How to Survive a Summer in San Antonio

It’s officially summer in San Antonio. Schools are out, rush hours are noticeably less painful, and the pace of life for many has slowed dramatically. This welcome interlude to much of life’s busyness usually provides a great opportunity to get away and take a vacation with the family. And if you’re in the market for some ideas, let me suggest San Antonio, one of the country’s hottest tourist destinations for just such a trip.

Solar Eclipse in San Antonio

The downside: San Antonio is not only hot, as in popular and trendy, but hot, as in boil alive.

Summer in the Alamo city is not for the faint of heart. It’s a serious business. And it seems to be getting more serious as the years go by.

So, if you have plans to vacation in SA this summer, keep reading for tips, tricks, and indoor activities that will make your time in the city not just bearable, but a place you’ll likely want to return to (though maybe not during the summer).

My Experience With Summer

I’m not a native Texan but have now lived in San Antonio for nearly half of my life. The first half was spent in the hot deserts of New Mexico and California, followed by a short stint in Chicago for college (which begs for an opposite article on surviving winter). With 20 desert summers and 20 hot/humid summers under my belt, you can say I’m pretty well versed on navigating the heat of South Texas summers.

Pearl farmers market

SA Summer Rundown

To put it simply, summer in San Antonio is hot. Sometimes stupid hot. According to the scientists who know way more about weather than I do, San Antonio experiences a “transitional humid sub-tropical climate.” This means that summers are hot and humid, winters are mild, and we receive less rainfall than much of the rest of the country.

Rooftop Bars in San Antonio for Drinks with a View

The hottest months of the year here are June through September, with July and August being the worst. Typical daytime temps are usually in the upper 90s or lower 100s, coupled with high humidity (often between 60%-80% depending on what time of the day it is).

The heat index (how hot it feels to a person based on both the temperature and humidity) can easily run 105°-115° in the middle of the summer. (*If you are interested in an annual month-by-month breakdown of all the weather in San Antonio, be sure to check out our post for more in depth information.)

For those accustomed to the desert heat, this can be a real shock to the system. 95° in the desert is worlds apart from 95° with humidity. For one, you experience sweating way less in the desert. That’s due to how quickly the sweat evaporates from your skin. You’re still sweating, but it often evaporates before you can feel it. In San Antonio, sweat evaporates much more slowly which means your shirt will get soaked in 10-15 minutes. 

how to plan the perfect romantic weekend in San Antonio

I actually believed for much of my life that I just wasn’t a person who sweats. But then I moved to San Antonio and discovered how wrong I was!

The high heat index produced by the humidity is also much more dangerous than a typical desert temp. The last two summers of 2022 and 2023 were the hottest summers ever on record for San Antonio and last year included 70+ days of triple digit heat. When you add humidity to already scalding temperatures, the risk exponentially increases for heat related illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

But the heat doesn’t just create situations ripe for physical danger, it can be mentally taxing as well. Last summer, local mental health professionals began noticing a new phenomenon, a kind of a reverse seasonal affective disorder that they saw playing out in some of their clients. 

Traditional seasonal affective disorder typically afflicts those who live in colder climates where the days are short and sunlight is in limited supply, resulting in depression in some people.

Last summer in San Antonio, the days were long and the sun was plentiful, but it was simply too hot to safely spend large amounts of time outdoors which ended up having the same result as the colder climates – high incidences of seasonal depression. While this extreme example is most certainly the exception and not the rule, the duration of the hot months can simply be really tough.

Should you plan a vacation to San Antonio during the summer?

If it were possible to lay aside every other factor impacting your decision to travel to San Antonio (school schedules, sports schedules, affordable travel, etc.), I’d say avoid visiting between June and September.

Much of our city is best enjoyed while outdoors and it is simply more comfortable to do this between October and April. (May is kind of a wild card – it can be hot, but May is also the wettest month of the year, and nothing spoils a vacay faster than a rainy day.)

 

Riverwalk San Antonio

That said, weather is never the sole consideration for when to travel somewhere. So, is it possible to have a fantastic experience in San Antonio even if you have to visit during the summer? Absolutely! A little heat preparation will go a long way in ensuring you have a great time in the Alamo city. 

How to beat the heat?

If possible, minimize or avoid time spent outdoors between 10am and 5pm. These are the hours when the sun is most intense and heat is at its worst. San Antonio’s most popular outdoor attractions, the San Antonio missions, open at 9am and are best enjoyed when it is cooler outside.

Beautiful Weather in San Antonio

When you are outside, dress for the occasion. Sunglasses, hats, and lightweight, long-sleeved clothing are your friends. Stick to the shade as much as possible and be liberal with the sunscreen.

Drink water like your life depends on it - because it literally does. You’re going to sweat here, and your body needs to replenish its moisture to avoid heat related illnesses. Whatever your typical fluid intake is, double it while you’re in the heat, and maybe throw in some electrolytes for good measure.

Lastly, bring a sweater or a light jacket with you for use while you are indoors. I know that sounds nuts given how I have just been preaching about the heat, but it’s important. Local businesses often overcompensate for the heat by cranking up the AC to polar levels. 

It’s not at all uncommon to be outside in 105° degree heat, and then step into a business that is running at 65°. The sudden hot to cold can be uncomfortable especially if you have been sweating and your clothes are damp. A light layer can be a huge help with the temperature whiplash.

A Few Indoor Activity Ideas to Take Advantage of During Summer in San Antonio

Swimming! So, I know I said “indoors,” but let’s face it, water activities are a must when it is hot and San Antonio has a wealth to choose from. Hotel or city pools, free splash pads, and water parks (Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, SeaWorld Aquatica, Morgan’s Wonderland Inspiration Island, and Schlitterbahn) are everywhere, providing a refreshing escape from the heat.

Also be sure to check out your river tubing options just north of the city where water temperatures run a respectable 72 degrees year round.

San Antonio Known For

Museums are a great way to spend a few hours indoors. CityPASS is a great go-to if you want to check out 4 different museums for an extremely discounted price.

If you’re an art buff, check out the McNay Art Museum, the San Antonio Museum of Art, or the Briscoe Western Art Museum. If you’ve got kids who need to run off some energy, try visiting the Witte Museum or the DoSeum.

Things to do in SA

Head indoors to watch a movie. Nothing beats the heat better than a comfortable recliner, air conditioning, and some popcorn. While theaters can be found all over the city, I recommend the Alamo Drafthouse Theaters with full service restaurants and bars. Dinner and a movie? Check! 

If you aren’t in a movie mood, why not try live theater? You’ll get all the regular benefits of the great indoors with all the action and excitement of live storytelling. Check out our post on where you can catch live theater in San Antonio.

Live Theater in San Antonio

San Antonio is also home to one of the country’s tastiest culinary scenes. Thankfully, SA restaurants know that indoor eating is a must and a great way to escape the heat. Plan on spending some time exploring our fantastic Tex-Mex and BBQ, as well as our host of other fantastic restaurants. Here’s a list of our favorite San Antonio restaurants to get you started.

Fonda on Main

Instead of sweating outside, why not work up a sweat while remaining comfortably inside at the gym? Most hotels will have onsite workout facilities for their guests and if that isn’t an option, local gyms will typically sell (or sometimes give away!) day passes for a single use.

While the kids are out, maybe it’s time for the adults to head back to school, which blessedly occurs indoors, for a spell. San Antonio has great options for adult learning at various community centers, public schools, and at the community colleges. Try learning Spanish, picking up sewing, or have a go at painting. There are lots to choose from.

When all outdoor activities fail, there are always indoor entertainment places to be found. While these are far from unique to San Antonio, they are a great way to have fun while passing a little time inside. Escape rooms, bowling alleys, axe throwing, pottery classes, ice skating, and laser tag are just a few of your options here. In the mood for something a little unique? Try Hopscotch, San Antonio’s best immersive art experience.

Where Can Adults Celebrate Birthdays in San Antonio?

Summer in San Antonio is hot, but it pairs beautifully with a scoop of cold, creamy ice cream. And we know where to find the best ice cream shops to get it!

Best Ice Cream in San Antonio

The library is one of my absolute favorite places to visit in San Antonio. And when it’s hot, even better. Relaxing in the AC with a good book is about as dreamy as it gets. The Central Library, located downtown, is open Monday through Saturday and has an events calendar full of free activities for the whole family. 

things to do in San Antonio with toddlers

Related posts

The Solo Traveler’s Guide To San Antonio 

If you’re a solo traveler visiting San Antonio, you can rest assured that San Antonio is a very safe city to visit. It’s the 2nd largest city in Texas…

Read More...
San Antonio Riverwalk in the morning

The Perfect One Day Itinerary In San Antonio

Did you know that San Antonio, Texas is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States? With plenty of options for history, food, attractions, sports – SA is…

Read More...
Jacob's Well

10 Cool Swimming Holes In San Antonio

Summer in Texas means it’s time for fun in the sun all season long! We have plenty of fun places to splash around in TX, from epic waterparks to…

Read More...