Ten Great things to Do in San Antonio-A Series

The trend at Hidden Valley RV Park and much of the nation is heading toward the "stay-cation." Even our full time RV'ers are staying at with us a little longer due to soaring fuel prices. So knowing about some different, maybe not so widely visited places in the San Antonio area, helps locals and extended stay visitors to our city make the most fun use of their time.  In this series there will be one feature attraction per post.  Since we all remember the Alamo, we'll focus on some less known, but intriguing attractions.

If you're a nature lover or an avid garden enthusiast like me you'll love the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. But be prepared to walk further than usual - the 24-year-old living museum of plant life is spread over 33 acres. Note: the Garden IS wheelchair accessible.  It features traditional formal gardens, native Texas flora and tropical vegetation. And much more: a special rare and endangered section of Lone Star State plants and the Garden for the Blind, the Sensory Garden.
The piece de resistance is the Lucille Halsell Conservatory, 90,000 square feet of climatically controlled glass edifices housing five sections that include an exhibition room, tropical conservatory and a fern grotto, plus desert and palm pavilions. 
The Carriage House Bistro, located on the grounds, is a quaint restaurant in the historic Daniel J. Sullivan Carriage House.   The dining area occupies part of original structure erected in 1896 and moved from downtown in 1988. Booth seating is built into onetime horse stalls. It's the perfect rest stop for visitors. Light is the byword on the luncheon menu: soup and quiches of the day, plus sandwiches like rotisserie turkey and hot ham-Swiss cheese. Salads include the Mama Mac, chicken salad spread over greens and tomato. Desserts are homemade.  It is closed on Mondays.(download a menu.)
Perhaps the most satisfying display is the accessible, handicapped attraction the Garden for the Blind. "It's really good," says receptionist Sonia Mondragon, who adds that she has "learned a lot. I answer plenty of questions from visitors."
The garden is designed for those unable to visually experience the beauty of their surroundings. Once a visitor passes through the metal gates, an oak guardrail aids in locating a ceramic model of the layout. A series of metal plaques in large Braille type describe and identify the plants.  The blind experience plants by touch and smell. "The rice paper plant leaves have two textures on both sides," she explains. "The pineapple sage and society garlic have definite aromas."

Don't miss the new bird watch on the Texas Native trail.  Visit the Botanical Garden website for birding lists and lots of information.
Playhouses and Forts Exhibit

Throughout the year various exhibits don the grounds of the Gardens.  This year, running through October 24th, the Playhouses and Forts exhibit features miniature Eco-friendly houses endeavoring to teach sustainability in an applicable setting, our living spaces.  One of the houses features a stationary bike that generates enough power to play a radio when pedaled.

Also featured is Art in the Garden with artist Albert Paley's creations.
Art in the Garden

The Gardens are open year round from 9am to 5pm and their admission is from $4 to $7 per person.  Download a copy of the Garden map HERE.  Directions and a map to the Botanical Gardens from many spots in San Antonio is available HERE.  Directions from Hidden Valley RV Park are available at the registration booth.
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