Who says you need to travel far to spend time in nature?
Before you plan a cross-country road trip from Texas, check out these Texas state parks near San Antonio.
You’ll discover fantastic landscapes, outdoor activities, and tons of family fun right in your backyard!
Also Read: 27 Best Things to do near San Antonio, Texas
Best State parks near San Antonio
Texas is home to plenty of state parks, from the popular Guadalupe State park or Garner State Park to the less frequented Choke Canyon State Park.
Whether it is a leisurely half-mile nature trail or an exhausting overnight hike, biking or bird watching, picnicking, or camping – these state parks cater to everyone’s interests.
Here are our favorite state parks near San Antonio to explore now.
Guadalupe River State Park
Located a short drive from the bustling city of San Antonio, Guadalupe River State Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
It makes a perfect spot for a day hike or even a weekend camping trip from San Antonio.
The state park features several miles of hiking and biking trails.
Explore the fascinating Texas Hill Country landscapes on the popular Painted Bunting trail.
At just about 3 miles long, this trail is great for families.
It is also perfect for viewing wildlife, including the vibrant Painted Bunting bird!
For challenging routes, opt for the Bauer Unit trails located across the river banks.
The park’s riverfront location also makes it a popular spot for fishing and canoeing.
You can also go tubing, swimming, or just relax on a float trip down the scenic Guadalupe river.
For an exhilarating experience, go rafting or kayaking.
The Guadalupe River paddling trail leads you to the nearby Nichols Landing Co Park and is a great way to spend the hot Texas summers.
The park also has gear rentals, if you don’t bring your own.
Planning to spend the weekend?
The park has several RV campsites with water and electric hookups as well as walk-in tent sites.
It also has a butterfly garden and an amphitheater and is popular throughout the year.
The park is also famous for its vibrant fall colors as the trees on the banks of the river change color in November.
Garner State Park
Garner State Park is renowned for its water activities, dance nights, and splendid hiking trails.
It is located a couple of hours’ drive from San Antonio near Concan.
The park is a Hill Country gem – a beautiful landscape of gnarly trees and the crystal clear Frio river running through its center.
Hikers can explore over 16 miles of trails weaving in and around Garner State Park.
Frio Canyon Trail is a relatively easier loop with striking views of the surrounding mountains.
Crystal Cave Trail is an adventurous trail worth the effort where you see a 30-ft deep cave!
For a challenging hike, traverse to the summit of Old Baldy.
From here, you can enjoy exceptional views of the mountains, a birds-eye view of the Frio, and the dramatic limestone karst topography.
Just pause and take it all in.
The trail also has a surprise at the top – a hidden rope swing!
Garner State Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, snakes, and birds.
Swimming or simply floating in the cool Frio waters is a popular activity.
You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats or go tubing and stand-up paddle boarding to explore the landscape from the water.
There are several campsites with electricity and water hookups as well as equipped with an outdoor grill and picnic tables at the park – however, they get booked well in advance during peak seasons!
Palmetto State Park
Just a short drive from San Antonio, Palmetto State Park is a unique tropical paradise.
The park terrain comprised of the seasonal shallow swamps and the dwarf palm trees creates a spectacular landscape – one that transforms with every season.
One of the best spots for swimming within the park is the San Marcos River.
The river is also popular for canoeing, kayaking, or tubing.
If you’re feeling adventurous, hike up to Oxbow Lake for a refreshing dip.
The water is always nice and cool, making it perfect for a hot summer day.
The tranquil waters of this lake is surrounded by shady trees and tropical wildlife, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers.
The park is also good to cast a line for bass, catfish, and bream.
Popular hiking trails in the park include the Palmetto Interpretive Trail, Oxbow Lake Trail – the best place to spot kingfishers, and the San Marcos Trail, which is popular for its wildlife and bird sightings.
Bikers can explore the park on miles of paved trails.
The park provides several campsites along the San Marcos River banks.
Old Tunnel State Park
Old Tunnel State Park, located near Fredericksburg, may be one of the smallest state parks in Texas but it has lots of attractions that make it well worth a visit.
The park is home to an abandoned railroad tunnel, now home to a colony of more than a million bats.
From March to October, you can see them fly out of the tunnel at dusk in search of food.
It’s truly a sight to behold and one of the best places to see bats in Texas!
The state park is also a great place for bird-watching, hiking, and picnicking.
Visitors can see over 250 species of birds including woodpeckers, painted buntings, and bluebirds on the trails.
The best time to go birding is in spring when the migrants arrive.
Blanco State Park
This peaceful state park, located on the banks of the Blanco river, is a nice place to spend time with the family.
Built by the CCC in the 1930s, it is one of the first state parks in the Lone Star State.
The captivating landscapes and wildlife sightings make it a great place for nature lovers.
If you’re lucky, you might spot some deer, armadillos, bobcats, squirrels, and other wildlife.
The park has several scenic hiking trails, some leading down to the river where you can cool off with a swim or go tubing.
The river is calm and shallow, making it ideal for splashing around with the kids.
The park is also popular for camping in the Texas Hill Country.
Before you head back, be sure to visit the charming Texan small town of Blanco.
Walk around the town square and admire the historic Old Blanco Courthouse.
Explore the restaurants, breweries, wineries, and antique shops in the town to end your trip.
Lockhart State Park
Lockhart State Park is one of the most underrated state parks near San Antonio.
The scenic beauty of Clear Fork Plum Creek and its oak-lined shores make it a perfect spot for nature lovers and birdwatchers.
There are several hiking trails in the park, many of which are also open for mountain biking and horseback riding.
Clear Fork Creek is a favorite fishing spot to catch bass and catfish.
The 80-year-old historic golf course and the swimming pool, both built by the CCC, are still maintained in excellent condition.
The park also has several campsites.
The best time to visit the park is in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom.
You can also see the Texas bluebonnets along the roadsides.
Lockhart, the BBQ Capital of Texas, is a must-stop while visiting the park.
Take your pick amongst the beef ribs at Black’s Barbecue, the shoulder clod at Kreuz Market, or the meats at Smitty’s market – or sample them all!
Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park
This national park site is located near Johnson City and makes a great trip from the Alamo for history lovers.
It commemorates the life and legacy of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States.
The park has two main sites – the LBJ Ranch (also known as the “Texas White House”) and the LBJ Presidential Library.
You can take a tour of the ranch to see where President Johnson spent his summers and weekends.
The presidential library is a must-see for history buffs.
It houses exhibits on President Johnson’s time in office, as well as his childhood home and artifacts from his life.
The park also has a visitor center, which is a great place to learn more about President Johnson and his legacy.
If you’re visiting with kids, they will enjoy the playgrounds and the hiking trails within the park.
You can see the famous Texas longhorn cattle along the nature trails in the woodlands.
Explore the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm to experience rural farm life with an actual windmill, wood-burning stove, and farm animals.
The Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park is a good place to learn about American history and have a fun day out.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock State Park, located in central Texas, is one of the best day trips from San Antonio.
The park is home to Enchanted Rock, a large pink granite dome, that is popular for rock climbing.
However, the most famous attraction here is the Summit Trail.
It is famous for being one of the best hikes in the Texas Hill Country.
This fairly challenging hike to the top of the unique batholith offers you stunning views of the area.
Explore the Enchanted Rock Cave near the summit, for an additional punch of excitement.
Enchanted Rock is assigned as an International Dark Sky Park and is one of the best places for stargazing in Texas.
The park also has campgrounds, however, be sure to make advanced bookings if you want to spend the night under the stars.
The best time to visit Enchanted Rock is in the spring – the weather is cool and comfortable and the whole area is bursting with vibrant Central Texas bluebonnets.
Pedernales Falls State Park
Within the city limits of Austin, you will find Pedernales State Park, a unique landscape in the scenic Texas Hill Country.
It is home to Pedernales Falls, a beautiful waterfall that cascades over limestone rocks.
The falls are full and especially pretty after a rainstorm.
There are several trails in the park, ranging from easy to difficult.
The Twin Fall Nature Trail is an easy and popular trail with spectacular views.
The moderate Wolf Mountain trail offers cool springs, incredible views, and occasional coyote sightings.
Looking for more?
Explore the Jones Spring trail that weaves through dense cedar forest or the Horse Trail (North) that passes along the Duck Pond.
The Trammell’s Crossing Trail has perfect spots for swimming, tubing, and fishing in the Pedernales River.
Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park, on the Gulf Coast of Texas, is the perfect state park for beach lovers in San Antonio.
The park has 5 miles of sandy beaches where you can sunbathe, build sandcastles, and go swimming or fishing.
The waters are calm and shallow, making it a great place for families with kids.
Hike or bike along the nature trails to explore the island and its sand dunes.
The Mustang Island Paddling trails follow the beautiful western shoreline – great for spotting coastal birds and kayak fishing.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try windsurfing on the barrier island.
The best time to visit Mustang Island State Park is in the summer.
Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site
Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site, about a 3.5-hour drive from San Antonio, is the perfect place for those looking to explore off the beaten path.
The park has a variety of hiking trails that will take you through canyons, over lookouts, and past ancient rock art.
Make sure to take the guided tour that shows you some of the oldest pictographs in the world – almost 10,000 years old!
The famous Panther cave showcases the indigenous rock painting of a leaping panther dating back to approximately 7000 B.C.
Unbelievable, isn’t it?
There are several ranger-led tours to explore the two canyons, Seminole Canyon and Presa Canyon and the famous ‘Bridge to the Past’.
One of the most popular trails is the Fate Bell Shelter trail which leads you to an amazing Native American rock art site.
The Presa Canyon Trail allows you to hike deep in the canyons and rock shelters while traversing through water crossings and old fossils.
Be sure to bring your camera so you can take some photos of the timeless pictographs and stunning views of the arid landscape.
The visitor center has a wonderful display of exhibits depicting human history from the prehistoric era and progress to date.
Goliad State Park
Goliad State Park & Historic Site, about 2 hours from San Antonio, is a great place to learn about Texas history.
The park is home to the Presidio La Bahia, which was built in 1749 and served as a fort during the Texas Revolution.
Today, the fortress has been restored to its 1836 appearance and is one of the best-preserved Spanish Colonial forts in North America.
The park is also the birthplace of General Ignacio Zaragoza, who led the Mexican army to victory against the French.
You can visit his reconstructed birthplace next to Presidio la Bahia as well as admire the Zaragoza statue at the park.
Another popular attraction at the park is the Fannin Battleground, where you can pay respects to Texas Revolution soldiers who fought in the Battle of Coleto Creek.
The park also has a Visitor Center with exhibits on the history of the area.
Choke Canyon State Park
Choke Canyon State Park, about 3.5 hours from San Antonio, is a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
The park is located on the shores of the Choke Canyon Reservoir and is popular for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
The park attracts several species of birds and is a stopover for migrating birds.
This is one of the best places in Texas for birdwatching and is a part of the Brush Country Loop – Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.
The bird sanctuary is rightly located in the camping area so you can spot these beauties frequently.
Possums, squirrels, armadillos, and coyotes are common here and so are American alligators, so keep your eyes peeled!
Lost Maples State Natural Area
Looking for an autumnal escape in Texas?
Lost Maples State Natural Area is the best place to see fall colors in the Lone Star State!
The bigtooth maples in the park change color in brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow, making it a photographer’s paradise.
The park has over 10 miles of scenic trails for hiking enthusiasts of all levels.
Hike the short Maple trail that goes along the Sabinal River and soak in the natural beauty of the magnificent maples.
Complete the challenging loop from the valley floor to the 2200-foot ridge and admire the scenic vistas.
Birders can spot the golden-cheeked warbler, clack-capped vireo, and rare green kingfishers in the park.
Or have fun fishing in the Sabinal Creek or other fall pools.
This is also a Dark Sky Park so grab a blanket and enjoy stargazing or catch a glimpse of a shooting star at Lost Maples.
Camping spots and even day passes can get booked especially in the fall, so be sure to plan your trip well in advance.
These state parks near San Antonio offer a variety of outdoor activities such as swimming, birding, stargazing, and hiking.
In addition to being a great way to get exercise, these activities also help you connect with nature.
Which are your favorite state parks near San Antonio, Texas?
Let us know in the comments below.