Despite being a giant, bustling city, San Antonio is home to abundant green spaces, hidden-gem parks, and sprawling urban greenery as far as the eye can see. When you’re craving some good, old-fashioned outdoor fun, these are the best parks to check out in the Alamo City.
Woodlawn Lake Park
Located northwest of downtown, Woodlawn Lake Park is an ideal spot for park-goers who love being on the water, in any capacity—there’s a 1.5-mile paved trail around the 30-acre lake, along with plenty of fishing spots, and a public swimming pool. When you’ve had your fill of aquatic activities, there are several other amenities to keep you entertained, including a gym, softball field, basketball and tennis courts, and two playgrounds.
Easily one of the city’s most popular hangouts (and widely considered to be the crown jewel of San Antonio's urban park scene), Brackenridge Park makes full use of its lush 343 acres—there are multiple hiking trails, over 100 picnic tables and grilling areas under giant, gnarled live oak trees, three pavilions available for rent, a playscape, and even a mini-train that runs through the park. Plus, Brackenridge is close to several major attractions, like The Witte museum and The DoSeum.
Phil Hardberger Park
Phil Hardberger Park is a community gem. One of the city’s newest parks, it sits on the former site of a 311-acre dairy farm. Billed as a “sustainable natural urban park,” there are outdoor classrooms, dog parks, play areas, a nature center, and plenty of trails for hiking and biking.
Comanche Lookout Park
A 96-acre public park with the fourth-highest point in Bexar County, Comanche Lookout Park is a historic treasure. The hill was used by Native Americans as a lookout, and it was also a notable landmark for travelers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ruins of a medieval-style stone tower, built by a retired Army Colonel in the 1920s, can still be seen. There’s also a lovely hiking trail that showcases some of the region’s prettiest flora, like chinaberry, Mexican buckeye, and honey mesquite trees.
With over 15 paved and unpaved trails, McAllister Park is best known for its mountain biking, although there’s plenty for non-bikers to enjoy here. There are a multitude of sports fields (soccer, rugby, baseball), a dog park, a children's play area, and over 200 picnic tables. The park also connects to the Salado Creek Greenway, a network of approximately 69 miles of trails that wind through natural landscapes along the city’s waterways.
One of the oldest municipal parks in the county (it was founded in 1870), Travis Park was reopened in 2014 and now boasts a miniature dog park, art installations, shaded picnic tables, food trucks, and a kiosk where visitors can check out board games, hula hoops, and books. Plus, there’s always something fun happening on the events calendar, like outdoor movies, musical performances, plays, and more.
Japanese Tea Garden
With a 60-foot waterfall, gleaming ponds filled with koi, stone bridges, lovely shaded walkways, a Japanese pagoda, and a verdant garden and floral display, the Japanese Tea Garden offers a slice of peace that feels far away from the commotion of the city. It’s a romantic dreamscape (and a great location for a first date, might we add).
Friedrich Wilderness Park
Offering 10 miles of hiking trails, all with varying degrees of difficulty, Friedrich Wilderness Park is full of diverse habitats and sublime scenery, like deep, forested canyons, juniper and deciduous grasslands, creeks, and hillside vistas. Keep an eye out for the park’s endangered bird residents: the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler.
Nestled in the heart of downtown, Hemisfair Park is the home of Tower of the Americas, cultural centers and several fountains. Hemisfair Park is an especially great park for families with young kids—the park’s 4-acre Yanaguana Garden is unlike any other playground in the city, with its huge splash pad, a slide made from trampoline-like material, climbing structures, and massive sandbox, plus a gaming area with a bocce court, ping-pong tables, and foosball.
San Antonio Botanical Garden
The 38-acre San Antonio Botanical Garden, located approximately 3 miles northeast of downtown, is the perfect place to spend a leisurely Saturday. Some of the garden’s top attractions include rolling down Tumble Hill, checking out the exhibits at the Lucile Halsell Conservatory, and splashing around in the Greehey Family Foundation. With floral displays of every color, texture, and shape imaginable, the San Antonio Botanical Garden is a tranquil plant paradise.