The San Antonio Botanical Garden wants visitors to “GO PLAY OUTSIDE,” and with the opening of the new 2.5 acre Family Adventure Garden, they can do just that. With fifteen adventure provoking themed areas carefully designed to encourage nature play and discovery, families can explore bubbling creeks, thundering ridges, beckoning hills, and sandy shores. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Saturday, March 3rd at 9:00 a.m. with gates opening to the public immediately following and grand opening activities and events extending throughout the weekend. Speakers include Mayor Ron Nirenberg, House Speaker Joe Straus, the Garden’s Executive Director Bob Brackman and more. Gates open to the public immediately following the ceremony with opening events extending throughout the weekend.
The Family Adventure Garden is the latest addition to the Garden’s transformational 8-acre expansion much of which opened last Fall and includes the Mays Family Display Garden, Halsell Welcome Building, H-E-B Discovery Center, The Zachry Foundation Culinary Garden, Goldsbury Foundation Pavilion and CHEF Teaching Kitchen.
The Family Adventure Garden offers a universal, multigenerational design so people of all ages and physical abilities can unplug from devices, and plug in to nature. Studies show the average American child spends only 4 minutes a day exploring the natural world around them. This nature deficiency is associated with a wide range of physical, emotional and developmental challenges. The San Antonio Botanical Garden hopes to change that by offering a fun, hands-on, safe place to play in nature, developing healthier, happier kids and families who appreciate the natural world and serve as stewards to protect it.
“The Family Adventure Garden will allow kids to really frolic and play, but at the same time they’ll be learning the story of water and the South Texas landscape. With our expansion and an explosion of diverse programming, there has never been a better time to get outside and enjoy everything the Garden has to offer,” says Bob Brackman, Executive Director of San Antonio Botanical Garden.
This is where the adventure begins. As the only entrance and exit to the 2.5 acre Family Adventure Garden, kids and families can gather in the Gateway’s vine covered entrance as they set out to explore the regions of South Texas from an urban backyard to the Texas Hill Country and South Texas Plains.
Tumble Hill, Watering Hole, and Acequia Tank
Green grass beckons children to climb to the top of Tumble Hill and race to the bottom. Caregivers can cheer young explorers as they make their first run up the hill (or their twentieth!) from the nearby Watering Hole, a beautiful courtyard with prickly pear cactus, native grasses, colorful seating with string lights overhead. Discover the story of water and see how recycled water is harvested and then channeled to an elevated Acequia Tank.
Secret Garden, Backyard Explore, and The Field
Guests can tunnel, climb, and dig in this backyard landscape. A magnificent live oak tree takes center stage in the Backyard Explore offering a shaded space for caregivers to gather with young children. The Field’s natural lawn welcomes crawlers and toddlers alike for unstructured play, group games, and quiet time. Surrounded by a bosque of evergreen trees and lounge seating, the Secret Garden’s sand play area encourages creativity and development of fine motor skills.
Prickly Pear Pavilion and Muhly Maze
A green roof full of native cactus is planted atop Prickly Pear Pavilion, the signature structure of the Family Adventure Garden. The pavilion provides a place for pop-up educational programming and birthday party celebrations by reservation. Stroller parking, family restrooms, and water refill stations are conveniently located for a quick break before exploring Muhly Maze. Muhly grass is native to the region and very drought tolerant. Its leaves and feathery plumes make it a wonderful plant material for a kid-friendly maze that encourages problem solving skills and physical activity.
Dry Rock Creek, Cypress Spring, and Retama Recharge
The story of water continues! Follow a winding dry creek bed through the Family Adventure Garden. Build rock dams and look for fossils. What happens to the creek bed after a storm? Compare which plants appear after it rains and which plants “sleep” when it’s dry. Where does the water go? Get a glimpse of how our region’s landscape captures water in the Retama Recharge, stores it beneath the soil, and reappears in Cypress Spring. Families can learn about the diversity of soil, plants, animals, and insects living near this water source.
Limestone Ledge, Thunder Ridge, and Greehey Family Foundation No Name Creek
Children will delight in hearing a clap of thunder in Thunder Ridge and then see a stream of water begin to fill the Greehey Family Foundation No Name Creek. On warm days, families are invited to dip their feet and splash in the creek to cool off while exploring the bluffs of Limestone Ledge. Search for fossil imprints of creatures that roamed the Hill Country millions of years ago.
Huisache Way, Bluestem Bluff, Prickly Pear Peak and Pecan Grove
Stroll along Huisache Way and stop by the stage to catch a puppet show or play. Jump on stage and create your own performance! Continue along the way and discover whimsical play houses inspired by nature. Walk up the path of Bluestem Bluff to discover wildflowers, native grasses, woody trees, and shrubs that grow on rocky fields and limestone. There are many ways to get to the top of Prickly Pear Peak including stairs or an ADA path to experience the dramatic views of the Family Adventure Garden, Conservatory, and San Antonio.
About the San Antonio Botanical Garden
Daily admission to the San Antonio Botanical Garden is $12 adults; $10 students, seniors, military; $9 children age 3-13; free for children under age 3. The San Antonio Botanical Garden is located at 555 Funston Place at North New Braunfels. Parking is free. The Botanical Garden is operated under the auspices of the City of San Antonio Department of Parks & Recreation and is open year-round except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, visit sabot.org or call 210-536-1400.