San Antonio, Texas
Guide to San Antonio, Texas: how to get there and where to stay, what to see and where to go in the evening. Best things to do in San Antonio, TX: fresh reviews and photos, places to see, branded entertainment and shopping.
San Antonio, the second largest city in Texas, is visited by over 28 million people annually. Museums of art, historical buildings, many amusement parks, lots of good restaurants attract tourists here. The local downtown can be called one of the busiest in the whole country. And plus, in no city in Texas is the presence of Spanish and Mexican cultures so clearly expressed. The Spanish atmosphere makes San Antonio a truly unique city in the United States – with an afternoon siesta, traditional street food and annual Latin noisy and fun holidays. See citypopulationreview for state facts, symbols and history of Idaho.
The fiesta takes place every year at the end of April. This 10-day multicultural celebration takes over the city. There are plenty of family-friendly activities (and plenty of adult-only entertainment) here, with over 100 events in total, making the fiesta the largest fiesta in Texas.
How to get to San Antonio
San Antonio International Airport receives flights to about 30 destinations, including foreign ones. Amtrack trains can reach the city from Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans. In addition, the direct freeway drive makes it easy to get to San Antonio from Austin (in an hour), Dallas (in 4+ hours) or Houston (less than 3 hours).
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A bit of history
San Antonio is considered the cradle of Texas freedom. One of the most famous local attractions is the Alamo, the site of the famous 1836 battle that killed Davy Crocket and Jim Bowie. In 1718, the first Catholic Spanish mission was founded here, and over time, San Antonio became the largest Spanish settlement in Texas. True, during the Mexican War, the population of the city fell sharply, but emigrants continued to strive here, so the development of the city did not slow down too much. And its population is still growing, with more than half of the locals being Hispanic.
At the site of the battle of the Alamo, there is an old Catholic mission, which can be viewed completely free of charge (donations are welcome).
Entertainment and attractions in San Antonio
The Cathedral of San Fernando, one of the oldest in the United States, was built in the middle of the 18th century, and fragments of the original structure still form part of the current building. In 1868, the cathedral acquired Gothic features, including the current nave. The cathedral acquired stunning stained-glass windows in 1920. Now it is a beautiful symmetrical building with two paired rectangular bell towers and a traditional rose window in the center.
Another ancient and beautiful city building is the Bexar County Courthouse, which is not far from the cathedral, at Main Plaza. This terracotta building was built in the Romanesque Revival style, mostly from sandstone. Construction was completed in 1896. For many decades, the view of Main Plaza with the cathedral and the courthouse has been a typical postcard from San Antonio.
3 things to do in San Antonio:
- See the historic Fairmont Hotel, the second built in San Antonio. The hotel is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the heaviest building ever moved from place to place (this happened in 1985, and it took 4 days of work and cost 650,000 USD).
- Visit the “Sea World”, which is 26 km west of the city center, ride the slides and watch the killer whale show.
- Eat chili.
The river promenade (otherwise Paseo del Rio) is the best place to relax during the day and party at night. Here you can go on a guided tour on barges that depart on schedule. Numerous restaurants, shops and hotels line the river on both sides. The eastern part of the promenade continues with the convention center and the River Center mall.
Aztec-on-the-River is located on the waterfront, at the corner of East Commerce and North St. Mary streets. This is one of the most attractive places for entertainment on the entire river promenade. The old cinema, built in 1926, has been restored and equipped with a magnificent Wurlitzer organ. Today it is the only surviving themed theater in Texas.
San Antonio proudly claims that this is where the chili was invented. The new dish was presented to the Americans at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. And it was in this city that Cheetos appeared.
The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) is a couple of blocks from Broadway, and if you only have time to visit one museum in the city, this is it. This is four floors of excellent permanent exhibitions, from ancient and Asian art to the present. The Blue Star Center for Contemporary Art is part of the art complex, a non-profit center created for the growth and development of contemporary artists. The Buckhorn Salon and Museum is two blocks from the Alamo and 15 meters from the river boardwalk.
The Texas Cultural Institute occupies a one-story building with a museum dedicated to the history of the state and more than 20 national and ethnic groups that inhabit it. And the Mexican Institute exhibited contemporary art from Mexico. The Alameda Museum is also associated with Latin American culture, which is located on the market square: art objects, historical and cultural artifacts are presented here. The Marion Coogler McNay Museum of Art is also curious, and in the Witte Museum you can see exhibitions on natural history, dinosaurs and the development of science.
The King William Historic Area covers 25 blocks south of downtown and east of the San Antonio River. At the end of the 19th century, German merchants founded the area, making it the most expensive and elegant of the city’s residential areas. King William became the state’s first historic district. There are stunning mansions here (from Rue Beauregard to Rue Günther). Don’t miss the Steves House (1876), the Gunther House (1859), and the Pioneer Flour Mill on Gunther Street. On the first Friday of every month, there is live music and many small shops open selling everything from flowers and art to round cupcakes.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is dedicated primarily to four Spanish missions: San José, San Juan, Espada, and Concepción. They lined up successively along the Spanish southwestern territories in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and have survived to this day. The National Park, opened in 1978, combines cultural sites with natural areas.
The Cassa Navarro Historical Park, birthplace of José Antonio Navarro, a 19th century Texan independence fighter from Mexico, is a house museum. Here you can see the original furniture and furnishings of that time.
The San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium covers 56 acres. More than 3,500 animals of 750 different species live in them.
San Antonio Events
The fiesta takes place every year at the end of April. This 10-day multicultural celebration takes over the city. There are plenty of family-friendly activities (and plenty of adult-only entertainment) here, with over 100 events in total, making the fiesta the largest fiesta in Texas. One of the most fun events of the fiesta is Oysterback, which takes place on the campus of Saint Mary’s University. Masses of food (chicken on a stick, fried oysters, corn, pizza), live music, all kinds of performances and shows – that’s what Oisterback is all about on Friday (more peaceful part for families) and on Saturday (noisy and stormy part for singles and fun companies).
San Antonio also hosts stock shows and rodeos every year. In early February, you can see a world-class rodeo, listen to country music and participate in an entertainment program for all ages. And in the second week of June, the city hosts a four-day Texas Folk Festival. About fifty different cultural and ethnic groups demonstrate their handicraft skills, dance, play their music, cook food and tell stories.