Take in a Free Outdoor Movie, Historic Ruin and More in SA

You know what they say, nothing good comes for free. However, in San Antonio, that's not entirely true. In fact, there are dozens of fun, exciting, romantic and even enlightening adventures to be had! Keep reading to find out what you're missing out on!

Families and couples should check out Slab Cinema, which offers a variety of free movies at various beautiful and iconic locations around the city. These aren't B movies either. Get a chance to see some of your favorite flicks while picnicing in the park with your loved one(s). It might just be the best free deal in town! 

History buffs will love exploring the newly opened Hot Wells of Bexar County. Once a hot springs and hotel destination for stars and celebrities, the Hot Wells ruins are still an inspiration, not to mention free. 

If you're looking for something a bit more educational, with some refreshing A/C, several of the museums, such as the Witte and the McNay, offer free days throughout the week. So get out there and have some (free) fun!







McAllister Park has a lot to offer, chief among them; it has the best trails for bike riding in the city, but be careful as it's easy to get lost here! Although smack dab in the middle of the city, it feels like you're on a retreat. This park offers some of the most beautiful vistas and stunning variety of vegetation. It's a great place to take your camera for some scenic shots. McAllister is also a popular family spot as it has a multitude of baseball fields, soccer fields, rugby fields, multi-purpose fields, a children's play area, dog park, fitness stations, almost 200 picnic tables and fifteen miles of both hard and soft trails.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: McAllister Park offers a wide expanse of nature in the middle of this vast city. They have walking and biking trails and a playground.

Kimberly's expert tip: A great spot for birding! Nature lovers can find an array of wildlife here, from cardinals to deer.

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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 Free Things to Do because: On H-E-B Thursday Nights, this stunning museum offers free general admission from 4 to 9 pm.

Kimberly's expert tip: Don't neglect a stroll through the inner garden to see some beautiful sculptures and coy pond. It's beyond Instagram worthy!

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San Pedro Creek Culture Park
Photo courtesy of April Monterrosa

The City of San Antonio invested $125 million dollars into revitalizing the San Pedro Creek and transforming it into the San Pedro Creek Culture Park, which means a beautiful and free destination for visitors to enjoy throughout the year. Located on the western edge of downtown, near the Alamo, is a merging and celebration of this city's nature, art, and culture. The first section opened in May of 2018 and showcases the Plaza de Fundacion and its stunning "Rain from the Heavens" public art installation of custom tile work that adorns a dozen generational benches. Visitors can stroll through this picturesque park, very similar to the riverwalk, and take in their surroundings, which includes a variety of commissioned murals and art pieces that depict the history and culture of San Pedro Creek.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The new San Pedro Creek Culture Park is a great way to explore the culture of San Antonio with the family at no expense.

Kimberly's expert tip: The ideal place to go for a morning jog or grab a cup of coffee and go for a walk if you're staying in the downtown area.

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San Antonio's Japanese Tea Gardens feels like a set straight out of a movie, something like What Dreams May Come or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The point is, it's a magical and enchanting place, perfect for declarations of love and sonnet writing. The restored garden is a beautiful destination all year long and features a verdant garden and floral display with shaded walkways, stone bridges, a 60-foot waterfall and ponds filled with fat and happy Koi. A whimsically winding walkway encompasses the garden and makes for nice after dinner stroll. If you visit just one of San Antonio's landmarks, be sure to make it this one!

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Japanese Tea Garden is a source of inspiration, perfect for a romantic or meditative meandering.

Kimberly's expert tip: Make a day of it and hit up the Zoo right next door!

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Blue Star Arts Complex is a hub of San Antonio's Southtown arts district. This expansive complex is home to art galleries, studios, a playhouse, commercial and residential space as well as the Blue Star Brewery, which is a fantastic place to go for lunch, dinner or just a brew out on the patio after a long day of sight-seeing. It's also part of the new riverwalk extension. Locals like to go bike riding on this section of the river. Blue Star Bike Shop is located next to the brewery and is a great way to spend the day with the family. With a beautiful view of the riverwalk and access to so many wonderful shops, this is a must-see destination while visiting San Antonio!

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Blue Star offers fresh vibes and fun times every First Friday of the month. It's free to enjoy the local arts walk and eclectic culture.

Kimberly's expert tip: Pop into the Brick if you want to do a little shopping for a variety of locally-made goods as well as nighttime snacks, such as Cereal Killer Sweets gourmet cereal bars.

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San Antonio

The Pearl Brewery is one of the coolest places you can visit in San Antonio. This brewery, established in 1883 and once home to Pabst beer, has recently been transformed from a historic brewery to a thriving multi-use space where you can eat, shop, learn, work and live. The Pearl is situated next to the recent Riverwalk expansion, so you can catch a tour boat or walk from the Pearl all the way downtown, past the San Antonio Museum of Art and numerous artistic elements that have been carefully built into the landscape. You'll find fine dining to street food restaurants, a great coffee shop run by the Culinary institute and more. The Culinary Institute and the Aveda School have facilities at the Pearl and both are open to patrons. Every Saturday, the Pearl is host to an amazing Farmer's Market and has become a traditional Saturday event for locals.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: You can get a real sense of the evolving culture in San Antonio just by walking around the Pearl Brewery and exploring.

Kimberly's expert tip: There's plenty of free things to do at the Pearl, from live concerts to playing in the water park.

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King William District
King William Historic Area
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta

Within this lovely district, leading German merchants settled in the late 19th century. Today, its elegant Victorian mansions and tree-lined streets are a pleasure to behold. Madison, Guenther, and King William streets are particularly pretty for a stroll or drive. Stop in at the Guenther House or Steves Homestead, two historic homes that offer guided tours. The former features a small museum of mill memorabilia, a gift shop, and a restaurant serving fine German pastries and full breakfasts and lunches. Perfect for family bike rides, river walks or even a picnic.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Taking a tour of King William, one of the first established neighborhoods in San Antonio, the perfect "free" afternoon adventure of history and architecture.

Kimberly's expert tip: Make sure to take a stroll or hop on a bike along the Riverwalk in King William to enjoy the city the way the locals do. If you keep walking north from here you will end up in the commercial part of the Riverwalk in no time!

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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 Free Things to Do because: The Witte Museum hosts unique and often interactive exhibits that are entertaining for both adults and kids.

Kimberly's expert tip: Witte Museum Admission is free on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m.

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Hot Wells of Bexar County
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta

Hot Wells is an historic ruin with a fascinating story and a beloved icon of San Antonio. Without knowing the history of this place, you might escape it's lure. The ruin itself is fun to explore, however it's the history that will have you going back for a visit time and time again. Once upon a time, movie stars and other celebrities took in the healing waters at Hot Wells, when it was a hotel and hot springs spa of sorts. There was just something special about it, and still is. Even after it burned down, people still visited and snuck in the hot springs. Just recently, Bexar County put some work into and opened it up as a historic park that everyone can enjoy for free. Located along the southern stretch of the riverwalk, known as Mission Reach, bring your friends, bring your dog and take a part of San Antonio's history.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Hot Wells is a free and unique historic site and Bexar County Park worth seeing on the South side of San Antonio.

Kimberly's expert tip: While you're on the south side of the city, swing by Carnitas Lonjas for a quick bite to eat. Their pork carnitas tacos made with homemade corn tortillas are succulent and puro San Anto, as they say here.

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San Antonio
Slab Cinema
Photo courtesy of Slab Cinema

What's better than an outdoor movie? A free outdoor movie! And thanks to Slab Cinema, which provides free movie watching experiences all over the city of San Antonio, you have the opportunity to enjoy popular films, often several times a month. Slab Cinema started in 2004 and has been a favorite family activity ever since. From The Little Mermaid to War Games and even a Coen Brothers triple feature which includes Raising Arizona, Big Lebowski and Fargo, Slab Cinema pops up at the coolest, iconic venues, ranging from the San Antonio Museum of Art (at Confluence Park) to Hemisfair Park and even the Alamo. On the Southside, they've been playing movies on a restored drive-in screen at Mission Marquee Plaza. Typically, the movies tend towards family-friendly flicks, but the content varies, so be sure to check out their website to see what's coming up. Bring a blanket or chair, maybe a cooler with some drinks and snacks and you're set for the evening. Often the venues have food trucks or access to nearby restaurants, in case you don't have time to prepare. Free never felt so fun!

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Slab Cinema is a great way to enjoy family time watching your favorite movies for free at iconic locations around San Antonio.

Kimberly's expert tip: Slab Cinema doesn't want you to miss the movie, so they ask that you be there before dusk. The movie starts approximately 15 minutes after the official sunset time.

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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