I bought a Groupon (my first one! I’m so behind the times) for a Dinosaur Park outside of Austin. It was pretty dang cheap and I figured it would be a fun outdoor outing that both kids would enjoy. The oldest isn’t liking all my planned explorations anymore, which breaks my heart. He wants to stay home and do other stuff while I’m internally screaming ‘No! You are still a little boy who loves hanging out with his mom!”.
We made the trip last weekend and everyone enjoyed it. The park bills itself as an outdoor museum, complete with 24 life size replica dinosaurs, as well as other various reptiles. The dinosaurs range in size from 2 feet long to 85 feet long. Each one is painted and looks pretty legit.
You enter through the gift shop, then make your way down the trail. It’s tree lined with lots of shade and easy to follow. Each dinosaur has a sign that tells what it is, along with different facts and features.
I can’t resist a Japanese garden. It doesn’t matter where it is, I’ll find a way to get there. This one proved to be a little harder though. It’s relatively close, but they are only open Monday thru Friday, 9-5. Those aren’t the most convenient times. I finally had a normal, non-holiday day of work over Christmas, so I took my parents to see it.
This garden has quite a history. It’s in Brackenridge Park, which opened in San Antonio in 1901. At the time, there was still an operating rock quarry, used for cement. The cement company moved in 1908, more land was donated, and the idea for a lily pond was formed to make use of the abandoned quarry. Between 1917 and 1918, prison labor was used to form the walkways, bridges, island, and pagoda. Bulbs were donated by residents, with the exotic plants and lighting provided by the city. It was finished in 1919.
In 1926 the city invited Kimi Eizo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, to move to the garden, where he opened the Bamboo Room, serving tea and light lunches. After his death in the late 1930s, his family continued to operate the tea garden until 1942. They were then evicted due to the anti-Japanese sentiment of WWII. A Chinese-American family operated the facility until the early 1960s, and it was known as the Chinese Sunken Garden. In 1984, the area was rededicated as the Japanese Tea Garden in a ceremony attended by the Jingu’s children and representatives of the Japanese government.
The garden has been renovated in recent years. It’s free to get in, but note the hours. One of the cement stacks is still on the property, as well as a gate that reads Chinese Tea Garden. It’s not overly huge, but it is gorgeous and there are steps and trails to get a workout in.
If you’ve been following for a while, you know that I love a good playground. The kids and I spent an entire deployment finding new parks and playgrounds to keep busy during one of the husband’s deployments. When I started seeing pictures of the new Yanaguana Garden playground, it was no question whether we were going to go.
The garden opened last weekend, the first of three new areas in Hemisfair Park in downtown San Antonio. The 4.1 acre park is named after Yanaguana, a Papaya Indian village that once lived on the banks of the San Antonio River. Story goes, that long ago, before there was a city of even Texas here, there lived a blue panther in a blue hole. One day, a water bird flew into the hole where the panther lived. The water bird shot out of the blue hole, opened its wings, and droplets from the blue hole fell across the land, which gave life to the area. The blue panther is found in the garden.
The rest of the area is a kid’s paradise. There are climbing structures, swings, a splash pad, a giant sandbox, over sized chess and checkers, and lots more. There is also clean bathrooms, water fountains, and lots of shade and seating. There is enough to do that the smallest and the biggest kids will stay entertained.
One of the things I love about moving around is discovering the city we live in. When you live somewhere, you manage to find all the treasures of the city, places that you’d never know about if you were just visiting. Denman Estate Park is one of those places.
The 21 acre park doesn’t have playgrounds, but has plenty to keep your kids occupied. There is a half mile walking path around a pond full of ducks, geese, and turtles. There is also easy parking, a labyrinth, tables, and what most people probably go to see, an alluring monument, The Korean Pavilion of Gwangju. The gift from the Metropolitan City of Gwangju and Namkwang Construction to its sister city of San Antonio in 2010, was designed to “facilitate business and cultural friendships” between the two cities. It is “a replica of the traditional Korean pavilion style of the southern provinces. The Pavilion, traditionally used as a place of reflection and reception by scholars and gentlemen, embodies the beauty and harmony created by nature and structure.”