The Edmond Sun

March 1, 2013

Visit San Antonio for an early spring

Elaine Warner
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Spring break is just a couple of weeks away and I’m looking for a spot where I don’t have to wear my winter longjohns.  With an early start from Edmond, I could be in San Antonio by afternoon; have time to settle into my hotel and be on the River Walk for dinner!  With average mid-March temperatures in the mid-70s, this sounds like just the ticket.

And there’s so much to do in San Antonio.  Here are some suggestions if you’re traveling with kids:

• If you haven’t seen the Alamo, you must go.  The history is important.  Chances are, they’re not going to want to spend a lot of time here but do take some time to wander around the grounds.  Be sure to admire the almost-150 year-old live oak in the Convento Courtyard.  It’s a mere baby compared to the nation’s oldest oak — estimated to be 1500 years old — but it’s a mighty impressive specimen with an 88-foot canopy.

• The River Walk is the other big downtown “must see.” A canal boat ride around the downtown portion will give you good background on the area and is fun besides.  You also can walk the downtown loop, although, even with the map, I eventually found myself on the wrong side of the river and running out of sidewalk and so I chickened up the nearest staircase to street level to find my way back to my hotel!  The River Walk also extends several miles north to the Pearl District and the San Antonio Museum of Art and several more miles south to the stretch of missions founded along the river.  Bicycles are available to reach the outer limits of the River Walk.  If you make it to San Antonio in time for St. Patrick’s Day, you can enjoy the river dyed (with environmentally friendly dye) bright green.

• Visit the Witte Museum featuring South Texas history, culture and natural science.  Right now you can enjoy “Dinosaurs Unearthed: Bigger, Better, Feathered,” an exhibition of life-sized animatronic dinos, skeletons, fossils and hands-on activities including a dino-dig.  The two-level HEB Science Treehouse is a perennial favorite of visitors.

• Sea World is always a special destination whether you go for the animals or the rides.  The Shamu show is the highlight of the entertainment offerings.  Other shows showcase stars from sea lions named Clyde and Seamore to Sesame Street characters.  Unfortunately not open until June is the park’s newest show “Pets Ahoy,” which features a variety of creatures, most of whom were adopted from animal shelters.  Sea World’s new aquatic park, Bay of Play, opens March 2 so if the temperature rises high and you’re feeling too warm, this cool spot is available.  

• Six Flags Fiesta Texas is open March 9-17, the week of Texas’ spring break and March 23-24.  Not too convenient for Edmond’s spring break, but you do have a couple of days to choose from.

• Natural Bridge Caverns, located about 10 miles northeast of San Antonio, offers, in addition to a spectacular show cave, a new attraction, Canopy Challenge and Zip Lines.  Acrophobics need not apply.  Visitors climb a 60-foot tower then test their agility, balance and strength on 47  obstacles.  At the top are two towers with two zip lines each (one outgoing, one incoming) with a length of 720 feet.  For little visitors, there’s a tiny challenge course.  All guests are safely harnessed in.  I wonder if they’d let me on the Canopy Kids Course — I think that’s as adventuresome as I want to get.

• The San Antonio Zoo houses more than 3500 animals representing 750 species.  One of the zoo favorites is Zuko, a baby warthog who was born at the zoo last June.  The zoo is also home to the largest group of Japanese giant salamanders in North America.  These huge amphibians can grow to 5 feet in length and weigh up to 60 pounds.

Some of the attractions, particularly the theme parks, can get pretty pricey.  Always check individual web sites for special deals.  And be sure and check for discounts at hotels, resorts, museums, attractions and more at http://save.visitsan

If you’re staying in town over the break, Oklahoma City has some mighty fine attractions, too.  The zoo is tops if the weather cooperates and the Museum of Osteology in south Oklahoma City is fascinating and educational.  Science Museum Oklahoma is always fun and will open a new IMAX feature, Rescue, on March 9.

I was able to see the movie at a press preview this week.  The film, just under an hour long, introduces a helicopter pilot, a naval commander, a woman who flies military cargo planes and a firefighter.  Then it shows their different skills, how they train and how they use their abilities to help others.  

The movie brings all these people and their talents together to bring help and hope to Haiti after the earthquake.

Rescue is interesting and educational but, most of all, inspiring.  It reminds viewers that everyday there are selfless individuals putting their lives on the line for others — usually without any special recognition — just because it is a job they have chosen to do.  In a time of great division and negativity, this movie reminds us of the essential goodness that quietly works among us.    

Wherever you go — or if you stay in town — have a great spring break!

ELAINE WARNER is a travel writer based in Edmond.