Visiting San Antonio - What to See and Do
(San Antonio International Airport SAT, USA)
The second city of Texas
, San Antonio
is a real gem of a metropolis. From old missions and historic attractions to trendy downtown dining districts, the city appears to have covered all the bases when it comes to good living. This means that visitors can be assured of plenty of entertainment and top-flight amenities, because the locals insist on it.
This is the home of the Alamo, so the city embodies a lively mix of Mexican and Texan culture. It seems like everything is done a notch above in San Antonio, from the killer Tex-Mex food to the surprisingly impressive group of art museums and galleries.
There is no shortage of historical sites like the Alamo and the San Antonio Missions. You can also explore diverse neighborhoods like trendy Alamo Heights and La Villita, the city's oldest community. Best of all, the scenic River Walk path runs along the river, providing the icing on the cake to this appealing Texan travel destination.
Ten things you must do in San Antonio
- The River Walk is the gem in San Antonio's crown. The broad river is the lifeblood of the city, and this path along its banks is part-recreation part-entertainment. Most of the city's top restaurants are here, along with fun bars, open-air theaters and plenty of grassy parks. Massive oak trees spread their branches over the path, creating a magical atmosphere - especially at night, when the weather is fine and everyone is out and about.
- You might be a little disappointed upon first glimpsing the Alamo, where a group of soldiers famously held off the Mexican army for 13 days in 1836. It is a small fort, actually, but very notable and certainly worth a visit if you have any interest in Western history. The onsite museum isn't particularly amazing, so consider the Alamo more of a shrine than anything.
- Of the many art museums in San Antonio, the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum is a real treat. Its collection contains at least one masterpiece from every American and European artist of note over the past 200 years. The 1929 mansion that houses the art also boasts panoramic views over the city, as well as a 23-acre / 9-hectare landscaped garden filled with sculptures and walking paths.
- The golfing attractions around San Antonio are some of the best in the Southwest. There are six outstanding courses just minutes from the downtown area, and most are open to the public. The Cedar and Brackenridge are two of the most popular public courses, with affordable greens fees to boot.
- A fun way to spend a day is betting on the ponies at Retama Park, a superb horse-racing track lying within the suburb of Selma. The racing season runs from April through October, with race days from Wednesday to Sunday. The Spanish-style grandstand is a beauty, rising five levels and creating a great atmosphere for the races. Entry fees are extremely cheap and the big range of food courts, lounges and restaurants provides even more diversion.
- San Antonio's top green space is Brackenridge Park, a wonderful maze of restored quarry ponds, stone bridges and walking paths. It is a huge park, with a top golf course, a lovely Japanese Tea Garden, concerts at the Sunken Garden Theater and San Antonio Zoo just across the street. Be sure to ride the 2-mile / 3-km Brackenridge Eagle miniature train through the park for some fun.
- The downtown area of San Antonio is a patchwork of diverse and colorful neighborhoods. Each deserves a lingering look, but there are a few standouts, such as the oldest of the bunch - the La Villita National Historic District. It truly resembles a Mexican village, though the plaza and narrow lanes are now filled with trendy boutiques, restaurants and other attractions.
- When you are strolling along the River Walk, you will see open boats cruising by on the water. This is a fantastic way to see the city and just plain fun to get out on the water for the 30-minute trip. The guides tell you all about San Antonio and its historic sites as the river winds right through the heart of the city.
- The San Antonio Missions National Historic Park offers the best historic experience in the city. Four Spanish missions dating to 1731 have been restored and are still active churches serving the local community. Each of the missions is about 3 miles / 5 km apart along the park road, so driving is the ideal way to experience them unless you join a tour, which is also a good idea.
- One of America's top amusement parks is Six Flags Fiesta Texas, a 200-acre / 81-hectare fantasy land set within an abandoned quarry. It is a super backdrop for the dozens of world-class thrill rides, live performances, craft shows and other fun activities on offer. Certainly not just for kids, Six Flags is very serious about its fun.