Thank you to Visit San Antonio and SeaWorld San Antonio for hosting us.
I just dropped the first kiddo off at school, and safe to say that Spring Break 2021 was much different than last year’s never-ending spring break. I still remember it like it was yesterday though. We hadn’t made any grand plans to go on a trip anywhere, in fact, the only thing we did have planned to do was a day or two at the Houston Rodeo and hanging by the pool with friends. Needless to say we were shocked as we looked up from our lunch date with daddy downtown to hear the local news saying the rodeo had been cancelled. A mere two days later hanging out with the kiddos at our friend’s pool – we were interrupted by simultaneous text alerts from our school district solidifying what would be a very long year ahead.
I can only speak from my experience, but I think we can all agree that after all the suffering we were due for some good news. So many of my friends and family (including my husband and myself as of tomorrow) have been lucky enough to be early vaccinated. It still feels strange to some extent to be enjoying life again with vacations, get-togethers, kid’s sporting events, etc. Yet a huge part of me has finally let out a sigh of relief. We needed this break. A break from the past year’s trauma and a moment to just enjoy life again as we know it.
So with the full support of my husband, friends and freelance agency – I made a tough decision to end my contract for the current gig I’d been working on for the past 4 months (that had turned into a stressful nightmare to say the least), and we both agreed it was time to take the kids on a little trip. We had tried to visit San Antonio for a weekend back in August, but it just wasn’t in the cards and we decided to spend the rest of 2020 at home in hopes that things would settle down in the new year. I luckily had been working with Visit San Antonio to secure some fun things to do with the kiddos once we arrived, and SeaWorld San Antonio was able to honor our hosted visit we had previously planned. We ended up spending Thursday through Saturday of spring break in downtown San Antonio right on the River Walk, and I’ve rounded up a guide to some of our favorite things to do, where to stay and eat with kids in San Antonio, Texas!
The Murrays Visit San Antonio – Day 1, Travel Vlog
The Murrays Visit San Antonio – Day 2, Travel Vlog
Road Trip Tips for Traveling with Kids
- Road Warriors: As crazy as our kids can be in the car driving 5 minutes down the road (ahem, Cha Cha, ahem), we’re always so shocked at how amazing they can be on a 3+ hour road trip. The key for us is to keep them fed & entertained (see tips below). I always pack a bag full of individual sized snacks like pretzels, goldfish, granola bars, as well as an easy on-the-go fruit (my kiddos love Cuties or green apples), and then I try to save some special treats like fruit snacks for when they get a little fussy between stops. I keep the bag right behind the front seat console so I can easily reach back and launch snacks 😉
- Are You Not Entertained?: As exciting as a vacation may seem – even the most stimulated kids can get bored. We’ve never had much luck with iPads (both kids shattered ours) so we quickly jumped on the Amazon Fire tablet bandwagon and never looked back. I almost can’t believe we were on the fence about getting a second one cuz it has been a lifesaver especially on road trips, and we’ll never leave the house without them! The hubs also snagged the coolest headrest mounts at Target and Amazon that work great when they want to just watch a movie, and even helps keep them from looking down too long or getting car sick. Shop tablets and mounts below!
- Germs be Gone: Our kids have become total germ-fighters – to the point where we even had to tell Garrett to relax cuz he kept yelling at Cha Cha to stop touching the railings everywhere we went. They know that when we’re out and about that if they do touch railings or stuff in stores to ask for the hand sanitizer. Even though the mask mandate was lifted in Texas, we’ve still been wearing ours out of respect for business owners and fellow Texans.
Where to Stay in San Antonio, TX
Anytime we travel I try to reach out a few weeks ahead of time to get in contact with the visitor’s bureau since they are an amazing resource for planning a trip, and they often times will work with bloggers/influencers to put them in touch with hotel partners. Since this was a last minute trip and most hotels were already sold out for spring break (doh!), we ended up just using Grant’s government rate/booking site to find what seemed to be the last hotel on the River Walk not sold out – Hyatt Place San Antonio/River Walk. I did end up reaching out to several hotels on my own to inquire about availability and all of them were booked but open to collaborating on our next visit – which we can’t wait for!
- Thompson San Antonio – I’ve always loved the design and overall experience at Thompson hotels, and attended several events there when we lived in LA. As excited as Garrett (our 7 year old going on 47) was to stay at a “fancy hotel” – I think mom and dad will save this one for a solo trip sans kids 😉
- Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio River Walk – This was the original hotel we were planning to book with, but they didn’t have availability for one of our dates. They’re one of the partners who reached out to me after the visitor’s bureau connected us, and they were very accommodating. They even offered hosting us at their other location near Cantera Parkway, but we had our heart’s set on staying near the River Walk. They will definitely be one of the first one’s we call for our next trip! I just love a good historic hotel 🙂
- The Hotel Contessa – Another hotel that was sold out over our stay dates, but were excited to work together in the future. I fell in love with this one as well because of their Spanish flare and amazing suites overlooking the River Walk. I also stalked their IG and loved their #CaptureContessa campaign – y’all know I’m a sucker for some good marketing 😉
- Canopy by Hilton San Antonio River Walk – This hotel is brand new and still technically under construction, but a blogger friend of mine (who also happens to work on the hospitality/marketing side at this hotel) told me they’ll be opening April 15th, and accepting reservations for May 6th and beyond. We’ve been invited to their opening/media dinner in a few weeks, and fingers crossed we can sneak away for a night or two!
- Other Noteworthy Hotels – Hotel Valencia River Walk, The St. Anthony, Hotel Emma
Unique Places To Go With Kids in San Antonio
Living my whole adolescent life in Houston – San Antonio was one of my parent’s favorite road trips to take me on as a kid. Just a little over a three hour drive, it was not only convenient from Houston but also a unique experience we loved to come back to summer after summer. There’s so much history that you don’t always find in other parts of Texas, and the hill country is just beautiful during the spring and summer times – a welcome escape from the Houston humidity. Here are just a few things my husband and I now look forward making traditions out of while exploring San Antonio with our kids.
- SeaWorld San Antonio – As a kid you really can’t think of San Antonio without thinking of SeaWorld. It’s truly an iconic place, and one that my husband and I always knew we wanted to experience with our kids. So we were super grateful when they offered to host us with complimentary parking/tickets for the day in exchange for a review. We’re all huge animal lovers, and with my husband’s love for scuba diving, we naturally have a passion and interest for marine animals. Both our kids have always been fascinated by sharks, and recently Garrett has really gotten interested in whales. When we asked our kids what their favorite part of the day at SeaWorld was – they both said “The Orcas!” or “Whalies” as Cha Cha calls them 😉 I have so many fond memories of going to SeaWorld shows with my parents, and grateful that we got the opportunity to share those same memories with our own kids.
- Just a couple of tips: They have you reserve your visit/tickets online now which keeps the park from getting overcrowded – we just did ours 4-5 days in advance and it was fine. The shows, especially the Orcas, reach capacity quick (mostly because they’ve sectioned off every other row for social distancing), so if you want to get a good spot they recommend showing up 30-45 min beforehand and 45 – 1hr for the more popular shows. We also downloaded the SeaWorld App/Guide and it was super helpful to have the map and all the showtimes handy throughout the day. We decided to arrive right when the park opened at 10am and I’m really glad we did since it took us about 5 hours to make the loop through the park. We skipped all of the rollercoasters and other rides so you could easily spend a whole day there – especially if you want to catch the fireworks show over the water before the park closes at 9. Next time we want to check out Aquatica water park, which was closed during our visit – it would be the perfect way to cool down at the end of the day!
- The Historic Pearl – We actually both stumbled upon The Pearl on our last night there. I’d seen a post about it on Visit San Antonio’s IG, and when the hubs reached out to a buddy/coworker of his in SA for some good Tex-Mex recommendations – the coolest taco joint La Gloria happened to be right across the street. So after we stuffed our faces with queso and the best frozen margaritas $5 can buy – we decided to walk off all those quesadillas strolling through the historic Pearl. It used to be a famous local brewery that’s been reconstructed into an awesome outdoor entertainment, shopping, and food district. I definitely want to explore more next time, like their weekend farmer’s market.
- River Walk/The Alamo – There’s just something about the River Walk in San Antonio that stays with you – I still remember holding my dad’s hand walking along the water almost like it was yesterday. We used to spend a whole day just going into all the cute shops and stopping to sit outside, and then eat at one of the many local restaurants to choose from. I will say, spring break was a bit of a zoo and most of the restaurants were a tourist trap with over an hour long wait. Luckily, Grant and I remembered about an awesome seafood place Ostra a little off the beaten path, and the kids got a kick out of getting to have a “fancy dinner” 🙂 We didn’t get a chance to fit in The Alamo on our last day since we had to get back for Garrett’s baseball practice, but we may also wait until the kids are a little older and can appreciate the history/story behind it.
- Other Noteworthy Things To Do – San Antonio Zoo, San Antonio Botanical Garden, Six Flags Fiesta Texas
I love being able to share our Murray family adventures with y’all, and I hope you gain some helpful tips for traveling with kids. Whether you’re a native Texan or just visiting, I definitely recommend a stop in San Antonio! I know you’ll fall in love with it and end up like me and never want to leave, lol!