What are the best things to see and do in San Antonio?

Hayley Bosch

This beautiful old city has been under the rule of six flags: France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America. The many different influences are still felt today. With a river carving through the city and some of the Lone Star State’s greatest history, San Antonio is overflowing with awesome attractions. Here’s our list of the best things to see and do in San Antonio:

1. Stroll along the river. The two-mile River Walk runs along the meandering San Antonio River and is lined with shops, galleries, hotels, popular nightspots and many sidewalk cafés. As the city’s main tourist draw, the River Walk is often bustling with mariachi bands, river taxis and tours and outdoor dining. Other stretches of the path are quiet and peaceful with public benches. The stone paths are a full story below street level so the River Walk is a fantastic way to feel removed from the commotion of the city.

2. Remember the Alamo. This San Antonio attraction has come to symbolize courage for the cause of liberty. Here, a small band of Texans, including legendary figures such as James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William B. Travis, held out for 13 days against the centrist army of Gen. Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell on the morning of March 6, 1836, the legacy of the courageous Alamo Defenders lives on with its rally cry, “Remember the Alamo!” Today, there are more than 2.5 million people who visit each year. Located on Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio, its three buildings span 300 years of history.

3. Explore Cascade Caverns Park. Located on a 105-acre park is a water-formed underground cavern with spectacular rock formations. Discover the exciting features of this natural wonder, such as its 100-foot underground waterfall. Take the 45-minute tour of the caverns, which appropriately ends with the grand finale of the waterfall.

4. Stop at Market Square. Dating to the late 1890s, San Antonio’s Market Square is a colorful, three-block district of shops, restaurants and art galleries, including El Mercado, the largest Mexican market in the U.S. Browse more than 80 stores offering Southwestern arts and crafts and worldwide imports. And stop for lunch at the Square’s best-known restaurant Mi Tierra, famous since the 1940s for its authentic Mexican cuisine.

5. Bike through the missions. San Antonio has four Spanish-colonial missions: Concepción, Espada, San José and San Juan. Trek from mission to mission on the eight-mile Missions Bike and Hike Trail. Explore the oldest unrestored stone mission church in the country in Mission Concepción, then make your way to Mission Espada to check out the newly restored friary and chapel. Admire the carvings and masonry in Mission San José before venturing to Mission San Juan, which was once the center of this self-sufficient community.

  • On May 17, 2013
    DeMarco Williams answered the question: DeMarco Williams

    What’s the best time to visit San Antonio?

    Though you can find something to do in San Antonio almost any time because of its 300 days of sunshine, it’s pretty hard to beat the city in late April. Even if you don’t take into account springtime along the famed River Walk or Spurs playoff basketball, there’s Fiesta, a Mardi Gras-like celebration — without all of the lascivious overtones, of course — that revolves around the April 21st anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto back in 1836. With 11 days full of family-friendly festivals, pin trading, food and parades (including the gigantic Battle of the Roses Parade and dazzling nighttime Fiesta Flambeau Parade), Fiesta shows San Antonio in all of its culture-rich splendor.
  • On April 17, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the best things to do with kids in San Antonio?

    Whether your youngster is a history buff in training or a water fanatic, there are Texas-size adventures that are fun for the whole family. Sure your kids will enjoy these activities, but you will love them, too. Here's our  list of the five best things to do with kids in San Antonio:

    1. Remember the Alamo. Teach your little ones about the dramatic history of Texas. Though the Alamo doesn't physically stick to the "everything is bigger in Texas" mantra, its history sure does. At what has become to symbolize courage and liberty, a small band of Texans, including legendary figures such as James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William B. Travis, held out for 13 days against the Mexican army of Gen. Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell on the morning of March 6, 1836, the legacy of the courageous Alamo defenders lives on with its rally cry, "Remember the Alamo!"

    2. Take a stroll along the river. As San Antonio's most popular attraction, the River Walk is fun for everyone. Lined with stores, restaurants and hotels, you and your youngsters can't help but enjoy the paths filled with mariachi bands and vendors. Though this is a man-made channel of the actual San Antonio River, you'll find river taxis and tours galore.

    3. Say hi to Shamu's amigos. Between SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica, the new beach-thmed water park, you won't know which one to visit first. At SeaWorld, you will find animal attractions, rides, slides and shows, such as "Azul," which combines beluga whales, birds and acrobatic performers. You can pet Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, feed sea lions and seals and observe beluga whales. Over at Aquatica, rent private cabanas, safely wade with the stingrays and catapult down water slides.

    4. Get a Texas-size thrill. Head to Six Flags Fiesta Texas for an adventure sure to satisfy even the biggest thrill-seekers. The 200-acre amusement park dramatically set in a former limestone quarry boasts five themed areas — Spassburg (German), Los Festivales (Hispanic), Crackaxle Canyon (Western), Rockville (1950s) and Fiesta Bay Boardwalk (American) — all around a central Texas square. Of course, there are the standard Six Flags rides, including a coaster that reaches 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, an early-1900s-style carousel and a Ferris wheel that gives little ones a bird's-eye view of the park.

    5. Visit the animals at the zoo. As one of the best in the country, the San Antonio Zoo is something that both you and the kids will enjoy. Get up close with 53 types of lories — colorful medium-sized parrots from Australia — at the zoo's Lory Landing. The friendly birds range in color from scarlet and green to royal blue and fiery orange and are so social that they often flock close to visitors, landing on shoulders and even the occasional head. Beyond birds, you can visit more than 8,500 animals of 779 species here, making this one of the largest zoos in the United States. At the African Live! and African Plains exhibits, look for hippos, crocodiles, ostriches, zebras and antelope. The lushly planted Amazonian exhibit is a hit with more than 30 species of tropical animals, including macaws, tamarins and marmosets.
  • On April 17, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What’s the best time to visit San Antonio?

    Considering there are usually 300 days a year when the sun shines down on San Antonio, it’s hard to find a time that isn’t great to visit. That being said, you can pretty much outlaw a trip in the brutal month of July. No matter how beautiful the weather is year round, it’s Texas and summers get pretty darn sweltering. With many of the activities being outdoors, you’ll want to take into account that the summers are rather warm with an average temperature in the 90s. Though there are plenty of water activities around the city such as Six Flags Fiesta Texas and plenty of rivers to float down, the big events happen during the milder months.

    Courtesy of its rich history, San Antonio has some fabulous festivals when it comes to Mexican heritage. During the mild spring, you’ll find a calendar chock full of outdoor festivals and celebrations. At the beginning of March you can catch the “Remember the Alamo Weekend,” while May showcases a stellar Cinco de Mayo celebration.

    With San Antonio’s main attractions, the River Walk and the Alamo, open year round, there are plenty of things to do no matter what time of year you visit. In the winter you can catch a San Antonio Spurs game and in the spring you can float down the nearby, spring-fed Comal River.
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  • On April 17, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    What are the best things to see and do in San Antonio?

    This beautiful old city has been under the rule of six flags: France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America. The many different influences are still felt today. With a river carving through the city and some of the Lone Star State’s greatest history, San Antonio is overflowing with awesome attractions. Here’s our list of the best things to see and do in San Antonio:

    1. Stroll along the river. The two-mile River Walk runs along the meandering San Antonio River and is lined with shops, galleries, hotels, popular nightspots and many sidewalk cafés. As the city’s main tourist draw, the River Walk is often bustling with mariachi bands, river taxis and tours and outdoor dining. Other stretches of the path are quiet and peaceful with public benches. The stone paths are a full story below street level so the River Walk is a fantastic way to feel removed from the commotion of the city.

    2. Remember the Alamo. This San Antonio attraction has come to symbolize courage for the cause of liberty. Here, a small band of Texans, including legendary figures such as James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William B. Travis, held out for 13 days against the centrist army of Gen. Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell on the morning of March 6, 1836, the legacy of the courageous Alamo Defenders lives on with its rally cry, “Remember the Alamo!” Today, there are more than 2.5 million people who visit each year. Located on Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio, its three buildings span 300 years of history.

    3. Explore Cascade Caverns Park. Located on a 105-acre park is a water-formed underground cavern with spectacular rock formations. Discover the exciting features of this natural wonder, such as its 100-foot underground waterfall. Take the 45-minute tour of the caverns, which appropriately ends with the grand finale of the waterfall.

    4. Stop at Market Square. Dating to the late 1890s, San Antonio’s Market Square is a colorful, three-block district of shops, restaurants and art galleries, including El Mercado, the largest Mexican market in the U.S. Browse more than 80 stores offering Southwestern arts and crafts and worldwide imports. And stop for lunch at the Square’s best-known restaurant Mi Tierra, famous since the 1940s for its authentic Mexican cuisine.

    5. Bike through the missions. San Antonio has four Spanish-colonial missions: Concepción, Espada, San José and San Juan. Trek from mission to mission on the eight-mile Missions Bike and Hike Trail. Explore the oldest unrestored stone mission church in the country in Mission Concepción, then make your way to Mission Espada to check out the newly restored friary and chapel. Admire the carvings and masonry in Mission San José before venturing to Mission San Juan, which was once the center of this self-sufficient community.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best San Antonio museums?

    From history to art, San Antonio is brimming with culture, which in turn means there are tons of museums. Whether you are looking to learn a bit about the Lone Star State or peruse the works of Picasso, there is a museum for you.

    No trip to San Antonio is complete without a visit to the Alamo. As the most famous spot in Texas, this historical landmark is worth the trip. Located in the heart of the city, the Alamo is the centerpiece of the Lone Star State’s dramatic fight for liberty. Make your way into the Long Barracks Museum and Library, which is located by the chapel, to get your dose of Texas history. Discover the relics and mementos from the Republic of Texas or listen to the narration of the theatrical fall of the Alamo.

    Art enthusiasts, you’re in luck: San Antonio is one of the country’s best cities for art. Venture to the McNay Art Museum for a real treat. As the first Texas museum for modern art, it was established by the endowment of the extensive art collection and former residence of Marion Koogler McNay. The collection includes Gothic and Medieval art donated by the Oppenheimer family; late 19th- and 20th-century American and European paintings by classic masters such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne along with modern painters Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns; sculpture; graphic arts; rare books; architecture and fine arts.

    If the McNay isn’t enough, head to the San Antonio Museum of Art, housed in a former brewery. Odd, we know; but it works, especially given the beauty of this 1884 brick structure. Opened in 1981, this art museum is known for its Greek and Roman collection, Asian art, Latin American and folk art and American paintings. The latter collection includes landscapes and portraits dating from the colonial period to the early 20th century. The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art includes pre-Columbian, Spanish-colonial and Latin American folk art. Other exhibits include Egyptian antiquities, ancient glass, classical sculpture and more. If all this culture makes you hungry, a cafe is onsite.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What should I pack for a trip to San Antonio?

    If there’s one thing you should know about San Antonio, it’s that the sun shines 300 days of the year. That being said, there are a few things you really shouldn’t leave home without. As a city chock full of history, culture and entertainment, you’ll discover plenty of activities that you won’t want to forget. Here’s our packing list for a trip to San Antonio:

    1. Sunglasses. With more than 80 percent of the year being sunny, you’ll certainly want your shades on you at all times. The majority of the attractions in the Alamo City are outside so there’s no escaping that bright Texas sun. We don’t want you to get those wrinkles from squinting just because you forgot your sunglasses.

    2. Camera. As the city where it all began — well Texas at least — there’s an endless list of sights you’ll want to remember. Whether it’s the four Spanish-colonial missions you encounter during a bike ride or just a stroll down the River Walk, you’ll need your camera for this trip.

    3. Shorts. Even during the 65 days that the sun isn’t shining in San Antonio, it is still a very warm city. The winters are mild and the summers are hot, so you’ll want to wear shorts to stay cool(er).

    4. Bathing suit. No matter what time of year you visit, water activities abound. You can float the nearby Comal and Guadalupe rivers or make a splash at SeaWorld San Antonio. Regardless of your choice, you’ll want to have your swimsuit, even if it’s just to enjoy the rooftop pool at your hotel.

    5. Sneakers. San Antonio involves a lot of walking. From hiking the eight-mile Mission Trail (parts of which are under construction through 2012) to exploring the Alamo, you’ll be walking most of the time. So whether you want to bring sneakers or just comfortable walking shoes, it’s up to you. Either way, you’ll thank us later.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to do with kids in San Antonio?

    Whether your youngster is a history buff in training or a water fanatic, there are Texas-size adventures that are fun for the whole family. Sure your kids will enjoy these activities, but you will love them, too. Here's our  list of the five best things to do with kids in San Antonio:

    1. Remember the Alamo. Teach your little ones about the dramatic history of Texas. Though the Alamo doesn't physically stick to the "everything is bigger in Texas" mantra, its history sure does. At what has become to symbolize courage and liberty, a small band of Texans, including legendary figures such as James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William B. Travis, held out for 13 days against the Mexican army of Gen. Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell on the morning of March 6, 1836, the legacy of the courageous Alamo defenders lives on with its rally cry, "Remember the Alamo!"

    2. Take a stroll along the river. As San Antonio's most popular attraction, the River Walk is fun for everyone. Lined with stores, restaurants and hotels, you and your youngsters can't help but enjoy the paths filled with mariachi bands and vendors. Though this is a man-made channel of the actual San Antonio River, you'll find river taxis and tours galore.

    3. Say hi to Shamu's amigos. Between SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica, the new beach-thmed water park, you won't know which one to visit first. At SeaWorld, you will find animal attractions, rides, slides and shows, such as "Azul," which combines beluga whales, birds and acrobatic performers. You can pet Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, feed sea lions and seals and observe beluga whales. Over at Aquatica, rent private cabanas, safely wade with the stingrays and catapult down water slides.

    4. Get a Texas-size thrill. Head to Six Flags Fiesta Texas for an adventure sure to satisfy even the biggest thrill-seekers. The 200-acre amusement park dramatically set in a former limestone quarry boasts five themed areas — Spassburg (German), Los Festivales (Hispanic), Crackaxle Canyon (Western), Rockville (1950s) and Fiesta Bay Boardwalk (American) — all around a central Texas square. Of course, there are the standard Six Flags rides, including a coaster that reaches 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, an early-1900s-style carousel and a Ferris wheel that gives little ones a bird's-eye view of the park.

    5. Visit the animals at the zoo. As one of the best in the country, the San Antonio Zoo is something that both you and the kids will enjoy. Get up close with 53 types of lories — colorful medium-sized parrots from Australia — at the zoo's Lory Landing. The friendly birds range in color from scarlet and green to royal blue and fiery orange and are so social that they often flock close to visitors, landing on shoulders and even the occasional head. Beyond birds, you can visit more than 8,500 animals of 779 species here, making this one of the largest zoos in the United States. At the African Live! and African Plains exhibits, look for hippos, crocodiles, ostriches, zebras and antelope. The lushly planted Amazonian exhibit is a hit with more than 30 species of tropical animals, including macaws, tamarins and marmosets.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to see and do in San Antonio?

    This beautiful old city has been under the rule of six flags: France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America. The many different influences are still felt today. With a river carving through the city and some of the Lone Star State’s greatest history, San Antonio is overflowing with awesome attractions. Here’s our list of the five best things to see and do in San Antonio:

    1. Stroll along the river. The two-mile River Walk runs along the meandering San Antonio River and is lined with shops, galleries, hotels, popular nightspots and many sidewalk cafés. As the city’s main tourist draw, the River Walk is often bustling with mariachi bands, river taxis and tours and outdoor dining. Other stretches of the path are quiet and peaceful with public benches. The stone paths are a full story below street level so the River Walk is a fantastic way to feel removed from the commotion of the city.

    2. Remember the Alamo. This San Antonio attraction has come to symbolize courage for the cause of liberty. Here, a small band of Texans, including legendary figures such as James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William B. Travis, held out for 13 days against the centrist army of Gen. Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell on the morning of March 6, 1836, the legacy of the courageous Alamo Defenders lives on with its rally cry, “Remember the Alamo!” Today, there are more than 2.5 million people who visit each year. Located on Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio, its three buildings span 300 years of history.

    3. Explore Cascade Caverns Park. Located on a 105-acre park is a water-formed underground cavern with spectacular rock formations. Discover the exciting features of this natural wonder, such as its 100-foot underground waterfall. Take the 45-minute tour of the caverns, which appropriately ends with the grand finale of the waterfall.

    4. Stop at Market Square. Dating to the late 1890s, San Antonio’s Market Square is a colorful, three-block district of shops, restaurants and art galleries, including El Mercado, the largest Mexican market in the U.S. Browse more than 80 stores offering Southwestern arts and crafts and worldwide imports. And stop for lunch at the Square’s best-known restaurant Mi Tierra, famous since the 1940s for its authentic Mexican cuisine.

    5. Bike through the missions. San Antonio has four Spanish-colonial missions: Concepción, Espada, San José and San Juan. Trek from mission to mission on the eight-mile Missions Bike and Hike Trail. Explore the oldest unrestored stone mission church in the country in Mission Concepción, then make your way to Mission Espada to check out the newly restored friary and chapel. Admire the carvings and masonry in Mission San José before venturing to Mission San Juan, which was once the center of this self-sufficient community.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What’s the best time to visit San Antonio?

    Considering there are usually 300 days a year when the sun shines down on San Antonio, it’s hard to find a time that isn’t great to visit. That being said, you can pretty much outlaw a trip in the brutal month of July. No matter how beautiful the weather is year round, it’s Texas and summers get pretty darn sweltering. With many of the activities being outdoors, you’ll want to take into account that the summers are rather warm with an average temperature in the 90s. Though there are plenty of water activities around the city such as Six Flags Fiesta Texas and plenty of rivers to float down, the big events happen during the milder months.

    Courtesy of its rich history, San Antonio has some fabulous festivals when it comes to Mexican heritage. During the mild spring, you’ll find a calendar chock full of outdoor festivals and celebrations. At the beginning of March you can catch the “Remember the Alamo Weekend,” while May showcases a stellar Cinco de Mayo celebration.

    With San Antonio’s main attractions, the River Walk and the Alamo, open year round, there are plenty of things to do no matter what time of year you visit. In the winter you can catch a San Antonio Spurs game and in the spring you can float down the nearby, spring-fed Comal River.