San Antonio happens to be the 7th largest city in the U.S and is the 2nd most populated city in Texas with a population of 1.4 million. The cultural vibrancy of this city lends to its charm and makes it the most visited city of the state of Texas. After reading this list, you will know why the acclaimed author, Mark Twain once declared that San Antonio is one of the only four unique cities of this country.
Here is a list of more than 30 places to visit while you’re in San Antonio:
Vist the Farmers Market
The farmer’s market situated at the historic Pearl’s district is a food lover’s paradise due to the numerous choices of prepared and fresh produce by local Texan farmers. On Saturdays, the focus is on producer-only fresh and raw vegetables and fruits grown by local and artisanal farmers. While on Sunday, a visitor can choose from a variety of prepared foods including pizzas, tacos, cheese, olive oils and meat products. The farmer’s market is home to more than 45 vendors and is the best way to experience true San Antonio food.
Travel Back in Time at the Natural Bridge Caverns
When you enter the caverns, you will simply be amazed by looking at the majestic natural limestone formation which serves as a bridge and is 60 feet long. A visitor can choose from a variety of different tours in order to survey the natural bridge caverns where you will locate different fossils and gems as well as formations occurred by single drops of water. There is also the exciting option of a zipline which will take you across the area and you can marvel at the formations without putting your feet on the ground.
Lounge Around at the San Pedro Springs Park
If you’re looking for a place to detox while spending quality time with your family, I suggest you visit San Pedro springs park. This is the second oldest park in the country and provides a space of 46 acres to the visitor who can choose from a variety of activities such as biking and playing tennis. Most importantly, remember to pack a bathing suit as the swimming pool here is known to be one of the best in the entire state. After a tiring day, enjoy some barbeque with your loved ones while gazing at the stars.
Feel the Fresh Breeze at the Botanical Garden
The San Antonio botanical garden is home to more than 300 plant species and is divided into various smaller gardens such as the Japanese garden, rose garden, water saving garden and a sensory garden. In addition to these beautiful green spaces, you can take a hike on the Texas native trail which features over 250 species of plants and later, go inside a botanical tunnel at the Lucile Halsell conservatory where on the other side you will enter the Palm house.
Stroll Along the River Walk
The river walk is an area designed especially for tourists like you to comfortably walk around on stunning paved paths lined with Cypress trees and bridges connecting the area from one end to another. Exemplified by its name, this pathway runs along the San Antonio River which gives this area pleasant weather all year round. As you take in the striking views of the city, you will discover the Museum Reach which features multimedia works of art as well as native plant species and you will also come across numerous restaurants and adorable Texan shops.
Quirky as They Come, Pearl District
Pearl district’s history is one of the most peculiar I have ever come across as it was set up in a brewery which operated from 1883 to 2001. Only recently, this neighborhood was transformed into the supreme cultural hub of San Antonio with its addition of numerous restaurants, shops and museums. If you’re planning to stay here, then the best option is the famous Hotel Emma and some of the best shops are the twig book shop and the rustic craft store called ten thousand villages. You can also heal your soul while dinning at the ‘cured’ restaurant.
Feel Inspired at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
The main attraction at the Guadalupe cultural arts center is the 40 feet tall Virgin Mary mosaic designed in the shape of a prayer candle by artist Jesse Trevino in the year 2004. Along with this, you can also buy tickets to the numerous live music and dance shows as well as theatre plays at the cultural arts center. This is the brainchild of a few determined San Antonio artists who wanted to keep the local cultural flavor alive.
The Old Meets New at the Mcnay Arts Museum
The McNay arts museum was built in the Spanish colonial revival style in the 1920s and was commissioned by Marion Koogler McNay. This is a premier institution for contemporary art in San Antonio and is home to more than 20,000 objects and paintings done by legendary artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Edward Hooper and Pierre Auguste-Renoir. It also has a research library which contains over 30,000 volumes as well as a theatre for performing arts.
Hydrate Yourself at the Ranger Creek Brewing and Distillery
Halfway through your trip, you might start feeling dehydrated and the best way to replenish is to visit the iconic ranger creek brewing and distillery which acts as an educational museum showing visitors the process of creating whiskey and beers at an industrial microbrewery and distillery. The best part of this stop is their tasting room where you will get to taste the liquids including the red headed strangler and Texas straight bourbon.
Pay Your Respects at the Missions National Historic Park
The Missions national historic park contains four out of the five missions set up by the Catholic religious order which was made to spread Christianity among the locals in the year 1983. You will be visiting the Mission Concepcion, mission Espada, mission San Juan and mission San Jose while surveying the monumental brick buildings which contain a peace and tranquility not felt anywhere else in the entire city of San Antonio.
Man VS Wild at the Quadrangle
The oldest fort at Sam Houston does the job of multitasking better than any place, it is an active military post for the United States army North division as well as an open zoo where visitors can take a stroll on the lush green gardens while bumping into deer’s, peacocks and rabbits. The Quadrangle was built in the year 1876 and legend says the Apache leader Geronimo was imprisoned here in 1886 and numerous deer’s were brought in order to make him feel comfortable.
Stop to Smell the Flowers at the Wildseed Farms
The wildseed farms will not only require you to leave the bustle of San Antonio but also, require you to carry a camera in order to capture the 200 species of wildflowers which grow here. You can hike around the area breathing in the fresh air and the refreshing scents of the numerous flowers which are sure to rejuvenate your soul. The farm also has a market area where you can buy native plants, gifts, pottery and wine. In order to cool off, you can enjoy an ice cream cone at Brewbonnet Biergarten.
Visit the Museum of Art
The museum of art is built along the quaint San Antonio River and is housed in the former Lone star brewery. The San Antonio museum of art is built along the River walk and is world renowned for its majestic art collection which includes Oceanic art, Mediterranean, Asian, Ancient and Latin American art. It is one of the most visited tourist spots of the city and this is due to its representation of 5,000 years of culture as well as educational programs for adults and children.
Become Friends With a Robot at the Doseum
If you are travelling with children who sulk at every place you visit in the city then, you can cheer them up at this educational yet fun museum called the DoSeum. Here, you and your children can meet a friendly robot named Baxter, run down the musical staircase, boat on the children’s river, watch an interactive puppet parade and solve math challenges at the spy academy. This is a state-of-the-art museum which will help your child realize that learning can be fun and you can get a break from all the whining.
The Heart of San Antonio, the Main Plaza
The Main Plaza is situated in the center of the city and was founded in the 1700s as a place for locals to gather and spend time doing community or personal activities. The area is always crowded with visitors and city folks who eat at the many restaurants or participate in numerous events such as the lighting of the Christmas tree, admiring art installations, listening to live music or shopping at the farmer’s market. This area is also home to the oldest cathedral in the country, San Fernando.
Meet the Animals at the San Antonio Zoo
The San Antonio zoo was founded in the year 1914 and is a cage less zoo which is home to 9,000 animals belonging to 779 species. It was one of the first zoos to successfully reproduce the white rhinoceros with the help of their unique breeding program and also, has one of the largest collection of birds in the country. The best way to commute through the zoo is by the San Antonio zoo eagle which is a train that takes you to see the most exciting spots.
Special Not Disadvantaged, Morgan’s Wonderland
A father’s promise of accessibility to his cognitively challenged daughter lead to the creation of Morgan’s wonderland. The world that we live in often forgets the needs of disabled or specially challenged individuals but Morgan’s wonderland makes sure inclusivity is the best policy. Here, there are specially designed rides for disabled people such as a carousel, a sand play area, a pirate island playground and wonderful picnic spots. Along with that, there is also the starlight amphitheatre which hosts musical concerts and live shows.
Remember the Past at the Institute of Texan Cultures
The institute of Texan cultures is located inside the vicinity of the University of Texas and was built in the year 1965. It celebrates the multicultural nature of Texas by showcasing the numerous stories of immigrants who made a life for themselves despite the hardships and resistance they faced along the way. The institute also includes a library which contains about 3 million photographs, books, manuscripts and 700 recorded oral histories of people.
Watch a Play at the Majestic Theatre
A great way to spend an evening in San Antonio is by purchasing tickets to the Majestic theatre that was built in 1929 and has undergone extensive renovations since. The beautiful architecture is designed in the Spanish Mediterranean style and has a seating capacity of more than 2,000 people along with three balconies. Here, you can attend one of the many Broadway shows, concerts, dance performances and stand up comics making the audience laugh throughout the show.
Go Underwater at the Sea World
The San Antonio sea world is the oldest marine theme park in the world having been opened in the year 1988. Here, you get to admire a number of sea legends such as otters, sting rays, eels, dolphins, seals, penguins, tropical fishes, American alligators, flamingoes, whales and belugas. You can also have a thrilling time on one of the rides such as roller coasters, live shows and animal attractions. This 250 acre marine park has it all and then, some.
Admire the Landscapes at the Confluence Park
The Confluence Park is an urban phenomenon designed by the San Antonio River foundation and is along the path of the historic missions situated in the city. The Park provides a lush green garden which not only features sharp and structured landscaping but also, educational facilities. The most important feature of the Park is a vertical concrete form which channels rainwater into an underground storage tank and this structure is called the BHP pavilion.
Get Weird at the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum
The Buckhorn saloon and museum is definitely going to capture your attention due to its eclectic mix of showcased products which include antlers and rattlesnakes in jars. This saloon was opened in the year 1881 by a generous man named Albert Friedrich who would accept payments in the form of horns, pelts and other weirdly distinctive objects. With the help of those objects, this museum was opened and is a unique experience for any visitor.
Don’t Shy Away From the Fiesta
This festival called Fiesta was started in the year 1891 as a way to commemorate the Battle of San Jacinto and Alamo. It takes place every year in the month of April and contains over 100 events one of them being the only all-female volunteers parade in the United States known as the battle of flowers. Fiesta is a great way to celebrate the rich and diverse culture of San Antonio with the participation of locals in organizing the event.
Look Within at the Blue Star Arts Complex
The blue star arts complex is a versatile space which includes an exhibition area, an artist’s studio, performances spaces, galleries, shops and the blue star brewery. This is the superior location for the cultural and artistic fervor that San Antonio offers. It is situated along the San Antonio River which provides for beautiful views and a pleasant atmosphere. The blue star arts complex will teach you all about the local art of the city in a few hours time.
Lounge Around at the Brackenridge Park
The Brackenridge Park is quite humble in its name because in reality this is a vast enterprise which includes the Japanese garden, the San Antonio Zoo, the sunken Garden theatre, pavilions and a center for senior citizens. The Japanese garden is absolutely serene with its floral displays and numerous Koi ponds. There is also the oldest golf course of Texas situated here along with the Witte art museum. Take a hike, get a tan or throw a ball, at Brackenridge Park you will never run out of options.
Eat Some Gluten at the Liberty Bar
The liberty bar was opened in the year 1984 by a man troubled with his bohemian fantasies and is housed in a former Benedictine Convent at the King William historic neighborhood. This place acts as a bar cum restaurant and has an extensive menu which includes classic southern dishes, venison, lamb sausages, pot roast bowls and hearty sandwiches. Though, the best food served here is their homemade bread perfected impeccably by their bakers.
Turn Back the Clock at the King William Historic District
This district was the first area in San Antonio to be regarded as a historic location in the year 1968. The long and rich history of the King William historic district began in the 1840s with the German settlers and was later revived and renovated in the 1950s. It is located in downtown San Antonio and previously belonged to the mission San Antonio de Valero. Today, a visitor can admire the beautiful architecture of the cottages and buildings while learning about its diverse history.
Remember the Martyrs at the Alamo
The admission to this historic landmark is completely free and is a symbol of the spirit of courage and sacrifice which this city exemplifies. It is at the Alamo where three very brave Texans protected there land against General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and other spots which symbolize the events of the independence of Mexico and the Spanish colonization. The Alamo is one of the most cherish sites of the city and its architecture is noteworthy.
Feel Fine and Fancy at the Range Restaurant
If you want to get a taste of San Antonio’s fine dining experience then, you must visit the range restaurant situated along the river walk. This is a steakhouse in downtown San Antonio where they serve only the most decadent seafood, aged rib-eyes and sumptuous cocktails prepared with fresh ingredients. The interior itself is to be marveled at for its seamless blending of classic old world charm and modern architecture as well as the fancy yet welcoming environment.
Visit Texas Hill Country
If you want to adorn an awkward southern accent with a toothpick between your teeth and wear a pair of cowboy boots while saying ‘Howdy’ to every passing person, you must take a tour of the Texas hill country. You will begin by touring the LBJ ranch also known as Texas’s white house and learn all about the 36th president of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Claudia. You will also visit Luckenbach, home to a number of musical legends such as Willie Nelson and Hondo Crouch.
Stop and Stare at the Hays Street Bridge
The Hays street Bridge overlooks the San Antonio River and when it was opened in the year 1910, it was used as a vehicular bridge but today, it is only meant for pedestrians. Even though, there is not much to do here, the bridge provides for beautiful views especially during the charming hours of sunrise and sunset. The Bridge is also used as a perfect photo shoot destination owing to its picturesque location and zero vehicular disturbances.
Forget Your Worries at the Cove
The cove restaurant is all about providing the local and homely feeling to its visitors by giving them a farm to table dining experience where all the produce is locally grown by farmers and presented in quirky and unique dishes. The best part of the cove is the fact that it allows visitors to bring their dogs along and also has 60 beers on tap for you to choose from. To enhance this experience, there is also live music and a playground located inside the restaurant.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
San Antonio is a fun place, with many kinds of fun and amusing attractions dispersed all over the place. One of them is Six Flags Fiesta Texas, formerly just known as Fiesta Texas, situated in the neighbourhood of La Cantera. It was established in 1992, by first owned by Gaylord Entertainment Company, after which it was sold to Time Warner in 1996. The park, spread over 200 acres, is full of fun and exciting rides and entertainment options. Some of the popular thrilling rides include Fireball, Batman: The Ride, Crow’s Nest and Bahama Blaster. There are also exciting events conducted frequently, which the visitors can enjoy to their heart’s content.
Tower of the Americas
The Tower of the Americas is an observation tower cum restaurant in the Downtown area. It was built in 1968, themed on the HemisFair ’68 and was known as the tallest observation tower in the US, until 1996, before the Las Vegas Stratosphere Tower came into play. It stands tall at 750 foot and now, is not only the tallest building in San Antonio but also comes 27th in the list of tallest buildings in Texas. The restaurant in the tower – Chart House - is a revolving one, offering a delicious menu, while the Observation Deck can give a completely picturesque view of San Antonio.
The Witte Museum, situated in Brackenridge Park, is a historic museum, and a beautiful one at that. Established in 1926, it offers a mesmerizing depiction of Texas through stories, prehistoric to present. It is named after Alfred G. Witte, a San Antonio based businessman, who donated around $56,000 to the city for the museum’s construction. There are many permanent exhibits and collections in the museum, where historic artifacts, photographs, textiles, art and even some authentic cave drawings, dinosaur bones and wildlife dioramas are proudly put on display.
Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden of San Antonio – alternatively known as Sunken Gardens – located in Brackenridge Park. It was opened in the early 20th century, in an abandoned limestone rock quarry and has a rich history, waiting for the visitors to be explored. The park was completely renovated in 2008, complete with a lush garden, shaded walkways, stone bridges, an enormous 60-foot waterfall, beautiful koi ponds and floral displays. Also known as Chinese Tea Garden, it is also known to have spaces exclusive for dining, celebrations and introspection. The Tea Garden is one of the most-visited and much-loved cultural and educational landmarks of San Antonio.
North Star Mall
Located in the Uptown District is the North Star Mall, one of San Antonio’s most visited malls. The mall was built in 1960 and is recognizable even from a distance, due to its amazing ‘boots’ landmark. These are Texas-sized cowboy boots made by Bob ‘Daddy-O’ Wade, a famous Texas artist. Popular brands such as Macy’s, JCPenney, Dillard’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Forever 21 are anchor tenants in this mall, which also has more than 200 speciality shops and stores, right from The Cheesecake Factory to MAC Cosmetics. It is an internationally commended one-stop shopping destination, providing fun and wholesome experience, through its unique shopping and dining options.
Historic Market Square
The Historic Market Square of San Antonio is located in the downtown area and is a beautiful blend of shops, restaurants and cafés. It is spread over three-block, in the form of an outdoor plaza and is the largest Mexican Market to be ever seen in the United States. There are more than 100 local shops, where you can get authentic Talavera pottery, handcrafted gifts, exotic curios and colourful clothing, among other things, while the popular restaurants provide a traditional Mexican menu. It has been functioning since the 1820s, where generations over generations have visited – and still do – to have their fill of shopping, dining and dancing.
La Villita Historic Arts Village
La Villita is one of the first neighbourhoods of San Antonio, located south of the River Walk. The neighbourhood was transformed into an arts community, called La Villita Historic Arts Village, in 1939. This community is a prestigious part of the ‘National Register of Historic Places listings’ in Bexar County, Texas. The tree-lined paths and plazas is a cosy home to a number of restaurants, providing dining options, from a traditional Mexican menu to a steakhouse one. The village is full of artisan shops, where you will find beautiful paintings, folk art, sculptures, jewellery and more. A major outdoor festival cum fundraiser hosted here is the Night in Old San Antonio, giving the visitors a culturally rich experience.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
Now you don’t have to travel all the way to Africa to experience the Safari – San Antonio has you covered. The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is actually referred to as an ‘African Safari, Texas-Style’. It is recognized by the state of Texas as a Land Heritage Property and is full of the refreshing natural landscape and fascinating selection of wildlife. The Ranch is spread over 400 acres, complete with hills, mesquite trees’ thickets and creek beds and has more or less 500 animals, some exotic - some endangered -roaming around. The ranch offers scrumptious dining options, and also let you take a souvenir from the Safari Trading Post.
Aquatica San Antonio
Aquatica is a chain of water parks, operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and has branches in many places. The branch of Aquatica in San Antonio is a beautiful one, where South Texas meets up with South Seas to provide the visitors with a quintessential waterpark experience. There are also a handful of essential stores and gift shops, where people stop to take back memories of the waterpark. There a handful of fun pools, as well as a plethora of exciting and adventurous water slides and rides. Some restaurants and snack joints are also available on the premises, where you can enjoy a variety of food options.
San Antonio is well known for the river cruises – the smooth, flowing ride across the waters to experience the mesmerizing neighbourhood of the place. While there are many cruises available, one of the best is Go Rio Cruises. It is cruising heaven, each of the round covering one and a half miles in around 35 minutes long. Guides are assigned to each of the rides, who are friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the places and attractions that come up in the ride. Dinner cruises are available, along with private charter cruises. Go Rio Cruises is the best way to learn more about the city’s timeless architecture and rich history.
Woodlawn Lake Park
Woodlawn Lake Park is a beautiful park on the western side of the city, popular as a gathering spot for people, locals as well as tourists. The park is spread over 62 acres and has many amenities, including a comfortable walking trail, a dock for fishing, a gym and even a dance studio. The park also became, in the late 1990s, the permanent place of the city’s annual celebration of Fourth of July, maintaining a steady flow of crows every year. A place of abundant fresh air, sunshine and nature, Woodlawn Lake Park is deservedly one of the much-loved parks in San Antonio.
The AT&T Center, home to the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA, is an amazing indoor arena, built to be multi-purpose. There are around 18,418 seats for basketball, while 16,151 for ice hockey and 19,000 seats are dedicated for concerts & gathering areas. The centre has 2,018 club seats, more than 40 luxury suites and over 30 clean bathrooms. Operated by Spurs Sports and Entertainment, AT&T Center is one of, not only the city’s but the whole nation’s, leading entertainment venues.
Confluence Park is a special educational park, located on the confluence of the San Pedro Creek and San Antonio River. It focuses on the essential role of water in the ecosystems in the South Texas region. It spreads over 3.5 acres, filled with native planting, a 2000 square foot building – multi-purpose in nature – as well as a 6000 sq. ft. central pavilion and three smaller pavilions. All of the 5 ecotypes of the South Texas region are demonstrated in the park and therefore, has become an intricate and wholesome tool to make people realize the importance of river and environment and its confluence.
San Antonio has a number of golf clubs and courses, dispersed all over the place. Some of the best include La Cantera Golf Club, which has a golf school and also provides a highly engaging golf course, the Palmer Course. On the other hand, Topgolf is a perfect entertainment complex for avid golfers, where you can play on their golf course and even have food. The Quarry Golf Club is also a beautiful addition in the list, where the course is built on a quarry, all of which is well maintained and in excellent condition. Last, but not the least, is the Historic Brackenridge Golf Course, one of the oldest public golf courses in Texas, and also one of the amazing ones.
Shops at Rivercenter
Formerly known as the Rivercenter Mall, the Shops at Rivercenter is a beautiful shopping mall in the downtown area, situated along the city’s River Walk. The mall first opened in 1988, with the city’s first Lord & Taylor department store, an IMAX theatre and Dillard’s, the last of which closed a decade ago. The anchor tenants of the mall are Macy’s, H&M, and not to forget, Marriott hotel, with 1,001 rooms spread in the 38-story structure. Along with that, there are a number of quality shops and eateries for visitors. In fact, the mall is one of the premier destinations for shopping, entertainment and dining in San Antonio.
San Antonio is often believed to be in the middle of a culinary reformation, as many quality restaurants have cropped up in the city. Some of the recommended restaurants include Sushishima Japanese Restaurant, well-known for sushi, spider roll and noodles, whereas 2M Smokehouse is one of the best barbecues in the city. Some of the other places are Savor Bistro, with a versatile menu and a great dining experience; Cappy’s Restaurant, well-known for diver scallops, lobster mashed potatoes and crab cakes; and Shuck Shack, a place where you can get top-quality bivalve dishes.
Spanish Governor’s Palace
There are many historic places in San Antonio, one of them being the Spanish Governor’s Palace. It was built in the early 18th century and is the last standing remnants of the Presidio San Antonio de Béjar. This aristocratic Spanish Colonial in-town residence in Texas has perfectly furnished rooms and beautifully landscaped gardens. It has been named as ‘the most beautiful building in San Antonio’ by the National Geographic Society and was declared as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Now transformed into a museum now, visitors frequent the place to revisit the rich past.
Alamo Beer Company
Alamo Beer Company is a beautiful brewery, located on the Hayes Street Bridge in the downtown area. The brewery is well-known to create Golden Ale, Pilsners, German Pale Ale and Amber Lager, which is a seasonal, smaller batch of brews. Tours are taken around the facility frequently, with an informative guide who shows you the beer-making process of the brewery. There is a large taproom in the place, with amazing customer service and of course, best beer selections.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
LEGOLAND is one of the amazing attractions of San Antonio, where visitors can enjoy ten of the themed LEGO play zones, along with LEGO San Antonio MINILAND, their signature 4D cinema and two amazing LEGO-themed rides. The place also has the SEA LIFE San Antonio, which provides a mesmerizing experience of the underwater world, complete with amazing creatures, local as well as international. While children are the most entertained in this place, the amazing and fun activities that they offer can also engage the adults – it’s a place for all!
Keeping up with the historic places of San Antonio, here is another one for you – The Aztec Theatre. It was built in 1926 and is a multi-purpose entertainment and events building. Located in the downtown area, it is considered to be a beautiful Meso-American architectural work of art, having an unusual but pleasant blend of columns and artifacts. It boasts to be the perfect place to host any events and occasions, including corporate events, private concerts, weddings and receptions, to name a few. Aztec theatre is a fascinating place and has been listed in Patricia Schultz’s travel book ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die’.
The birth place of the drink ‘Gatorade’ and the same city where country singer Johnny Cash married his first wife and later divorced her for another country singer, San Antonio is a place of wonder with a past stranger than fiction. A city which holds its culture and art in high regard while serving as the birthplace of many historical events, San Antonio has a place in its heart for anyone who cares to understand it.