For three days in November, the Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market brings Olde World Christmas spirit to New Braunfels. Vendors set up cheery red and green booths in the German-style holiday market, where they sell homemade wares such as aromatic roasted nuts, unique toys, vintage cameos, and homemade toffee. Nearby, authors sit ready to discuss their novels or sing their favorite Christmas carols at the on-site book fair and a jolly Santa eats breakfast with kids of all ages. To keep guests warm during the event, Sophie's Cafe serves up warm mugs of soup paired with sandwiches or tempting desserts.
Proceeds from the event benefit The Sophienburg Museum and Archives, which serves as the hub for immigration ship logs, photos, and documents of the first German Americans who found their way to Texas.
Named San Antonio's Best Museum in the 2010 Nickelodeon Parents' Choice Awards, San Antonio Children's Museum has ushered more than two million guests through its educational wonderland since opening in 1995. Tykes can explore permanent exhibits such as Science City, with hands-on exhibits covering physics, engineering, and how to extract highlighter ink from lightning bugs. In PowerBall Hall, children man simple machines to send orbs up to a lofty cage until the chamber fills and unleashes a spherical torrent down upon the delighted little ones. Other exhibits impart lessons of financial responsibility and proper nutrition in a make-believe bank and market. Membership is calibrated for any permutation of the family unit, and grants amenities including unlimited visits for a year, a subscription to the museum newsletter “Spark!,” and access to more than 40 classes where kids can submit theses on baking-soda volcanoes for peer review.
A multilevel house teeming with monsters and ghosts is one of the most terrifying places you could be. But on Pitch Black nights at 13th Floor Haunted House, things are even scarier. That's because each group enters the spooky abode with a single glow stick as their only light on a quest to find an exit from the house, which has no predetermined paths. The rest of the time 13th Floor and its companion house, Groundup, are less intense, though only slightly: gory animatronics and creepy actors lurk around all corners. The two eerie dwellings even contain a handful of spine-tingling live creatures, including rats, spiders, and dogs dressed up like giant spider-rats.
“It’s the rare visitor who won't discover here that his or her ethnic group has contributed to the history of Texas,” noted the New York Times in its description of the Institute of Texan Cultures. The 26 different ethnic and cultural groups represented at the educational center incline one to agree with the Times. The article went on to list the institute as a top San Antonio attraction due to its “imaginative, hands-on displays” and kid-friendly features, including an adobe home and one-room schoolhouse. Along with heritage festivals and other events, the institute features both long-term and rotating exhibits, as well as a photo archive with more than three million images.
In 2009, Linda and Greg Racino were reaping the benefits of more than two fast-paced decades in the tech industry. Something was missing, though—creativity. So in February of that year the couple left behind the cold digital world for a brightly colored studio warmed by a blazing kiln. Lining their shelves with finished and unfinished clay and glass pieces, the Racinos today deal solely in creation. They guide customers through pottery painting and glass fusing—from picking out a blank bisque piece to arranging a unique design of glass pieces. Guests can also check out the calendar of events to learn about upcoming discounts and special projects, or to find out what day it is.