If you envision San Antonio as dry and desertlike, think again: These outdoor attractions highlight the lush beauty and regional flora demonstrating the diverse ecological landscapes of the Southwest.
Located in Brackenridge Park near other attractions such as the Kiddie Park and Brackenridge Eagle Miniature Train Ride, the Japanese Tea Gardens provide an idyllic sanctuary that feels miles away from the busy streets of downtown. Stop at the Jingu House for a rejuvenating light lunch of sushi or sandwiches with a picturesque view year-round.
For a dose of culture and retail therapy, head to Historic Market Square. Complete with a farmers market, souvenir shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants and all of the Southwestern arts and crafts a visitor could desire, Market Square and El Mercado (the 32 shops within Market Square) are must-see attractions. First-timers might want to plan accordingly, because it’s easy to get lost for hours in the authentic culture and distinctive flavor of the marketplace.
Nearby on the other side of Broadway, the San Antonio Botanical Garden oasis offers a dazzling array of colors. Explore exotic plants in the Lucile Halsell Conservatory and unique plants along the Texas Native Trail. In addition to the gorgeous blossoms and fun concerts, guests will love the Garden Gate Gift Shop.
A national historic park in the heart of the city, the newly renovated Mission Reach offers miles of restored ecosystems, natural flora and a tour of San Antonio's four historic mission sites. In addition to scenic overlooks, bike rental stations and running/walking trails, the Reach contains the Mission Trail's beautiful, historical archtecture—the kind where it’s easy to picture 18th-century villagers roaming behind stone walls and wooden doorways.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch offers a sprawling habitat that gives guests the opportunity to enjoy an up-close-and-personal experience with exotic animals. View antelope, zebras and more as they graze in a natural environment that's more like a wild safari adventure than a traditional trip to the zoo. Similarly, Wonder World Park in San Marcos offers geological marvels like the Wonder World Park Cave and one-of-a-kind attractions just north of San Antonio.
Perhaps the most famous outdoor area is Texas Hill Country, which offers hundreds of miles of lush, green acreage, local vineyards and wineries and dozens of unique small towns containing farm-to-table restaurants, bed and breakfasts and more.