Let’s face the facts: As great as San Antonio is, the sizzling summers can seem unbearable.
However, the benefits of the extreme heat include the opportunity to cool off with an abundance of water-based activities. Whether you’re looking to relax and dip your toes in the river or catch some thrills at one of the city’s multiple amusement parks, San Antonio has you covered.
Tubing Down the River
Tubing is the official pastime of Texas when temperatures begin to rise. Just outside the city lie two of the premier tubing spots throughout the Lone Star State: New Braunfels and San Marcos. The Comal, Guadalupe and San Marcos rivers wind through both of these unique towns at the foothills of the Texas Hill Country.
When it comes to getting in the water, New Braunfels has Texas Ski Ranch and Landa Park, the latter of which is located in the heart of downtown. New Braunfels also houses the original Schlitterbahn, a massive water park that uses the river water in its various attractions. Within this charming German town, you’ll find access to both the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, as well as multiple entrance points to the water. (Bring your own tube to save a few bucks, and feel free to bring a second tube to carry a cooler of snacks and beverages.)
For a hassle-free experience, visit one of many local outposts specializing in tubing adventures. Rockin 'R' River Rides is one of the best. They’ll provide a tube rental and transport you by shuttle to and from your starting point when you’ve gotten your fill of cool, refreshing water and summer sun.
In San Marcos, tubers flock to its namesake river. “The San Marcos River is borne within two miles of the heart of downtown. [It] is formed from springs of water in the Edwards Aquifer,” said Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez, director of the San Marcos Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Because the river begins here, the water is crystal-clear and a constant 72 degrees year-round—always cool. The depth of the water varies, which allows areas for all ages.”
As in New Braunfels, first-time visitors may want to seek out the pros to augment their experience. Texas State Tubes is where many of the locals go to do so. Grab a cooler, sunblock, your best hat and some good company, then head to the water as soon as the heat begins. (Just be sure to heed the rules of the river at all times; glass is not permitted in coolers.)
Theme Parks and Amusement Parks
Splashtown San Antonio is the granddaddy of all water parks in the Alamo City. Conveniently located along Interstate 35, Splashtown has a great mix of relaxing and thrilling attractions. The lazy river, which winds along the edge of the park, and the 500,000-gallon wave pool, offer you the chance to casually float away your time. For more adventurous types, get that adrenaline going at water slides like the Head Rush, the Serpentine and the Hydra.
One of Splashtown’s main attractions, however, is the appropriately named Starflight. Here, riders soar through pitch-black tubes, twisting and turning until they are shot out into daylight. Splashtown has a devoted legion of followers who have been coming for decades; it will get crowded during the summer, so plan to arrive early to avoid long lines.
While Splashtown is a decades-old tradition for many families, Morgan's Wonderland is a new family favorite. It’s the world’s first theme park designed with accessibility in mind; offering free admission for anyone possessing a physical or cognitive disability and 100 percent wheelchair accessibility, it’s one of the most inclusive attractions in San Antonio. Additionally, the park unveiled its newest attraction, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, earlier this year.
“In keeping with the park’s theme of innovation, the new area is the world’s first ‘ultra-accessible’ splash park,” said communications director Bob McCullough. “The new area will overlook the park’s 8-acre catch-and-release fishing lake and features six tropical-themed elements, including the River Boat Adventure Ride. The park is truly unique, and visitors should make a point to stop by.”
At Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the Lone Star Lagoon (a giant wave pool shaped like the state of Texas) is one of the park’s signature attractions. Along with the Bamboo Chutes, Bahama Blaster and Big Bender, Fiesta Texas is loaded with ways to beat the heat.
However, none of these can compare to its newest attraction: Thunder Rapids. Touted as “America’s first rocket blast water coaster,” the ride features water-jet propulsion to power riders through loops and spirals. No patron is safe from getting soaked on Thunder Rapids!
Last, but certainly not least, is SeaWorld San Antonio. The marine park has long been the go-to place for people to escape the often-oppressive summer heat. Whether you choose to sit in the splash-zone area during a marine-life show or ride one the various attractions at the Aquatica water park, SeaWorld has what you need to stay cool.
The park will unveil its newest attraction to the world this summer: the Wave Breaker Rescue Coaster. The ride is designed to simulate the experience of a real sea-life rescue, which is a major component of SeaWorld’s mission and conservation efforts.