The Best Things to Do in San Antonio

San Antonio’s a trip through time—think of top attractions like The Alamo and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Missions Concepcion—and around the world—off to the Japanese Tea Garden you go. But it’s also a wonderful city to walk and wander thanks to the San Antonio River Walk, the wineries of Hill Country, the San Antonio Museum, and so much more.

300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
You haven’t truly experienced Texas until you’ve visited the hallowed grounds of the Alamo. Established in 1718 as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, the building is best known as the site of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, a 13-day siege under Mexican president General Antonio López de Santa Anna that ultimately killed nearly all of the Texan defenders. To stroll past the limestone facade and envision the battle that played out here is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For a real treat, book an after-hours tour and get the Texas landmark all to yourself as you walk in the footsteps of the fallen soldiers.
849 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
While many cities have rivers, few take advantage of their waterways quite like San Antonio does. One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the River Walk runs along the San Antonio River and features both quiet stretches for jogging and livelier areas lined with colorful bars, restaurants, and shops. For an immersive experience, take a boat tour and learn more about San Antonio’s history and architecture.
6701 San Jose Dr, San Antonio, TX 78214, USA
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.
3801 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78209, USA
Located on the beautiful San Antonio River, the Witte Museum is “where nature, science, and culture meet,” according to its description. Visitors can marvel at dinosaurs, witness how people lived thousands of years ago, explore Texas wildlife in the newly renovated Susan Naylor Center, or dive deep into history in the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg Texas Heritage Center. In the H-E-B Body Adventure building, children can experience four floors’ worth of immersive exhibits about health, wellness, and well-being.
3853 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78212, USA
Transport yourself to a different place and time with a simple stroll through San Antonio’s Japanese Tea Garden, a lush expanse full of shaded walkways, stone bridges, blooming flowers, and spectacular koi ponds. The garden was originally created between July 1917 and May 1918 using prison labor. Local residents donated bulbs and plants to beautify the landscape and, in 1926, a local Japanese-American artist named Kimi Eizo Jingu moved into the space and opened the Bamboo Room, where he served tea and light lunches. Thanks to a major renovation that concluded in 2008, the garden is as stunning as ever. It’s an especially wonderful spot for photos when visiting San Antonio.
3903 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78212, USA
Located within the city’s popular Brackenridge Park, this 35-acre gem is home to more than 3,500 animals and 750 species. For a glimpse of what it takes to run a zoo this size, sign up for a special interactive experience such as Lory Landing, during which you’ll get to know hundreds of brightly colored, nectar-eating lorikeets, or hand-feed a giraffe a crisp piece of lettuce. If you’re traveling with children, don’t miss the Fun Farm, where you can get up close and personal with goats, chickens, and pigs.
434 S Alamo St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
The site of the 1968 World’s Fair, Hemisfair Park is now an iconic tourist attraction that houses the Institute of Texan Cultures, fountains, a playground, and frequent special events. It’s also home to the Tower of the Americas, a 750-foot local landmark—and an important part of the San Antonio skyline—that features an observation deck with absolutely stunning views of the city, the revolving Chart House seafood and steak restaurant, a bar, and an adventure ride that thrill seekers are sure to love. After your time at the park, rent a B-Cycle bicycle and explore the adjacent River Walk.
6000 N New Braunfels Ave, San Antonio, TX 78209, USA
Located in the former Spanish Colonial Revival home of art collector Marion McNay, this museum opened its doors in 1954 as the first for modern art in San Antonio and has been drawing crowds ever since with its diverse, interesting collection. The house—which has undergone several additions—and its surrounding grounds make for a beautiful visit, even before you lay eyes on the growing collection of more than 20,000 works, including medieval and Renaissance art, European and American paintings, and modern sculptures. When you’re done touring the galleries, you can also visit the on-site Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.
224 E Houston St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
Built in 1929, the Majestic is San Antonio’s oldest and largest theater. A beloved historic landmark, it’s home to the San Antonio Symphony and hosts concerts, plays, and musicals three to five times a week. The magnificent interior seats up to 2,300 people and offers equally impressive entertainment, with past acts including the Gipsy Kings, Diana Krall, and Lyle Lovett, as well as Broadway hits such as The Book of Mormon and Wicked.
16641 La Cantera Pkwy
To experience Texas Hill Country without leaving the city, book a treatment at Loma de Vida at La Cantera Resort & Spa. The 25,000-square-foot spa, which was recently overhauled as part of La Cantera’s $50 million renovation, incorporates “intentional spaces,” such as saline pools and private garden terraces, intended to help you better connect with your inner self. Don’t miss the Purple Haze sugar scrub, which incorporates lavender cultivated from the heart of the Hill Country.
San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
Festive Plaza in La Villita, a complex with shops run by local artisans, offers a more unique experience than the souvenir-selling El Mercado. Aside from shopping for authentic handmade goods, you can learn about its rich history. Self-guided walking tours (you can find many online for free) are a great way to explore this area. Browse shops while you learn about the surrounding landmarks and buildings.
1410 Guadalupe St # 113, San Antonio, TX 78207, USA
San Antonio’s west side is one of the city’s cultural hubs. Latin and Mexican-American influences are vibrantly displayed through public art and murals. The area around Guadalupe Street is an especially rich place to explore. You’ll find art around every corner, cultural centers, theaters, coffee shops, and bakeries. One of the best resources I came across was the San Antonio Neighborhood Tours sponsored by the City of San Antonio Office of Cultural Affairs. You can download free PDFs of the guides here: http://www.saculturaltours.com/. We did the West Side Murals Y Mas Tour. It was an awesome experience that included more than 50 unique sites.
430 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
La Antorcha de la Amistad, The Torch of Friendship, looms large in the heart of San Antonio. If you like the art, pull up a chair across the street at the popular restaurant Casa Rio. With bright awnings and waterfront outdoor seating, it’s a nice place to enjoy the view. A gift from the Mexican Consulate in 2002, the intertwining beams represent the friendship and roots that Texans share with Mexico. While it’s a controversial piece (some love and some hate it), you can’t miss it—or rather, you won’t miss it at 65 feet tall and vivid red. Check it out and decide for yourself.
210 W Market St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
If you’re fascinated by the Wild West, you’ll love this fantastic museum, where culture and history come together to transport you back in time. Named in honor of late Texas governor Dolph Briscoe and his wife, Janey, the museum is located along the River Walk, inside San Antonio’s first public library. In addition to hosting exhibitions, educational programs, and special events, the Briscoe features a Wells, Fargo & Co. Nine-Passenger Western Mail Stagecoach replica and the beautiful McNutt Sculpture Garden, which brings the West to life through intricate bronze pieces.
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