Out of all the dog friendly places to visit in San Antonio, Hemisfair park may have the most interesting history. Before it was dog friendly, before it was an international tourist attraction, and before it became the city park it is today, it was a theme park. In 1968, San Antonio hosted the World’s Fair which was named HemisFair(a capital letter is used to distinguish the World’s Fair from the current park). The six month long event helped shape San Antonio into one of the greatest places, but it was not easy. The park proclaims that Hemisfair is where San Antonio meets. Our adventure at Hemisfair revealed an interesting question. Was it still more like the World’s Fair than the meeting place of us residents?
- Dog friendly
- Splash pad
- Coffee house
- Bike station
- Tower of the Americas
- Free public events
- Public restrooms and changing areas
Parking At Hemisfair
Before visiting Hemisfair Park, we parked a couple blocks south of Cesar Chavez Blvd for free. It turns out that the two parking lots on Cesar Chavez Blvd have free parking during nights and weekends. It was a weekend, so we ended up walking a couple of extra blocks, but we did not mind. Parking nearby the Tower will cost you $8, while parking behind the theatre will cost you $2 every 30 minutes. One other parking lot is available across the southwest intersection which is $.50 every 30 minutes. We prefer the free parking and don’t mind walking a few blocks.
The Tower of the Americas was the focal point of HemisFair in 1968, and it is still the most notable aspect today. The Tower is visible from many points inside the city, as well as a few along the outer rim if you find the right spots. We parked directly south of the Tower and took the opportunity to capture a nice photo prior to reaching the park. We used the crosswalk to cross the four lane street and make our way to the southwest corner of the park. During the World’s Fair we would have seen a Ferris wheel, a sky line, a monorail, as well as other events and attractions. Today, the Tower, museums and courthouse are the only structures that have survived.
A Very Interesting History
The place we call Hemisfair Park today was formerly known as Germantown. Prior to the World’s Fair, Germantown was chosen for urban revitalization. Over 2,000 residents were forced to relocate so that HemisFair could come to fruition. Millions of dollars were spent and millions of visitors attended the World’s Fair. It was to be a celebration of San Antonio and its relationship with various peoples and cultures in the Western Hemisphere. The name HemisFair was chosen as a play on words prior to the World’s Fair.
We noticed the place is currently known as Hemisfair, but this was not always the case. Even though the World’s Fair went on for six months, San Antonio ended up losing millions of dollars. At the time it may have seemed like a terrible investment. However, San Antonio quickly became known as an important Texas city, much like a few of its neighbors. After HemisFair ended the park became a ghost town. It took nearly 20 years for the city to begin revitalizing the area once again. A decision was made dedicating park space to the public which became known as Hemisfair Park.
While it does have the appearance of a community park today, albeit a commercial one, that is only due to updates which took place a few short years ago. I must admit, locating all of the dog friendly places in San Antonio in order to include them on this site has resulted in a wealth of historical knowledge. I never expected to learn so much wonderful history simply from discovering dog friendly places. Being a person who loves learning new things, I’m very glad to have learned more about the area in which I live.
A Dog Friendly Adventure
Many listed amenities are found near the southwest corner of Hemisfair Park. The very first thing we noticed was the chicken coop next to the coffee shop. Of course we also noticed the splash pad and sandbox area where many little ones were playing. We quickly spotted a dog friendly fountain and stopped to get a drink of water. If there is one thing the city doesn’t lack it is dog friendly fountains, and parks for that matter. Abbey thanks you, San Antonio! We are still working our way through new, dog friendly places.
After passing the splash pad we saw a giant playground across from the public restrooms. Such a playground almost made me wish I were a kid again. Moving on from there we came to the theatre. This interested me the most, as I have a college background in theatre. Sadly, the works of this theatre seemed to be targeting those much younger than I. What a family friendly area this has become! We continued around the building and came to a well shaded patio with two chairs from a carnival ride. They must be relics from the sky line at the World’s Fair. It was difficult to imagine where the rides were located back then.
Revitalization For All
At one point in the past the city revitalized the entire area in order to host HemisFair. San Antonio has continued to update the area which has become Hemisfair Park today. But is it a place where we come to meet? Continuing onward we passed the Mexican Cultural Institute and came upon the water features. Near the Tower of the Americas there are waterfalls, streams and even an area to walk underneath droplets of water. The park water comes from the San Antonio River which was an addition dating back to the World’s Fair.
The entire area is great for unique pictures and has become a major tourist attraction. We played in the water, we took photos by a statue and behind one of the museums because we try to have fun. Correction, we try to have dog friendly fun. I noticed the unshaded patio areas were too hot for Abbey’s paws. Consequently, we had to stick to the areas with grass, and there are a lot of grassy areas. As we walked around the Tower of the Americas we noticed several wedding parties taking place. San Antonio is a very popular place to marry, or spend a vacation.
They Come To See Us
We headed back to the place in which we had parked. We took the same route back which brought us to the park in the first place. The World’s Fair had been a celebration of the Americas. They wanted to celebrate the city of San Antonio and its history with those of other cultures. Millions of people came here to see what San Antonio was all about, and have a great time doing it. These days this is still the case. People from many different places visit San Antonio to get married, see the Alamo, serve in the military, walk the Riverwalk, and watch the Spurs, among other reasons.
As we walked back to the car I came to the realization that people from all over the world come to see us, just like they did during the World’s Fair. They come to see San Antonio. We’ve been to Hemisfair park several times, but only once since moving to San Antonio. It’s a dog friendly place and extremely family friendly as well. However, it is also one of the top tourist attractions in America. Hemisfair park isn’t where San Antonio meets. It is where everyone meets (dogs included)! People from all walks of life come to see us, to see our history, and to be a part of our community.
For more information on the San Antonio Riverwalk read our article, “Things To Do At The San Antonio Riverwalk With Your Dog“.
Source of HemisFair history: Hemisfair ’68, Texas State Historical Association, tshaonline.org
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Even though I promote places, or things, and emerge from the woods unharmed, I am not at all responsible for you, your family, your friends, or your pets. You are solely responsible for following in my footsteps and trying things I have described on this site. I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.