Combine history with fun entertainment and you’ve got a kid-pleasing day in San Antonio, Texas. Visiting the Alamo brings to life a poignant part of Texas history and having a blast at Ripley’s Believe It or Not fulfills your children’s criteria for a great time. Read on to learn about a kid-friendly (and educational) excursion your family can enjoy without a lot of running around or extra steps.The Alamo by day — Photo courtesy of Tim Thompson SACVB
The Alamo is situated in downtown San Antonio and close to a variety of attractions. If you’re staying downtown, ask your hotel concierge for a walking map, preferably with the Alamo highlighted. If you are not staying downtown, plan to park at Rivercenter Mall and the Alamo is only a short walk up the street. One of the best reasons to choose the Alamo for a family day is how easily a visit can be customized for all attention spans. Arrive early so that you can experience as much (or as little) as you like. The Alamo with visitors on a sunny day — Photo courtesy of Al Rendon/SACVB
Admission is free (always a budget-friendly option!) and the interior of the Alamo is actually quite small. In fact, most first time visitors to the Alamo are often surprised to find it is smaller than imagined. The benefit to parents with young children is that they can spend as little as 45 minutes touring the grounds or take time to study historical information.
Sharing with children about the Alamo’s significance in Texas often increases curiosity, giving mom and dad more time to enjoy the tour. Many children envision battles of good vs. evil when hearing stories of Davy Crockett. Eyes get big with imagination upon learning that James Bowie was sick in bed when the Battle of the Alamo occurred, yet legend says Bowie still took part in the fight. Reports say he died after emptying both pistols into soldiers as they invaded his bedroom. The defenders of the Alamo were hopelessly outnumbered but chose to fight to the end. The meaning of standing up for your beliefs against all odds is a wonderful message for children and clearly felt as you walk the grounds.
For $6, each person can borrow headphones and experience an audio tour. For parents guiding small children, this may not be the best option. A self-guided tour stopping to view short videos and take photos with cannons or other scenery may help make the visit more exciting for kids. The Alamo also features a nice sized gift shop with toys and other souvenirs to keep as mementos.
After you’ve reached your historic capacity for the day, simply walk out of the Alamo and across the street, and you’ll find Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Oftentimes, you’ll find snow cone stands and various food vendors on a small median area as you cross the street. It’s a great time to grab a snack before exploring the oddities at Ripley’s.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not in San Antonio is the largest interactive museum in the United States. There are over 500 exhibits, including wax figures of well-known personalities including Oprah, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, the actors from Twilight and many others. Filled with bright lights, funny exhibits and a revolving tunnel, kids enjoy exploring and guessing what things are and how they work. Attractions may change depending on when you visit.
Near Halloween, you may find a horror exhibit that feels more like a haunted house. Ripley’s does a great job with special effects, but this may be too scary for younger children. At one point during the horror exhibit you are forced to choose a door to enter into another area. If you choose the ‘wrong’ door something scary may be behind it, so you find yourself reluctant to open the next one. With the darkness and the flashing lights combined with loud sound effects, this can either be hilarious or disorienting depending on your age. Mammoth exhibit at Ripley's San Antonio — Photo courtesy of Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Other exhibits featuring religion and odd facts are scattered throughout the museum. For an extra charge, the museum also includes a 4D theater where you can experience the thrills of a fast paced snow ride or skate race.
Last, but not least, it may be time to re-fuel. After your family has experienced the peculiarities found at Ripley’s, complete your adventures with a visit to Casa Rio on the River Walk. The restaurant with its colorful umbrellas has been featured in dozens of tourist brochures and commercials about San Antonio. You’ll find it less than a mile from the Alamo. This family-friendly restaurant offers basic Tex-Mex and no frills (although Mariachis have been known to serenade diners). Casa Rio is a favorite among the locals and carries the honor of being the first business to open its doors on the River Walk over 50 years ago. Colorfully covered tables at Casa Rio — Photo courtesy of Al Rendon/SACVB
Remember the Alamo…and remember to plan ahead! All three of these featured destinations offer informative websites. You’ll find informative about events, promotions and ways to make your visit the best day ever.