The setting to country songs and the “Cradle of Texas Liberty,” San Antonio is not only a great place to live, it’s a great place to visit. Even if you’re a San Antonio native, there’s probably plenty still left on your must-see (and must-do) list for the city.
If you’re planning a little staycation in and around Texas, you can road trip to any number of Texas cities, or even see some neighboring states’ sights. But we recommend you get cozy with the local sights and sounds. You’ll find a quick look around the city could open you up to glamping (a.k.a. camping with a little extra style), unusual San Antonio history and incredible events.
Soak up San Antonio History
The first thing on most people’s minds when they hear the name “San Antonio?” The Alamo. Although it’s one of the city’s biggest historical attractions, it’s by no means the only one. History buffs can visit the Institute of Texan Cultures for a deep dive into Texas history (and to visit an affiliate of the Smithsonian), or the Aztec Theatre, a live music venue gorgeously restored to 1926 Meso-American glory.
Or, grab a b-cycle (San Antonio’s own bike share program, the first of it’s kind in Texas) and pedal down the “Mission Reach Trail” along the San Antonio River to see Missions San Jose, San Juan, Espada and Conception – the oldest unrestored stone church in the United States.
If you like your history with a little something to drink, you’ll almost certainly want to stop in Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, a 131-year-old oddity shop that began as a saloon and “expanded,” shall we say, when the saloon’s owner Albert Friedrich began accepting mounted animals, pelts, antlers, and oddities instead of payment for drinks. Needless to say, you won’t get away with such tactics nowadays, but you can still grab a beer and tour the museum’s numerous unusual finds.
San Antonio’s Alamo, Pereida, Presa and St. Mary’s Streets form the number 4 at their intersections, and jam packed in-between are plenty of local restaurants and bars–it’s the perfect opportunity for bar hopping. Our suggestion? Get some sun in with your beer at the Friendly Spot, then meander over to B&D Ice House for some iconic San Antonio barbeque and beer.
Explore the Riverwalk
The Riverwalk, a series of pedestrian paths along the San Antonio River just below the city streets, is a popular spot for San Antonians to shop, eat and play. The scenic walkways wind around the banks of the river, with spots for public art (like the Grotto) and well-manicured gardens. And that’s not even mentioning the Riverwalk’s numerous bars, restaurants, nightlife and other attractions.
Take in a show at the Arneson River Theater, an open-air venue sitting right along the river, or grab a bite at one of the Riverwalk’s restaurants, such as Restaurant Gwendolyn. Sip whisky at the Riverwalk’s oldest bar, the Esquire, or check out a few new spots. For a truly Texan experience, grab a burger and a beer at the outdoor restaurant and bar cheekily named the Luxury—just make sure you get a seat in one of the restaurant’s porch swings overlooking the river. Head down to the Republic of Texas restaurant to sing your heart out at the end of the night, or get the best of everything by taking a boat tour.
Indulge Your Inner Child
If you’ve yet to make it out to the San Antonio Zoo, you should – it’s definitely worth a trip! Located in the city’s Brackenridge Park, the 35-acre zoo has a collection of over 3,500 animals representing 750 species. Get an up-close look at lions, tigers and bears – and feed the giraffes, too! While you’re there we encourage you to take a train ride around the park. Since 1956, the San Antonio Zoo Eagle, formerly known as the Brackenridge Eagle, has chugged along the tracks skirting the banks of the San Antonio River as it makes its way through one of San Antonio’s most popular parks. Today, various stops include the Witte Museum, Kiddie Park, and the Japanese Tea Gardens, also known as the Sunken Gardens – all worth checking out!
If you’re a thrill seeker, head on out to Sea World of San Antonio or Six Flags Fiesta Texas to fill your need for speed! Fiesta Texas’ Iron Rattler (our personal fave) boasts a staggering 81 degree, 171 foot drop and a top speed of 70 miles per hour. With San Antonio’s temperate weather, both Sea World and Fiesta Texas can be enjoyed year-round.
Take One of San Antonio’s Day Trips
Ok, so we said that there’s plenty to see in San Antonio—but another one of the city’s major benefits is its proximity to other great cities and great attractions. Head a hour and a half north to Austin for some Sixth Street fun and plenty of live music, go deep into Texas’s hill country by taking a visit to Fredericksburg’s Enchanted Rock, a pink granite dome rising above scenic hiking trails, or head out even further to one of Texas’s 95 state parks (or one of its many attractions). In San Antonio, you’re only a stone’s throw away from some of the best the state has to offer. But, of course, we think nothing beats home.