Special Spring Outings and Weekend Escapes That Won’t Bust Your Budget

Spring is the time of year in Texas when families want to spend as much time outdoors as possible, since the weather is finally nice, the hot summer season has not yet arrived with its triple-digit temperatures, and everyone is ready for a road trip. Where can you go for a quick getaway trip with the kids or for a romantic weekend with your sweetheart? Where can you just steal away for a Saturday or for a Sunday drive?

There are lots of places you’ve been meaning to explore, and now’s the time to do it. Here are five outings you’ll want to make this spring, and best of all, they’re affordable and close to home.

travel-geronimo

What could be more fun than spending the night in a tipi? Under the shady branches of ancient pecan trees near a rambling creek in Geronimo, Texas, just 35 miles northeast of San Antonio, lies the enchanting oasis of the Geronimo Creek Retreat. This overnight vacation rental property features four treehouse-style cabins, five air- conditioned and fully furnished tipis, and the property’s original three bed/two bath Homestead Haus. Even though it feels like you’re far from civilization, the Geronimo Creek Retreat is actually just on the outskirts of Seguin, 14 miles from New Braunfels and 20 miles from the outlet malls of San Marcos. So with fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, a large recreation room, a hot tub, a playground and more, and with Seguin fun nearby (see #2 below), your kids won’t get bored. And think how much they’ll love sleeping in a treehouse or tipi! 888-993-6772 www.geronimocreekretreat.com.

ZDT’s Amusement Park — This little Seguin-area theme park and game arcade is big on family fun, doesn’t cost big bucks like the large San Antonio theme parks do, and chances are it isn’t much farther from home than the other parks are. Just 30 minutes from San Antonio (Exit 809 off Interstate 10 as you head east toward Houston), this Seguin-area amusement park is doable as a day trip. Attractions here are geared to entertain a wide age-range, from toddlers to teens and everyone in between — plus Mom and Dad. With an exciting giant Switchback roller coaster culminating in a Grand Spike that sends riders to a record-breaking, near-vertical angle, ZDT has one of the most thrilling rides in Texas. It also has a water coaster, go carts, a climbing wall, a parachute drop ride, a Dizzy Toucan ride, a MaxiFlight roller coaster simulator, a video arcade, games and even a café where kid-friendly meals make lunch a treat. ZDT is a clean, safe place to play, inside and out. 830-386-0151.www.zdtamusement.com.

travel-zdt-rollercoaster

Body surf the Frio River and spend the night at one of the many darling cabins and campsites in and around Concan, at Garner State Park. It’s so close to San Antonio that it would make a perfect weekend trip with the kids — or a romantic night in a cabin with your husband or wife. www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/garner 830-232-6132.

Instead of breaking the bank to pay expensive gate fees for each child and adult in the family at the bigger theme and waterparks in the SA area, why not just pay for one hotel room and enjoy a staycation weekend by booking a Spring Experience at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa? The whole family will have access to 9 acres of water park fun, including a sandy beach, sloped entry leisure pools, whirlpool spas, private cabanas, two 47-foot tall body slides, tube slides, a children’s pool, adult-only infinity pool, 1,100-foot-long lazy river, lounge chair seating and much more. The hotel makes it even more fun for kids and parents with a Kids’ Night Out option: Kids can participate in activities and games while mom and dad have dinner in one of the resort’s nice restaurants. The hotel also offers a Flick N’ Float evening that begins with yummy s’mores by the fire pit, then it’s onto the River Bluff activity pool for a free movie the whole family can enjoy. Float on the water or sit on the grass while you watch the movies on Friday and Saturday evenings. Afraid the hotel stay might still be too pricey? Fear not: The resort is now offering a “More is Less” package that gives guests 15 percent off three-night stays and 20 percent off four-night stays when booking those nights by May 31 and so long as you stay before June 30.
www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/satjw-jw-marriott-san-antonio-hill-country-resort-and-spa 210-276-2500.

Craft your own spring calendar with various fun outings on different weekends to places like the San Antonio Public Library. Take a Rio-Taxi ride to the San Antonio Museum of Art, spend the morning at the New Witte Museum or the kids’ DoSeum on Broadway, or make a day trip to Boerne’s beautiful Cave without A Name. Venture farther and spend a Saturday at the LBJ Ranch to teach the kids about a Texan-turned-president. Or better yet, volunteer as a family at a local food bank or soup kitchen — or why not help cut and clean an elderly neighbor’s yard, or spend the day making cookies or crafting cards and little floral nosegays to take to elderly shut-ins or nursing home folks? Teach kids that weekends needn’t be lazy days; they can be productive ones.

Spring is a great time to get to know your very own city, too, so spend your weekends wisely this season and enjoy the beauty of these mild and marvelous months.

By Janis Turk