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Staycation-A trip to SeaWorld and a night at San Antonio’s Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk

2010 July 27

A few weeks ago, I realized that summer is almost over and we still hadn’t taken a family vacation. We usually try to do something each year, but since we’ve been tightening our belts and actually living within our means, our options have been pretty limited.  So, I started thinking about some things we could do nearby where both the adults and the kids could have a good time.

Ultimately, we decided on San Antonio for three reasons:

  1. My daughter loves SeaWorld because of the animals and the shows
  2. I love the San Antonio Riverwalk
  3. My husband gets free passes to SeaWorld from work

After we made our choice, I went to Travelzoo to find a hotel room.  I found a special rate ($149) at the Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk. It was actually the best rate for hotels on the Riverwalk AND it included breakfast.

So, this past Friday we drove down to San Antonio. Our first stop was SeaWorld.

The Highlights of SeaWorld San Antonio

  • Dolphin Cove: You can actually reach into the water where the dolphins are.  They never swam close enough for us to touch, but it was awesome just to be so close.
  • Stingrays at the Shark/Coral Reef exhibit: The aquarium is floor to ceiling, and it’s pretty magical seeing those huge stingrays swimming around
  • Shamu: It’s amazing what these trainers are able to get these giant whales to do. My daughter entered SeaWorld wanting to be a mermaid, but after seeing the Believe show, she now wants to be a trainer.  And of course the gift shop sold a trainer Barbie…which we bought.

Some Lows at SeaWorld San Antonio:

  • The lines: So, I get that it’s the summer and a Friday, but the lines were, in my opinion, unnecessarily long.  We waited in a line 25-30 people deep to buy dolphin food, but got out of line after we realized only one person was manning the booth where you bought it.  At one of the kiddie ferris wheel rides, one person loaded, unloaded and operated the ride.  We thought waiting until 1pm would allow us to skip the lunch rush, but the lines were almost out the door at one restaurant.
  • The Shamu show isn’t as good without the trainers in the water. The show was much more spectacular with the trainers in the water with the whales.  I hope they decide to let them back in.

The Unknowns:

  • The waterpark looked awesome, but we didn’t bring our swimsuits with us.  If you go, bring them!
  • The rollercoasters looked fun, but since we were traveling with young kids, we didn’t attempt any of them.
  • Seeing the park at night would have been fun, but again with small children, they tend to fade pretty fast.

Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk

After SeaWorld, we checked in at the Hotel Valencia.  Although our room was a “no view room,” we actually could see a sliver of the Riverwalk from our window.  And even though our room was a standard, it still was a nice size. I also liked the modern decor and dark colors.  Plus, the hotel staff members were very friendly and attentive.

We ate dinner at Acenar, the restaurant next door. Unlike every other Mexican food place on the Riverwalk, it didn’t have a wait.  The menu also had some intriguing dishes that included stuff that wasn’t typically TexMex, like my duck crepes-delicious!  The duck had the texture of pulled pork and was covered with a sweet and spicy sauce. I’d definitely eat there again.

The next morning we enjoyed the free breakfast that came with our special Travelzoo rate.  It was a credit, so we got to choose whatever we wanted.  After breakfast, we walked along the Riverwalk a little bit more before we headed home.

On the drive back, my husband and I both commented that, even though it was for only one night, we really felt like we were on vacation.

What are some other places around Austin to go for a weekend getaway?

What’s your favorite restaurant in San Antonio?

What are some favorite Texas family vacation spots?

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  1. July 27, 2010

    Twitter Comment

    ROA Staycation–A trip to SeaWorld and a night at San Antonio’s Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk:

    … [link to post] via @ATX4U

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