Best Family-Friendly Museums in San Antonio

San Antonio Museums Offer History, Art and Interactive Exhibits for Families

San Antonio is a hub of rich culture, heritage and history, and the museums here aptly reflect that diversity. The Alamo City has some of the finest museums in all of Texas, with renowned art work and historical pieces that put them at the top of anyone's list. 

The DoSeum Children's Museum recently opened its doors to their new building and are easily a favorite destination for families with kids that range from toddlers to pre-teens. The interactive exhibits are intended to engage children in fun, learning activities that are both creative and intellectually-stimulating. Make sure to check out their website for upcoming events. 

The McNay Art Museum is one of the most beautiful museums and is home to numerous unparalleled works of art by famous artists, from Monet to Rodin. The interior courtyard is like a magical garden that enchants kids and adults of all ages.

For something truly Texas, check out the Institute of Texas Cultures to learn about their thrilling history, such as their involvement in the Civil War. The Texas Ranger Museum is another venue full of exciting Texas history. They also boast activities for children such as a kid's shooting range.

Find out what else is in store for you in San Antonio! 



Located across the street from the Alamo and the historic Menger hotel, Ripley's is a place like no other. There are over 500 exhibits including wax figures of well-known personalities (think Oprah, Dr. Phil, characters from your favorite movies) and hand painted murals depicting America's history. Other exhibits featuring religion and odd facts are scattered throughout the museum. The museum also includes a 4D theater where you can experience the thrills of a fast paced snow ride or skate race. Ripley's San Antonio is the largest interactive museum in the United States. Again, because of its proximity to other major attractions like the Alamo and the River Walk, it is a definite 'must see' to add to your San Antonio agenda.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: If you're family likes to do fun and unique things, this wax museum might just be the perfect choice.

Kimberly's expert tip: The horror exhibit is graphically interactive and may scare young children and babies.

Read more about Ripley's Believe It Or Not →

This museum is a bizarre hybrid featuring the Buckhorn Saloon, an extensive wildlife and horn collection, three floors of furniture crafted from horns and antlers, and a collection of "Rattlesnake Art." The saloon includes a wooden bar made of cherry and walnut and carved in the 1890s. The wildlife and horn collection continues to expand as collectors loan their exotic pieces. In the furniture collection, don't miss the gift to Teddy Roosevelt, a chair made out of sixty-two buffalo horns. In addition to these attractions, the Buckhorn includes the Texas History Wax Museum and live performances by gunslingers, cowboy singers, and trick ropers.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Families interested in local wildlife will enjoy this very unique exhibit.

Kimberly's expert tip: Enjoy taking in all the downtown sights!

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The Texas Ranger Museum is home to literally hundreds of Texas artifacts relating to life as a Texas Ranger. Visitors will find everything from revolvers to knives to badge and sawed off shotguns. One of the most popular areas of the museum is a recreation of a San Antonio at the turn of the century. The Texas Ranger Museum calls it 'Ranger Town.' Many parents enjoy the activities for children. They have a kids 'shooting range' that many children will want to do again and again so a bench is provided for parents while they wait. Another positive: If your kids want to come back again, the museum will allow you free entrance the next day if you bring your receipts.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: For families interested in local history, this museum provides a plethora of interesting items.

Kimberly's expert tip: This museum is located downtown and an easy stop if you are also visiting the Alamo and other museums in the area.

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The Texas Air Museum is proud to boast significant collection of aircraft, historic weapons, vehicles and other items from times gone by. The museum is honored to have in its possession a Focke-Wulf 190. This WWII fighter plane is considered rare to own and is one of the main attractions. The Focke-Wulf 190 was used as a fighter bomber during WWII as well as a ground attack aircraft. Kathryn Stinson, one of America's first female pilots and known for flight acrobatics had an early aircraft called a Bleriot. The Texas Air Museum has bragging rights as it includes Ms. Stinson's personal Bleriot.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The kids will love seeing things that you can't find anywhere else.

Kimberly's expert tip: The museum is definitely not 'flashy' but has many items of historical interest. Very casual and while it could be kept in better shape, the museum has a great amount of potential and is an opportunity for learning and education.

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The Texas Transportation Museum seeks to educate on how advancing transportation technology has impacted our daily lives. Run by volunteers, the museum is proud that all of its equipment, displays and exhibits were provided or built by volunteers with a passion for transportation. There are four locomotive steam engines on the property with a true to life historic depot. The museum provides train rides on authentic coaches and hosts events such as the Ford Model T Show and the San Antonio Train Show. If you visit around Christmastime there is sure to be a train ride featuring Santa and "Wonderland" themes on the property. Guests will also find historic and preserved carriages, model railroads and automobiles on three different scales. Kid friendly and educational at the same time!

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: For something a little off the beaten path, families can enjoy these old locomotives.

Kimberly's expert tip: The museum also hosts parties and festive events. It's a great option for kids who want to take a ride on a 'real' train!

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Institute of Texan Cultures
Photo courtesy of Joshua Simmons

The Institute of Texan Cultures is located downtown and is within walking distance of the Alamo, the River Walk and Rivercenter Mall.This interactive museum features over 65,000 square of exhibits. Visitors are educated on the stories of past and present Texans. Go back in time as you visit a cabin restored from frontier times. Past exhibits include the Buffalo Soldiers of Texas and how they fought in the Civil War. One ongoing exhibit is The Back 40. This is a 'living' exhibit in that you can walk in to a typical one room schoolhouse; visit a hill country barn, and even early military barracks that were all a part of Texas life in the mid to late 1800s. The museum is kid friendly and all Texans should visit at least once. If you are visiting San Antonio, this is a must see attraction!

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Institute of Texan Cultures is another great place to learn about the various cultures that have influences this region.

Kimberly's expert tip: If you plan to arrive later in the day, call ahead. If you arrive with limited time left during their business hours,it is possible you will get to view the museum at no charge.

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The San Antonio Museum of Art boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Near Eastern art in the southern United States. It is also one of the largest collections found in public museums. The size and variety of all the exhibitions is astonishing. Located on the River Walk, the museum is also host to many children during the school year. The vast array of educational information makes it a very attractive place for field trips. The museum hosts over 500 guided tours each year and is appealing to adults seeking scholarly immersion as well as families with young children.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The San Antonio Museum of Art is one of the finest in the country.

Kimberly's expert tip: If you know that you'll be visiting in the future, it is a good idea to sign up for the email list on their website. They send out weekly updates about educational programs, upcoming exhibits and other interesting events that take place on site.

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If you only visit one museum in San Antonio, make sure it's the McNay. Not only do they have a superb art collection, the museum itself is a work of art. This 24-room, Spanish colonial revival-style mansion and its own sizable collection was donated by Marion Koogler McNay, an American painter and art teacher. The museum focuses primarily on 19th and 20th century European and American art and has some impressive pieces by artists such as Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Georgia O'Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Mary Cassatt and Edward Hopper. Also, be sure to visit the absolutely stunning interior courtyard, complete with a Japanese-inspired garden and fishpond. It's a nice place to sit and ponder.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The McNay is a stunning museum with top notch art and exhibits.

Kimberly's expert tip: Check the website for current and upcoming exhibits – they're usually worth the trip!

Read more about McNay Art Museum in San Antonio →

This is a great museum for families! Built on the banks of the San Antonio River, the Witte is considered San Antonio's foremost museum. With a four story tree house and dinosaur bones, kids are hooked as soon as they arrive. The tree house itself features endless hands on science related activities and a ride on a 'Sky-cycle' 15 feet in the air! Adults appreciate the Texas art and in May 2012, an extraordinary South Texas Heritage Center opened. Long term exhibits include dinosaurs and mummies among other fascinating collections. The Witte will often host special events and exhibits that are an additional fee on top of the museum costs. Ask the staff to tell you about the most current featured exhibits to help you determine whether or not you want to add this to your regular museum ticket price and tour.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Witte Museum is a great place to take the kids to enjoy educational exhibits.

Kimberly's expert tip: Take the train from right outside the San Antonio Zoo to the Witte Museum. It stops right outside the museum and will pick you back up on your way out (during operating hours).

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The DoSeum
Photo courtesy of Open Travel

The new DoSeum Children's Museum sits on 5.5 acres of property and includes 26,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space and an additional 39,000 square feet of outdoor exhibit play space. It offers unique exhibits unlike any other children's museum in the U.S., including an interactive robot, a spy academy filled with math challenges, an interactive puppet parade, a musical staircase like in the movie Big, an ADA-accessible treehouse, a children's river and a significant outdoor exhibit area. There's truly something for kids of all ages. Toddlers will enjoy spending time in Little Town, while the six- to ten-year-olds will have fun in the Spy Academy. The literacy exhibit, called Imagine It, is a brilliant interactive story-making exhibit that enables kids to pair fantasy with imagination in order to build a story where they are the real heroes. By using 2D and 3D elements they construct an animated story frame-by-frame. Parents will appreciate that the majority of the exhibits at The DoSeum boast a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) focus, integrated with literacy and creative arts concepts, for a 21st century learning experience.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The San Antonio Children's Museum is a fantastic place for the little ones to enjoy games and learning opportunities.

Kimberly's expert tip: Free Kids' Night is every third Tuesday of the month from 6pm-8pm.

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Meet Kimberly Suta

Kimberly A. Suta is a professional freelance writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur with a background in marketing, advertising and social media. Her first business, Midnight Sun Innovations,...  More About Kimberly