when in Texas

My parents and in-laws live in some pretty rockin’ vacation towns, Dallas and San Antonio. We make it down to Dallas every couple of months and we try to hit San Antonio once a year, although with four kids under six the 13 hour drive is pretty brutal. I thought with summer quickly approaching I would share some of our favorite things to do with kids in those towns, just in case you are looking at going there on vacation.

Dallas for play

Legoland is hands-down the favorite for my kids. They associate Dallas with it and ask to go every time we are there.

The Dallas World Aquarium is very cool. It is set up like a rain forest. You start in the canopy and work your way down to the floor in a spiral fashion. They have manatee, jaguar, penguins, and the biggest fish I have ever seen. It is a lot of walking though and not super conducive to a stroller {at least not a big one, I think an umbrella stroller would do just fine}. I’m pretty sure when I went I carried the baby in the Bjorn.

We also went to this cool park with Longhorn Cattle. I can’t remember what it is called {Help me out grandma J!}. There are cowboy quotes etched all along the walkway and an extensive history of the cattle drives. Pretty interesting and fun to climb on.

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Dallas for eating

Pasados is a Mexican restaurant we frequent. They have big portions, two of my kids can share one kids meal. Be sure to get tortillas before the meal and sopapillas after. Yummmm. Also, there are free ice cream cones on your way out the door just in case one dessert wasn’t enough.

Ra. This one is for grown ups. It is a perfect date place. The food and atmosphere are unbeatable. Even if you don’t think you like sushi,  I would be willing to bet you’d change your mind after a trip here.

Dallas for shopping

IKEA. If you haven’t been before, just go. There really are no words for how awesome this place is. If you have small children you can check them in at a day care on your way in, although I cannot attest to it because we’ve always just dragged ours along. And I do mean drag. You can usually keep them entertained for the first half of the store. But then you better have snacks and some form of entertainment or you’ll be racing through the awesomeness to find the quickest escape.

The Allen Outlets. Dallas is a big place, but if you find yourself near Allen, the outlet mall is a worthy stop. I never leave empty handed and they have all the good kids stores. Carters, Gap, Stride-Rite, Gymboree, Children’s Place, Justice…

San Antonio for play

The Children’s Museum. Located Downtown near the riverwalk, this museum will keep the kids entertained for hours. My favorite feature is the kid-sized grocery store in the basement where kids can be the shopper or the checker! They do charge for parents though, which is kind of a bummer.

The Whitte Museum. This museum was a little old for my kids when we went. {I think Monkey was only 3 at the time.} It was really neat though, and super educational. More like a science museum. So if your kids are school aged I think this would be a winner.

The Kiddie Park {click on that title to take you to my full post on this destination} is an amusement park featuring vintage rides and attractions. It is geared for kids under 10, so it is a more affordable alternative to Six Flags if your kids are small.

The zoo is one of the best I’ve been to. The exhibits are set up in such a way that makes it almost impossible to not see the animal on display.

SAheadbird SAflamingos SABear

Sea World. A lot of walking in the heat but I would say worth it. The sea lion show is by far the best.

San Antonio for eating

The Alamo Cafe. This is my favorite restaurant of all time, anywhere. Pitcher margaritas and homemade melt-in-our-mouth tortillas. I order the puffy tacos. Don’t be fooled if you’ve ever ordered puffy tacos at another Mexican place. These are different and so much better. Hmmmm. I’m getting hungry!

The Riverwalk. Just take a stroll in the downtown riverwalk and stop in anywhere. You won’t be disappointed. If you like kitschy tourist places, there is a Hard Rock Cafe and a Rainforest Cafe. Oh, and don’t forget to see the Alamo while you’re there.

SAalamo SARiverwalk SArweats

The Rialto is a movie theater that serves dinner while you watch the movie. I know these are popular now, but I’m pretty sure this was the original.

SARialto SARialto2

San Antonio for shopping

If you’re looking for fancy go to the Alamo Quarry Market. They have everything in a beautiful outdoor atmosphere.

If you’re looking for cultural, go to El Mercado {the Market Square}. You will find authentic Hispanic eats and goods. Pick up some Mexican vanilla and cascarones {eggs filled with confetti that you smash on your friend’s heads during parties}.

I hope this helps if you were looking for something to do in Texas this summer. If there is anything you can add to the list, please comment! You might also notice the conspicuous absence of kids in my touristy pictures. All of these were taken pre-marriage the summer my parents moved down there. Don’t we look young and care-free? It’s easier to move about freely with no kids, but not as much fun.

Thanks for stopping by!

Elizabeth Ann

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9 thoughts on “when in Texas

  1. So awesome! I love this post. Thanks for taking time to think through these and write them down for the rest of us. Legoland is a favorite of ours, too. I loved the Aquarium as well, but we ended up with sneezy children who are allergic to all sorts of animals so … It left us for fussy irritated kiddos for half of the exhibit. And don’t go on a 90*+ day. Humidity was crazy!

    Anyhow, we rode a trolley in downtown in downtown Dallas. It is free and I had never been on one so my hubby obliged. Another great one is the JFK museum. A good one to go to without kids. Each person wears headphones and an MP3 player that directs you through the exhibit where you see pictures and videos of the hours and minutes leading up to the tragic shooting of President Kennedy. All set up in the building where the shooter took aim. Really incredible and humbling to walk through this piece of history.

    • Thanks Meghan! That is a good point, it’s pretty humid in the Aquarium… and I’ll have to try the trolley! Sounds fun! The Dude would love the Kennedy Museum. Good stuff!

  2. I was looking at those pictures and thinking, they look SO YOUNG! Makes sense now that you explained it :)
    I like that you said you were more carefree, but didn’t have as much fun :) Sometimes it is hard to remember that carefree and no kids isn’t always the best. We have our kids for a reason, and we LOVE them to death, but we struggle with taking them places sometimes, lol.
    We went to Port Aransas Texas for our honeymoon and loved it there…maybe next time we venture back we will have to hit up some of the places you recommended in Dallas/San Antonio!

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