When it comes to fun, affordable, leisurely, family friendly vacations, San Antonio Texas is the place to be. It was only an 8 hour drive for us (actually 9 or 10 by the time we stopped to eat, use bathrooms, shop at Buckie's, etc). We only went from Friday to Monday but there was so much to do we could've easily filled up a couple more days.
Friday we took our time driving out there, stopped in Houston to see some friends and have lunch at the famous Star Pizza, then we enjoyed swimming in the indoor pool at the Omni Hotel in San Antonio after dinner.
Saturday we had a decadent breakfast at the Guenther House, the elegant home of the Pioneer Flour Mill's founding family. It is part restaurant, part museum. The place was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the service was fantastic! William ordered a cinnamon roll as big as his head! Then we went into downtown and found parking in a covered parking deck and visited the Children's Museum. Lots of hands on fun for the kids, lots of children's ministry inspiration for Stanley and I. After we explored all there was to see there we walked on down to the Alamo where we were surprised to see a huge crowd observing the anniversary celebration and reenactment of the battle of the Alamo. The kids loved watching them blast off a real cannon! There was even a parade with the costumed soldiers and of course the famed, David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Travis. We went in the Alamo and the museum, and would have liked to have spent more time there but it was very crowded and the kids were a little ancy. Then we walked on to the River Walk and got on a little boat ride. This was very educational and fun to learn all about the city. So relaxing too.
After that we walked back to the car and drove a little ways to El Mercado or Market Square. It was also a very popular place to be on a Saturday. We ate at La Margherita owned by the same owner as Mi Tierra Cafe where the wait was over an hour. We were seated right away at an outdoor table which was fun to watch the people and street vendors in the outdoor mall. Shawn especially liked wearing the Mexican poncho provided by the restaurant to stay warm. The weather was nice in the 70's but it was Texas windy! We strolled around the market for a while. William rode the kids bull ride. We bought t-shirts, then headed back to the hotel for a siesta before dinner at Saltgrass steakhouse and our evening swim in the pool.
Sunday was cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon. We spent most of the day at Sea World, which surprisingly was not very crowded (at least in the morning). We saw the sea lions, Killer Whales, fed the dolphins, saw the sharks, caught most of the shows. Shawn loved the real animals but was terrified of "the kid in the whale" as he called it. The kids were too small for the roller coasters but they did get to ride most everything in the new Sesame Street Bay of Play area which has character shows, kid-size amusement rides, and a huge splash-pad style play area. This had nothing to do with sea animals but was their favorite part I think. Stanley's favorite part was meeting the Executive Chef for Sea World and talking to him about BBQ. He even got a behind the scenes look at the new BBQ Pit that is not yet open across from Shamu Theater. Shortly after lunch the kids were getting tired from the walking (no strollers this trip!) and the heat so we decided to call it a day and go find a Marble Slab for an ice cream treat. Then we rested a little while at the hotel and went to Bennihana's for dinner where we got to see them cook in front of us and even got balloon creations made for us table side. One last swim in the pool and warm up in the dry sauna and we were off to sleep before heading home on Monday.
We did a lot in the 2 days we were actually in San Antonio (see pictures in sidebar) but if we went again we would like to visit Kidde Park, Six Flags (our kids are too small for that right now), the San Antonio Zoo, the hill country, the Wonder World caverns and petting zoo, and maybe a few more museums. The kids slept so much better than we did on vacation last year (what a difference a year makes between ages 2 & 3). It was also nice to not have to bother with diapers, baby beds, strollers and all that stuff. The Omni Hotel was great! They were so family friendly, they even brought the kids complimentary milk and cookies at night to our room and gave them each an Omni Kids backpack full of toys and treats when we checked in. We had a great time and were blessed with good weather, good health, good fun and good food. What more could I ask for?