in San Antonio browsing and enjoying the ambiance. It costs exactly nothing to walk around this vibrant plaza, and you'll leave with plenty of memories.

WEBSITE | 514 W. Commerce St., San Antonio

6. Spend a Day in Brackenridge Park

Brackenridge Park

Brackendridge park, which is just a bit north of downtown San Antonio, has plenty of free things to do in San Antonio for both visitors and locals. I love this gorgeous green space in the center of the city for walks, jogs, playgrounds, and picnic. 

The public park is completely free to visit, so you can spend a day with your family or friends here. Enjoy the beautiful views, walk on trails, go birdwatching, or bring your own food and a blanket and have a nice picnic. 

Brackenridge is home to the San Antonio Zoo, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Witte Museum, the Brackenridge Train, softball fields, playgrounds, fishing, and more. Of course, certain attractions in the area have a small fee (like the Witte and the San Antonio Zoo), but there are plenty of free things to do in San Antonio at Brackenridge Park. 

WEBSITE | 3700 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78212

7. Visit The Japanese Tea Garden

Japanese Tea Garden

One of my family's favorite free things to do in San Antonio is to wander through the tranquil Japanese Tea Garden, located within Brackenridge Park. You can learn all about this incredible garden here

Admire the lush foliage, waterfalls, koi ponds, and the historic Jingu House. Admission is completely free! If you choose to spend some money, you can dine at the Jingu House Cafe, but you could also pack a picnic and eat lunch at Brackenridge Park. 

WEBSITE | 3853 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78212

8. Play and Relax at Yanaguana Garden

Yanaguana Gardens

Hemisfair Park in downtown San Antonio is home to the Tower of The Americas (that "space needle thing"), lots of great restaurants, aaaand...one of the very best kid-friendly free things to do in San Antonio: Yanaguana Garden.

It's a vibrant urban play area with playgrounds, splash pads, and outdoor games, all for free. The park also hosts various free events and concerts throughout the year. 

Yanaguana Gardens

Hemisfair Park in downtown San Antonio is home to the Tower of The Americas (that "space needle thing"), lots of great restaurants, aaaand...one of the very best kid-friendly free things to do in San Antonio: Yanaguana Garden.

It's a vibrant urban play area with playgrounds, splash pads, and outdoor games, all for free. The park also hosts various free events and concerts throughout the year including the popular Sunset Sessions with Soundcream Airstream - a mobile DJ playing live music from 7:30-10:30pm on Thursday evenings during the hot summer months. 

WEBSITE | 434 S Alamo St, San Antonio, TX 78205

9. Get Free Admission at the Witte Museum on Tuesday

Witte San Antonio

I mentioned that some of the things to do at Brackenridge Park actually do require admission. Well, one of those things is the Witte...but you can get around the admission cost if you visit on a Tuesday afternoon. 

Bexar County Residents can reserve a slot at the Witte Museum on Tuesdays from 3 pm-6 pm (just make sure you reserve in advance!) to get free admission. You can access the permanent galleries and exhibitions but some special exhibitions may still require a special ticket to access.

Free access to San Antonio museums is one of the best ways to experience the city on a budget. SA does an excellent job making sure that its world-class museums are accessible to all, both with the aforementioned free days as well as the Museums For All program, which offers $3 GA admission for visitors who receive food assistance benefits. 

WEBSITE | 3801 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209

10. Learn at Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle and Museum

Interested in Military history? Check out Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle and Museum. It's a completely free thing to do in San Antonio. 

Discover the story of Fort Sam Houston from 1845 to the present day. It's one of the oldest active army posts in America. There are some pretty cool artifacts to see as well as a gallery that you can explore inside. 

You can freely roam around the property, but just be sure to bring a valid ID with a picture to enter the gate.

WEBSITE | 1405 E Grayson St, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234

11. Catch Free Live Music at the Pearl

The Pearl District

Nearly every San Antonio visitor and resident knows about the beautiful historic Pearl district. It's one of the most popular places in SA, full of activities and shopping and food. (See our guide to the best restaurants at the Pearl district here!)

If you're looking for something free to do in San Antonio, visit the historic Pearl Brewery district. They have a free market every Saturday and Sunday morning that often features live music. You can browse the stalls, enjoy some sunshine, and sit and listen to the free music. 

If the evening is more your vibe, check out the bi-weekly summer DJ sessions at the Pearl's green space. Music, dancing, family, food - perfection.

WEBSITE | 303 Pearl Pkwy, #300 San Antonio, TX 78215

12. Take Advantage of Free Days at McNay Art Museum

McNay San Antonio

One of my favorite parts of the McNay Art Museum is that it's located in a 1929 mansion! A visit to the McNay feels entirely different from a normal art museum experience simply because the space is so incredibly beautiful.

And if you're looking for free things to do in San Antonio, the McNay is another San Antonio museum that offers free days. Normal admission is around $20, but if you want to explore it for free, we recommend visiting it on Thursdays from 4 pm to 9 pm, when admission is free (thank you, H-E-B!) or on the first Sunday of every month from 12 pm - 5 pm (thank you, Dickson Allen Foundation!). 

Discover its extensive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by renowned artists like Picasso, O'Keeffe, and Hopper. 

WEBSITE | 6000 N New Braunfels Ave, San Antonio, TX 78209

13. Get Some Fresh Air At Headwaters Sanctuary

Headwaters Sanctuary in San Antonio

If you want to get some fresh air and enjoy a few moments of peace and reflection, then take a visit to Headwaters Sanctuary. It's a 53-acre sanctuary that's open for FREE every single day of the year from dawn until dusk. 

Headwaters Sanctuary at Incarnate Word is a non-profit that's meant to provide quiet and beauty for native plants, animals, and all "weary souls." (Yes, that's us sometimes..) 

You can stroll the trail or sit and enjoy the view of nature while learning more about the native animals and plants in San Antonio.

WEBSITE | 4503 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209

14. Enjoy Texan Art in the San Antonio Art League and Museum

No need to worry about finding the free days at this museum...the San Antonio Art League and Museum (SAALM) is ALWAYS free! Located in the King William Historic District, the SAALM is one of the best museums in San Antonio that offers free admission to enjoy a huge collection of Texan arts and exhibits. 

This 1896 house-turned-museum has more than 600 works from Texas artists. They also offer free shows and demonstrations. Visit their site for upcoming events.

WEBSITE | 130 King William St, San Antonio, TX 78204

15. The Briscoe Western Art Museum on The Riverwalk

Briscoe San Antonio

I know I'm mentioning a lot of museums in this guide of free things to do in San Antonio, but that's only because San Antonio actually has SO many great museums! They really are worth visiting, and the fact that so many of them offer free days or free admissions is absolutely incredible. 

When you visit the Riverwalk (which is an excellent free thing to do in San Antonio), you must be sure to stop at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. They offer free admission to all San Antonio and Bexar County residents every first Sunday of each month. 

The Briscoe shares the story of Native Americans, cowboys, vaqueros, and the art and artifacts that truly shaped the west. The west as we know it wouldn't exist without San Antonio's culture. 

WEBSITE | 210 W Market St, San Antonio, TX 78205

16. Take A Walk At Phil Hardberger Park

Phil Hardberger Park is a EPIC 311-acre urban park in northern San Antonio. It's an excellent free thing to do in this city if you have kids or dogs, because the park offers so much space for everyone to run free!

There's a large dog park and off-leash play area where you can bring your fur babies to play with other dogs. There are also some recreational amenities within the park like walking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and basketball courts.

Of course, if you're looking for free things to do with kids in San Antonio, you can also check out any of these other fantastic parks and playgrounds in San Antonio. 

WEBSITE | 8400 NW Military Hwy, San Antonio, TX 78231

17. Jazz in the Garden

50 things to do in San Antonio

Looking for free summer activities in San Antonio? Even jazz sessions at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens may be just the ticket.

Every Wednesday from 6:30pm-8:30pm, guests to the Botanical Gardens can enjoy a free jazz concert with saxophonist, Noah Peterson. Tack on a dinner at Jardín, and you have the makings of a perfect evening.

*Bonus - If you can't catch Peterson at the Botanical Garden, head over to the Fairmount Hotel on Thursday evenings for Jazz on the Roof Top from 6pm-8pm.

WEBSITE | 555 Funston Place, San Antonio, TX 78209

18. Explore San Antonio Public Library

San Antonio Public Library

I can't write this guide of free things to do in San Antonio without mentioning the library! I firmly believe that a visit to the local library is one of the best free things to do in any city you visit.

The main branch of a city's library chain is often architecturally pleasing, filled with art and culture and (of course) books on books on books. SA is no different. 

Enjoy more than 580,000 volumes in the San Antonio Public Library for free. You can also sit and read on their outdoor landscaped reading room plazas and explore art gallery exhibits and playgrounds. 

Of course, you can also explore all the SA library branches within the city. But the central library is a great place to start. {Photo: San Antonio Public Library}

WEBSITE | Multiple locations

19. See the San Fernando Cathedral

San Fernando Cathedral San Antonio

Built in 1731, this San Antonio cathedral is the oldest standing church building in Texas. Over 5,000 participate in masses every week, so keep in mind that this isn't a tourist destination...it's an active center for religious community. 

If you'd like to see this stunning building, you can stop by to see it while you're visiting the Riverwalk or the Historic Market Square. The cathedral is just a short walk from either of those. 

And if you'd like to attend mass, they offer services every day of the week.

WEBSITE | 115 Main Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205

20. Visit San Pedro Creek Culture Park

San Pedro Creek Culture Park

This is one of the best free things to do in San Antonio! And considering they're still adding on to the park, it will just keep getting better and better. San Pedro Creek Culture Park is a local park in San Antonio that was built as a way to control water flow, and provide a retreat in downtown San Antonio.

San Pedro Creek Culture Park

San Pedro Creek Culture Park features San Antonio art and culture, nature, and education. In addition to the splash area for children, the beautiful native plants, and the expertly designed water management system, the park is home to different awesome art installations like lovely murals, ceramic art, tiled benches, and even historical texts. 

This is a must-visit park in downtown San Antonio for children and adults! You could probably spend about 1-2 hours here walking, reflecting, reading on a park bench, or just watching children play in the splash zone of the creek. 

WEBSITE | 715 Camaron St, San Antonio, TX 78204

21. Learn At The Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio

Holocaust Memorial Museum

A program of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in San Antonio is always free and open to the public. 

Visit, pay your respects, and learn more about Holocaust history. Visitors can do a free self-guided tour. Free parking is available in the lot next to the museum. 

WEBSITE | 12500 NW Military Hwy, San Antonio, TX 78231

22. Get Free Tickets For Outdoor Movies At Slab Cinema

Outdoor movies at Slab Cinema

This one is so much fun for the whole family! Slab Cinema has free outdoor summer movie showings all over San Antonio. 

They have a portable inflatable screen that they set up in various locations around SA like Tower of the Americas, Travis Park, Main Plaza, and Mission Marquee Plaza, 

Some of the venues have a grassy area where you can sit, but it's definitely most comfortable to bring your own chairs and blankets. You can bring your own snacks, too! This is one of the best family-friendly free things to do in San Antonio this summer. 

WEBSITE | Multiple locations

23. Take Pics By Cool Street Murals

Street art mural

The San Antonio Street Art Initiative is SO cool! It's an artist-run program that helps promote street art mural programming.

You can visit their website to find San Antonio street art near you! They have lists and maps so you can find some cool murals nearby.

One of my favorite parts of this initiative is that they also focus on artists rights and career development.

WEBSITE | Multiple locations

24. Wander The Quieter Parts Of The Riverwalk

The Riverwalk in Southtown San Antonio

This is one of my favorite free ways to enjoy San Antonio. 

Everyone walks at the main downtown portion of the Riverwalk. This is the tourist zone, and if someone says "are you going to visit the Riverwalk while you're in San Antonio?" they're talking about this little section in downtown. 

But the Riverwalk actually extends 15 miles! Once you get past the congested downtown area, it's actually a beautiful place to walk or jog for miles and miles by the water. 

Here are a few of my favorite quiet parts of the Riverwalk, but you really could just wander and find your own spots, too. 

WEBSITE | San Antonio, TX 78205

25. Take A Day Trip From San Antonio

Take a day trip from San Antonio

Once you run out of free things to do in San Antonio, check out a nearby town! Boerne, Wimberley, New Braunfels, and San Marcos are all nearby towns that are brimming with art, history, culture, and fun (FREE!) things to do. 

Lots of small Texas towns have beautiful places to walk and relax, public swimming holes, free museums, and adorable downtown squares. If you're feeling stuck or bored, maybe you just need to drive an hour in a different direction and check out another town!

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