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Hidden Hill Country: The Best San Antonio Parks You Don’t Know About

It’s no secret that our society has been hopelessly in love with the concept of “the big city” for years. It is within this urban landscape that characters always seem to find themselves: here, the pauper becomes the prince, the hopeless romantic finds love, and the twenty-something nerd becomes the tech mogul.

But as captivated as we are by skyscrapers and industrial bridges, we seem to have an even deeper connection with the urban park. From the dreamy forestscape of London’s Hyde Park to the pruned, pristine Luxembourg Garden in Paris, these small bits of greenery breathe life into an otherwise concrete jungle. Central Park, as penned by one writer and New York resident, is “the most unusual and surrealistic place in New York City.” (Christo). It seems a city is only as good as its best-loved park.

So where does San Antonio fall on the map? Though the Alamo City is more famous for its iconic buildings than iconic green spaces (The Alamo, anyone?), it certainly isn’t due to a lack of natural beauty. San Antonio’s urban parks add a depth of character to the city’s charm. If you’re interested in exploring these tiny oases, look no further. Here are several of our favorite  downtown San Antonio parks:

Image courtesy of SanAntonioMomBlogs.com

Chris Park

Location: 3 Camp St,

If you’re expecting a typical city park, you’re in for a pleasant surprise if you wander the grounds of Chris Park, a local favorite on the southwest side of downtown. Chris Park is a poignant tribute to Christopher Goldbury, a young man who died tragically at the age of 24. After his death in 1997, Chris’s mother Linda Pace worked tirelessly to commission Chris Park as a tribute to her late son and his legacy. The park blossomed as a result. Filled with a mix of both indigenous and exotic plants (approximately 18 different species), as well as unique contemporary art and paved walkways, the park is "a place of beauty, contemplation, and joy." Contemporary artist Teresita Fernandez has created a series of pieces that “commemorate the potential of everyday occurrences.” In short, the park is a peaceful repose from the bustle of the city, but with a whimsy twist. Walking the grounds feels a bit like stepping into another world.

Image courtesy of San Antonio Magazine

Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair Park

Location: 434 S Alamo St

Originally created to host the 1968 World's Fair, Hemisfair Park is certainly a sight to behold. The park offers a total escape from the sharp corners of the city, boasting “lushly landscaped areas and dramatic, cascading waterfalls.” Besides a panorama of natural features, the park is home to historic architecture, the Institute of Texan Cultures, and the Instituto Cultural Mexicano, among others. But perhaps the most unique and exciting feature of Hemisfair Park is the newly christened Yanaguana Garden, a 4-acre super-playground for all ages and ability levels. When you visit Hemisfair Park, you’ll understand what we mean by “super-playground.” This playscape is far more than a rock wall and a few metal jungle gyms. Besides the classic playground features, you’ll find life-size chess boards, displays of public art, playful sculptures, a mega sand area, ping pong and bocce ball for adults, a splash pad, and way more. The purpose of the park is to offer “dynamic educational, physical, and social experiences that encourage interaction, creativity, exploration, learning, and fitness.” This innovative park is designed to synthesize leisure and play with art, culture, sustainability, and great fun! Check it out today.

Image courtesy of San Antonio Current

Travis Park

Location: 301 E Travis St

Arguably the “original park” in San Antonio, Travis Park seems to bridge the historic and the modern. Built in 1870 (and once part of the Alamo Mission), Travis Park is one of the oldest parks in San Antonio, as well as one of the oldest municipal parks in the country. Though relatively small (just over two and a half acres), Travis Park is a favorite locale for concerts, community gatherings, “movies in the park”, as well as an annual outdoor jazz festival. Though its legacy can be traced back through the history of San Antonio, recent major renovations have rendered the park a contemporary and dynamic piece of urban art. Winning multiple accolades, including “Best Park 2015” by San Antonio Magazine, Travis Park is a must-visit in the Alamo City. Upcoming events include a Zumba party and a St Patty’s Day Food Truck Throwdown!

Image courtesy of MySanAntonio.com

Milam Park

Location: 501 W Commerce St

Though many of the parks we’ve described offer a sense of escape in the middle of the busyness of the city, Milam Park offers a different type of escape. Stepping onto the grounds of this park feels a bit like stepping into another era. Dappled with Victorian-era lampposts and centered around a whimsy mid-century gazebo, Milam Park is a piece of the past. Besides gorgeous views, the park offers game tables, a playground, several walking trails, and 60+ benches upon which to enjoy the view. Historic, unique, and classic, this park is quintessentially ‘San Antonio’ in so many ways.

Roosevelt Park

Location: 331 Roosevelt Ave

If you’re looking for more of a spacious municipal park, Roosevelt Park may be the place for you. Spread out over almost 13 acres, Roosevelt is situated alongside the San Antonio River in the shade of the iconic Lone Star Brewery. A true rags-to-riches story, Roosevelt was transformed from a gravel pit to a premium park offering a swimming pool, community center, picnic areas, bike paths, a basketball court, and a playground. Local residents have espoused that Roosevelt park holds a unique vibe...from the murals to the pecan grove, this park is a true San Antonio gem.

Whether you’re drawn to the urban park for their natural beauty, their literary romance, or simply the feeling of grass between your toes, check out these downtown parks! These tiny windows into the Hill Country are beloved by local residents and visitors alike. 

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