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Whether you’re planning a date or looking for a perfect backdrop for your family photos, San Antonio is home to a list of free or easy-to-wear vacation lights.

There are top destinations, like the River Walk, as well as more intimate corners of Christmas cheer.

Keep the list below to help you sleigh travel in December and still leave some cash in your pocket to buy gifts.

The glittering trees of the University of the Incarnate Word – free

The San Antonians attended the UIW’s annual Light the Way Ceremony on Saturday, November 23, 2019.

B. Kay Richter

UIW’s annual Light the Way event took place on November 20, but the fun didn’t end there. Trees throughout the UIW campus will remain standing throughout the holiday season, giving the public the opportunity to drive or walk to view the dazzling exhibit for free.

4301 Broadway

Museum Reach for the lights near the Pearl – free

Badr and Nahar Harfouch share a moment under Christmas lights on the San Antonio River at Mission Reach near The Pearl on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.
Badr and Nahar Harfouch share a moment under Christmas lights on the San Antonio River at Mission Reach near The Pearl on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.Billy Calzada

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the main stretch of the River Walk, the Museum Reach section, located near the Pearl, offers a picturesque scene of illuminated trees reflecting off the water. The display is perfect for a family photoshoot or coffee night and people-watching from a seat at the Pearl Amphitheater.

303 Pearl Parkway (near the Pearl Amphitheater)

River Walk Lights – free

A houseboat is decorated for Christmas and carries the Southside High School Choir as it cruises the San Antonio River on December 11, 2014.
A houseboat is decorated for Christmas and carries the Southside High School Choir as it cruises the San Antonio River on December 11, 2014.Billy Calzada / San Antonio Express-News

We would be remiss not to mention the most popular free vacation opportunity that dates back to the 1970s. It doesn’t cost a thing to walk the River Walk, admiring the lights, but there is a way to get a narrated tour. and save you the steps. Go Rio Cruises offers houseboat tours, giving you the chance to view the display from the water, for $ 11.50 with your ID if you’re a local.

Windcrest Light Up – free

Windcrest lights are always a sight to see, and this year they are very special.  Summon your inner Windcrest Christmas spirit this year and be the light in the darkness.

Windcrest lights are always a sight to see, and this year they are very special. Summon your inner Windcrest Christmas spirit this year and be the light in the darkness.

Robin Jerstad / Contributor

For more than 60 years, families in San Antonio have been able to appreciate the elaborate work of the residents of Windcrest in inviting the public to walk their streets to enjoy the exhibits. Partygoers can check out the scenes from their cars or stop to take photos with their favorite construction sites.

Old West Christmas Lights Fest in Boerne – $ 10 to $ 15

Enchanted Springs Ranch

While the San Antonio Area Opportunity is a paid event, admission is less than $ 20. For the price, customers can see the lights, venture into an Old West town, and see plenty of Christmas lights until Christmas Eve.

242 Route nationale 46

Travis Park – free

San Antonio showed up at Travis Park for the HEB Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, November 26.

San Antonio showed up at Travis Park for the HEB Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, November 26.

B. Kay Richter

The downtown park is an opportunity to see a 50-foot Christmas tree shining brightly with 10,000 lights and dozens of hand-made ornaments. While the Concolor tree is the main attraction, the entire park is transformed into a Whoville-style stage with ice skating opportunities (tickets required) and free movie nights. Keep up to date with special events or free opportunities happening throughout the month by checking out the social media pages of Travis Park or Centro San Antonio.

301 Travis Street East

The winter wonderland of Palo Alto College Celebración! – $ 15 per car

Palo Alto College launched its month-long vacation exhibit Thursday night.

Palo Alto College launched its month-long vacation exhibit Thursday night.

Courtesy of Palo Alto College / Jerry Arellano

The Southside Vacation Scene is a drive-thru experience that costs $ 15 per vehicle. The public is invited to admire the lights of the Palo Alto campus from their car from Friday December 3 to Thursday December 23.


1400 Boulevard du Villaret West

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