The 10 Best Parks in San Antonio (A Local’s Guide)

best parks san antonio tx

Ready to burn off some steam in the great outdoors? Whether you want to get the kids out of the house, walk your dog, or just enjoy the serenity of nature, San Antonio is home to several jaw-dropping outdoor spaces.

There are so many parks in San Antonio that I can’t even list all of them. But what I can do is tell you my top 10 favorite parks in all of San Antonio.

(Wherever you go, remember to bring comfortable shoes, sun protection, and water!)

Map of the Best Parks in San Antonio

Best All-Around Park: Phil Hardberger Park

I adore Hardberger Park. We actually took our engagement photos here!

Phil Hardberger is a gigantic park that has something for everybody. You can ride your bike, attend yoga classes, take a walk, enjoy a picnic, and even enjoy a dog park at Hardberger.

This park is a mixture between an urban playground and an untamed wonderland. Depending on the area of the park you’re in, it might feel like you’re in a huge forest!

Hardberger also has a big field that people use to play soccer, but my family has used it to fly kites. Hardberger Park is 100% free and one of the best parks in San Antonio. Its Land Bridge is not only record-breaking, but it’s really cool, too.

The only downside to this park is the crowds! The Blanco Road entrance has so little parking that you need to come early to snag a spot. You can also try parking on the Military Highway entrance, which has more parking.

Most Family-Friendly Park: Brackenridge Park

Brackenridge Park is one of the oldest public parks in San Antonio. And, since it’s open from 5 am – 11 pm daily, it’s also the site of plenty of family activities. There’s actually a train you can pay to ride around the entire Brackenridge area—our nieces and nephews always beg to ride it!

Brackenridge Park is well-maintained and has a lot of nicely paved paths for walking and cycling. If you come early enough, you can find picnic tables complete with a barbecue pit. For that reason, it isn’t unusual to see families celebrating kids’ birthdays at Brackenridge.

Parts of the park overlook the gorgeous San Antonio River, too! Pair that with the beautiful pavilions, and it’s no wonder why so many people get married at Brackenridge in the cooler months.

Most Beautiful Park: The Japanese Tea Gardens

The Japanese Tea Gardens are officially part of Brackenridge Park, but honestly, I didn’t know that until I did a lot of Googling on Brackenridge first. The Tea Gardens is an AMAZING park all on its own, so it deserves its own spot on my top 10.

There’s plenty of parking at the Tea Gardens and it’s always free to enter. My favorite pastime is to sit on the edge of the path and admire the dozens of giant koi that call the gardens their home.

Feeling a bit peckish? Go to the Jengu House. They serve sandwiches and tea, which are the perfect accompaniment to a beautiful stroll through the gardens.

Oh, and did I mention that this park has its own waterfall? It’s artificial, but it still looks cool.

Best Park For Kids: Landa Playground

Landa Park is a breathtaking property situated just behind the Landa Library. It’s across the street from my alma mater, Trinity University, so I spent many afternoons on the lush lawns of this park.

This is, hands down, the best children’s playground in San Antonio. The park is well-kept and has plenty of bridges, slides, swings, and jungle gyms for the kids to explore. They also have a lot of benches in the shade so parents can take a load off.

  • Address: 233 Bushnell Ave, San Antonio, TX 78212
  • Website: Landa Gardens

Best Park For Biking: The Missions

san antonio missions

There’s so much to see at the Missions! Fun fact: this is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the entire state of Texas. Whether you’re a local or you’re just visiting, you’ve got to see the Missions at least once.

Tour the crumbling ruins of the old Mission or sit in on Sunday service in its still-operational cathedral. There’s also a designated trail just for hiking and biking, which goes along the San Antonio River, so if you want to get your steps in, this is the place to go!

My husband and I ride these trails in the spring and fall and, while some of the hills will increase your heart rate, it still makes for a great ride.

Best Park For Nature Walks: OP Schnabel

When I first visited OP Schnabel, I didn’t realize just how massive it is (202 acres, if you’re curious). It has plenty of amenities, but parts of this park are still wild, featuring simple footpaths instead of paved walkways.

Most of OP Schnabel’s jungle gyms don’t have covers over them, so if you don’t want your kids to melt in the heat, I suggest coming early or visiting during the cooler months.

Still, I love visiting the park on Sunday mornings for nature walks. You can spot deer, armadillos, and plenty of other critters if you keep your eyes peeled.

Best Park For Selfies: Confluence Park

My husband was an architecture major, which means he’s obsessed with cool buildings. The impressive domes at Confluence Park happen to be one of his obsessions. (We spent half an hour here just looking at the domes)

The curved pavilion is definitely the crown jewel of Confluence Park, but it’s situated just off of the San Antonio River, which makes for some awesome views. Whether you want to snap a selfie under the domes (highly recommended) or by the river, there’s not a bad shot to be had at this gorgeous San Antonio park.

Best Park With Water: Headwaters Sanctuary

Okay, Headwaters isn’t actually a public park, but it’s too cool of a space to pass up. Headwaters is the only nature sanctuary in this area of San Antonio, but it does allow respectful pedestrians and dogs to explore the area.

The neatest thing about Headwaters is that it has the Blue Hole, which is the spring that feeds the San Antonio River. The nuns at the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word manage the sanctuary and they’re serious about keeping this area beautiful, so be on your best behavior! That includes following their parking rules. 

Best Park For Dogs: Panther Springs Park

Fun fact: my husband was part of the team that designed Panther Springs Park! This park is relatively new and it has tons of amenities. My favorite feature is the huge dog park, which is 100% free.

There’s an area designated just for small dogs, too, so if you’re afraid of a German Shepherd stampeding over your chihuahua, they have their own little area.

Best Hidden Gem Park: Raymond Rimkus Park

Raymond Rimkus is situated just down the street from me, so it’s become my go-to park for mid-day walks. It’s located near the historic (and haunted) Huebner Homestead, as well as several modest walking and biking trails.

Raymond Rimkus isn’t anything fancy, but it has a covered jungle gym for kids, restrooms, a paved walking area, soccer fields, pavilions, and even a community garden. And, starting in the summer of 2022, food trucks will be available in the parking lot, too!