Perhaps mom and dad would enjoy a weekend alone togetherness. Or perhaps grandma and grandpa would simply enjoy a weekend of time with the grandchildren, and vice versa. Or maybe all three generations would enjoy time together away from the familiar routines around the home. Whatever the scenario, I offer some suggestions of destinations at which grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy time together, strengthening the bonds of which family ties are forged.
Owl Hollow in San Marcos
5 acres of tree-covered hills, with single-vehicle camping spots and serenity galore! Star gazing, hiking, story-telling around a campfire, quiet family time together, away from the hustle and bustle of daily city living. Owl Hollow sports a communal fully-plumbed restroom, complete with a shower to freshen up as desired. The sink outside the restroom is used for washing your campsite dishes. Kids of all ages are welcome to ride their bikes, and dogs are welcome. Please be sure to pick up after the pooch. The San Marcos River is less than 8 miles away, perfect for some swimming, splashing and floating about. About an hour’s drive from San Antonio, this simple destination is definitely something to consider. Owl Hollow is also just a short jaunt from shopping and restaurants, in case someone forgot the marshmallows. Remember the marshmallows, Leo! That’s your job!
Luxury Eco Yurt at The Cedars Ranch
Not quite up for camping in a tent or your RV? And not quite up for staying in a hotel either? This might be for you. About 15 minutes from the hamlet of Wimberley is this 20 acre spot, nestled among oak and cedar trees. A yurt is sort of a round house, and this one is pure luxury. The yurt can accommodate 4 people and has a full kitchen, bath, tub, exquisite bedroom with a king-sized bed, and a sofa bed in the living area. Bring some books, perhaps a chess board and checkerboard, other family-oriented games, and just enjoy the peace and quiet of the area.
Cotulla/Nueces River KOA (Kampground of America)
This place is a step or three up from pitching a tent after hiking through the woods. You can, of course, pitch a tent and enjoy the experience, right next to a fishing spot. Or you can reserve a tent site with running water, electricity, television reception and Wi-Fi internet access. Cabin rentals are also available, as is swimming, laundry machines, showers and a dog park. And a clubhouse provides an indoor gathering area for sitting and telling tales, one generation to another.
Dixie Dude Ranch
Located in Bandera, Texas, the Dixie Dude Ranch has been hosting guests for more than 75 years. A short one-hour drive from San Antonio, this is a working ranch raising goats, longhorn cattle and pigs. Home-cooked meals are provided, along with horses for grandparents and the kids to enjoy riding. The family will enjoy swimming, dancing, fishing (catch and release only) with fishing gear provided by the ranch. Grandchildren generally have a lot of energy, and with basketball, horseshoes, and tetherball available, they will sleep well at night. Grandma and grandpa will then have some time to hold hands under the stars, grateful to be grandparents! Lots of hiking is close at hand, where the kids can hunt for arrowheads and whatever else they might find while exploring. Real working cowboys compete in rodeo events, and grandpa can spin some yarns (true or not – granny ain’t tellin’) the size of Texas about his days as a cowboy. Just be prepared for the grandkids to pester grandma and grandpa to bring them back for another visit!
Reserve one of the available cabins for a weekend family vacation. Horseback riding and barrel-racing lessons are available, preparing the grandchildren for a possible future as cowboys or cowgirls. The ranch hands are also available to teach about any of the other animals which are to be found on a working ranch. Maybe even grandma and grandpa will rediscover a dream, long ago put aside, about being a cowboy or cowgirl! There are upscale accommodations available in cabins, or just drop in for a day visit if the family is on a weekend journey together, exploring different places near San Antonio. If staying for a weekend, bring a swimsuit, as the outdoor pool is fantastic.
Falcon State Park
I wonder how many fish are populating this 84,000 acre body of water. There is a boat ramp and cleaning station, the latter of which helps keep one’s campsite and/or cabin nice and clean. Falcon State Park provides a lot of room for camping, swimming, hiking, water sport activities and, of course, some sitting around enjoying companionship with family. Channel catfish and largemouth bass are the primary fish species in the reservoir, and a fishing license is not required. Grandpa and grandma can look forward to watching, and helping, the grandkids pitch a tent, tend a fire, cook over a fire, and all the other things that make for fond memories down the long winding road of life.
Blanco State Park
An easy trip of just an hour’s drive from San Antonio, Blanco State Park is a small park, along a one-mile stretch of the Blanco River. There is a store in the park which rents tubes and kayaks. Visitors can bring their own water craft, but electric motors are required. No gas-powered boats are allowed. Fishing from shore is easy to do, with plenty of bass, sunfish, channel catfish and, in the late fall and winter, trout. No fishing licenses are required. There are 17 hook-up sites for camping, and 12 of them have electricity. The cold water (chilly to some) of the Blanco River provides a nice way to beat the heat of the summer days. There is a shallow wading pool for children to enjoy, next to Falls Dam.
Pitch a tent with the grandchildren if you wish to, or bring the RV. This park has 517 acres to explore along the Guadalupe River, with lots of room for camping, hiking and fishing. With 7 ½ miles of hiking and biking trails, bring the bicycles and enjoy a family ride out in the fresh air. For the kids, there is a playground, volleyball area, basketball and a butterfly garden. Plenty of activities to be enjoyed by all. And plenty of opportunity to quietly gather together around a camp fire, telling tales of when Alex the Antelope and his herd once roamed the wilds of Texas Hill Country. Alex’s prowess as head of his herd was legendary among the locals, back when Kerrville was just a wide spot on a dirt road…. We’ll leave it to grandpa to spin that yarn.
Lost Maples State Natural Area
10 miles of trails for hiking with the grandkids. 30 campsites with electricity and water, or pack in to one of the “primitive” sites to pitch a couple of tents. The birds and other wildlife are abundant in this natural area, and they do not mind posing for a picture or two. A fishing license is not needed when getting your line wet, either from shore or along the pier. Medina Lake is close by, so bring your swimsuits if you feel to take a dip after hiking with the grandchildren.
Canyon Lake, TX
A short 45-minute drive north of San Antonio you will find Canyon Lake. There are 8 areas in the park for camping, swimming, boating and picnics. In addition to camping, either in tents or in your RV, Canyon Lake has hotels, motels, cabins and bed-and-breakfasts available. Like to golf? There is a par 72 golf course. The view of the lake and the oak trees add to the challenging layout of the course. Hard to keep one’s mind on putting when in the middle of such a beautiful setting.
Make it a long weekend getaway with the grandchildren. With such a selection of places to go in the southern part of the great State of Texas, there is sure to be a destination which will suit the tastes and fancies of everyone in the family. Whatever the final choice turns out to be, in terms of where to go, it is the time together with family that really is most of value. Memories of shared experiences, be it fishing, camping, hiking or roasting weenies are, as I stated at the top of this article, the bonds of which family ties are forged.
If you are looking for senior care and services in San Antonio be sure to reach out to our free Care Advisor Hotline at 1-800-955-8510.
Aaron Ainbinder is the author of “Just Before the Stroke of Seven”