On the south side of San Antonio, you’ll find a 1,200-acre wildlife refuge. Every year, thousands of visitors from across the world flock to Mitchell Lake Audubon Center to catch a glimpse of the 340 species of birds migrating through. American white pelicans, northern cardinals, painted buntings, black-necked stilts, scissor-tailed flycatchers and black-chinned hummingbirds are just a few of the species you might see.
Even with its international appeal, the refuge’s most enthusiastic visitors belong to its surrounding communities. When Mitchell Lake Audubon Center officially opened 13 years ago, no one imagined what a community asset it could be. As the center is owned by the San Antonio Water System and still permitted as a wastewater treatment facility, it might seem far-fetched to develop STEM-focused field trips and family programming. But more than 4,000 students of all ages experience hands-on, outdoor, environmental science in the field there each year. Programming at the center is focused on connecting people to nature, the mission of Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. There’s something for everyone to enjoy: Events this summer include everything from snake safety to native plant uses, from free Wacky Wednesdays in July to photography workshops.
On a typical visit to Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, there are many activities to choose from. Explorer Backpacks filled with guides and tools are great for the kids and free to check out (they hold onto your driver’s license so you don’t accidentally walk away). Or check out binoculars to go birding, one of the fastest growing hobbies in the U.S. Geocaching and scavenger hunts are always available and fun for all ages. Usually open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday, the center has shorter summer hours, so visit in the morning while it is still relatively cool.
Address and Hours:
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
10750 Pleasanton Road
San Antonio, TX 78221
Open Tuesday–Thursday, 7 a.m.–12 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Sunday, 7 a.m.–2 p.m.
July 12, July 19, July 26
Wacky Wednesdays in July
Free; 8–11 a.m.
Come out for free family fun, nature crafts and exploration, and meet our animal ambassadors! Special recycled art workshop on July 19 with Arts San Antonio.
July 22, August 26
Beginner Bird Walk
$8 nonmembers, members free; 8–9:30 a.m.
Perfect for the beginning birder, learn the basics of bird-watching and identification while traveling on foot. Register online.
July 22, August 26
Backyard Amateur Photography
$15 nonmembers, $5 members; 8:30–10:30 a.m.
Learn the ins and outs of photography in this series dedicated to the amateur photographer. These techniques will take you to the next level in your hobby. Registration online required.
July 23, August 13
Fun With Flora Series
$6 children/$2 adult nonmembers, members free; 1–2 p.m.
Learn uses of native plants, make crafts, learn survival skills and more! Kid-focused, parents required. Register online.
Free with admission; 11 a.m.–12 p.m. Learn how to live in harmony with our native snakes. Program will feature snakebite prevention, treatment, and how to recognize the venomous snakes in our area.
August 6, September 3
Seeds of Knowledge
$15 nonmembers, $5 members; 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Create art and useful objects and nibble or sip on natural refreshments from plants found at Mitchell Lake. Cultivation and conservation will also be explored. Ages 18-plus. Registration required.
Nature at Night: Meteor Madness
$6 adults/$3 children nonmembers, members free; 8:30–10 p.m. Explore Mitchell Lake at night during the Perseid meteor shower! The center will also have family-friendly hikes, games, displays, live animals and crafts. Register online.
To learn more about Mitchell Lake Audubon Center and plan your next trip, visit mitchelllake.audubon.org. Find the center on social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Email [email protected] for more information or call 210-628-1639.
Photos courtesy of Mitchell Lake Audubon Center