If there is one place that screams tourist in San Antonio, it would be the Alamo. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Alamo. I still enjoy seeing the giant Christmas tree during the holidays and taking out of town guests to visit. But it is not at the top of my list of unique places to see in San Antonio. And while the rest of the missions are also tourist attractions, I think they often get overlooked by locals. Whether you are going to enjoy the scenery or the history, they are a great, free place to explore with kids.
Mission San Jose attracts several school groups and plenty of visitors. The visitor center has quite a bit to see and offers a short, informative movie. You can ask for a Junior Ranger worksheet which has a few activities and things for kids to fill out as you go. If I’m not mistaken, you can turn in the worksheet once it is completed and receive a badge. (We didn’t get quite make it to this step a.k.a. naptime!)
The mission itself has a lot to offer as well. One of the kids’ favorite parts was the model explaining a day in the life of the mission’s inhabitants. I think this display did an great job of helping children relate to and better understand the history of the missions from a more personal point of view.
Of course, there is also the beautiful church which is quite an interesting site in itself. Overall, this was certainly the mission with the most to offer and explore.
If you are interested in materials to help your children learn more about the missions, here are some links:
Videos depicting the roles of different members of the missions: http://www.nps.gov/saan/photosmultimedia/video-gallery.htm
A list of children’s books to look for: http://www.nps.gov/saan/supportyourpark/kidsbooks.htm
Materials for school-aged children: http://www.nps.gov/saan/forteachers/curriculummaterials.htm