San Antonio Botanical Gardens

San Antonio Botanical Gardens is a lovely place to spend a few hours when you're looking for things to do in the Alamo City. Found to the near northeast of downtown, this 38-acre garden offers what amounts to a Texas horticultural tour. You won't only get the chance to view flowers and plants that are native to Texas on a tour of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, however. Thanks to the dazzling Lucile Halsell Conservatory complex, visitors can also see and learn about exotic tropical and desert plants. Other sub-gardens offer even more to check out, and when you're not admiring all the plants, you might hit the garden's gift shop or break for a meal at the restaurant.

The San Antonio Botanical Gardens mainly consists of the Texas Native Trail, the multimillion Lucile Halsell Conservatory, and the Formal and Display Gardens. The former is an area that highlights plants that are native to Texas. Its three distinctive sections focus more specifically on plants from the Hill Country, South Texas, and East Texas. Several reconstructed buildings from the state's earlier days enhance the area and help to drive home the regional themes. At the Lucile Halsell Conservatory, plants from equatorial rainforests and desert environments are on display. These plants include palms, tropical fruit trees, orchids, and an impressive variety of desert succulents and cacti.

The Formal and Display Gardens that can be found at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens include a special garden for the blind and a Japanese garden that was gifted to the city by its sister city of Kumamoto, Japan. In the Sensory Garden, as the garden for the blind is known, visitors engage their senses of smell and touch to get the full experience. At the Japanese garden, visitors can escape the stresses of modern life in a most peaceful environment. Along the tranquil Japanese garden paths, bamboo fencing, attractive lanterns of stone, and various Japanese landscape styles lend to the authentic feel. Other sub-gardens, such as a Biblical garden (which contains plants mentioned in the Bible) and an herb garden, are also part of the Formal and Display Gardens, as is an inviting fountain plaza.

A number of interesting San Antonio Botanical Gardens events take place throughout the year. As such, you might keep the garden's events schedule in mind when planning your visit. Among the most popular San Antonio Botanical Gardens events are the Concert Under the Stars summer concert series, various Art in the Garden days that feature exhibits by regional artists, and a four-day Shakespeare in the Park festival that is held in early June. The summer concert series also tends to highlight regional artists, and as its name implies, the live performances are held outside under the stars. Special plant sale days are also among the San Antonio Botanical Gardens events, and should you be visiting between late November and mid-December, you will have the chance to check out the Holiday Train exhibit.

If you are thinking of picking up some tickets to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens while in town, you'll be happy to know that the garden is open daily between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. It only closes on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. While the tickets to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens are worth paying full price for at the gate, you might try to get a discount. Various San Antonio vacation brochures and travel companies offer coupons for the garden, not to mention other great area attractions, such as SeaWorld San Antonio, McNay Art Museum, and the famous Alamo.

Image: Al Rendon/SACVB

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