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Visit San Antonio!

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San Antonio is a very unique city. Where else would an entire community slow down productivity to raise money by partying for 10 days? That would be for Fiesta. And of course we'll stop everything for Spurs parades.   Whenever I’m asked for advice on what to do, what to see and/or where to eat, I never know what to say because everyone has such individual tastes and interests.

So, here are some resources to help you get started in figuring out what to do when you visit San Antonio:

Start with:

Visit San Antonio”  -  This page will help you figure out what “type” of vacation you’d like to have here.

Must-do sites in San Antonio:

The Alamo

Go see the Cenotaph before the powers-that-be move it, and before the re-imaginers completely re-design the Alamo grounds.

River Cruise

Seriously, you can’t say you’ve been to San Antonio unless you’ve experienced both the Alamo and a river cruise.

The Missions

The Alamo was just one of the five missions - deemed UNESCO World Heritage sites - established in San Antonio. The largest one is Mission San Jose, located next to the Missions Visitor Center.

Consider these San Antonio sites:

Pearl

Restaurants. Shopping. The San Antonio River. Visit the former home of the Pearl Brewery. Check out the Hotel Emma's bar and ask about the story behind The Three Emmas.

El Mercado / Market Square

Some of the locals call this a tourist trap, yet we take all of our visitors here to experience it - and to eat at La Margarita or the iconic Mi Tierra. Be sure to grab some pan dulce on your way out.

San Fernando Cathedral

This church used to be the official center of San Antonio. Look for the seal on the ground behind the altar. But not during mass! If you go to the evening light show, bring your own folding chairs, or get there early for seats, or just stand in the back for a glimpse.

 

The San Antonio River's 3 Sections:

Downtown

This is the most famous part of the River Walk. On weekends and during events, the banks can get pretty crowded, but this is the part of the river that appears in photographs and in "city shots" on television during sporting events. If you're here during Fiesta or Christmas, it's even more festive. My favorite time to walk here is in the morning.

Museum Reach

If you want to venture into the quieter part of the river, head north to Museum Reach toward the San Antonio Museum of Art and Pearl. It's a bit of a hike from downtown, so you'll definitely work off lunch or dinner. Note that standard water taxis and river cruises do not include this destination on their route, so you'll want to make a specific request at the ticket booth.

Mission Reach

If you want something a little more grounded in nature, work your way south to the Mission Reach. There are bike trails, kayaking and nature walks. This part of the river takes you past the King William district, Blue Star Arts complex, Guenther House (awesome breakfasts!) and down toward the southern missions. Water taxis currently do not venture all the way south.

If you still have time, visit these San Antonio spots:

Breweries

Most #PuroSanAntonio goes to Freetail Brewery (downtown brewery, not 1604 bar). Alamo Brewery is a fun spot to visit if you'd like an outdoor game area. Take your pick of craft brew houses.

La Villita

La Villita is Spanish for Little Village, and that's exactly what it is in the heart of downtown. Shopping. Restaurants. History. Local artisans still sell their crafts here.

Bats

Between April and October, bats fly out from under the Camden Street Bridge at sunset. (on most nights, anyway) This is within walking distance of Pearl.

If you’re into ghosts:

Haunted places to visit:

MySanAntonio.com's picks

HauntedPlaces.org

If you'll be in San Antonio during Fiesta:

Official Fiesta Events

This can be a little overwhelming because there are over 100 events, but you'll get an idea of how diverse the events are, depending on which group is hosting it. (FYI - In order for an event to be an official part of Fiesta, it has to be a fundraiser for a non-profit group in San Antonio.)

Any events at these venues are the most popular/famous - and therefore the most crowded:

Hemisfair, Market Square, The Alamo, La Villita

 

Search by Date

This link can be used at any time of year. Enter your dates to see what will be happening while you're in town. Enter one day per search for better results. There are always events taking place in San Antonio, but most especially during Fiesta!

"Famous" Fiesta Events

Here are some very popular Fiesta events:

Fiesta Fiesta at Hemisfair (photo above from FiestaSanAntonio.org), NIOSA (Night in Old San Antonio), Oyster Bake, Taste of New Orleans, King William Fair, Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square, Public Crowning of Rey Feo at the Arneson River Theater

Events gaining popularity:

Mission Reach Flotilla Festival, Fiesta Exhibition at The Witte

If I had one day to spend in San Antonio, I would:

*Find a way over to the Missions Visitor Center, which is right near Mission San Jose, and visit both. If you have time, drive to all of the missions along The Mission Trail.

*Head back downtown. (The bike trails along the Mission Reach portion of the river might be open by now and take you to town. This would be stinkin’ hot during the summer, but a scenic ride.)

*Once downtown, catch a river boat that takes you to the Museum Reach, and this will drop you off at Pearl.

*Walk around Pearl.

*Eat at lunch at La Gloria.

*Head back downtown via boat or bike or taxi.

*Visit the Alamo.

*Walk across Crocket Street and slip over to the Menger Hotel’s bar (side entrance across the street from the Alamo, through an ugly door) for a quick drink – or at least a visit. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders hung out here. There are pictures in the hallway leading from the bar to the hotel, and the bartender should be able to point out a couple of Teddy’s bullet holes.

*From the front of the Alamo, walk across Alamo Street, down the steps by the stream, and through the hotel to the hub of the River Walk.

*Turn left and make your way south along the River Walk past the Arneson River Theater to the Court House (easy to see this funky reddish-pink stone building at street level from the river) and visit San Fernando Cathedral.

*Have dinner in South Town at the food trucks. If food trucks aren’t your thing (or if they won't be open when you're there), check out one of the many restaurants on or near the River Walk.

 

Weather:

We have a saying in Texas. “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes.” For that reason, I highly recommend that you bring layers of clothes. Even when it’s 105 degrees in the summer, you’ll need a sweater if you don’t want to freeze in air-conditioned buildings. I’ve found that San Antonio’s ABC affiliate station, KSAT, has the most accurate weather forecast. Click here to view it. Note that the “low” temperature they list on the 5-day forecast is the starting temperature for sunrise that morning.

For the active/outdoor types:

Parks with strolling paths? We sweat buckets from April – October, so we have fewer outdoor play options than many cities. A beautiful walk is at the “Museum Reach” of the River Walk, from Pearl to the San Antonio Art Museum.

 

 

 

If you’re coming with the whole familia:

Standard family fare is always Sea World, Six Flags Fiesta Texas and the Zoo. I love the Mission Trail (which includes the Alamo), but little kids may not be interested.

Here are some other ideas:

VisitSanAntonio.com

A couple of my friends have great Mom Blogs. It might be information overload, but you could skim them if you’re interested:

SA Busy Kids

San Antonio Mom Blogs 

If you find any broken links on this page, please let me know.

Enjoy your visit to San Antonio!

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