Choose from 23 Fun Things to Do in San Antonio
- The Japanese Tea Garden is a must-see for botanical garden enthusiasts, Japanophiles, families—kids especially enjoy checking out the koi in the fish pond—and those looking for a serene oasis in San Antonio.
- The garden is small and not much walking is required, so you can visit easily and at your own pace.
- An on-site café, the Jingu House, is perfect for a light snack or drink.
- The Pavilion, gardens, and café are all accessible to wheelchair users and strollers, but the waterfall platform area is not.
In HemisFair Park, you’ll also find a variety of attractions, for example, the Tower of the Americas, which is surrounded by beautiful man-made waterfalls. If you take the elevator to the top you can enjoy aerial views from the observation deck or the rotating restaurant, as well as a 4D Theater Ride that takes you on a sensory journey through Texas. Additionally, the Mexican Cultural Institute resides in the park, and is free to enter and enjoy the artwork, artifacts and exhibits. At HemisFair Park’s Institute of Texan Cultures, visitors can learn about the state’s diverse cultural communities.
Note: The city has plans to renovate the park and have it feature more “vibrant mixed-use areas.” While the planning is still being done it’s something to look forward to.
- The River Walk includes 15 miles (24 kilometers) of hiking and bike paths along the San Antonio River. The original River Walk extended just 21 blocks, from Nueva to Lexington in downtown San Antonio.
- To learn more about San Antonio’s rich history, look for historic markers and plaques along the River Walk.
- Shopping enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Rivercenter, a four-story mall complex with more than 100 stores.
- Most of the River Walk is wheelchair and stroller accessible; check the City of San Antonio’s website for maps showing the locations of ramps and elevators.
- Save money by purchasing a combination pass that gives you access to SAMA and other San Antonio area attractions.
- There’s an on-site restaurant, Tre Trattoria at the San Antonio Museum of Art, serving lunch, dinner, and brunch.
- The museum is fully accessible, with a limited number of wheelchairs and lightweight folding stools available for guest use.
Visiting the site today, you’ll get a clear sense of what mission life was like hundreds of years ago. It’s also interesting to take in the stone building with its Spanish Colonial architecture. Notice the intricate Renaissance details, colorful Moorish designs, Romanesque attributes and gothic arches. On the grounds, you can still see the quarry from which the Native Americans collected the stone to build the mission. The preserved church is now an active parish where you can attend services and hear the choir sing beautiful Spanish songs. While much of the facade’s geometrical designs have faded, you can still view original symbolic and decorative frescos in several of the rooms. The most well-known fresco resides on the convento room ceiling, thought to be a rendering of God as a mestizo.
Inside the church there are many beautiful points of interest, for example, the gold gilded alter, intricate stained glass windows and dramatic columns and archways. Outside, visitors can admire the mix of Gothic and American Colonial architecture.
As the church is not only beautiful and sacred but also historical, visiting the museum next to the gift shop can help enlighten you on its heritage. Additionally, the church offers both self-guided and group tours. You can either purchase a guidebook at the gift shop explaining the highlights and artwork of the cathedral or take a 45-minute guided tour with a knowledgeable docent.
- This site is a must-see for history buffs.
- Don't forget to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes.
- San Antonio can get hot; be sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
- All public areas of the Alamo are wheelchair accessible.
- Keep in mind that photography is not permitted inside the Alamo Church or Long Barrack Museum.
Alamo Plaza is located in the heart of Downtown San Antonio, just a block away from the San Antonio River Walk. Visitors with a car will find ample parking in the area, though often for a fee. The complex is also located along the VIVA missions and VIVA centro bus routes.
When to Get There
While the Alamo is open 364 days per year (closed Christmas Day), many travelers prefer visiting in the off-peak season between early September and early March, mainly due to cooler weather and sparser crowds. Try getting there first thing in the morning or at dusk when the mission is beautifully lit.
Diving into History at the Alamo
- The King William Historic District is a must-do for fans of architecture and history.
- Plan to spend about two to three hours for a walking tour of the district.
- Some of these historical buildings have limited wheelchair accessibility.
- Market Square is a must for lovers of shopping, Mexican culture, and authentic cuisine.
- It’s free to visit Market Square.
- The market is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
Stuffed critters, a shooting gallery and museums of Americana and the Texas Rangers make having a drink at the Buckhorn Saloon a memorable experience.
From cattle to fish, birds and game, the Buckhorn Museum is a taxidermist’s dream, stuffed with more than 520 species from around the globe. Look out for the huge black marlin, ’78 Point Buck’ and prehistoric Irish elk complete with antlers.
The collection housed in the adjoining Ranger Museum includes weapons, badges, photos, a Bonnie & Clyde exhibit and ‘Ranger Town’, re-creating early-20th-century San Antonio.
Drop in for lunch at the cafe, or choose a locally brewed ale at 130-year-old saloon bar.
The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum is in downtown San Antonio, just a couple of blocks from the Alamo and a block from the River Walk.
San Antonio’s historic roots are preserved at La Villita Heritage District, a protected enclave of heritage buildings. The arts village is a living and breathing part of San Antonio, with boutiques, restaurants and galleries taking up the historic old buildings.
On a walking tour of the precinct you’ll see Cos House, one of the oldest buildings, dating back to before 1835. Other old buildings include the 1873 house occupied by Villita Stained Glass, and the 1839 cottage known as Losana House.
Shops in this vibrant quarter include Texan outfitters, art and craft galleries, souvenir shops and jewelry stores. You’ll also find a couple of typically Texan grills and cafes for snacks, meals and cocktails.
La Villita is on Villita Street, running off HemisFair Park in the center of San Antonio. The Alamo is a couple of blocks north.
For an ambient dining experience, head to their 360-degree rotating restaurant, Chart House Restaurant. Featuring an expansive wine list and food menu, you can order dishes like “Macadamia Crusted Mahi,” “Prime Rib and Cold Water Lobster Tail” and “Shrimp and Crab Fondue,” all while enjoying panoramic views of Alamo City. We recommend visiting during their Monday through Friday happy hour from 4:30pm to 7pm, where you can take advantage of specials like $5 wine, $3 domestic drafts, $6 cocktails and bar bites ranging from $4 to $6.
The observation deck is open Sunday through Thursday, 10am to 10pm, and Friday through Saturday, 10am to 11pm. Tickets are $10.95 for adults, $9.95 for seniors and military, $8.95 for children 4 to 12 and free for children three and younger.