San Antonio is a great destination for touring because it is home to some of Texas’ most well-known historical landmarks. You’ll also find fantastic options for mini-adventures in or near the city if you want to spice up your schedule with some entertaining activities.
Spend some time strolling or cruising along the River Walk before visiting the Alamo and the city’s ancient missions. Try dining in San Antonio’s Pearl District or sign up for a cooking class if you want to sample some of the city’s exquisite cuisine.
There are plenty of activities available if you have time to travel outside the city limits, from golfing and caving to embracing your inner cowboy in the neighbouring Hill Country. You could even be able to take part in the city’s renowned Fiesta, depending on when you decide to visit.
With our list of San Antonio’s top attractions, learn about more things to do and places to visit.
1. Take a stroll, a meal, or a boat ride along San Antonio’s River Walk
The San Antonio River flows through the heart of the city, and the River Walk, where restaurants and stone pathways are located, is its focal point. This lovely spot, which is below street level, has tranquil rivers, lovely bridges, birds, and lots of shade provided by big trees that tower over the banks.
The majority of visitors come down here to stroll or to dine al fresco on one of the patios. On a guided tour or dinner cruise aboard a barge, the River Walk can be enjoyed in one of the most tranquil ways.
Up to 40 people can ride on the river-going boats. The barge can hold up to 20 people and is configured with a huge table in the middle for dinner excursions. These leisurely boat cruises offer a perfect way to escape the city’s bustle and a chance to stretch your legs after a day of sightseeing.
Combining a San Antonio River Walk Cruise & Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour with entrance to the Tower of the Americas is a fantastic way to explore the sights.
2. Visit The Alamo.
If you’re in San Antonio, you really must visit the Alamo, one of the most significant historical landmarks in the country. The Franciscans built the Alamo’s church in 1744 as part of the mission station that was established here in 1718.
Here, in 1836, the Battle of the Alamo, one of the most well-known confrontations in American history, took place as a small force defended the Alamo against a 3,000-man Mexican army. In a conflict that some believe may have only lasted 20 minutes, all of the defenders—including iconic characters Davy Crockett and James Bowie—were murdered.
“Remember the Alamo!” became a rallying cry as the Alamo quickly rose to prominence as the birthplace of Texan independence. Currently a national monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the previous mission.
In San Antonio, Texas, at 300 Alamo Plaza
Site officiel: www.thealamo.org
3. The Mission Trail and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
The San Antonio Missions received this distinction for the first time in the state of Texas in 2015 when they were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Franciscan Order founded the five missions, which included the well-known Alamo (Mission Valero), in the early 1700s in an endeavour by Spain to settle and evangelise the area.
They now rank among the top tourist destinations in the city. The Alamo, Mission San Jose, and Mission Concepción should all be on your list of missions to visit if you only have time to see a handful. Mission San Juan and Mission Espada are the final two. The missions are linked by the Mission Trail.
The majority of visitors drive between the missions, but if you want to mix some sightseeing with some exercise, think about riding. You may cycle the eight-mile one-way or 16-mile roundtrip from the Alamo in downtown to the other four missions if you have a whole day and the assistance of the city’s bike share programme.
The Mission Hike and Bike Trail is a beautiful and educational day trip that follows alongside the river and up to the missions.
Pick up a Junior Ranger activity book at the Visitor Center if you are travelling with children.
www.nps.gov/saan/index.htm is the official website.
4. The Saga of San Antonio and the San Fernando Cathedral
The Roman Catholic San Fernando Cathedral (Church of Nuestra Seora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe), one of the oldest cathedrals in the US, is recognised as the final resting place of the Alamo heroes and is included on the National Register of Historic Places. The sanctuary of the cathedral is made up of the ancient church’s walls, which were finished in 1750 by settlers from the Canary Islands.
One of the nicest sites to visit in San Antonio after dark is the cathedral, which is located on Main Plaza. It transforms into San Antonio|The Saga, one of San Antonio’s most eye-catching sights, at night. A 24-minute video with coordinated music and narrative is projected onto the side of San Fernando Cathedral and is available every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening for free. It was made by Xavier de Richemont.
A 7,000 square foot projection uses stunning displays of vibrant graphics and Surround Sound to show the development and history of San Antonio. This should be on your list of things to do in the evening in San Antonio.
Visitsanantonio.com/san-antonio-the-saga is the official website.
5. Natural Bridge Caverns, Zip Lines, and the Canopy Challenge
The biggest commercial cave in Texas, Natural Bridge Caverns, is less than 30 minutes from San Antonio. Although the vast open spaces of these magnificent caverns are their most notable feature, they also feature tight corridors and intriguing formations.
There are two different kinds of cave tours, and each one lasts for about 70 minutes. However, there are more activities available here besides just exploring the caverns. For an even greater rush, consider the Canopy Challenge, a course that includes ziplines and platforms suspended 60 feet above the ground. With the Sky Tykes, an interactive ropes course made specifically for toddlers and young children, younger youngsters may also participate in the fun.
Another alternative available above ground in the caverns is a gem and fossil mining experience, which gives visitors of all ages the ability to discover and identify their own gems in mining waste while also learning how gold miners found and sifted for gold. A maze and a store where you can buy meals, fresh fudge, and souvenirs are also nearby.
www.naturalbridgecaverns.com is the official website.
6. Go to the Farmers Market and Pearl District
The Pearl is a chic historic neighbourhood in San Antonio that has beautiful restored buildings, one-of-a-kind stores, and a reputation for delicious food and cool restaurants. Weekends in the Pearl feature a bustling farmers market with stalls set up on a pedestrian-only street by merchants from a 150-mile radius of the city selling fresh vegetables, baked products, sauces, and other specialties.
The Pearl neighbourhood has come to be associated with excellent cuisine and memorable dining occasions. Although the phrase “fine dining” comes to mind, it isn’t just white tablecloths and pricey dishes at these eateries.
Both the ambiance and the food are important in this location. One of only three such campuses in the country, the Culinary Institute of America campus is also located in The Pearl. The Nao Latin Gastro Bar, the CIA’s hallmark restaurant, is situated here and has significant ties to the neighbourhood.
The official website is atpearl.com.
7. Visit the historic Market Square to shop and eat (El Mercado)
The best area to look for unusual goods and gifts is Market Square. The largest Mexican market in the United States is located along this three-block stretch of stores and eateries. From sombreros to pottery, everything is on sale in the indoor El Mercado.
Locally owned businesses showcase homemade artwork and a wide variety of intriguing things, including paintings and dolls as well as blankets, jewellery, ponchos, skirts, shoes, and musical instruments.
Visit Mi Tierra Café Y Panadera for lunch, dinner, a sweet treat from the bakery, or just to stroll around once you’ve finished your shopping. The Cortez family has owned and operated this landmark dining establishment, which spans a whole block, since 1941.
This one-of-a-kind restaurant is open 24 hours a day, serves Mexican food, and features a bakery counter with on-site baking. It is lavishly decked with Christmas lights and fiesta flags.
The restaurant’s atmosphere is enhanced by musicians who wander through. Be sure to check out the sizable mural that depicts celebrities and Cortez family members on one of the dining room walls.
www.marketsquaresa.com is the official website.
Garden of Japanese Tea
San Antonio’s Japanese Tea Garden is a lovely, tranquil area that is also a free attraction. In what was formerly a rock quarry, a tranquil garden with exotic flora, Koi ponds, waterfalls, and the exquisite stone Pavilion has been created. The gardens are crisscrossed with walkways. An on-site restaurant called The Jingu House offers both indoor and outdoor dining options.
About ten minutes’ drive separates the Japanese Tea Garden from the River Walk. You can visit this place and the San Antonio Zoo at the same time.
In San Antonio, Texas, at 200-414 Alpine
Japanese Tea Garden’s official website is at https://saparksfoundation.org/.
The San Antonio Botanical Garden, 9.
One of the few places of green in the city is the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Wander about, enjoy the peace, and be amazed by the hues. The garden includes a fantastic selection of pathways that pass by some of the main attractions. These include the 2.5-acre Family Adventure Garden, where kids are encouraged to “mess with Texas,” the Mays Family Display Garden, which focuses on native plants, the Water Saver Conservation Garden, which highlights drought-resistant plants.
Enter the Lucille Halsell Conservatory for a brief excursion to the tropics. Plants from all over the world that enjoy heat and humidity are displayed in this 90,000 square foot facility. The Fern Room, the Palm and Cycad Pavilion, the vibrant plants in the Gretchen Northrup Tropical Conservatory, and the cacti in the Robert and Helen Kleberg Desert Pavilion are just a few of the attractions.
Website of official interest: sabot.org
10. A day trip to New Braunfels for its small-town charm and country music
The town of New Braunfels, which is 40 minutes northeast of San Antonio, features attractive historic districts and country music performances by some of the biggest names in the business. One of the primary attractions is the Gruene Historic District, which features the renowned Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in America, and an old grist mill that has been transformed into a lovely riverfront restaurant.
This structure is still in use today, hosting daily live music events. Among the artists that have performed on this tiny stage throughout the years are George Strait, Willie Nelson, and Garth Brooks. The General Store, which appears to have been transported here from a whole different century, is another must-see location.
Tubing down the Guadalupe River is one of the most well-liked summertime activities if you’re in town. On hot days, there are so many sun-loving tubers floating down the river that it is almost congested. For a full day of fun, you can also travel to New Braunfels and stop at Natural Bridge Caverns.
11. San Antonio Fiesta
Fiesta is a springtime event that lasts ten days and is of spectacular proportions. During this season, San Antonio is constantly hosting events and parades, including the well-known Battle of Flowers Parade, which gives the city an almost electric atmosphere.
Houses, businesses, and eateries are all decked for the occasion. Metal pins are something that people collect, trade, and wear. The Fiesta King and Queen, who are selected each year depending on how much money they have raised for charity, rule over the festivities. A “royal” procession frequently causes traffic to stop as it passes through the city. Check the event schedule and make plans to attend some of the events if you will be in the city during this period.
Website of the event: fiestasanantonio.org