One of the things that we love about traveling is all the opportunities that it gives us to learn about our country and its history! One of the ways that we do that is to visit museums throughout the country, especially museums that focus on local history. The Witte Museum in downtown San Antonio, TX is a great place to learn about all sorts of things, including Texas and some of her history.
The Witte Museum has a large area that is newly renovated! In fact, you’ll find that in these pictures, our kids are wearing different clothing from one picture to another because we went twice, on 2 different visits to Hill Country! The first time we went, a large building on the grounds was being renovated, so of course we had to go back a second time to check it out!
One of the new exhibits is the Dinosaur Gallery. Full of ‘millions of years’ (as expected) but still interesting!
Another new exhibit that opened within the last couple of months is the Texas Wild Gallery. There were several sections of this area that we really enjoyed, especially the main display where there are different animals and habitats represented. There were so many animals tucked away and hidden in crevices that the kids were always finding new ones!
In this area is also the Sounds of Texas exhibit (not shown) where different animals are highlighted and you are told a bit about each one and you can hear the sounds that they make. We thought this one was extra fun because it’s narrated by George Straight. So Texas!
The big draw for bringing our fam back to the Witte Museum a second time was the temporary interactive exhibit Above and Beyond. A flight simulation exhibit, the kids were intrigued on our first visit by the posters displaying it’s future opening, so when we visited Hill Country at a later date, we made a point to drive in and visit the museum again to check it out! It did not disappoint!
The exhibit is all about flight – from its history to its future. There were lots of hands on displays, including our favorite – touch screens. lol.
The ‘Spread Your Wings’ flight simulator was extra fun (even the teen boys got in on it!) – each person stands on a different colored circle on the floor, which corresponds to a goose on the screen (the edges of their wingsa re the same color as your floor spot). You fly by spreading your wings and leaning or bending, trying to stay in formation to help with conserving energy.
During our second visit, we spent the most amount of time in the Above and Beyond area. It is a special exhibit, so it is not included in your initial admission (Witte is an ASTC member museum, so we were able to get in free with our ASTC membership from the Museum of the Rockies back home in Montana). If you are an ASTC member, admission to the Above and Beyond exhibit is $4/person; it cost us $40 to get into Above and Beyond (worth every penny) – and an additional $12 for Jake to get into the museum since he is no longer a minor and included under our membership.
There are a lot of interesting areas in the Above and Beyond exhibit, but the favorite for The Tribe, by far, was the jet simulators. Each person has to design their own jet from the options available; you choose a fuselage, wings, tail…all sorts of things that moms don’t remember but boys do 😉 and how fast your jet will fly will depend on the designs you chose for each component. After you are done building your jet, you choose a country and identification number. You must choose a combination that no one else has had that day.
After building your jet, you will sit at one of 3 flight simulators. Two have cockpit seating while the 3rd is a folding chair (we decided that this was to accommodate wheelchairs so people of all abilities can access the simulator). With a little help, even Caleb could fly without help (not saying he finished very high in the rankings, but he was so proud of his independent finishes!).
The bigger boys took it a little more seriously than the girls or Caleb, but they all designed and flew several times!
Even tho we followed several school groups of teens, our boys held 5 of the 7 #1 spots at the end of the day.
The guys loved the flight simulator area! We finally left them so we could explore some more of the museum!
The HEB Body Center was another of the kids’ favorites – the little kids liked the hands-on and gross motor skill activities! Everything in this building is activity based. Upon entering, everyone created a profile and it prints you out a card with a scan code on it. As you complete each station, scanning your code, the system tracks your progress to give you a health readout at the end.
This was the kids” favorite area in this building – ‘Move It!’ – and that they did. It is a big pad where you can play virtual dodge ball and other ‘keep away’ games.
The Texas Heritage Center was another favorite at the Witte Museum. This area of the museum is dedicated to Texas history, and was a fun stop for us northerners! We love all things Texas, so learning more about local history is always a treat down here!
There are a few hands-on activities here, like learning how important it is to load your pack mule evenly. lol.
The younger crowd loved these tilting games, and I had to tell them it was time to move on!
Love my tribe!
This museum even has some outside activities as well! The kids tried the sky bike, but their fav was the climbing wall!
It is a manned activity with a trained staff member to make sure you are harnessed up right. There are 4 different faces to climb, each with a bell to ring at the top (because that’s the most important part). 😉
I’m pretty sure that every single one of them got in on it! Even dad! (but no, this isn’t dad, it’s Joel!)
There is so much to see and learn about at the Witte Museum in San Antonio! We’ve enjoyed our visits this year, and would go back again in a heartbeat!
We have really enjoyed our visits to the Witte Museum in San Antonio!
Here are some tips that we wish we would have known before our first visit:
*Go during the week – it’s not nearly as busy as on the weekends!
*Call ahead and ask if any groups are scheduled to visit on the day you plan on going; if any are school groups, plan your visit for the afternoon, and see the regular exhibits first. Most groups leave by 2:30, which still gives you time to see the special displays line free! ( but then you run into traffic since this is downtown – pick your battle!)
*Wear close toed shoes and shorts under dresses/skirts if you want to use the climbing wall.
*There is ample museum parking, but if you drive a big rig, like our tall van, you won’t fit in the garage. Behind the museum is a fabulous park! You can park in there, and as a bonus, it’s a great place for a picnic before (or during!) your museum visit. Also, there is a drop off area at the front of the museum so everyone does not have to walk from the parking garage (roughly a block away from the entrance).
*We recommend a minimum of 4 hours to experience the museum if you like to read or listen to the different exhibits.
*The Witte Museum is an ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) member location, so if you have an ASTC membership from elsewhere in the states, your visit is free! Special exhibits are sometimes extra, but members get entrance to those at greatly reduced rates.