Our very first Hutchison Family Vacation was a roaring SUCCESS and we had a wonderful time at Sea World and Aquatica in San Antonio. It was the perfect getaway for us … not too far from home and a couple nights in a hotel was just right for Husband and Kamden. Thanks to a shopping adventure to Dollar Tree, Kamden had plenty of books, activities, and coloring pages during the four-hour road trip. I have to say that the whiteboard and dry erase marker was the best dollar spent as Kamden loves writing his letters and numbers.

We learned so much and are already thinking of where we want to explore next summer … definitely someplace cooler because mid-July in San Antonio is H O T !!!!!

We checked into our hotel – Staybridge Suites – Wednesday afternoon and immediately took off to Sea World. Our first mistake was arriving at the hottest part of the day and not dressing appropriately in water-friendly attire. We didn’t realize  there are splash pads, sprinklers and fountains in the Sesame Street playground. Fortunately, there is plenty of shade with climbing structures and slides.

After four hours in the car and 103* temps, our energy level diminished quickly. Thankfully, the Pets Ahoy show is indoors and the air-conditioning was a cool treat. Even better, one of the Sea World employees invited us to the lower level with seats in the third row. We were eye level with dogs, cats, birds, and even a pig! I wasn’t expecting to see these animals at an aquatic park but it was spectacular … plus, all of the animals were rescued from area shelters!!!

Before leaving the park Wednesday evening, we decided to watch Ocean Discovery at Beluga Stadium. Kamden was enthralled with the trainers swimming in the water with the beluga whales and Pacific dolphins. I have to admit, if given the chance, I’d jump in the water and swim with them too!

By the time the dolphin show ended and we boarded the shuttle bus to return to our hotel room, we were exhausted … and starving. Now, I know better than anyone that San Antonio is full of spectacular restaurants. But, with a hungry husband and toddler, I knew we wouldn’t be driving all over the city. I read great reviews on Jim’s Restaurant and we ate dinner there Wednesday evening. Kamden loved their chicken tenders (big kudos from the kid whose blood type is Chick-Fil-A) and Husband praised their chicken fried steak, creamy gravy, and REAL mashed potatoes!

Kamden’s Sea World and Aquatica bound in his swimwear and safari hat — ready for a day of fun!!!

Thursday was our one and only full day but we still didn’t see or do everything. We arrived at the park via the hotel shuttle at 10:15am and went straight to Aquatica, the water park inside Sea World. Another lesson we learned: Kamden is not a fan of water deeper than 3 feet. He enjoyed the shallow pools, splash pads, sprinklers, and slides but had zero interest in the wave pool or riding in a tube along the lazy river. He was also content playing in the sand with his toy dozer and excavator … welcome to my life as a #boymom!

By 12:30pm, Kamden was done and ready to go. We all were. I contacted the hotel, they sent the shuttle bus to the park and we returned to our hotel to shower and change clothes before going to Willy’s Grill and Icehouse for lunch. Again, not exactly the San Antonio tradition but the food was delicious and the service was wonderful. Plus, it was just two exits from our hotel!

After lunch, we returned to the hotel room for some rest and relaxation. Husband and I talked privately about taking Kamden bowling at Main Event (located just five minutes from our hotel) but we agreed LESS IS MORE. Kamden was happy in the hotel room and so were we. Vacations are supposed to be RELAXING, right?!

At 5pm, we returned to the park. Sea Lion High was hilarious. After the show, Husband and I took Kamden to a souvenir shop where he could pick out TWO things … one from Papaw and Mimi and one from Mommy and Daddy. Kamden chose a stuffed seal pup (who he named Jackson) and a Sea World Rescue truck and trailer with an attached jet ski. I, of course, found a magnet for our refrigerator.

The Sesame Street parade route is clearly marked on the walking path and we were perfectly positioned for a front-row view of the entire show. Kamden got up close and personal with nearly every character and street performer. I don’t know why, but he wanted to touch their nose!

After the parade, Kamden wanted to ride the carousel. It’s conveniently located between the Sesame Street play area and park exit, which was perfect since we had to wait for the hotel’s shuttle bus to arrive.

Much to our surprise, “Santa” was sitting near the exit waiting for his grandchildren and family. Whomever this man is, he’s got a great beard and gracious spirit to please curious toddler minds!

By the time we got back to our hotel room Thursday night, it was LATE and we were all STARVING. Husband and I thought about enjoying a Tex-Mex meal, but Kamden requested Jim’s again. Which, turned out to be perfect because it was close and we could see the fireworks at Sea World.

“Mommy, I like watching fireworks and eating my dinner!”

We had to be out of our hotel room by 11am Friday morning which was fine considering we had a four-hour drive back home. Lo and behold if the garbage truck didn’t show up around 10:30 while we were loading the Expedition.

After a day and a half of Sea World and Aquatica, this is what happens to 4.5 years olds …. Kamden was wore plum out!

For our first family vacation, San Antonio was a great choice. Sea World and Aquatica are definitely places we will visit again. We’re all tired but we had a wonderful time. Next summer, though, I’m looking at cooler destinations within a 2-hour-or-less plane ride. My top pick is Denver, Colorado with its aquarium, children’s museum, and outdoor activities.

This was my first time staying at Staybridge Suites and I will MOST DEFINITELY stay there again. Every room had a kitchenette and the fridge with freezer was a huge plus for keeping snacks and drinks cold and filling coolers with ice. I put bottled water in the freezer at night for us to drink and refill during the day. In the future, I will take a prepared meal (say, spaghetti) that we can reheat easily in the microwave to save time and money.

I booked this trip directly through Sea World with a coupon that included our lodging and FLEX tickets (unlimited access to Sea World and Aquatica). The hotel’s shuttle was very convenient. Plus, we saved $25 a day not having to park at Sea World!

Where are you traveling to this summer? What are your top picks for family-friendly destinations? Tell me in a comment below!