San Antonio is well-positioned for exploring the eastern region of Texas and you can find many interesting day-trip destinations within an hour or two of the city. In addition, the city has several recreational areas which are located within the city limits – you can go hiking in Comanche Lookout Park or spend a wonderful day at the San Antonio Zoo. If you love visiting vibrant culture-filled cities you can add Austin, Dallas and Houston to your list. History buffs can head to historic New Braunfels or explore the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park which is just ten minutes from downtown. The wonderful coastal resorts of the Gulf Coast are located a little more than four hours from San Antonio – you can pack an overnight bag and have some fun on the beaches of Galveston Island, Corpus Christi, Rockport or Mustang Island.
A day trip to Austin is definitely on the cards for anyone who is even remotely interested in music. The city is often called the Live Music Capital of the world and you will find out why when you visit a few of the city’s 250 music venues. Besides wonderful live music venues too numerous to mention, Austin offers plenty of culture too – you can look forward to visiting a few of the city’s 45 museums and art galleries which include the Blanton Museum of Art, the Elizabeth Ney Museum and the fabulous Contemporary Austin. If you are visiting for the first time you could join a historic walking tour or get an overview of the most popular attractions on the hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
Austin, TX 73301-8799
2.Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is located about four and a half hours by road from San Antonio, making it a little too far for a regular day trip, so pack up your tent or RV and set off for the outdoor adventure of your life. If you really only have one day to spend in the park it would be wise to stick to the highlights which include driving the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, for amazing viewpoints over the Chihuahua Desert and the chance to see the Santa Elena Canyon. A quick visit to the Castolon Historic District will give you a glimpse of life in the pioneer days. Whichever part of this huge national park you are visiting offers excellent hiking trails through rugged desert or mountain vistas.
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129, Phone: 432-477-2251
3.Blue Hole Nature Park
If you would like to spend a relaxing day in scenic surrounding you can make your way to Georgetown, where you will find the Blue Hole Nature Park along the south fork of the San Gabriel River. The park surrounds a lagoon and natural swimming hole that offers hours of family fun. There is a beach area with shallow water for younger children to wade in and you can bring along flotation devices. There are areas where you can go fishing and a pleasant picnic area with grills and restrooms. Best of all, this is a free attraction and there is even free public parking.
Blue Hole Nature Park, 100 Blue Hole Park, Georgetown, TX 78626
Water sport enthusiasts are fortunate to have a wonderful resource within easy driving distance from San Antonio. Canyon Lake is located on the Guadeloupe River between San Antonia and Austin, and is one of the largest and deepest lakes in Texas, boasting 80 miles of shoreline and a large variety of water sport options. A great way to spend your day out would be to tube the river along the famous Horseshoe Loop – Riversport Tube Rentals have all you need and offer one-way shuttles. You will find everything you need for fishing, boating, sailing, kayaking and more at the Canyon Lake Marina or Cranes Mill Marina. Other popular lake activities include walking or hiking the shore line, wildlife observation and picnicking.
Canyon Lake, Highway 306 West, New Braunfels, TX
5.Comanche Lookout Park
© Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
Once a lookout point for the Comanche Indians who used to hunt along the nearby Cibolo Creek, Comanche Lookout Park is now a 96 acre public park. The park is a popular outdoor recreational area for San Antonio residents who come to walk, run and cycle or just to relax and enjoy the fresh air. At the heart of the park you will find a network of trails which cover around four and half miles – along the Library Trail there are nine interactive fitness stations where you can exercise free of charge. There is a picnic shelter (first-come-first-served) and a playground for the youngest park visitors.
Comanche Lookout Park, 5800 Enrique M. Barrera Parkway, San Antonio, TX 78227
Boasting no fewer than nine beautiful beaches along the spectacular Gulf of Mexico, the city of Corpus Christi is hard to beat for day trippers from San Antonio. Although the city is primarily famous for its pristine beaches, there are also several other attractions for visitors. The best swimming beaches are probably North Beach and McGee Beach, both of which have several restaurants, while surfers find great breaks at North Packery Beach. If you fancy some birding you can visit Padre Island National Seashore or Mustang Island State Park. City activities include visiting the WWII USS Lexington aircraft carrier, the Texas State Aquarium and the Selena Museum.
Corpus Christi, TX 78336-8480
We all know that everything is bigger and better in Texas, and the city of Dallas is no exception. Whether you are visiting for the first or the twentieth time, there is always something new to discover in this vibrant city. Foodies can lose themselves among the diverse and eclectic eateries in Trinity Groves, while the Design District begs to be explored by everyone who is interested in arts, antiques and one-off boutiques. Other attractions which deserve a place on your itinerary include the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and the Dallas Museum of Art.
Dallas, TX 75001-6217
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8.Davy Crockett National Forest
Covering over 16,000 acres in East Texas, the Davy Crockett National Forest encompasses streams and woodlands, wildlife habitats and recreational areas situated about four hour’s drive from San Antonio. It is a little far to be considered a day trip but perhaps you could pack up your tent or RV and spend a night or two getting back to nature at one of the campgrounds in the forest. There are trails waiting to be explored on foot or by mountain bike and the small lake at the heart of the forest is great for canoeing, kayaking and fishing and has a swimming beach. There is a picnic area and restrooms for day visitors.
Davy Crockett National Forest, 18551 Texas 7, Kennard, TX 75847, Phone: 936-655-2299
9.Dr Pound Historical Farmstead Museum
© Alta Oosthuizen/stock.adobe.com
Located in the small town of Dripping Springs, ninety minutes by road from San Antonio, the Dr Pound Historical Farmstead Museum is an interesting day trip destination. Here visitors can step back in time to the pioneer days in Texas, when the young Dr Pound and his wife set up their home on the site. The original home has been carefully preserved and gives an insight into the trials and tribulations of pioneer living without many of the conveniences we all take for granted. The museum is open to the public on weekends (or by prior arrangement on a Wednesday and Thursday). If you visit on the annual Pioneer Day you can see demonstrations of pioneer crafts and skills.
Dr Pound Historical Farmstead, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
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10.Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
When you need to get out of the city and surround yourself with natural beauty you can pack a picnic and head to the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area which is located close to Fredericksburg. The Enchanted Rock, a huge pink granite dome, lies at the heart of this beautiful natural area, offering exhilarating hiking and rock climbing. There are eleven miles of trails to explore including the Summit Trail which is considered to be quite challenging (due to the rapid change in elevation) and very rewarding. Most people can complete this trail in about two hours, out and back. Other activities include wildlife watching, geocaching and camping.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, 16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78643
Nestled in the heart of Texas’ scenic Hill Country, the pretty town of Fredericksburg offers a good mix of attractions for day trippers. Firstly, Fredericksburg lies at the heart of the Texas wine region and there are over 30 vineyards and wineries to found both in the city and in the surrounding countryside – there are several companies offering guided winery tours. Inside the city you will find several historic attractions including the Pioneer Museum Complex, the Sauer Beckman Living History Farm and the Texas Rangers Heritage Center. Art lovers can visit several inspiring art galleries and studios while foodies will find plenty to temp their taste buds. Nature lovers can spend a few hours hiking in the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
12.Friedrich Wilderness Area
© Kiskadee Photography/stock.adobe.com
If you are looking for a pleasant outdoor recreational area that does not require a long drive you should consider spending a few hours in the Friedrich Wilderness Area just outside San Antonio. This large tract of undeveloped and hilly wilderness is located on the Balcones escarpment, where it offers exceptional bird watching and about eleven miles of hiking trails. The hikes vary from easy to challenging (due to the hilly terrain) and you will pass through scenic canyons and hill-top habitats which provide sanctuary for several rare bird species. Due to the fragility of this breeding habitat, dogs are not allowed on the trails.
Friedrich Wilderness Area, 21395 Milsa Dr, San Antonio, TX 78256, Phone: 210-207-3781
© C.A.Palmira Photos/stock.adobe.com
Regardless of your interests, you are almost certain to enjoy spending your next day trip on Galveston Island. Here you will find a wealth of interesting historic attractions to visit, including several stately 19th century homes like the Moody Mansion and the 1859 Ashton Villa. Besides these gems, everyone enjoys visiting the Galveston Railroad Museum, the Texas Seaport Museum and the Lone Star Flight Museum. For a break from history you can turn to hair-raising fun at the Schlitterbahn Galveston Water Park or the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. The Strand historic district is the place to find wonderful shops, bars, restaurants and galleries. Of course, for many visitors the beaches and the warm Gulf Coast water are the main draw-card.
Galveston Island, Galveston, TX 77550
14.Government Canyon State Natural Area
© Camille Lamoureux/stock.adobe.com
San Antonio residents and visitors are fortunate to have the large and beautiful Government Canyon State Natural Area on their door-step. Here you can relax and recharge, surrounded by 12,000 acres of wilderness. At the top of the list of activities are 40 miles of hiking and mountain-bike trails. There is a special Discovery Trail for younger visitors as well as the all-natural Playscape playground. You can check the website for regular guided hikes and other ranger-led programs. This park is only open Friday through Monday most of the year with a few extra days during holiday periods. If you would like to spend a night under the stars you can access the walk-in campground on weekends.
Government Canyon State Natural Area, 12861 Galm Rd, San Antonio, TX 78254
There is something for everyone in Houston, America’s fourth largest city which is located about three hours east of San Antonio. A few of the most popular attractions for day trippers include the Space Center Houston and the excellent museums in the Museum District – getting a One-day Museum Pass is the most economical way to see it all. If you love art you can make a beeline for the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. There are many brilliant performing arts venues where you can watch the latest production and more than a dozen shopping areas for ardent shoppers. Children will love the Downtown Aquarium, Houston Zoo and the Children’s Museum.
Houston, TX 77001-7598
Lockhart started out as a cowboy town along the famous Chisholm Trail, and there is still a lot of history to be uncovered in the town, including the Caldwell County Courthouse, the Dr. Eugene Clark Library and the Caldwell County Jail Museum. Today the town is famous as a foodie destination – visitors come from near and far to find out why Lockhart is known as the Barbecue Capital of Texas. No visit is complete without visiting the Original Black’s Barbecue, Smitty’s Market or Kreuz Market to taste authentic Texan barbecued meats. You can wash it all down with a brew from the Caracara Brewing Company and round off your meal with a Chaparral coffee. If you want to work off some of the calories you can go hiking in Lockhart State Park.
Lockhart, TX 78644
17.Lost Maples State Natural Area
© Martha Marks/stock.adobe.com
The Lost Maples State Natural Area is located just two hours northwest of San Antonio, offing city dwellers a beautiful year-round recreational area. The area showcases a significant stand of maples which put on an amazing show of fall foliage, attracting visitors from near and far. However, you can enjoy a variety of activities here even when the trees are not showing off their autumn colors. You can pull on your hiking boots to explore over ten miles of scenic trails, stopping along the way to do some birding or admire the seasonal wild flowers and the impressive canyon. You can fish in the Sabinal River, go geo-caching or attend a ranger-led program.
Lost Maples State Natural Area, 37221 F.M. 187, Vanderpool, TX 78885, Phone: 830-966-3413
18.Mustang Island State Park
For a wonderful coastal day out you can head to the Mustang Island State Park, located on a barrier island facing the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. The island boasts five miles of shoreline and offers an outstanding playground for water-sport enthusiasts. Families can enjoy simple beach activities like castle-building and swimming while more energetic visitors can surf, paddle and kayak. Along the western shore of the island you will find three paddling trails through shallow waters that will bring you up close to a variety of coastal wildlife – birding is excellent on the island. There are also hiking trails on the island and ranger programs are on offer.
Mustang Island State Park, 9394 State Highway 361, Port Aransas, TX 78373, Phone: 361-749-5246
Settled by German immigrants in 1885, New Braunfels is full of small-town charm and old-world European character. You can soak up some of the atmosphere as you take a Historic Walking Tour through the Historic District of Greune, where you can see the ruins of an old grist mill and visit the Sophienburg Archives and Museum. If you are visiting with children you can all have fun at the McKenna Children’s Museum, the Schlitterbahn Water Park and the Natural Bridge Caverns. Beer lovers can explore the Hill Country Craft Beer Trail, while wine lovers have several vineyards and wineries to visit for tastings. For a unique experience you should try and visit during the annual Wurst (sausage) Festival or the Bier Fest.
New Braunfels, TX 78130-8135
© Brian Lasenby/stock.adobe.com
Lapped by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Port Arthur is a delightful coastal town which has plenty of attractions for holiday makers. If you love culture and history you can visit a few of Port Arthur’s historic stately homes like Rose Hill Manor and the Pompeian Villa, or stop by the Italian Heritage Monument and the Janis Joplin Museum. Outdoor attractions include the Sea Rim State Park where you can go fishing, swimming, kayaking and paddling. If you would like to explore the swamps by boat you can join one of Captain Eli Tate’s River Tours to get up close to alligators and a large variety of wildlife. Pleasure Island takes fun to the next level offering great birding, sailing, boating, fishing and camping.
Port Arthur, TX 77619-7655
21.Rockport - Fulton
Rockport is located just 161 miles from San Antonio, making this Gulf Coast resort an attractive option for a day-trip to the beach. Besides boasting Texas’ first Blue Wave Beach, Rockport also has a number of nature preserves on its doorstep. Goose Island State Park is great for camping, hiking, boating and birding, while the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge beckons all wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. You can get a great overview of the town by exploring on foot with the assistance of a down-loadable self-guided walking tour. Art lovers can spend a happy day exploring the Rockport Cultural Art District while history buffs can head to the Texas Maritime Museum and the Fulton Schoolhouse Museum. Seafood is king in Rockport – it would be a shame to leave without sampling the fresh stuffed shrimp.
Rockport – Fulton, TX 78381
Located a short distance north of Austin, Round Rock offers San Antonio day-trippers a fun destination. Round Rock was established back in 1851 along the banks of Brushy Creek, which boasted a large round rock used by wagoners and cattle drivers to cross the creek. You can see the famous round rock if you take the time to go walking or hiking along the trails in the Round Rock Memorial Park, which is also a good spot to stop for a picnic. You can learn more about the town’s history when you visit Chisholm Trail Crossing Park which has several commemorative plaques. For some family fun you can head to the Rock’N River Water Park.
Round Rock, TX 78681
23.San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Long before the city of San Antonio was established there were already four Catholic missions along the San Antonio River. Today you can visit these missions in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park which is located just 10 minutes from downtown. The missions are still active and regular services may be attended. You can easily visit the four historic old missions in your own time (using a down-loadable audio guide) or join one of the regular free guided tours. You can drive between the missions or explore on foot or by bicycle along the Mission Reach Hike or Bike trail which connects the four missions - rental bikes are available on site.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, 6701 San Jose Dr, San Antonio, TX 78214
24.San Antonio Zoo
You can treat the whole family to a fun and educational day out at the San Antonio Zoo (without even leaving the city limits). Your journey around the zoo will introduce you to a wide variety of fascinating animals from all corners of the world, including the Amazon Rain Forests and the jungles of deepest, darkest Africa. There are over 750 species to view but if you really want to get up close and personal you can book one of the Behind the Scenes zoo experiences where you could feed a giraffe, hippo, okapi or giant Aldabra tortoise. When little legs get tired you could all hop aboard the Zoo Train for a little rest – stops include the Witte Museum, Kiddie Park and Japanese Tea Gardens.
San Antonio Zoo, 3903 N. St. Mary’s Street, San Antonio, TX 78212, Phone: 210-734-7184
© Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
San Marcos is located between San Antonio and Austin, making it an easily accessible destination for day trippers. The town offers excellent outdoor activities for nature lovers along with the largest outlet shopping mall in the country for dedicated shoppers. You can experience the amazing underwater bubbling springs of Spring Lake on a Meadows Center Glass Bottom Boat tour, and see fish, turtles and other endemic lake creatures. Kayaking and paddle boarding are also available at Meadows Center and you can go river tubing at Don’s Fish Camp. Art and culture enthusiasts can visit the Center for Texas Music History, the Calaboose African American History Museum or browse the boutique stores and galleries in Downtown. Don’t leave without exploring the vibrant craft-beer brewery scene.
San Marcos, TX 78656-8667
25 Best Weekend and Day Trips from San Antonio
- Austin, Photo: jfortner2015/stock.adobe.com
- Big Bend National Park, Photo: skyoftexas/stock.adobe.com
- Blue Hole Nature Park, Photo: Robert/stock.adobe.com
- Canyon Lake, Photo: jfortner2015/stock.adobe.com
- Comanche Lookout Park, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- Corpus Christi, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Dallas, Photo: aphotostory/stock.adobe.com
- Davy Crockett National Forest, Photo: Mosto/stock.adobe.com
- Dr Pound Historical Farmstead Museum, Photo: Alta Oosthuizen/stock.adobe.com
- Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Photo: st_matty/stock.adobe.com
- Fredericksburg, Photo: Melanie/stock.adobe.com
- Friedrich Wilderness Area, Photo: Kiskadee Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Galveston Island, Photo: C.A.Palmira Photos/stock.adobe.com
- Government Canyon State Natural Area, Photo: Camille Lamoureux/stock.adobe.com
- Houston, Photo: Stephanie/stock.adobe.com
- Lockhart, Photo: Philip/stock.adobe.com
- Lost Maples State Natural Area, Photo: Martha Marks/stock.adobe.com
- Mustang Island State Park, Photo: cratervalley/stock.adobe.com
- New Braunfels, Photo: Jana/stock.adobe.com
- Port Arthur, Photo: Brian Lasenby/stock.adobe.com
- Rockport - Fulton, Photo: Cruk/stock.adobe.com
- Round Rock, Photo: GalinaSt/stock.adobe.com
- San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Photo: Ken/stock.adobe.com
- San Antonio Zoo, Photo: Elena/stock.adobe.com
- San Marcos, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: jovannig/stock.adobe.com