Looking for ways to extend your San Antonio vacation? Annex your Texas travels with the best day trips from San Antonio, TX. Embark on journeys to charming cities, small towns with big personalities, and beautiful state parks abundant with natural wonders.
Make a splash in your Texas getaway by inner-tubing down the Guadalupe River. Explore endless hiking trails at the state parks and discover why the Texas State Capital’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” (And don’t forget to test out all the tastiest barbecue joints along the way!)
Want to take your Lone Star State holiday to the next level? Discover all that south-central Texas has to offer with this complete guide to the top San Antonio side trips.
Top-rated San Antonio side trips
Curious about Texas history and culture? Zip an hour northwest to the Texas Hill Country and spend a day in picturesque Fredericksburg. This city is among the most popular day trips from San Antonio for its living history museums and historic downtown.
Browse the Fredericksburg General Store for antiques, souvenirs, and handmade specialties ranging from birdhouses to jams. Strut down Main Street for locally-owned boutiques and restaurants. Bounce between the museums, shops, and wineries, experiencing an interesting mix of German heritage and western cowboy culture.
Peruse the Pioneer Museum and learn about the German immigrants who settled on this land in 1846. Step back in time into their one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith workshop, and log cabins. At the National Museum of the Pacific War, find over 900 artifacts from the Pacific Theater of World War II. Witness a weekend combat reenactment to immerse yourself in the heat of the battle.
Cruise down Highway 290 with a stop by Wildseed Farms. Romp about the 200 acres of blooming wildflowers, then continue to the 290 Wine Trail.
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At Safari Winery, sip an internationally curated glass of wine on the shady patio, then head to the Grape Creek Vineyard‘s rustic-chic wine tasting room.
San Marcos has something for everyone, from shoppers to nature lovers. Just a quick drive away, a side trip to this college town will help you get the most out of your Texas experience.
Cheer for Texas State University at Bobcats Stadium, enjoying the energetic spirit of folks tailgating and revving up for the game. Later, beat the Texas heat at the San Marcos River. Explore the river’s banks at Rio Vista Park. Take a dip in the spring-fed water or float along the current in an inner tube, stopping periodically at the sandy shores to sunbathe.
Thrill seekers, take a spin by Wonder World Cave and Park for a geological adventure in the Balcones Fault Line Cave. Take a tour of the earthquake-formed cave, feed friendly deer at the petting zoo, then ascend the Tejas Observation Tower for a bird’s eye view of the sprawling Texas landscape, striped with rivers and dotted with hills.
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Heading back down to San Antonio on I-35, fashionistas should take a detour at the San Marcos Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets. Shop American classics like Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren to sportswear from Nike and Under Armor, scoring some of the best deals on designer brands around Texas.
Searching for an interesting outing full of nature and art? Venture just over an hour away to Austin, where natural beauty intersects with a funky atmosphere. Texas’s capital city is chock full of beautiful parks, foodie finds, and art galore.
Meet Travis County’s Junk King at the Cathedral of Junk, an off-kilter art installation that has been growing since 1988. At the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum, roam under shady canopies, stumbling upon over 250 bronze and stone sculptures. Skip across Barton Creek to Zilker Metropolitan Park, pausing to smell the roses in the Zilker Botanical Garden.
Tour the Texas State Capitol, marveling at the opulent Renesaince Revival style building, topped with Lady Liberty. Inside, appreciate the sweeping staircases and ornate designs. Peek into the Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court rooms where Texas politics take place.
Downtown, sightsee along the Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail. Take in the Austin skyline across Lady Bird Lake, pass through tunnels, and by historic sites along the boardwalk.
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Devour authentic tacos garnished with fragrant cilantro and guacamole from Con Todo. Enjoy your Tex-Mex in the Celis Brewery where you can find seating and refreshing craft beer. Keep your eyes open for Austin’s infamous bat-watching!
On the hunt for a family-friendly side trip? New Braunfels is just a 45-minute excursion northeast of San Antonio, making it convenient for families with children to spend a day. Come discover this charming town riddled with German culture and outdoor activities.
Thrill seekers looking to max out the fun meter will want to stop by Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort. Shoot down waterslides, float on the lazy river, and let your little ones splash in the Kiddie Coast pool. Then, visit Naegelin’s, the oldest bakery in Texas, founded in 1868, and try the legendary smiley face cookie.
Hop across the Comal River to Landa Park, a bustling hub of entertainment. Practice your putt-putt swing at Landa Park Miniature Golf, or conquer the 18-hole Landa Park Golf Course spanning 122 acres of sprawling greens. Hike the rocky Panther Canyon Trail or meander the cool forest paths of the Harry Landa Tree Trail.
Embrace the area’s German heritage in the Gruene Historic District. Grab homestyle southern food at the Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar and sip a Pilsner in the Biergarten with views of the Guadalupe River. Later, groove to live music at Gruene Hall, Texas’s oldest dance hall.
On the hunt for a day trip that the whole family will enjoy? While Johnson City may be small, it offers immersive museums, glorious parks, and big-time Texas flare. With about an hour of travel time, Johnson City is a fun day trip for the young, old, and everyone in between.
In the city center, give your little ones some educational play time at the Science Mill. They’ll play with sand to learn about topography, find fossils at the Dig In exhibit, and examine marine life at the Deep Sea Robotics simulation. Afterward, dig into slow-cooked brisket, saucy ribs, and smoked turkey at Ronnie’s Ice House.
History buffs should swing by the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park to uncover the 36th president’s history and life. Meet costumed actors portraying 1900s farmers, blacksmiths, shop owners, and more. Tour the LBJ Ranch, otherwise known as the Texas White House, and the Lyndon B. Johnson Boyhood Home.
Immerse yourself in nature at Pedernales Falls State Park. Take a leisurely stroll down the Twin Falls Nature Trail for a stunning view of the waterfalls and natural pools. More intense hikers can tackle the six miles of Wolf Mountain Trail, with a refreshing dip in Arrowhead Pool at the end.
Become one with nature in the small town of Canyon Lake. Travel an hour north to trade San Antonio’s urban atmosphere for endless outdoor activities. Dive into sparkling swimming holes, try out local fly fishing techniques, and traverse the tranquil wooded paths at Canyon Lake.
Cruise along River Road, taking in the glittering waters of the Guadalupe River, before ending up in Overlook Park. This is one of the most popular sites in the vicinity for its level walking path and lakeside views.
Steer your travels to the aptly named Canyon Lake reservoir, known for its clear, blue waters. At the Canyon Lake Marina, soak in the scenery of boats bobbing on the water and fishermen trying to hook a largemouth bass.
Get in on the action and rent a boat, cast a line, or take a tour around the lake from Big Bassin’ Fishing Tours, who will guide you through any of these experiences.
Can’t get enough of Canyon Lake? Make Canyon Lake a two-day outing by camping overnight at Potter’s Creek Park. Pop your tent or park your camper and have a cookout for dinner at one of the grills.
Natural Bridge Caverns
On a tight schedule? One of the best day trips from San Antonio is just outside the city limits. Trek half an hour away to the Natural Bridge Caverns for a thrilling journey underground.
Set off on the Discovery Tour to delve 180 feet below the earth’s surface. Over the course of half a mile, witness the dangling stalactites, stalactites, flowstones, and other incredible formations as they’re lit up by an incredible technicolored light show.
Embark on the St. Mary’s Adventure Tour to traverse the caves like a professional, learning real caving and rope techniques. Your senses will come alive as you navigate the Discovery Cavern. Admire the rare and unique black calcite, and hear the echoes of the ringing bell-like formations as you follow your guide.
The fun keeps on comin’ above land. Conquer the Twisted Trails ropes course and zip line, or the Twisted Trails Tykes for children. Pan for gems in the mining zone, and find your way out of a 5000-foot maze. Then, stop by Big Daddy’s general store for old-fashioned candy and fudge, beer, and wine or the Cavern Cafe for burgers, chicken tenders, and pizza.
Garner State Park
Calling all birdwatchers, arborists, and trailblazers! An hour and a half west of San Antonio awaits Garner State Park. Spanning 1774 acres of rolling texas land, Garner State Park is an oasis for nature lovers.
With 16 trails of ranging intensities to choose from, Garner State Park has a path for everyone. Stroll along the Blinn River Trail, taking in the stunning scenes along the banks of the Frio River. Walk under towering Texas Madrone evergreens and watch for the Golden Cheeked Warbler flitting about.
Mountaineers can tackle the Old Baldy Trail. After a rigorous hike, the payoff at the peak makes it all worth it. Stop for a while, gazing upon the vast Texas Hill Country stretching for miles, accented by the Frio River Canyon’s layered limestone walls and turquoise waters.
Take refuge from the Texas heat in the fresh waters of the Frio River. Go for a swim, or find water recreation like kayaking, tubing, or renting a paddle boat at the Concessions Building.
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Return to the building in the evening and feel the rhythm of live music at a dance party, one of Garner State Park’s oldest traditions.
Guadalupe River State Park
Wondering how to fit a day of hiking into your San Antonio plans? Guadalupe River State Park has miles of trails less than an hour away. Hit the road early and take Interstate 10 northbound to get the most out of your day trip.
Follow the river’s edge along the Bald Cypress Trail, passing ancient Cypress trees lining the waterways. Slow down on this hike and notice their roots intricately woven around each other; fine art by Mother Nature. This riverside trail’s shores are buzzing with activity. Go kayaking down the slow-moving river or wade through it, feeling the rocky waterbed beneath your toes.
Take the Hofheinz Trail to discover Guadalupe State Park’s pristine Juniper forest that opens into a sprawling field, perfect for a picnic or taking a rest in the sun.
The Curry Creek Trail is ideal for mountain bikers. Roll through the lovely karst landscape and small sections of wetland.
If you’re traveling with children, take them by the Discovery Center before your hike. There, they’ll learn about native species through the exhibits. Borrow magnifying glasses and binoculars to examine rocks, plants, and animals along the Discovery Center Loop.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Rising over 425 feet into the air, the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area has been around for 11,000 years, awing visitors for centuries. The dome-shaped pink granite area features hiking suitable for all abilities. Tack this side trip onto your excursion to Fredericksburg, as it’s a brisk 20 minutes away.
Take the short and sweet Scenic View Trail to the best vantage points of the surrounding forests, mountains, and prairie grass fields. One of the most interesting yet also the most challenging trails is the Summit Trail. Make your way up, sometimes seemingly climbing the sides of the steep Enchanted Rock. Inspect the seasonal vernal pools for tiny creatures like fairy shrimp, being careful not to disturb their home.
If you plan to stay for the stunning red and orange sunset, take the Loop Trail to stargaze as night falls. This is the only trail open past sunset. Lay back and look at the twinkling stars in the clear sky, void of light pollution. Which constellations can you find?
Enchanted Rock hosts seasonal events like a guided full moon hike, an Astronomy 101 class, and morning yoga retreats. Check the park’s events calendar to plan your outing around these.
Lockhart State Park
If you’re in need of some rest and relaxation, Lockhart State Park has just what you’re looking for. This Civilian Conservation Corps-built park is a bit quieter than the others in the area, making it a lovely, peaceful getaway adjacent to a quaint, small town.
This is a perfect side excursion for families who want to take it easy. Tee up for golfing galore at the eighteen-hole historic golf course, then plunge into the swimming pool on site, and let your kiddos tackle the expansive playground.
Outdoor enthusiasts, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails of Lockhart State Park. Traverse the Comanche Loop to make your way to the scenic lookout spot once used by the local Comanche tribes. Check out the native species of plants, often marked with descriptive plaques. Follow Creek View Trail to find Clear Fork Plum Creek, where you can try to reel in a catfish or bass.
Head into the small city of Lockhart and browse local eateries, bars, quirky boutiques, and antique stores. Check out the city’s (and Texas’s, according to some) best barbecue joint, Black’s Barbecue. Sit outside in the relaxed ambiance of live music, and dig into the pitmaster’s legendary smoked ribs and sausages.