San Antonio’s Hidden Family Destination

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Yes, it's a long drive away from home, but I discovered a swanky, all-inclusive hidden gem in San Antonio.

Considering the fact that it’s a whopping 16-hour drive from Nashville, a family trip to San Antonio, Texas, was not on my horizon. It’s a long haul even without three young children. However, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to wind up in “Alamo City” recently and I discovered a terrific family destination at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa.

FAMILY ACTIVITIES GALORE!

The resort is busting with lots of activities for everyone in your family. Several free daily happenings include arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, kickball, water balloon tosses and more. Lobby signs let you know what’s on deck each day.

If you’re a sports-centric outdoorsy clan, you’re in luck. Hill Country lets you enjoy healthy competition in the way of soccer, flag football, sand volleyball, tennis, bocce ball, horseshoes and cornhole. The sand on the new badminton court in “Pat’s Playground” lets your fantasize about the beach. It also features slides and climbing obstacles for kids with energy to burn.

Lure Dad with the 27-hole Hill Country Golf Club, but it also offers family-friendly programming and Family Express Golf, suitable to all, regardless of ability. It’s $69 for two players; $20 each additional player (includes clubs and balls). You’ll play on the Lakes, Creeks and Oaks nine-hole courses offering tees at shorter distances, which makes the game more enjoyable for youngsters or even for you if you’re a newbie. Little ones can use rubber, tennis or golf balls while they learn to play the game with you.

I enjoyed a leisurely bike ride on paved trails around the resort. Bikes of various sizes are available to rent for free on a first-come, first-served basis. Got a baby in tow? Bring your own accessories if you want him to ride along.

RELAX & CHILL OUT

Hyatt Regency Hill Country Spa & Resort’s water slide.

Texas heat getting to ya? It’s water time! I hit the lazy river and it’s almost entirely in shade, providing a perfect respite from the sun. The resort also has an awesome five-acre water park including multiple pools, a water slide and a wave machine (the simulator requires a fee).

Hyatt Regency Hill Country Spa & Resort’s shady lazy river.

Even the most close-knit family can use “me time” on vacation. The Windflower Spa and secluded pool called my name, so I thought, what would I do with the kids? Oh, I know — Camp Hyatt! The day camp is available at three different times for potty trained children ages 3 – 12. They can have fun bead making, doing arts and crafts, sniffing around on a scavenger hunt, swimming, hiking, playing games, and basically doing all the things kids love to do most. Book the camp at least 24 hours in advance for $40 – $50 per child, per session. Afternoon and evening sessions include meals.

End your day on a sweet note, too. From 7 – 9 p.m., kids gather around the giant fire pit to make s’mores (see photo at top). Then, grab a blanket and head to the lawn for a family friendly movie. Screenings take place daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, then weekends only during the rest of the year.

A TASTE OF SAN ANTONIO

One of my favorite things about traveling is exploring food options. If you want to dress up, the resort has a variety of dining options like Antlers Lodge. Springhouse Café is perfect for a quick sandwich; Papa Ed’s Pool Bar & Grill lets you grab a bite in between outdoor activities and Papa’s Ice Cream Parlor serves icy treats. However, if you want to explore the local flavors of the city (why not?), there’s great fare off site, too.

For breakfast, Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia is a must — it’s open 24/7. Here, you can feast on a Mexican-inspired breakfast and sample the pastries. Kids will enjoy the cinnamon-laced Mexican hot chocolate. Be sure to take some of the decadent pecan pralines with you; they’re what Mi Tierra is known for.

The puffy taco at Viola’s Ventanas.

For lunch, make your way to Viola’s Ventanas featuring an outdoor playground for the kids. I’m still thinking about those puffy tacos! The menu is filled with mouth-watering food. You’ll want to try everything!

SAN ANTONIO DELIGHTS

Although you can enjoy a full stay at Hill Country resort without ever leaving, make the most of your trip by enjoying some of San Antonio’s must-see attractions.

The Alamo is San Antonio’s most famous site, and it’s also the most visited landmark in Texas. Dating back to 1836, your family can learn about the freedom fighters who died here.

Thrill-seeking older kids will want to hit Six Flags Fiesta Texas. The amusement park has rides for all ages and bravery levels, but it’s known for its superhero-themed coasters. Batman the Ride and Superman: Krypton Coaster are big draws, and the Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster makes its debut this spring. It’s the world’s first single-rail coaster.

SeaWorld is near the resort and full of fun featuring Discovery Point and Aquatica. Discovery Point offers up close encounters with beluga whales, dolphins and orcas — an unforgettable, emotional experience. For additional fees, you can book in-the-water experiences with dolphins, belugas or sea lions; talk about a memory-making experience for your kids!

 

Feeding the sea lions @seaworldtexas !!!! Stinky fish!!

A post shared by Kiera Ashford (@kiera_ashford) on


READ MORE: Beautiful Beluga Encounters

The Aquatica side of SeaWorld boasts a variety of water park rides and slides. One float goes through a grotto filled with rays and exotic fish. New this year is the Taumata Racer. Opening March 10, it’s a high-speed waterslide zooming brave ones downhill head first on a foam bodysurfing mat.

Have fun in the sun at Aquatica in SeaWorld.

There are several coasters at SeaWorld, too. Your little ones will enjoy a visit at the park’s Sesame Street Bay or Play featuring rides, floats and character visits.

You’ll find the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park for children with any ability at Morgan’s Inspiration Island. There are five water play areas that guests with disabilities can use. The park offers waterproof wheelchairs, too. Kids will particularly enjoy the River Boat Adventure ride’s twists and turns meandering through a jungle setting.

READ MORE: Special Needs Getaway: Morgan’s Inspiration Island

For a festive animal encounter adventure, make your way to the San Antonio Zoo. Everyone in your family can hand feed lettuce to a friendly giraffe (it’s a small additional fee, but well worth the experience). I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling and you won’t be able to either! You’re also sure to love the playfulness of Uma the hippo as she swims about. The zoo boasts 750 species on 56 acres, so there’s a lot to see. Your littlest ones 5 and younger will have fun in the Tiny Tots nature spot where they can dig, climb and even get wet (bring swim diapers). Of course, all kids enjoy the petting zoo.

 

You can actually feed the giraffes at @sanantoniozoo !!!’

A post shared by Kiera Ashford (@kiera_ashford) on

 

After a full day, get back to that resort! How I loved the big, comfy pillows. I had great sleeping while I was there — good thing, because it was pretty much go, go, go during the day!

Featured photo at top provided by Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort. All other photos and videos by Kiera Ashford.

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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