San Antonio, Texas
Are you planning to visit San Antonio, Texas? When visiting this amazing city, there are a ton of great places to see and fantastic places to eat. San Antonio is also an amazing place for families to visit or for a romantic weekend with your partner.
We really enjoyed our time in San Antonio and we’ve put together a great list of must -do’s and must-eat restaurants. After you visit, we know you’ll fall in love with San Antonio too!
No visit to San Antonio would be complete without a visit to The Alamo. Originally called Mision San Antonio de Valero, The Alamo was built in the 1700’s by Roman Catholic Missionaries. Undoubtedly, The Alamo is best remembered as a major battle site in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. Shortly thereafter, the battle cry of “Remember the Alamo” became a national cause.
Interestingly, The Alamo has stood under the flags of six different nations and served as the garrison for five armies.
While most people imagine The Alamo as a large complex in the middle of nowhere, it’s actually in the heart of San Antonio. Given the location of The Alamo, the entire area is surrounded by shops and restaurants.
The Alamo was designated a U.S. National Landmark in 1960, added the to U.S. Registry of Historic Places in 1966 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
Tip: While visiting The Alamo is free, a guided tour will run you $15 (children 8 and under are free). We highly recommend the guided tour. It’s interesting and will give you a much better sense of why The Alamo is important to both Texas and American history.
San Antonio Missions
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the San Antonio Mission Trail is a must visit! This Historic National Park consists of four missions built between 1690 and 1720 that you can drive to along the Mission Trail.
Begin your day at Mission San Jose where the primary visitor’s center is also located. Within this visitor’s center, there are directional maps to each mission, a gift shop and don’t forget to stamp your National Park Passport.
We personally loved Mission San Jose the most. Our tour guide, Tatum, was very knowledgeable and the Mission is so incredibly beautiful. If you can only visit one Mission, make it Mission San Jose. The other Missions are: Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada. Each of these missions are unique and beautiful in their own way,
Tip: Be aware that each Mission has churches that still actively hold services and you may not be able to go inside the chapels.
San Antonio Riverwalk
In the early 1920’s, a flood along the San Antonio River claimed 50 lives and many wanted to take action to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. The initial plan was to build an upstream dam and then pave over the rest of the river downtown to create a sewer. Thankfully, better ideas prevailed and in 1938 voters passed a bond for the “San Antonio River Beautification Project” and the vision of the Riverwalk began to spring into reality. The first Riverwalk restaurant opened in 1946 and the rest as they say is history. 🙂
Today, dozens of restaurants, hotels and shops line the Riverwalk. It’s such a lovely place to walk around, people watch and grab a bite to eat or drink. Naturally, the Riverwalk is geared towards tourists, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this project that so many fought to bring to life.
If you are lucky, you’ll be able to witness a river parade! The Holiday Lights parade is one we would like to go back and see as well.
If time allows, take a Riverboat Tour and enjoy San Antonio from a different perspective. Also, Boudro’s Texas Bistro offers the option to reserve an entire barge for a special dinner and private tour along the river. If there are any husband’s reading this, take note!
San Fernando Chapel
Located on the Main Square not far from the Riverwalk is San Fernando Chapel.
The sound and light show “San Antonio – The Saga” is absolutely stunning and kids will also enjoy it. Created by French artist Xavier de Richemont, the show has been so popular that it’s scheduled to run through 2024. It’s free to attend and plays on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays at 9pm, 9:30pm and 10pm. The show lasts about 25 minutes and it will leave you spellbound.
Tip: Arrive early so that you can sit at one of the bistro tables on the Main Plaza.
King William Historic District
If you love history and architecture, then the King William Historic District is for you! Over 20 blocks of beautiful homes with amazing details and landscapes are amazing to see. This area became the center for the German community and it’s said that King William Street was so named after King Wilhelm I of Prussia.
There are tours available, but just walking around this lovely area is a great way to spend a few hours when visiting San Antonio.
Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the United States. The El Mercado and the “Farmer’s Market Plaza” have over 100 locally owned shops. You can find beautiful pottery, handmade gifts and leather goods, as well as , incredible art. You’ll also hear incredible Mariachi and Tejano music. On the weekends, there is Folklorico dancing that will blow you away.
There is an exciting energy to the entire Market Square that you and your family will love.
Where To Eat
San Antonio has no shortage of great places to eat! We were lucky enough to dine at a few local restaurants that definitely hit the mark!
NOLA Brunch & Beignets was out of this world. It still ranks as one of our all time favorite brunch spots. NOLA had the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had and the praline bacon is to die for. We all enjoyed the beignets and they certainly rival Cafe du Monde. The atmosphere and service was perfect and this little bit out-of-the-way restaurant is a MUST when visiting San Antonio.
When visiting San Antonio, it would be a crime to not have authentic Mexican food and La Fogata has been serving delicious food for over 35 years. If you just can’t decide which meal to enjoy, the servers are incredibly helpful and will steer you in the right direction.
Last, but certainly not least is La Panaderia. Located a short walk from The Alamo is this cafe/bakery which was opened by Jose and Davis Caceres. They wanted to share their love of baking and we are sure glad they did. The beautiful pastries and breads will make your eyes pop and your stomach growl. Famous for their tequilla almond croissants and conchas ( a traditional Mexican sweet bread roll), whatever you choose you cannot go wrong. Our boys devoured their pastries and I had the best avocado salad of my life. Seriously, I still dream about it!
Where To Stay
There are a lot of options for accommodations in San Antonio. We wanted to stay along the Riverwalk and chose the Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverfront. We are big fans of IHG properties and we were very pleased with our choice. It was nice to just walk out the back steps and be on the Riverwalk. Unfortunately, the hotel was performing some remodeling and we were unable to get a room with a balcony overlooking the Riverwalk. Since our visit, the hotel has completed its renovation and balcony rooms overlooking the Riverwalk are once again an option.
Note: Self-parking fee is $27 & valet parking fee is $37.
Other Fun Suggestions....
- Tower of the Americas – Built for the HemisFair 1968, this San Antonio landmark stands at 750 ft tall. It features a restaurant, observation tower with amazing views and a 4D theater ride.
- The Pearl – A former brewery which has been transformed into a dining haven. Additionally, the Pearl also features a market and shops.
- San Antonio Zoo – This 35-acre zoo is a family favorite and features tons of beautiful animals. The Zoo also offers a train ride and an aquarium.
- The DoSeum – An incredible children’s museum that offers interactive exhibits, including an interactive robot!
- Buckhorn Saloon & Museum – Located just a couple of blocks from The Alamo, the Buckhorn has been operating since 1881!
- Japanese Tea Garden -Once the site of a quarry, it’s now one of San Antonio’s most beautiful and beloved places to visit
As part of any post, I always like to include a travel item that I love and want to share with you! When we travel to places where there is going to be a lot of walking, it’s essential to have comfy shoes. After going through other shoes that didn’t quite fit the bill, I discovered Adidas Cloudfoams! Not only are they cute, but they are THE MOST COMFORTABLE shoes I’ve ever worn. Now, I can’t imagine traveling without them. They look great with shorts, yoga pants or even a sundress and they are reasonably priced!
While San Antonio is probably best known for the The Alamo ( which we love and is amazing), this city offers so much more. Whether your visit be for culture, history, culinary experiences, museums, or tours, this vibrant city is a must see! San Antonio is one of those cities you could visit many times and experience something new each time you visit.
Don’t forget to pick up a Christmas ornament for your family tree! If you don’t have one yet, click HERE to read about how to start the tradition now.