15 Best Day Trips from San Antonio

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Lying in the central south of Texas is the major city of San Antonio. Home to 1.5 million people this Texan city is a thriving, hubbub of activity.

Whether you spend your days racing through Six Flags Fiesta, discovering the San Antonio River Walk or even the Natural Bridge Caverns suffice to say there is plenty to explore in San Antonio.

Once you have tired of the city and exhausted all your exploratory options it is time to escape the city limits and uncover what lies in wait.

Let’s explore the best day trips from San Antonio:

1. Houston

Houston, TexasSource: f11photo / shutterstock

Houston is a busy and bustling city that is very easily accessible from San Antonio.

The most popular tourist hotspot in Houston is, of course, the International Space Centre.

Tours of the facility are interactive, engaging and incredibly informative.

For those who are interested in the arts, rather than the sciences perhaps a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts would be more appropriate.

For those travelling with children the Houston Zoo and Downtown Aquarium make for educational and enjoyable experiences for all the family.

Not to mention the Children’s Museums of Houston too.

2. Dallas

Dallas, TexasSource: f11photo / shutterstock

Dallas is a versatile city with a lot to explore.

Most famously known as the city where JFK was assassinated, Dallas has its own museum dedicated to the tragic event.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza not only commemorates the life of JFK but also features exhibits on his untimely death.

If you need space to reflect upon the confronting artefacts at the Sixth Floor Museum perhaps take a stroll through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

The lake with its perfectly manicured gardens that surround offer weary travellers the chance to relax and unwind.

Art lovers should find time to visit the Dallas Museum of Art and the Crow Collection of Asian Art during their day.

3. Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National ParkSource: Zack Frank / shutterstock
Big Bend National Park

For lovers of the great outdoors the Big Bend National Park offers a welcome retreat from the bustle of San Antonio.

Emory Peak is the most popular hiking trail closely followed by Window Trail.

Big Bend National Park incorporates the entirety of the Chisos mountain range and too includes much of the Chihuahuan Desert.

If hiking is not your game but you do want to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Big Bend then take a ride through the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to the, now ruined, Sam Nail Ranch.

Big Bend National Park is home to some of the most photogenic landscapes in Texas, be sure to charge your camera.

4. Galveston Island

Galveston IslandSource: Eric V Overton / shutterstock
Galveston Island

Quaint and charming Galveston Island is a much loved seaside resort town in the Gulf of Texas.

There are heaps of entertainment outlets to enjoy, Galveston Island really is fun for all the family.

The Moody Gardens are a popular choice as is the Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Amusement Park.

For those seeking a little more culture then be sure to visit Bishop’s Palace and the Willis-Moody Mansion.

Both offer guided tours from highly informed and enthusiastic tour leaders.

Galveston Island has a lovely beach that is perfect for sunbathing, paddling and even building sandcastles.

Galveston Island is like stepping back in time to the good old days, offering good old-fashioned fun for all.

5. Port Arthur

Pompeiian VillaSource: Michael Reed / Wikimedia
Pompeiian Villa, Port Arthur

Nestled away in Jefferson County is the sleepy, seaside town to Port Arthur.

There is a lot to explore in this small city and it is the gateway to the Gulf of Texas.

A highlight to any day trip to Port Arthur is surely a guided tour around the Pompeiian Villa.

A recreation of ancient roman style villas that is open for tours throughout the year.

For those interested in military history the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site will be of great interest for it is the memorial site for the 1863 Civil War battle of the same name.

6. Davy Crockett National Park

Davy Crockett National ParkSource: Realest Nature / shutterstock
Davy Crockett National Park

Davy Crockett National Park is an easily accessible national park that makes for the perfect day trip from San Antonio.

Featuring towering pine trees and an abundance of birdlife there is so much to explore in this petite national park.

The Davy Crockett National Park is named after the pioneer and folk hero Davy Crockett who was known also as the King of the Wild Frontier.

He famously said ‘be always sure you are right – then go ahead’ so be sure to swing by the visitors centre to find out which trail to take and then set out on an epic adventure in the name of this iconic explorer.

7. USS Lexington

USS Lexington, Corpus Christi, TexasSource: GregD / shutterstock
USS Lexington, Corpus Christi, Texas

For travellers with an avid interest in maritime and military history a visit to the USS Lexington would be something of a dream come true.

Nicknamed ‘Lady Lex’ the USS Lexington is an early aircraft carrier that played a vital role in WWII. It is possible to take a guided tour through the gallows of USS Lexington and above deck too.

The bay views from the top deck are pretty impressive.

After the excitement of the tour you can take a rest and refuel at the Mess Deck Cafe where they serve a great selection of sandwiches, burgers and sides.

8. Morgan’s Wonderland

Morgan’s WonderlandSource: www.morganswonderland.com
Morgan’s Wonderland

A total novelty and heaps of fun, Morgan’s Wonderland is a relaxed and family friendly day out for all.

Spanning an impressive 25-acres, Morgan’s Wonderland is one of the newest theme parks in the USA. Created by local builder Gordon Hartman, Morgan’s Wonderland was inspired by his daughter’s disabilities and desire to enjoy the same activities as other able-bodied children.

Visitors with special needs are welcome to enjoy the park for free.

Whether you visit for an hour or two or spend the whole day at the park, suffice to say you’ll leave with a beaming smile and memories that will last a lifetime.

9. Sabine National Forest

Sabine National ForestSource: US Forest Service - Southern Region / Flickr
Sabine National Forest

Lying on the Texas-Louisiana border is the idyllic Sabine National Forest.

Crisscrossed with dozens of secret walking and hiking trails there is a lot to love about this compact protected forest land.

A popular camping spot, the Sabine National Forest can be explored in a day trip or an overnight stay.

Practically untouched and never over crowded this is a wonderful place to retreat to if you’re looking to escape the city smoke.

Sabine National Forest is one of the most peaceful landscapes in all of Texas and in turn is a joy to explore.

10. Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake, TexasSource: Maza / shutterstock
Canyon Lake, Texas

Canyon Lake is sometime of a hidden gem, lying just one hour by drive away from San Antonio.

If you are keen to get active on your day trip then hire a kayak or perhaps a canoe and spend the day paddling around this picturesque reservoir.

It is possible to couple an afternoon at Canyon Lake after a morning spent exploring the Natural Bridge Caverns if you are short on time or perhaps want to have a jam-packed day.

Bring a picnic along, there are dozens of shady spots to kick back and relax in.

11. Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg, TexasSource: Philip Arno Photography / shutterstock
Fredericksburg, Texas

Best known for its vineyards and wineries Fredericksburg is Texas’ best kept secret.

Rich in colonial history Fredericksburg is home to the Pioneer Museum which explores the German heritage of the city.

The Vereins Kirche Museum and the Gillespie County Historical Society give further insights into the rich and varied history of Fredericksburg.

Fredericksburg is also home to the National Museum of the Pacific War which will be of great interest for those keen to expand their knowledge of military history.

As you would expect Fredericksburg has some amazing German restaurants to enjoy.

12. San Marcos

Kayaking in San Marcos, TexasSource: Valerie Johnson / shutterstock
Kayaking In San Marcos, Texas

If you want to get outdoors and get active then San Marcos is the place to head.

Sitting on the San Marcos River day visitors can tube down the river, canoe or kayak across the water throughout the day.

If you fancy being a little more adventurous you can had beneath the water and snorkel or even scuba dive.

Should that be a little too taxing you can enjoy the wonders of the water from the safety of a glass bottomed boat.

Now a university city, San Marcos is a happy and welcoming city that is relaxed and very charming indeed.

13. Gorman Falls

Gorman FallsSource: JB Manning / shutterstock
Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls are one of Texas’s best kept secrets and is a total hidden gem.

A feature of the Colorado River you can access the Gorman Falls within a 3 hour drive of San Antonio and it is worth every minute.

It takes a bit of a hike to get to the falls themselves but again, worth every minute and every step.

If you work up a sweat there is a cool pool of crystal clear freshwater waiting for you when you arrive.

The hike takes approximately 45-minutes each way.

To make a day trip out of it bring along a picnic, your book and your camera.

14. Longhorn Cavern State Park

Longhorn Cavern State ParkSource: Warren Price Photography / shutterstock
Longhorn Cavern State Park

The Longhorn Cavern State Park is a budding geologist’s dream come true.

The complex geology of the park is fascinating to learn about and there is a tonne of helpful and insightful information shared at the visitor’s centre.

Guided tours of Longhorn Cavern State Park are recommended and the park team offer hikes with varying difficulty and with a variety of focuses.

For example, they offer a photography tour of the caverns, a geology programme and a wild cave tour too.

Ideal for families but perfect for solo travellers too, Longhorn Cavern State Park is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about geology and geography.

15. Austin

Austin, TexasSource: f11photo / shutterstock

The city of Austin is not only the capitol of Texas but an exciting and thriving city to explore.

Home to an ever evolving music scene Austin is best known for its country, blues and rock musicians that grace the stages of bars and concert halls night and day.

The Barton Springs Pool is a must-visit, even if you don’t take a dip.

The Texas State Capitol building is mighty impressive and it is possible to get guided tours of the complex if you so wish.

As you would expect from a big city, Austin is home to some of the best shopping malls and avenues in all of Texas.

15 Best Day Trips from San Antonio:

  • Houston
  • Dallas
  • Big Bend National Park
  • Galveston Island
  • Port Arthur
  • Davy Crockett National Park
  • USS Lexington
  • Morgan’s Wonderland
  • Sabine National Forest
  • Canyon Lake
  • Fredericksburg
  • San Marcos
  • Gorman Falls
  • Longhorn Cavern State Park
  • Austin