What Are the Best Parks Outside of San Antonio? | The Light Lab

What Are the Best Parks Outside of San Antonio?

Home to a diversity of ecosystems, Texas overflows with national, state and privately owned parks available for us to explore. With the Go Outside series from First Choice Power, we’ll take you all across this great state to visit both well-known public parks and lesser-known spots that are privately owned, but open to the public.

San Antonio is a wonderful place to immerse yourself in Texas history. From the historic Riverwalk to the Alamo, the landscape and building walls breathe the story of our state.

But if you are looking for greener spaces, look no further than a few hours outside the city, where you’ll find the state’s most popular state park as well as a mission trail, laden with history.

What Are the Best Parks Outside of San Antonio? | The Light Lab

Garner State Park

An hour and a half west of San Antonio is the small town of Concan, home to the wonderful Garner State Park.

As the most visited park in the state of Texas, Garner is an escape from the hot weather that creeps into Texas in the springtime, a place where the Frio River winds its way along the banks of old cypress and provides respite from the Texas heat throughout the summer months leading into Fall.

Day visitors can enjoy barbecuing, swimming in the river, or hiking one of the trails up to the summit of Old Baldy. For overnight stays, consider tent camping or staying in one of their enclosed open air cabins.

Garner State Park is also known for it’s Saturday night dances, where the jukebox burns loud, and the parking lot is full by 8:30 pm! The tradition has gone on since the 1940’s and continues today. Arrive early to get your dance on!

Phil Hardberger Park

A former dairy farm, and a remaining undeveloped parcel of land in San Antonio, the Phil Hardberger Park is a 311-acre oasis surrounded by subdivisions, shopping centers and freeways. A stunning landscape, it’s century old oaks have stood tall and strong since the Battle of the Alamo.

The park’s focus is to reclaim a native landscape that personifies a genuinely wild Texas territory. Restoring the woodlands and bushland, as well as reintroducing the oak savannah, is priority.

Bring your dogs, your hiking boots, your bike, and your kids, and spend the afternoon encased in San Antonio’s natural habitat.

What Are the Best Parks Outside of San Antonio? | The Light Lab

San Antonio Mission Trail

Woven with a rich tapestry of the Spanish Conquest of Texas, the San Antonio Mission Trail is a story where the people of South Texas faced  hardships of war, drought, and deadly disease, and their survival lay in entering these missions. This meant accepting an entirely new religion, leaving their former life behind, and pledging a fealty to a distant and unseen king in Spain.

Depending on how you want to experience them, the San Antonio Mission trail is a route of trails that invite walkers only, walkers and bikers, and those who wish to walk, bike and drive, too.

The missions include the Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission Espada, Archdiocese of San Antonio, and Mission San Juan. Church times are still held for those interested in worshiping in these beautiful old buildings. 

The Mission Trail is a passage of time in San Antonio that captures a bygone era, and lays the foundation for so much of the history of the city.

Government Canyon State Natural Area

Forty minutes northwest of San Antonio lies Government Canyon State Natural Area, home to more than 40 miles of hiking and biking trails that range from rolling grasslands to isolated canyon lands.

Outdoor activities include trail running, geocaching, biking, hiking, picnicking, and ranger programs. They also offer a monthly hiking program where themes include Hike the Canyon, Explore the Canyon, and Family Fun. For those lovers of bird watching, the Government Canyon State Natural Area is home to the rare and endangered golden-cheeked warbler.

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Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.