San Antonio, Texas is a mid sized city located in the South Central part of Texas. At about an hour from Austin and a few hours from Houston, it’s located in a fast growing part of the United States.
Nicknamed “Military City USA”, it’s not just home to military, but has lots of things for tourists and there are numerous things to see and do throughout the year.
Through this post, I’ll highlight some of the top things to do in san antonio if you are visiting the city for a few days.
#1 Thing to Do | San Antonio River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk is arguably the most famous attraction in downtown San Antonio. At over 15 miles of pedestrian friendly paths along the river, there is more than enough to see and do while taking a stroll along the water. The downtown section is lined with bars, shopping, waterfront restaurants and more.
The sections further away from the downtown are more nature oriented and make you forget that you are not very far from the downtown.
On the further reaches of the riverwalk, you can also reach the San Antonio Missions which I’ll talk about later in this article.
If you are looking for a way to explore the riverwalk and aren’t keen on walking it, there are boats that ply the river and will have a boat guide that will give you historical information along the way. There are numerous places you can pay for tickets to board the boats.
The company that operates the boats is called Go Rio Cruises. You can visit their website here to book tickets and learn more about the rides. A general narrarated cruise costs $12 for anyone from age 6-64 as the time of writing this article. There are discounts available if you are a resident of San Antonio and also for veterans and a few other categories. I highly recommend a trip at night to enjoy the city lights at night.
Just walking, shopping, or taking the boat at the Riverwalk isn’t the only thing to do there either. At the downtown section, there is an outdoor stage where at various times during the year they hold concerts, special events and more.
Also, at various times during the year there will be local vendors who set up tables to sell handmade goods. To get more information on the riverwalk and events that may be taking place there, I recommend to visit the San Antonio River Walk Website.
#2 Thing to Do – San Antonio Missions
The San Antonio Missions may not bring an image to your mind when you first hear of them. However, if I mentioned the Alamo, most would know what I’m talking about. For sure, the Alamo is the most famous of the San Antonio Missions, but did you know that there are four other missions in San Antonio that you can easily check out?
Four of the five missions make up the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. These missions from North to South are Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada. The Alamo which isn’t part of the Historic Park is the only Mission located downtown and it is owned by the State of Texas.
The missions were created by the Catholic church to spread Christianity to the locals at the time. They were part of a much wider network of missions that spread across the Spanish territory. The history of these goes much deeper, so I highly recommend reading up on them. I’ll show a few pictures from each of them though and give a bit of information about them.
The most famous of the missions and also probably the most visited as it’s located right downtown in San Antonio. Founded in the 18th century it became the most famous as it was the location for the battle of the Alamo in the 1800s and is known for the saying “Remember the Alamo.”
If you are heading south from San Antonio, you will reach Mission Concepcion roughly 2.5 miles from the Alamo. This mission is the most well preserved and was established in 1716. Regular Sunday Mass takes place here each week.
Mission San Jose
Located a further 2.5 miles south from Mission Concepcion is Mission San Jose. This mission is well maintained and quite large with a big outer wall. The mission was founded in 1720 but only became a historical site in 1941.
Mission San Juan de Capistrano
This is one of the smaller missions in San Antonio and at least when I was there felt like one of the least visited. Like the others, it is located a further 2.5 miles south. It was moved to San Antonio in 1731.
This is the last of the Missions in San Antonio and is located roughly 2.5 miles from Mission San Juan. It was moved to San Antonio in 1731, however was first established in 1690. The church has very interesting architecture and is nice to walk around.
So there you have the 5 missions in San Antonio. These can all be accessed along the riverwalk or by driving. The City of San Antonio also runs a city bus to the missions. Look for VIVA Bus #40 to access them. You can find this route and many other city bus routes for San Antonio on the San Antonio VIA Website.
#3 Thing to Do – Japanese Tea Garden
The great thing about San Antonio, is that there is a lot of green space and parks to enjoy nature and fresh air. One of the best parks to visit though is the Japanese Tea Garden located in Brakenridge park.
The Tea Garden was built within an abandoned quarry and is very scenic with ponds, exotic plants and man-made waterfall.
To top things off, there is a nice cafe located at the park where you can order food or bubble tea and enjoy a nice afternoon there. There is also an amphitheatre nearby where concerts and cultural events are held.
#4 Thing to Do – Tower of the Americas
Whenever you are in San Antonio, this attraction is hard to miss. The Tower of the Americas is the tallest building and tower in San Antonio. Built for the 1968 Word’s Fair, the tower soars 750 feet above the downtown and is an iconic centerpiece to the downtown of San Antonio.
Inside the tower base there is a 4D theatre, souvenir shop and ticket booth. Near the top there is a restaurant and bar, and above that is the observation deck. With your normal ticket purchase, you get unlimited trips up the elevator to the observation deck and also get access to the 4D theatre showings down on the ground floor.
I highly recommend buying a ticket to go to the observation deck. From the deck, you see out for miles and it gives you a great perspective on the city of San Antonio down below.
Tickets cost $14 for adults, but I love the fact that you can visit multiple times during the day with the one ticket. So you can go in the morning, then go shopping, and then go visit again in the evening to experience different lighting over the city. You can buy tickets and get more information on special events or their fine dining restaurant at the top “Chart House”, at the official website for The Tower of the Americas.
Where to Stay in San Antonio, Texas
There is no shortage of places to stay in San Antonio. From budget to upscale, you can find it all downtown. I highly recommend staying near the riverwalk for ease of access. The hotels near the riverwalk are a bit more expensive, but you will be happy to stay there as everything is so close. I’ll list a few of the hotels near the riverwalk and then a few a bit further away.
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links through booking.com, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
Hyatt Place San Antonio Riverwalk – Located just a block from the riverwalk and really close to the shopping area of La Villita, you can’t go wrong with this hotel.
Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk – This upscale hotel just a 10 minute walk from the Alamo, free breakfast and right next to the riverwalk will take care of your accommodation needs.
Hotel Emma at Pearl on the Riverwalk – The Pearl is an upcoming popular district in San Antonio and is located along the riverwalk as well. It was once a 19th century brewhouse and now converted to a hotel. A popular option in San Antonio.
Ramada By Wyndham – This hotel is a bit further from the downtown, but is close to SeaWorld. So if you have kids and know you will be visiting SeaWorld, why not stay here.
Mission Inn – Designed to look like the missions and located close to them, this inn will fit your accommodation needs.
So there you have it, four things to do if you plan on visiting San Antonio. There is so much more to do there as well though which I didn’t even cover. There are many worthwhile museums, amusement parks and lots of other things to occupy your time. So don’t hesitate to visit this vibrant city in Texas.
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