If you're looking for somewhere fun and cheap to take the kids here in San Antonio on spring break, I have a great idea for you.
And I have some pretty good photos I took of the place you can see on a slideshow if you click here
It's somewhere I've taken my kids in the past, but over the weekend I stumbled on the secret of making it really cool for them as well as me.
First of all, I know that a trip to the San Antonio Botanical Garden may not sound all that exciting to some people. But hear me out.
I found out that if you give the kids a little booklet you can pick up on the way in, they'll love the place because that booklet can turn the whole thing into a kind of game.
The booklet is from their "Junior Naturalist" program and it makes a trip to this park a never-ending scavenger or treasure hunt. For all kinds of different things.
They list different landmarks around the place as well as different flowers, trees, shrubs and such. And they have places for kids to fill in names of things with every letter of the alphabet. That kind of stuff.
For years I've taken my kids and my camera out exploring all over the place. Sometimes they're excited about going and then sometimes... not so much.
In fact, I've often put together calendars for them titled "Places Daddy Dragged Us!" because they're not always thrilled that Daddy's trying to "teach" them something on a trip. Especially by taking them someplace without video games, balls or telephones.
So I wasn't sure my two youngest children would be thrilled to spend part of a beautiful Sunday afternoon at the Botanical Center. But after they turned into Junior Naturalists, they were hooked.
And they didn't even mind that Daddy was taking pictures and that they were reading and writing and walking and running all over the place.
I didn't have the heart to tell them they might be learning at the same time.
So if you "drag" your kids there over Spring Break, make sure you get one of the little booklets or make up some games of your own.
It also helps a little if you have two or more kids who are a little competitive. Then you just have to make sure there's not a big fight over who's going to be the first to find the fern grotto or the acequia.
I know it's a little early for wildflowers right now, but the Texas Bluebonnets are just starting to bloom, the tulips are all over the place, and there are more different kinds of orchids than you can count.
So make sure you take your camera, your kids, your sunscreen, and your patience.
And yes, I did throw a couple of photos of my own kids into the slideshow on our website. I happen to be a very proud dad and they happened to be so into what they were doing that they didn't even notice Dad taking a few pictures of them along with all the flowers.