Mission San Juan, San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, Texas.
George Ostertag / age fotostock
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Unlike many national parks, San Antonio Missions isn’t just one location. Rather, the park comprises a chain of centuries-old Catholic mission churches snaking along the San Antonio River. A daylong tour introduces travelers to several of these structures and highlights what makes each one unique, from the architecture of Mission Concepción to the aqueduct at Mission Espada. Private vehicles can be arranged for the Mission Trail, but active guests may prefer to follow the Park Service’s map via bicycle. Check your hotel for local bike rentals or guided tour options before hitting the trail, and expect to pedal around 8 to 10 miles.
Down by the River
San Antonio’s famed River Walk draws tourists who enjoy gallivanting beside its decorated boats, bars, shops, galleries and restaurants. But the Museum Reach segment, which rolls along the river for 1.3 miles north of downtown, from Lexington Avenue to Josephine Street, links a bevy of other sights—and allows folks to reach them on foot. Stroll from the San Antonio Museum of Art, for example, to the refurbished Pearl Brewery, which brims with stores, cafes, and galleries. Along the way, public art and landscaping beautify this urban passage, while further south, nature aficionados can hike through a woodland ecosystem, known as the Mission Reach. Fifteen miles of trails wind through eight miles along the river, with side trails leading to the city’s four historic missions including Mission Concepción, the oldest stone church in America.
A Mission to See Missions
Some road trips can cover a lot of ground in a short distance. The San Antonio Missions Trail highlights the missions within the city, all of which have played significant roles in the history of this South Texas Plains city. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park was established in 1983 to protect the various colonial missions that are part of the park. Everyone knows the Alamo, while the Mission San Antonio de Valero is across the street and at the site of this historical battle. Some of the other missions on the trail are the Mission San Francisco de la Espada, the Mission San Jose, and the Mission Concepción (seen here).