San Pedro Creek Culture Park Segment 1 overview
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San Pedro Creek Culture Park and San Pedro Springs

It’s fall, ya’ll. Well, sorta almost, but finally. With the somewhat cooler weather (down to 85 degrees) you’ll likely feel more inclined to take a walk on a lovely morning, afternoon, if not evening. In fact, I highly recommend evening. Now that Phase 1 of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park is completed, a nightly stroll along the illuminated water way will absolutely light up your spirits. But if you want to make a day of it, you should start your walk over at one of the oldest pools in San Antonio. San Pedro Springs pretty much convinced early colonizers to lay their claim to the land (previous inhabitants be dammed, literally), and establish San Antonio. The springs are what lured and kept people coming back. And of course, feeds our “second” riverwalk in the city. So as you venture out to enjoy this weather, add the San Pedro Creek Culture Park plus the Springs and Pool to your agenda before it closes for the season (if it hasn’t already closed!).

San Pedro Springs pool overview

Parking and Logistics

So the San Pedro Springs Park and the culture park aren’t exactly connected. Thanks to all the development, the creek was channeled and pushed underground in sections from Myrtle Street to San Saba Street. There are tini-tiny exposed segments that still exist in and around the Five Points area, but for the most part it’s underground, especially the section underneath good ol’ I-10. The creek pops right back up after San Saba Street and that’s where the San Pedro Creek Culture Park begins.

  • Hit the pool first…or last:  Depending on the time of day you decide to venture out, you can do an early run along the San Pedro Culture Park and end at the San Pedro Springs Pool to cool down. Or maybe, get to the pool during those warmer afternoons and take an evening time stroll along the greenway.
  • Parking sitch: The San Pedro Springs pool has a parking lot but the culture park not so much. There are very few public parking spaces so you’ll have to resort to paid parking lots that are adjacent to the greenway. The park’s site gives you some parking options.

San Pedro Springs Park (and Pool)

The San Pedro Springs Park land as all land was initially inhabited by indigenous groups waaaay before uninvited settlers decided to call dibs on it. Within the historical range of several bands/tribes known as the Payaya, Paguame, plus others and also prehistoric peoples of unknown groups, evidence of occupation dates to as far back as 10,000 years ago or more. Sad part, tho? Because of the massive amount of development that occurred during the 19th century, we really don’t know how much was lost.

The park has been touted as one of the oldest designated parks in the U.S. After laying claim to the land, the Spanish initially established their presidio and settlement near the springs in 1718. The religious counterparts established their mission (ahem, the Alamo) a little further downstream near the start of what is the San Pedro Creek Culture Park. It’s estimated that the actual first location of the San Antonio de Valero was possibly in and around where the Christopher Columbus Italian Society is. But those first two years  were rough and both the mission and presidio were moved to their second location further south between San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek (La Villita!).

Because the springs continued to give, as in water for irrigation and settlements, the park was declared a public space, or ejado, issued by the Spanish in 1729. Later, it was formalized as a public square in 1852. Over the past 300 years, its use as a park and public area has varied in size and scope but has always been consistent. And technically, the first San Antonio ‘zoo’ was here (around 1870). Sure it was a menagerie of animals that may or may not have been caged, but a zoo nonetheless (I kid, I’m sure they were caged). Now, you have the San Antonio Playhouse, the library,  tennis courts, baseball fields, and open grassy areas you can run around in. The pool itself is shallow but surrounded by beautiful bald cypress trees that provide so much shade and chill that you might not ever want to leave. Fun tid-bit: when it’s particularly a rainy season, other springs tend to pop up randomly outside of the main pool area. 

San Pedro Springs Park overview with trees

So whether you decide to start or end your day at the springs, give yourself enough time to enjoy them. Take a picnic, a lawn blanket, and swim-suit along with your walking/running shoes. Also, check out the other amenities at the park to really get your fill: 

  • Splish-Splash: At first, the creek was dammed creating the spring-fed lake and ponds that were main features of the park through the 1800s. But a formal municipal ‘pool’ was not constructed until 1922. Renovated into a smaller rectangular pool in 1954, it was thankfully expanded back to it’s original 1922 contours in 1998. For the San Pedro Springs Pool, make sure you call ahead of time to see if they’re open. 
  • To Be or Not to Be: The Public Theater of San Antonio is in the historic San Antonio Playhouse which was built in 1929 as part of the extensive improvements made to the park in the early 20th century. If you want to check out what they have going on, link into their tickets and show page. What’s really cool is that they have Relaxed Performances, a more informal vibe to the performance on behalf of patrons and kiddos with neuro and sensory sensitivities.
  • San Pedro Park Branch Library – The first branch of the San Antonio Library system is located here right in San Pedro Springs park. Built around the same time as the playhouse in 1929, they have a hearty collection of around 26,000 items with consistent community programming for all ages.
  • Tennis, Anyone?: The McFarlin Tennis Center was built in 1954 and with 22 lighted courts, you will always have an opportunity to show off your sick serve.
San Pedro Creek Culture Park overview of creek and etched limestone wall with poetry that says "In this place of herons where the grasses sway in starlight, I have flowed since the dawn of evermore."

San Pedro Creek Culture Park

The new gem of the city is not only giving, but it’s serving. Let’s call it what it is. It’s the local’s riverwalk. Low key and laid back, this riverwalk is meant for strolling, reflecting, and inspiring as it meanders through its urban surroundings. Not unlike the San Antonio Riverwalk extensions of the Museum and Mission Reach’s, the development has focused on water quality improvements, flood control, and of course public art.

If you decide to start your day at the culture park, you can trek the whole way to and and from Phase 1 easy. Starting from either from Cesar Chavez Blvd. or San Saba Street, the Phase 1 length is just short of a mile. For an early morning or mid-day jaunt, your pace would really depend on how many pit-stops you take along the route reading the informative panels and taking in the public art. I doubt you will, but do not take the art for granted. It is absolutely gorgeous and the concepts, colors, and details are so intentional.

San Pedro Creek Culture park art installation of lighted waterfall called Stream, in the evening.

Starting at the culture park and then heading to the springs is one way to appreciate the history and interconnectivity of the San Pedro Creek and the city. But if you wanna get into a dreamy mode, start at the springs around dusk and then make your way to the culture park as twilight sets in. The pathway and art installations illuminate the creek landscape providing a romantic vibe, even if it’s just you that’s enjoying it. From the Plaza the Fundación to the recently completed installation, Stream, you can’t help but bask in the glow of lights.

I really hope you get to visit both the springs and culture park. And if you do, which did you do first? And what was your favorite part? Comment below!

graphic of san pedro creek park

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One Comment

  1. I hope I get to visit too! Those pictures are absolutely stunning and it’s probably even prettier in person! I can’t believe San Pedro Springs Park is the second oldest park in the United States! Loving that tidbit of history! Also side note, the riverwalk looks like such a relaxing spot to unwind from the city.

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