By Carla Olivo, Marine Spouse
Your orders to Randolph AFB mean you are headed to one of the major military installations housed under the name Joint Base San Antonio. The Air Force is the lead agency for JBSA, which is comprised of three primary locations at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph.
Your Guide to Randolph AFB
Alamo City, or San Antonio, is the seventh-most populated city in the United States. This popular western urban center is on the southwestern corner of an urban mega-region known as the Texas Triangle comprised of Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
PCSgrades has put together a list of all the things you need to know before relocating to this unique region. So get ready to enjoy this experience full of history and culture!
What You Need To Know
San Antonio sits just south of the Texas Hill Country 80 miles from the Texas state capital city of Austin. Travelling to the coast is a longer ride of just under 150 miles. In addition to the expected Spanish influence, there is also a heavy German influence in the surrounding communities of Fredericksburg, Castroville, and New Braunfels.
There are many options for housing around Joint Base San Antonio. Randolph Family Housing is a gated community managed by Hunt Companies, with three and four-bedroom homes ranging in size from 1500 square feet to just over 2200 square feet. Randolph’s walkable neighborhoods include easy access to a community center and fitness center, parks, a pool and playgrounds. Check out PCSgrades’ photos and reviews of Randolph Base Housing.
Off Base Neighborhoods
Those looking to rent or buy off base have their pick in the cities around the installation to include: Schertz, Cibolo, Converse, Universal City, New Braunfels, Alamo Heights, Castle Hills, China Grove, Garden Ridge, Hollywood Park, La Vernia, San Antonio, Seguin, Selma, St. Hedwig, and Windcrest. The median home price is $215,500 and this might be a good place to buy as home appreciation is up 36% over the last five years. If you work with a PCSgrades reviewed realtor, you’ll find there is a rental or mortgage to fit every BAH.
Randolph Field Independent School District is a public school district and the children of those assigned to assigned to Joint-Base San Antonio are eligible to attend and do not have to physically reside on the base to attend.
Randolph AFB is headquarters for Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Personnel Center, and Pilot Instructor Training.
Nearby Lackland AFB is home to the Air Force Cyber Command and Basic Military Training. Fort Sam Houston is home to the command headquarters of the United States Army North, the United States Army South, the Army Medical Command headquarters and the Navy Regional Recruiting. It is commonly referred to as the “Home of Army Medicine”. Camp Bullis and Camp Stanley are located just outside the city.
San Antonio urban area ranked 33rd in the nation for time wasted during peak commute times. The good news is when there are major delays; drivers have decent alternative routes compared with other cities.
You can expect mild winters and hot summers in this part of Texas. Mild is the key word as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and wild fires are rare. The coldest month is January with an overnight average temperature of 38°F. The highest temps occur In August with a daily daytime high of 94°F.
The mild San Antonio climate allows for diverse outdoor activities year-round. Open spaces provide ample opportunities for bicycle riding, hiking and canoeing. Attractions include the SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme parks. The five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs also call San Antonio home.
Remember the Alamo
Perhaps San Antonio’s most famous attraction, the Alamo is the home of the famous 1836 battle and becomes a living history with special demonstrations and events all year long. This beautiful 300-year-old former Spanish mission turned fortress is open year-round and is free everyone to visit.
More than 340 acres of woodland, trails and a historic par-72 golf course are sure to please outdoor lovers! Your little ones will love riding a miniature train around the park. Here you will also find the San Antonio Zoo, an elegant Japanese Tea Garden and the Witte Museum, featuring historic and science artifacts and the H-E-B Science Treehouse.
Missions National Historical Park
A chain of four Spanish colonial missions—Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada—feature eight miles of paved cycling and walking path. Canoes and kayaks can be paddled along sections of the Mission Reach. The visitor center is located at Mission San José.
San Pedro Springs Park
San Pedro Springs is the second oldest municipal park in the nation and is truly an urban oasis. There are 46 acres featuring walking/hiking paths and a lake for summer swimming.
River Walk offers cobblestone paths with towering trees for four miles through the heart of the city. A variety of restaurants, are sure to please even the pickiest of palates. Work off your lunch or dinner with a relaxing canoe or kayak trip along a 1.6-mile stretch of the San Antonio River from Mission Road to Padre Park.
320 acres of wooded hills, rocky canyons and dry creek beds includes five miles of hike-and-bike trails, a playground with a climbing wall, an interpretive house and picnic pavilions.
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
This 624-acre preserve is located on a migratory bird route and includes 7.5 miles of trails winding through wildlife habitats. Birdwatchers come from around the world to see more than 300 species—such as pelicans, egrets, roseate spoonbills, wild ducks and hawks—at this deep-water lake and surrounding brushland.
In downtown San Antonio, the .65-acre Dog Park at Madison Square Park features a fenced off-leash area, mutt-mitts, a doggie drinking fountain, and benches.
Hardberger Park on Blanco Road has 1.8 acres for dogs, including separate areas for small and large dogs and a two-story doghouse.
The west side of Hardberger Park on NW Military Highway features an enclosed 1.5-acre area for dogs, divided into sections for large dogs and small dogs.
McAllister Park has 1.5 acres set aside for dogs, which include a covered picnic area and walking trail.
Customs and Traditions
- Fiesta San Antonio is a 10-day annual celebration in the spring. It started in 1891 as a one-parade event as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. It has evolved into one of this nation’s premier festivals with an economic impact of more than $284 million for the Alamo City.
- San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has events all year long. The Rodeo is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) and kicks off in February. In addition to the rodeo, there is Brickfest LIVE! – a LEGO Fan Experience built to inspire, educate, and entertain with LEGO bricks. The Ultimate BMX Stunt Show Experience is an exciting show featuring one of the Best BMX Stunt Show Teams in the Nation! Brad’s World Reptiles includes some of the most beautiful and exotic animals in the world!
- A Day at the Beach
Corpus Christi, on the Gulf of Mexico, features boating, fishing and a beautiful beach! Approximately 150 miles or a 2.5 hour ride from Randolph AFB.
- Choke Canyon State Park
On the shores of a 26,000-acre reservoir about two hours south of San Antonio – boating, fishing, birding, hiking trails, camping and breeding alligators!
- Enchanted Rock
The pink granite exfoliation dome called Enchanted Rock is about an hour and a half north of San Antonio. The dome rises 425 foot above ground and covers 640 acres. Bring a kite and get ready for some great camping, picnicking and seven miles of hiking trails.
Have you ever been stationed Randolph AFB? Let other military and veteran families know what you liked or maybe didn’t like about the area at PCSgrades.com.
Author: Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Strategic Communications Director, has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their two children.