Located just outside of San Antonio, this wonderland of wild animals is a great way to spend your afternoon, especially if you have kids or just love animals. It's like having a mini Africa in the middle of Texas. How it works: You meander (safely in your vehicle) through 400 acres of magnificent live oak trees, rolling green hills and creek beds where 500 animals from 40 exotic, native and endangered species roam free. You get a free bag of food for the animals with the purchase of your ticket and can buy more if you like. You then throw food to the animals so that they'll come up to your vehicle. In actuality, the animals are so used to getting fed they come up to your car anyway, sometimes blocking the way until you throw them a handful. Beware of the Ostrich, however, as they can be very territorial!
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This is a fun outing for couples or families that doesn't require any exertion, just a lot of photo opps with the animals!
Kimberly's expert tip: It's best to go in the morning or on a cool day to get the most out of this experience. Otherwise, you might find all the animals snoozing under the shade trees!
If you're visiting San Antonio for the first time or have not been before, Hemisfair Park is a must see destination spot. This lush, beautifully landscaped neighborhood park, located in the center of downtown, was originally created for the World's Fair in 1968. In recent years, it's become home to San Antonio's largest arts exhibit known as Luminaria. Walking this park will not only give you a good workout, but will lead you to some of the best destinations in San Antonio, including the Tower of the Americas, the Institute of Texan Cultures and the Magik Children's Theatre, just for starters. The park is also located directly across the street from La Villita, the historic arts village which is great for shopping!
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: From a kiddie park to restaurants and a wine bar, not to mention the Tower of the Americas, there's plenty to do here.
Kimberly's expert tip: Check out Dough Pizzeria for an amazing Neapolitan pie!
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 Things to Do in December because: Simply walking the beautiful grounds of the McNay is such a treat this time of year. There are endless nooks for memorable moments!
Kimberly's expert tip: Check the website for current and upcoming exhibits. They are always exceptional.
More unforgettable experiences in San Antonio
If you're a thrill seeker, you cannot visit San Antonio without stopping off at Fiesta Texas, one of the best entertainment parks in the country. Located on 200 acres of what used to be a rock quarry, this theme park features teeth-chattering rides, great shows, and incredible attractions, plus White Water Bay water park for cooling off during the hot summer months. Although Fiesta Texas used to be geared more towards the Looney Tunes characters like Bugs Bunny, Fiesta Texas has now become the place to go for thrill rides. They have some of the most spine-tingling roller coasters you'll ever ride, including the Rattler and Superman Krypton Coaster.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: It's always a good day to visit one of America's most awesome theme park, but it's even more fun to go during the holidays.
Kimberly's expert tip: "Holiday in the Park" runs until January with glittering lights, delicious snacks and a festive spin on your favorite rides.
San Antonio likes to lead the way in all things and the zoo is no exception. Parents magazine ranked the San Antonio Zoo as one of the Top 10 Best Zoos for Kids. It is also the third largest zoo in the nation so there is plenty to see. Home to over 8,500 animals, the zoo is open 365 days a year, rain or shine. There are plenty of places to grab a cold drink or a bite to eat as you spend the day exploring. The San Antonio Zoo is about 10 minutes from the downtown area. We recommend you bring your sunscreen as you explore this friendly animal world. Your kids will want to stay awhile.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: San Antonio Zoo is one of the best in the country with a wide array of exhibits the whole family can enjoy.
Kimberly's expert tip: In S. Texas, it's always best to go on a cool day if you want to see the animals in a more adventurous mood.
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 Things to Do in December because: Slab Cinema offers good family fun! The movie offerings vary and range from holiday favorites like The Grinch to old black-and-whites.
Kimberly's expert tip: Check out the website for dates and details. Make sure to get there at least 15 minutes before dusk.
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. Make sure to visit the website to find out what festive events they have going on throughout the month of December.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The historic Pearl is one of San Antonio's premier destinations for dining, shopping and sight-seeing.
Kimberly's expert tip: A great place to Christmas shop for special gifts you won't find anywhere else. Take a lunch break at the food hall for some ramen or Caribbean fare.
If you want to find great shopping, food and the oldest dance hall in the Lone Star State, you'll have to make the trip back in time to a tiny community right outside New Braunfels, called Gruene, but pronounced like green. Gruene Hall has been in continuous operation since 1878, and over the years folks like Lyle Lovett, George Strait, and Robert Earl Keen've played to packed houses. During the day, Gruene is a favorite of history buffs and antique hounds, who scour stores like Cactus Jacks and Black Swann for everything from old bottles and battered signs to European furniture and arrowheads. There're also a few places to cool your heels, most notably Janie's Table, known for their Hill Country-style. The Grist Mill is another notable destination for great food, right along the river.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Gruene Hall is an historic live music venue and even offers free events throughout the month.
Kimberly's expert tip: Gruene is a charming little hamlet, perfect for a day trip, so make sure to take time to dine and shop.
It's a rare thing in the San Antonio area to be able to witness the changing of the seasons, but if that's what you're looking for, you don't have to go terribly far to find it. Just a few hours northwest of San Antonio is a state park known as Lost Maples. Although it makes for an extraordinary excursion any time of the year, during the fall, this grove of "lost maples" turns all the beautiful colors of autumn. This scenic park is also known for its abundant wildflowers, steep canyon walls and the gorgeous Sabinal River. This is a great place to take the whole family, especially once fall has hit Texas. Go hiking, photo trekking, fishing, birding, camping, stargazing or hunting for geocaches. With 10 miles of trails, it's easy to get happily lost in this wonderland.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This is the perfect time of year to explore S. Texas parks and few are more gorgeous than Lost Maples.
Kimberly's expert tip: Make sure to take the scenic route from San Antonio to take full advantage of nature's gifts and inspirations!
Travel + Leisure ranked the San Antonio River Walk as the #1 River Walk in America. Also known as Paseo del Rio, this major tourist attraction brings in over five million visitors a year. Delight yourself with a relaxing dinner at one of the numerous restaurants or cafes that line the river. Spice it up by visiting one of the numerous night spots or enjoying the sounds of mariachis and other live music. Adults and children enjoy floating on river boats piloted by San Antonio's humorous tour guides. The River Walk is the perfect place to hang out with family, shop and site see or sit quietly with your date while you enjoy the sounds of a bubbling waterfall.
Recommended for Things to Do in December because: With hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, music and good cheer, the River Walk is a must this time of year.
Kimberly's expert tip: The River Walk lights are already sparkling! Grab a hot cocoa from Kilwins and walk along the river in wonder.