Best Things to Do in December in San Antonio

From Dia de los Muertos to a Riverwalk Wonderland in San Antonio

San Antonio continues to "wow" with its world class festivities and unique celebrations unlike anywhere else in the country!

El Dia de los Muertos is a perfect example of that. San Antonio has become the premier destination in America for Day of the Dead celebrations, with parades, live music, altars and great holiday food. A holiday that went mainstream thanks to the movie Coco, these celebrations are more than just fun, they're a vibrant way to celebrate life and honor past loved ones.

If you have kiddos, make sure to take them to either the San Antonio Zoo, Fiesta Texas or SeaWorld for their in-house holiday fun for kids and families... or all three! If you purchase a Go San Antonio (GoCity) Pass, you can get a discount on multiple entertainment parks. 

Finally, while the Alamo City may not (usually) have snow, when it comes to Christmastime, the River Walk is hard to beat. Although you may see a palm tree or two, the hundreds of thousands of lights create a magical atmosphere that, coupled with hot cocoa, caroling and festive river boat rides, makes even the Scroogiest soul believe in Christmas miracles once more!


HemisFair Park

If you're visiting San Antonio for the first time or have not been before, Hemisfair Park is a must see destination spot. Recently renovated, this lush, beautifully landscaped neighborhood park, located in the center of downtown, was originally created for the World's Fair in 1968. 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: Explore the newly renovated HemisFair Park, featuring new restaurants and a fun playground for the kids.

Kimberly's expert tip: If you're in the mood for an adventure, take the trolley bus from downtown to the park and then continue on to San Antonio's arts district, Southtown, to see all the great places that San Antonio has to offer.

Read more about HemisFair Park →

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: This is the best time of year to enjoy the Zoo, and the animals all agree!

Kimberly's expert tip: The Zoo puts on all sorts of holiday festivities, from the Zoo Boo around Halloween to Whataburger Zoo Lights, their Christmas-themed event.

Read more about San Antonio Zoo →

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 Things to Do in December because: Hot Wells is the newest park to pop up in the city and has a fascinating history worth revisiting.

Kimberly's expert tip: While on this side of town, you can also find the historic missions nearby.

Read more about Hot Wells of Bexar County →


There are an infinite number of reasons why the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is the preeminent place to stay in San Antonio. The most notable being that it's home to the largest and most luxurious spa in the state of Texas. The Lantana Spa features a private pool and 30 treatment rooms including two couples suites with fireplaces and two outdoor private treatment rooms. Our spa fitness center offers the latest in cardio training equipment, free weights and weight training equipment. The resort also sports a 36-hole, TPC golf course featuring two championship courses on the PGA Tour and a spectacular water park that touts a 1,200-ft. lazy river, water slides, a rapid river ride the kids will love and even an infinity pool for adults. If that's not enough, now there's one more scrumptious incentive, particularly for traveling or local foodies and slow food aficionados. The resort's executive chef, Ryan Littman, is one of the best in San Antonio!

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: 'Tis the season to refresh and nothing helps you do that better than a spa day in the Texas Hill Country.

Kimberly's expert tip: We recommend staying the night but if that's not in the cards you can simply buy a day pass for 30 dollars.

Read more about JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa →

ARC's Wine Plus - Hill Country Wine Tours
Photo courtesy of Ranches of Brushy Top

The beautiful little German towns are not the only reason that visitors and locals flock to the mecca known as the Texas Hill Country. It was voted the number 2 wine destination in the nation, second only to Napa, by Orbitz Travel 2007. The area is home to over 30 wineries, each with its own flavor and unique venues and this Texas Hill Country Wine Tour is the perfect way to really relax and enjoy the fruit of the Texas vines and the beautiful scenery that goes with it! Your wine tour adventure includes a fabulous guide to cater to your needs throughout the day, comfortable, air conditioned transportation (usually a luxury mini-bus*), as well as visits, tastings, and sometimes winery tours to at least 3 wineries throughout the Texas Wine Country. Guests will also enjoy a delicious along with Texas wines, trivia, and some general wine knowledge.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: ARC's tours are a fabulous introduction to Texas wine, beer and spirits, especially this time of year, when it's cool enough to enjoy it.

Kimberly's expert tip: ARC also offers cocktail tours in the Historic Pearl and King William areas for a sip of the local scene.

Read more about ARC's Wine Plus - Hill Country Wine Tours →

SeaWorld San Antonio
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta

SeaWorld should be on everyone's list when visiting San Antonio, no matter what your age. Although they have some great rides, such as the Steel Eel and Great White rollercoasters, the best reason to go to SeaWorld is for the animals and the animal-centric shows. They have dolphins and stingrays that you can "pet" if you are lucky enough for them to swim by you, a magnificent oceanarium filled with all sorts of creatures, including sharks and giant sea turtles. The shows are outstanding and include dolphins, Beluga whales and sea lions. Oh, and did we mention the penguins? Yes, there are penguins in Texas, if you can believe it!

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: December is a great month to enjoy the live animals, shows and family fun at this world renowned entertainment park.

Kimberly's expert tip: SeaWorld puts on a Christmas Celebration from November 23 through January 5 transforming the park into a wintry and watery wonderland of lights, shows, food and Santa Claus!

Read more about SeaWorld San Antonio →

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 Things to Do in December because: SAMA is one of the best museums in Texas with a variety of established and new exhibits, classic and modern art.

Kimberly's expert tip: Currently, the museum is exhibiting Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement until January.

Read more about San Antonio Museum of Art →

El Dia de los Muertos
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta

San Antonio is on its way to becoming known as the premier destination for Dia de los Muertos celebrations. You can find a all sorts of free festivities happening around the city during this time, including a big celebration at La Villita and the Historic Pearl. See parades, altars, holiday foods, skulls made of sugar and marigolds, which are common "offerings" to departed loved ones on El Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead. Every November 2nd, this Mexican custom welcomes back for a day friends and family members who have passed away. Tastefully decorated graves help cemeteries shed their somber aspect, and participants dressed as skeletons take to the streets in the raucous calavera procession.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: There's never a bad time of year to visit San Antonio's iconic Alamo.

Kimberly's expert tip: Bring pictures or special items with you to leave at the various alters in honor of your own loved ones.

Read more about El Dia de los Muertos →

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 makes for a fun day trip for couples or families, with a historic shopping district, amazing restaurants and a relaxed vibe.

Kimberly's expert tip: Make sure to stop in The Barn Pottery for some gorgeous functional ceramics made by talented artists all over Texas.

Read more about Gruene Hall →

River Walk
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta

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 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: Enjoy a great meal at one of the renowned River Walk restaurants, such as Biga on the Banks or Boudro's.

Read more about River Walk →


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