Everyone knows what San Antonio is famous for: the Alamo. The Riverwalk. The Spurs. Great Tex-Mex food. And… stargazing? Well, as you might imagine, stargazing in San Antonio is tough – just like it’s difficult in every major city across the world. Light pollution is a problem in this Texas city, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting out to enjoy the night sky if you can.
In this post, I’ll cover some of the best places for stargazing in the Alamo City and surrounding region of Texas. You might be surprised at the variety of options, especially if you’re up for a 1-2 hour drive and want to combine stargazing with another of Texas’ great outdoor activities. River tubing by day plus stargazing once the sun goes down? Yep. Fishing during the daylight hours plus stargazing after dark? You bet! San Antonio is a great base for those kinds of experiences.
Ready to explore and find a good stargazing spot near you for an upcoming meteor shower or tonight’s clear skies?Here are the best spots for stargazing in San Antonio – and further into the wonderful wilds of south central Texas.
Featured photo credit: muypronto via Flickr
Stargazing Spots in San Antonio
Stargazing in San Antonio, much like in any big city, isn’t easy due to pesky lights in every corner. Nonetheless, you can find a few spots with less light pollution that cater to the city stargazers. In the rest of the post, I’ll cover other places further outside San Antonio that are even better for stargazing.
Located in Uptown, McAllister Park is a popular place to peek at stars. It has plenty of open areas with unspoiled nature where you can find seclusion from the street lights. The San Antonio Astronomical Association holds stargazing meetings there. While dates vary, they organize most meetups on Wednesday nights.
13102 Jones Maltsberger Rd, sanantonio.gov
Raymond Rimkus Park
Raymond Rimkus Park is a stunning green area to spend the whole day – and part of the night! Popular with families, the park features grills and picnic tables, a beautiful variety of fields, courts, and playgrounds. The San Antonio Astronomical Association also offers free stargazing events here. Members gather on Wednesdays at around 10 pm with telescopes and amateur astronomers to educate people on the cosmos and its wonders.
6440 Evers Rd, Leon Valley, leonvalleytexas.gov
Scobee Education Center
Opened in October 2014, there’s no better place to go for a guided stargazing session than the Scobee Education Center. The center is all about science and encouraging little ones to pursue an interest in the wonders of the skies. They offer lots of public programs in the planetarium on Friday evenings. Make sure you visit their website to check out the fun events.
1819 N Main Ave, San Antonio, alamo.edu/sac
The Curtis Vaughan Jr. Observatory
The Curtis Vaughan Jr. Observatory is the best stargazing spot in San Antonio if you have little experience stargazing in urban areas. The friendly staff hosts two events, First Friday Stargazing and Friday Nights Celestial Lights. As the name suggests, they hold First Friday Stargazing every first Friday of the month (weather permitting) and Friday Nights Celestial Lights every third Friday of the month during the Spring and Fall.
UTSA Campus, utsa.edu
Stargazing Spots within One Hour of San Antonio
If you’re up for a short drive, you can find other stunning San Antonio stargazing spots. Most of these locations are state parks and natural areas, so they also make the perfect excuse to explore the natural scenery of Texas.
Blanco State Park
Small but mighty, Blanco State Park is a gorgeous park when it comes to nature. Wherever you look, you’ll see unspoiled nature with crystal clear water, old trees jutting out of the ground, and lovely wildlife roaming freely. The park is popular with locals who want to escape the brazing Texas summer as the small park hugs a one-mile stretch of the Blanco River. When the day has gone, thousands of stars invade the dark sky and invite you to immerse in their magic.
101 Park Rd 23, Blanco, tpwd.texas.gov
Bullis County Park
Bullis County Park is another beautiful park to surf the night sky. Many families make it to this park as it offers many different recreational activities. There is a playground, a covered area with tables and seats, a barbecue pit, and trails for walking or cycling. While it isn’t as extensive as other parks, you can find quiet stargazing spots near the walking and cycling trails.
27583 Old Blanco Rd, San Antonio, bexar.org
Government Canyon State Natural Area
Who’d have thought that you only have to drive 40 minutes to find one of the best places for San Antonio stargazing? Government Canyon is one of the newest green spaces in Texas within less than ten years. The park covers 12,000-acres of wilderness and has beautiful hiking trails that take you to explore the different sights of nature this area offers. You have to pay a small fee ($6) to spend the day, but it’s totally worth it.
12861 Galm Rd, San Antonio, tpwd.texas.gov
Guadalupe River State Park
Guadalupe River State Park is a natural treasure. Most people come to take advantage of the Guadalupe river, whether to go fishing, canoeing, or kayaking. However, the area has attracted a few stargazers due to its low pollution levels. The San Antonio Astronomical Association also hosts astronomical events here from time to time. Beware that this park is extremely popular (and loud) during the summer, so it might not be the best option if you’re looking for solitude.
3350 Park Rd 31, Spring Branch, tpwd.texas.gov
Castroville Regional Park
Located southwest of Castroville, Castroville Regional Park is a dream come true for bird and butterfly watching. Still, it makes a suitable spot for stargazing thanks to having plenty of open spaces and trails. The park sprawls over 126 wooded acres, and the Medina River goes around the whole park, creating beautiful riverside views. For top night sky views, take the Cross Hill hike.
816 Alsace Ave, Castroville, castrovilletx.gov
Stargazing Spots within Two Hours of San Antonio
This section is the juicy part of the article. It’s no news that you’ll find the best places for stargazing when you stray from cities and their lights. Below, you’ll find the top spots for stargazing in San Antonio if you are willing to drive a bit.
Bastrop State Park
Bastrop State Park impresses everyone who visits its diversity of wooded landscapes. It is an excellent park for day visits or overnights, offering a variety of activities and facilities. As for stargazing, the peaks on the hills provide some wonderful sights and pictures of the starry sky. The only downside of the park is that it’s near the highway, so the park experiences lots of noise from cars driving nearby.
100 Park Road 1A, Bastrop, twpd.texas.gov
Not many stargazers know about Dripping Springs, a tiny town outside Austin. It’s strange, given Dripping Springs was the first dark-sky community in Texas. You can go year-round to peek at the stars, but if you’d like some company, you can attend the Texas Night Sky Festival, which the town hosts every spring at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock is a favorite spot among Texas stargazers. While it’s a bit further away, taking an 80-minute drive, the area boasts some of the best dark skies in the state. Besides being secluded, the park’s staff takes strict light measures to minimize light pollution within the area. Its efforts paid off, and now Enchanted Rock is an International Dark Sky Park. As a heads up, expect lots of company as Enchanted Rock is brimming with stargazers.
16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg, tpwd.texas.gov
Garner State Park
Few outdoor activities go so well together as camping and stargazing. If you’re one of the people who agree, you have to visit Garner State Park. This stunning park is Texas’s most popular state park for overnight camping. It has 1,420 acres, so you’ll have plenty of space to take in the night sky. Also, check out their website, as the park hosts a few stargazing events throughout the year.
234 RR 1050, Concan, tpwd.texas.gov
Goliad State Park & Historic Site
Goliad State Park is an excellent spot for a getaway, but it’s also a nice spot if you enjoy history bites. The park features a historic site that has preserved Spanish colonial-era missions and other 18th C buildings. There’s also lots to do and see in the natural surroundings, from stargazing to birdwatching.
108 Park Rd. 6, Goliad, tpwd.texas.gov
Hill Country State Natural Area
The stunning park welcomes thousands of visitors who want to enjoy the scenic 40 miles of multi-use trails. However, the park is also beautiful at night. In fact, many stargazers claim you can see the Milky Way from Hill Country State Natural Area. There are lots of dark spots along its 5,369 acres of rugged terrain. All you have to do is find one that suits you.
10600 Bandera Creek Rd, Bandera, tpwd.texas.gov
Lost Maples State Natural Area
The name Lost Maples hints that it’s a perfect spot for stargazing. This remote Texas park has incredibly dark skies covering gorgeous landscapes each night. During the day, pick one of the trails and marvel at the nature around you. At night, bring out your telescope and prepare for the starry show. Since the park is aware of its stargazing potential, it offers lots of star programs throughout the year.
37221 RM 187, Vanderpool, tpwd.texas.gov
Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls State Park grants astounding geological views, with water of Pedernales River cascading over layers of limestone. It’s also a wildlife gem, with its grounds being home to golden-cheeked warblers, one of the endangered Texas bird species. The park’s skies are as pristine as its surroundings, boasting millions of bright stars over your head. If you happen to be around during Christmas, sign up for their Christmastime Constellations program!
2585 Park Rd 6026, Johnson City, tpwd.texas.gov
Have any questions or comments about stargazing in San Antonio? Let me know in the comments!