5 things to do with kids under 5 in San Antonio

Like most major cities San Antonio has plenty of free and paid activities for parents to enjoy with their kiddos and with summer upon us many parents are trying to figure out what kind of things to do with kids to keep them busy and enrich their time. While options for children who are four and older abound and range vastly (see SA Summer To Do List & SA Busy Kids Camp Guide for more great ideas) parents of younger kids may not feel they have many.

With that in mind I’m sharing our best experiences from when our first daughter was just a baby or toddler. Although she’s four now and there are many more things she can now participate in and do she still doesn’t have as many options as the school aged children; plus we now have a nine month old daughter who also needs to be entertained and stimulated. For those of you who only have one “baby” then scheduling issues should be much easier. For those of you who have two under five most of these activities can be enjoyed with both kiddos.

Story time at the Library
Our first brave venture into a “structured” activity with our first was Baby Time at the public library. Usually Baby Time and Toddler time are back to back so you can stay for both if they seem to enjoy it or if you have an older sibling (still little just older) or you can cut and run at any time if baby is having a meltdown. Baby Time(Babies experience the sounds and structure of language through rhythm, rhyme and repetition. For babies up to 18 months with their caregivers) or Toddler Time (Toddlers actively participate in stories, music and movement enhancing their social, emotional and language development- children 18 to 36 months) at the San Antonio Public Libraries – most locations. To see dates and times visit the link and filter activities and locations on the left hand side. The Landa Library has a great children’s section and a park so you can always turn reading time into park time if needed. Story time at the Twig Another fun and (important in the Texas heat) indoor activity is the Twiglett StoryTime which happens every Friday at 10:30a.m. at the Twig at the Pearl.

There are lots of amazing parks in our city. Some are more geared for older children but some are especially nice for young kids. Some of our favorites include the playscape by the Joske Pavilion at Brackenridge Park, Landa Library, Morgan’s Wonderland, playscape at Phil Hardberger Park, and the Hemisfair Park playscape (but be warned you’ll get a work out chasing your little one up and down the all wood structures here).

I also recommend the San Antonio Missions (part park and part museum) the grounds of these awesome structures are fun for pretend play and chasing alike and you can always use your carrier or stroller and get some exercise in for yourself.

The Magik Children’s Theater
This is another favorite and we started taking Gaby here since she was very young. She usually lasted the whole show but if not we could always go out to the lobby or leave and go to the wooden playscape across from the theater. The shows are fun and well-staged and they do a great job of recommending books for kids of all ages that go with the shows.

We love to swim and take advantage of our many public outdoor and two indoor pools. Whether you just spend some time cooling off in the shallow area or enroll your little ones in swim classes it’s perfect for our hot summers. They even have parent and toddler class for Levels 0-2 (6 months to 4 years) at The Natatorium and one for kids 2 to 4 at Palo Alto.

Of course the Children’s Museum is a given because they have activities for kids of ALL ages and we highly recommend it (we are members and go often). The Witte is another VERY child friendly museum with lots of hands-on activities for littles too but don’t dismiss other adult museums. We really enjoyed the McNay Art Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art . Stroller friendly they both provided great opportunities for our daughter to hear us talk about the paintings. That said please note: You have to be mindful of the exhibits and know what to expect before you take your child through. Some exhibits can be scary or disturbing to little ones so know what you’ll be seeing BEFORE you go. We also enjoy the grounds at the McNay Art Museum and would pack a little lunch so we could have a picnic. The SAMA is free on Sundays and stays open till late on some days. Visit the links to see more info.

The San Antonio Zoo and the Zoo Train
Starting with Stroller Safari there are plenty of activities for your little ones there. If you just want to do your own thing there the Tiny Tots Nature Spot is the place to go. Parents be warned… you cannot… can NOT… go to the zoo and not get on the TRAIN. It’s fun and memorable.

Some Additional Information
For those of us who are not bound to a school schedule summer is a busy (read crowed) time to enjoy most of these activities. For open activities (those that are not scheduled at a particular time) try to find times when there are not as many people there. That time will vary depending on activity and you’ll just have to figure out what is best by visiting at different times and on different days or by asking employees what the best times are.

This list is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. You can find more activities to do in general (not San Antonio Specific) on my summer fun Pinterest board. There are the indoor playgrounds like Just Add Children and of course there are the major amusement parks. Sea World has a great playscape and shows that might interest the littlest ones but if you don’t have a pass it would be just as fun to go to an area playscape. I haven’t seen Aquatica yet but I hear it’s awesome… the only problem again is that for water time with a 1 to 4 year old a local pool would probably be just as fun and a lot cheaper. Fiesta Texas has an awesome water park where the little ones can play and it’s included in the price of admission or your pass but again it depends on whether you are doing this with just a preschooler/toddler/baby or a combo of older/younger kids.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. Please comment if you have more places we should try.

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