We looked inside the visitor center then headed to the adjacent Mission San José. I was surprised by the beauty and serenity of the place. The wall that surrounds the complex still remains and encloses the grounds like you are stepping into a unique little world. I pictured what life might have been like living in this mission in the late 18th Century. This mission provided me with an improved understanding and appreciation of Texas history.
My advice is do not try to do these things during spring break or a holiday weekend. I tried going over spring break years ago and stood in a line 50 people deep to walk inside the Alamo. This time, we tried going during the last weekend of April and there was no line at all! We enjoyed brushing up on our Texas history! The grounds of the Alamo have a nice timeline on display outside. Inside, the shrine area serves as a small museum. The downside of the Alamo is that it’s popularity makes it a louder and more crowded place than the missions, but it also has a rich history making it an emblem of Texas.
3. Natural Bridge Caverns and Wildlife Ranch
The next day we drove about 30 minutes north of SA to the Natural Bridge Caverns. We arrived at about 10am on a cool Sunday morning and were lucky to have no line. To enter the caverns, you first must go inside the visitor building and purchase a ticket for a tour. There are various types of tours offered, the most common ones start at $22 for adults and $14 for children. The visitor area also has a full indoor concession stand and gift shop. When leaving the visitor center, you walk down a hill which leads you past a maze, ropes course, and an ice cream parlor . There are well-marked signs that lead you to the beginning of the cave tour. We waited for our guide and entered the caverns!
The caverns are humid and dark, but they are lit in a way that makes the walls seem to glow. It is slippery inside, so wear some shoes that grip and be prepared for a couple tight areas at the beginning of the tour. I have visited the caverns twice, and do feel that it is worth it for the ticket price. The huge slimy-looking stalagmites made us feel like we were on another planet. It is hard to tell the size of the structures without people in the pictures, but the caverns are huge!
After the cavern tour, we grabbed lunch at the concession area and drove to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. The ranch entrance is right next to the entrance for the caverns, so you can’t miss it. It was $22 per adult to go into the ranch. The tickets also provided us each with a bag of feed, which was more than enough. I actually went home with extra feed that i forgot to throw out.
You can drive your car around the park where tons of various goats, antelope, and deer all crowd to get food. All of the animals seemed very tame, except for the ostriches. I was afraid of them! We had trouble driving at times because the animals got so close to the car and we didn’t want to hit them. Also, I’m not sure if animals have ever damaged the vehicles, but it is definitely possible!
This ostrich practically charged our car! I promptly rolled up the window when he approached!
It was so neat to see the exotic animals up close, and they all appeared to be healthy. After driving through the ranch, you can park at a visitor area with food and restrooms and walk around the lemur habitat and giraffe house. I recommend this for anyone with kids and/or if you just love animals!
Thank you for reading! Please contact me with any questions you have about visiting these places.