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San Antonio, Texas – Top Things to See & Do in Alamo City, the Birth Place of Texas

Remember the Alamo is just one of adventures awaiting you in the beautiful city of San Antonio!

Deep in the heart of Texas lies the headwaters of the San Antonio River. Nestled along that river was a small mission called San Antonio de Valero, renamed “The Alamo”. This small mission, it’s brave resilience and tragic end gave birth to the State of Texas and the battle cry “REMEMBER THE ALAMO!” Bet you couldn’t say it without yelling either, right?

The sprawling modern metropolis of San Antonio sprang from these roots, with the Riverwalk preserved as an oasis in center of this desert city. Hosting a cornucopia of restaurants, shops, spa’s, boutique hotels and UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites, visitors to Alamo city will have no shortage of options. Forbes lists San Antonio as the 10th fastest growing city in 2015, though visitors claim it’s still one of the friendliest (and most eclectic) Texas cities to visit. This beautiful Texas treasure is anything but a one-horse town.

Check out some of our recommendations on what to do in San Antonio.

The famed San Antonio Riverwalk

restaurants along the San Antonio RiverWalkStretching 15 miles from the uppermost Museum Reach, into the popular Downtown Reach (including the Alamo and Riverwalk) and south to the Mission Reach, ancient cypress trees, historic bridges, museums and restaurants perch on the edge of the San Antonio River, opening it up for easy exploration.

Built in the 1940’s along a naturally occurring river loop, the downtown Riverwalk hosts centuries old cypress trees, stone walkways, hotels, restaurants, spa’s and attractions. You could easily spend a few days based in the Riverwalk loop traversing by foot or by bike to the surrounding Riverwalk stretches.

  • Boutique and mainline hotels of all sorts are concentrated here – check out our GG fave ~ Hotel Valencia
  • Restaurants, cafes and bistros on the water’s edge feature sumptuous delights to match all tastes and budgets – GG Recommendation: check out the Iron Cactus for the best margaritas and guacamole on the Riverwalk!
  • Did we mention some great San Antonio Riverwalk spa’s in the area?
  • The historic Alamo, Menger Hotel and Emily Morgan are a short stroll from the Riverwalk.
  • Take a tour with San Antonio River Cruises to get a flavour of the stories and the history that makes the area unique.

A visit to the Spanish Missions

Conception Mission on the San Antonio RiverWalkDeclared UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites, these centuries old Spanish Missions represent efforts by the early Catholic church to convert native Americans to Christianity. Take a walk (or better yet, consider renting a bike from San Antonio BCycle) and tour along the Mission Trail to explore:

  • Mission Espada – established in 1690 as a catholic mission
  • Mission Concepcion – established 1716
  • Mission San Jose – established 1720
  • Mission San Juan Capistrano – established 1731
  • San Antonio de Valero (also known as the Alamo) – established 1718

Pearl Brewery District

Pearl District in San AntonioFarther north on the Riverwalk (about 1.5 miles) sits the Pearl Brewery District with the historic Hotel Emma and Pearl Brewery. The Pearl Brewery district originated from the century old Pearl Brewery, built 1881, that closed in 1977. Shortly after, the property was sold off to the Culinary Institute with the understanding the name Pearl Brewery would remain the name of the property. Keeping the spirit of the old Victorian architecture, many of the shops, restaurants and hotel still incorporate the flavor the old brewery.

Art, museums & cultural interests

With a vibrant artisan culture intertwining with the rich history of the area, there’s lots to explore in San Antonio.

  • San Antonio Museum of Art, Witte Museum, Briscoe Western Art Museum and many others along Museum Reach - museums to educate your mind.
  • El Mercato (in Historic Market Square) or the Alamo Quarry markets
  • Tobin Center for the Performing Arts or the Aztec Theater for live theater
  • Visit the old Menger Hotel and walk through the main lobby, reading about the history of the area

Major attractions around San Antonio

For additional information on all that Alamo City has to offer guests, visit San Antonio CVB . They’ll give the 411 on all the activities and seasonal festivals you need to put on your travel itinerary.

Road trip towards Austin

If you want to explore what lies beyond San Antonio, hop in your car and drive north to Austin – approx. 2 hours.

  • Oasis Restaurant perched lakeside near Austin, TxStart your day with a leisurely drive up towards Lake Travis
  • Drop in for patio lunch at The Oasis restaurant – 25,000 square feet of restaurant, brewery, shops and nightlife atop one of the highest hills in the area (450 feet above lake Travis) for a stunning vista of the lake and its dams. With multiple levels of outside seating, there's no bad view!
  • Just a few miles from the Oasis is MacGregor Park at Hippie Hollow. The only recognized clothing optional “beach” waterside in Texas, here you can doff your duds and take a textile-free swim in Lake Travis’ cool waters. Access is $15 per car for the day. There are washroom facilities onsite and the shoreline offers endless picnic and sunbathing opportunities. The area is mainly rocky, so bring a folding chair or double towel for comfort.
  • Head into Austin for the evening at one of the trendy bars and restaurants that make Austin a vibrant, hip locale.

San Antonio Bet you didn't know’s:

  • The San Antonio Riverwalk main tourist area is all naturally made. The main channel of the San Antonio river and the lush tourist loop springing off the main channel.
  • The span from the loop back towards the Alamodrome and the Riverwalk Shops is man-made in the mid 1960’s in preparation for the 1968 World Fair.
  • The original name of the San Antonio River was the native Yanaguana River, renamed by San Antonio himself in the 1600’s.
  • Every year in January, the Riverwalk area is drained to dredge and clean the area. It takes 6 minutes to drain the river area. Note to self: Don't visit in January!
  • In the 1920’s, the San Antonio river flooded to a height 25’ above the current river level! Substantial water control damming and flood gates now prevent any major effect from wild events.
  • The large cypress trees along the Riverwalk are more than 200 years old – older than the battle of the Alamo!
  • The Hilton Placio Del Rio Hotel is modularly built and was constructed in 209 days in advance of the ‘68 World Fair (an unbroken Guinness World Record)

We spent 4 days touring San Antonio and surrounding areas only to get a taste to want to come back and explore deeper. Great food, great hotels, great spas and a rich, vibrant culture that shares our love for margaritas and guacamole – what more could you with for in a getaway?

Have you enjoyed something particular in San Antonio or the Riverwalk area we haven’t mentioned? Drop a comment below or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook – we’d love to hear your recommendation!

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