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San Antonio, Texas — Sightseeing & Attractions

Read more: San Antonio, Texas — Overview for Travelers — Information about Weather, Airport, Transportation, Essentials & Facts, and more.

Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas, USA
Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas, USA

Overview

Deep in the heart of Texas, San Antonio’s bold culture and historic legacies make it an ideal gateway to Latin American culture and so much more.

The rolling terrain of the Hill Country around San Antonio has drawn charming vineyards, hillside bed and breakfasts and nationally acclaimed resorts that offer rustic refinement in the most pampering of ways, from championship golf courses to fireside spas and delectable restaurants. As you delve deeper into San Antonio, the essence of the city’s rich culture only grows stronger. Varied cuisines, including famed Tex-Mex, fill the air with rich aromas. Music flourishes: country-western bands, mariachis, folk singers, conjunto—all singing the songs of the city. Art comes alive with river gardens, Spanish colonial architecture and prestigious museums. But nothing embodies the essence of San Antonio more than the people with their intimate and welcoming nature.

The flourishing River Walk cradles much of San Antonio’s unparalleled charm. Here you’ll find miles of meandering paths along the banks of the San Antonio River connecting hotels, restaurants, shops, historic landmarks and more. It was this river that originally inspired the settlement of San Antonio, and it still flourishes today as the city’s center.

San Antonio is one of America’s most authentic and passionate cities, spirited with poets and lyricists, painters and sculptors, a city both rich and humble. Become a part of the living mural—and let San Antonio become a part of your heart.

Overview Sightseeing

  • Riverwalk
  • La Villita
  • San Antonio Museums
  • SeaWorld San Antonio
  • Six Flags Fiesta San Antonio
  • San Antonio Zoo & Kiddie Park
  • San Antonio Botanical Garden
  • The ALAMO
  • Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo
  • Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purisma Concepcion de Acuna
  • Mission San Juan Capistrano
  • Mission San Francisco de la Espada

Map Downtown San Antonio

Riverwalk

Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas, USA
Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas, USA

In the heart of downtown San Antonio, visitors can find two distinct yet inextricably connected worlds -the hubbub of a busy metropolitan downtown at street level and an oasis of trees, water, music and food 20 feet below, on the Paseo del Rio.
The San Antonio River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is a linear park rich with lush subtropical plants, cypress trees, and flowers.
Build along the banks of the river between 1939 and 1941 as part of the Works Progress Administration effort, this natural waterway winds through the heart of the downtown business district, offering an oasis from the workaday world 20 feet above at street level.

All along the cobblestone paths, 75 different types of trees can be used as refuge from the warm Texas sun.
Native to the area, the bald cypress tree is the most predominate, followed by the pond cypress and the crepe myrtle.
Visitors, as well as natives, enjoy wandering pathways flanked with the stunning beauty of annuals and callendias during the cooler months. During the warmer months, however, you’d better bring your sunglasses!
Nestled among the European-style sidewalk cafes, specialty boutiques and chic nightclubs are banks of radiant colorful flowers.

La Villita

La Villita, San Antonio, Texas, USA
La Villita, San Antonio, Texas, USA
La Villita, San Antonio, Texas, USA
La Villita, San Antonio, Texas, USA
La Villita, San Antonio, Texas, USA
La Villita, San Antonio, Texas, USA

A tour of downtown San Antonio will uncover literally centuries of history.
Developed in the mid to late 18th century, La Villita (the little village’) was one of San Antonio’s original settlements which became a hub of Texas revolutionary activities in 1835 and 1836.
Today, La Villita is a National Historic District and a haven for artists and craftsmen, selling blown glass, jewelry, stained glass and other handcrafts, as well as fashions from Mexico and Guatemala.

The Alamo

San Antonio Missions

Read all details in our article: San Antonio Missions — The Alamo and more

San Antonio Museums

San Antonio Children’s Museum
San Antonio is the picture-perfect setting for great family vacations. Families may want to start their exploration of the city at the San Antonio Children’s Museum, where kids are encouraged to explore a miniature version of the city and much more. And the Magik Children’s Theatre provides family professional theatre in the heart of downtown.
Web: The DoSeum | San Antonio’s Museum for Kids
Web: Magik Theatre

The Witte Museum
offer hands-on learning, with exhibits exploring history, science, natural science and anthropology.
Web: The Witte Museum

The McNay Art Museum
San Antonio is Van Gogh, Matisse, Mozart and Trevino. In a historically rich and ethnically diverse city, one would expect to find a vivid tapestry of art, both visual and performing, and San Antonio is not an exception. San Antonio has two impressive art museums. The McNay Art Museum is set in a Mediterranean-style mansion and has wide-ranging collections, including post-impressionist and modern art, theater art, Medieval art, Native American art, and more. Web: Visit the McNay Art Museum – McNay Art Museum

The San Antonio Museum of Art
is housed in the castle-like former headquarters of the Lone Star Brewery. This museum is noted for its antiquity’s collections, and the 30,000 square-foot wing of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art-the largest repository of its kind in the United States. Web: San Antonio Museum of Art (samuseum.org)

Hotbeds of contemporary artistic expression include the
Blue Star Art Space in Southtown
ArtPace on Main Avenue
and the Southwest School of Art and Craft
a lovely complex built on the banks of the San Antonio River by French nuns in 1848, which served as the first girls’ school in the city. Galleries abound and offer the serious collector a wide range of styles and topics from Texas landscapes to Latin American folk art to western and Native American to contemporary.

San Antonio Botanical Garden

The San Antonio Botanical Gardens, opened to visitors in May of 1980, include 33 acres where colorful, lush vegetation and native Texas exhibits reflect a part of Texas history, while the Lucile Halsell Conservatory offers visitors the chance to view thousands of New World plants up-close.

Emphasis on native vegetation from three regions of Texas – the East Texas piney woods, Southwest Texas plains, and Central Texas hill country illustrates the history of each region using trees, plants, and authentic buildings native to each area. One-third of the Botanical Gardens are a series of formal gardens including an aquatic garden, an observation lookout with a gazebo and antique weathervane, an herb garden and an old-fashioned garden. Scripture readers will recognize the Biblical Garden filled with fig trees, crown of thorn, date palms and other varieties of plant life mentioned in the Bible.

Entrance to the gardens is through the Sullivan Carriage House, a superb example of Richardsonian Romanesque style, which was built for Daniel J. Sullivan in 1896 at Fourth and Broadway streets in what is now downtown San Antonio. Sullivan was a banker whose loans to ranchers helped inspire the legendary cattle drives of the 19th century. The Hearst Corporation, with a proviso that it would have to be moved, donated the house to the San Antonio Botanical Society in 1987. With the help from the San Antonio Conservation Society, the carriage house was moved to its present location. The building also houses a restaurant open for lunch, a gift shop, and meeting space.

Web: San Antonio Botanical Garden | Private Event & Rentals | Classes & Camps (sabot.org)

SeaWorld San Antonio

Around the city, families will find abundant opportunities for fun Laser Quest, Malibu Grand Prix and Castle, Splashtown Water Park, and the Texas Transportation Museum. San Antonio is Texas-sized fun at SeaWorld San Antonio, the world’s largest marine life park, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the town built just for fun!
SeaWorld San Antonio combines fun with education and appreciation for some of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures through more than 25 shows, educational exhibits and rides.
Explore “Lost Lagoon’s” five acres of aquatic fun or “Shamu’s Happy Harbor,” where kids can romp, splash and play in an area designed just for them.
“The Steel Eel” at SeaWorld San Antonio is an exciting roller coaster, the only hypercoaster anywhere in the American Southwest.

Web: Visit with Purpose: SeaWorld Orlando, San Diego & San Antonio – Park to Planet | SeaWorld

Six Flags Fiesta San Antonio

Six Flags Fiesta Texas is a non-stop celebration of San Antonio and South Texas.
It’s designed around four theme areas:
The Mexican town of Los Festivales
the German village of Spassburg
the 1920’s cowboy boomtown of Crackaxle Canyon
and the small Texas town of Rockville, during the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll, which includes Fiesta Bay Boardwalk, a ’50-’60s seaside boardwalk complete with a 90-foot Ferris wheel.
Great musical shows, exciting rides including massive wooden and steel roller coasters, food choices, architecture and craft demonstrations all carry out the themes.

Web:

Web: San Antonio’s Most Thrilling Theme Park – Six Flags Fiesta Texas

San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio Zoo
A collection of more than 3,500 animals representing 750 species from around the world are displayed in natural habitats. Feedings, demonstrations, a children’s zoo and boat ride provide an educational, fun filled outing.

Web: San Antonio Zoo | Welcome | The Best Way To Enjoy Your Day (sazoo.org)

San Antonio Festival & Events

Thorough effort has been made to provide accurate information. However, to avoid inconveniences, please reconfirm dates, ticket information, and other details. Changes and cancellations, though infrequent, do occur. While in town, visitors are invited to stop by the Visitor Information Center at 317 Alamo Plaza, or the visitor information kiosks at the San Antonio International Airport. Here is a sampling of some of our city’s wonderful events and festivals:
January:

Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Rally.
Largest people’s march in the country honoring the civil rights leader.

February:

San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
Features great entertainment with star-studded country, rock ‘n roll and Latin artists during all 20 PRCA rodeo performances. A 16-day spectacle of fun for the entire family includes shopping and livestock centers. www.sarodeo.com

March:

St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
A variety of events mark St. Patrick’s Day in the Alamo City. There’s an Irish Festival at La Villita and the Arneson River Theatre; a 5K Run; a golf tournament; Annual St. Patrick’s Day parades – a street parade and a river parade on the River Walk which follows the Dyeing O’ the River Green; and solemn ceremonies at the Alamo to honor the fallen heroes.
Watercolor Month.

In San Antonio, the winds of March blow in Watercolor Month. In galleries, museums, and other exhibition spaces all over town you will find beautiful works in this expressive medium from the traditional Texas Bluebonnet paintings to portraits to wild and colorful abstractions.
Tejano Music Awards and Fanfair.

A celebration and talent showcase of Tejano music and artists. Catch the Fanfair at Market Square, and the main event – the Tejano Music Awards – at Graham Central Station.
Web: Home – Tejano Music Awards

April:

Fiesta San Antonio
Fiesta San Antonio is a 10-day citywide celebration, which includes exciting carnivals, spectacular sports, fantastic fireworks, lively entertainment, ethnic feasts, art exhibits and sparkling parades that glide down San Antonio’s River Walk and streets. More than 150 unique events, to satisfy every taste and interest, drawing some 3.5 million participants and spectators from around the city, nation, and world. Since 1891 when the first Fiesta event, the Battle of Flowers, honored the memory of our Texas heroes, Fiesta has expanded the initial commemoration to include the recognition and celebration of San Antonio’s rich and diverse cultures.
Web: https://fiestasanantonio.org

Here again, let’s review San Antonio’s Attractions & Sights in a nutshell

For many, San Antonio is the Paseo del Rio, an urban masterpiece better known as the River Walk. These cobble- and flagstone paths border the San Antonio River, as it winds through culture-rich downtown. The River Walk has multiple personalities—quiet and park-like in some stretches, while other areas are full of activity with European-style sidewalk cafes, specialty boutiques, art galleries, nightclubs and gleaming high-rise hotels. Under the Mission Reach project, the river reclaimed eight miles worth of waterways in 2013. The River Walk now links Brackenridge Park on the north end with Mission Espada to the south. GO RIO San Antonio, the river’s floating transportation system, provides a novel method of sightseeing and people watching in downtown San Antonio. Groups can dine aboard open-air cruisers as they drift along the scenic waterway, while river shuttles deliver visitors to restaurants, hotels, the Henry B. González Convention Center and Pearl—a transformed historic German brewery beautifully curated into a culinary and cultural neighborhood.

Explore Spanish colonial architecture at San Antonio’s five 18th-century missions. Among them is the Alamo, which has become permanently etched in the annals of history. In 1836, 189 defenders of Texas independence held The Alamo against some 4,000 Mexican troops for 13 days. Four other Spanish colonial missions founded in the early 1700s form San Antonio Missions National Historical Park—a marvelous place to explore the city’s roots and Spain’s influence on the southwestern part of the United States. These four missions, along with the Alamo, earned UNESCO’s World Heritage Site designation in 2015. The visitor center at Mission San José is the perfect starting point for exploring what the missions have to offer. Drive from mission to mission or take Mission Trail, ideal for hiking and biking.

A tour of downtown San Antonio will uncover centuries of history. Developed in the mid to late 18th century, La Villita Historic Arts Village (“the little village”) was one of San Antonio’s original settlements. It became a hub of Texas revolutionary activities in 1835 and 1836. Today, La Villita is a haven for artists and craftsmen, selling blown glass, jewelry and other handcrafts, as well as fashions from Mexico and Guatemala.

The Spanish Governor’s Palace was the seat of government when San Antonio was the capital of the Spanish Province of Texas. This historic structure is open to the public and resides downtown near City Hall and San Fernando Cathedral. San Fernando Cathedral has the nation’s oldest cathedral sanctuary and was founded by Canary Islanders who began its construction in 1731. Four nights a week, renowned French artist Xavier de Richemont’s The Saga is projected on the façade of the Cathedral and tells the history of San Antonio through music, sound, light and visual narration.

Dating to 1840, Market Square (El Mercado), the largest Mexican marketplace north of the Rio Grande, is a festive combination of Tex-Mex cuisine, music, entertainment, products ranging from pearls to piñatas. Its anchor, Centro de Artes, is a two-story exhibition space dedicated to telling the story of the Latino experience through regional art, history and culture.

Just south of downtown’s Market Square, the King William Historic District reflects San Antonio’s German heritage in a gracious residential area settled in the late 1800s. These beautiful mansions comprise one of San Antonio’s most elite neighborhoods. Among these, the Steves Homestead mansion and Villa Finale are open to the public, transporting guests to a time of architectural indulgence.

San Antonio is the picture-perfect setting for great family vacations. Enjoy Texas-sized fun at SeaWorld San Antonio, one of the world’s largest marine life parks, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the town built just for fun.

SeaWorld San Antonio combines fun with education and appreciation for some of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures through shows, educational exhibits and rides. Explore Aquatica, a water park designed as a South Seas oasis with all the amenities of a beachside resort, including terraced pools, thrilling slides, meandering crystal-blue rivers, sandy beaches and private cabanas. Aquatica boasts unique attractions such as up-close stingray encounters and a “weightless” family raft ride that’s a first for North America.

Just down the road, Six Flags Fiesta Texas is a non-stop celebration of San Antonio and South Texas. It’s designed around four themed areas: The Mexican town of Los Festivales: the German village of Spassburg; the 1920’s cowboy boomtown of Crackaxle Canyon; and the small Texas town of Rockville which includes a ‘50s -‘60s seaside boardwalk. Themes are carried out by entertaining musical shows and exciting rides including water rides and massive roller coasters.

San Antonio is home to special theme park Morgan’s Wonderland. Designed specifically for individuals with special needs, but open to those of all abilities, Morgan’s Wonderland is the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park. Morgan’s Wonderland is completely wheelchair-accessible, features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an eight-acre fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-events

center, 575-seat amphitheater and picnic and rest areas throughout the park. The park also features Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the world’s first and only ultra-accessible splash park.

Families may want to start their exploration of the city at The DoSeum, where kids are encouraged to explore a miniature version of a city evocative of San Antonio with attractions like a veterinarian office, a taco truck and an H-E-B. Kids of all ages will want to experience the excitement of The Magik Children’s Theatre, a professional theater in the heart of downtown, and the nearby Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair. Another favorite is the Tower of the Americas, which offers a spectacular view of San Antonio from 750 feet above the ground.

The Shops at Rivercenter offers several family-friendly attractions. Battle for Texas: The Experience is an immersive Alamo experience showcasing historically significant artifacts and fascinating multi-media reenactments. At LEGOLAND Discovery Center San Antonio, 10 themed zones, two indoor rides and a 4-D cinema offer families hours of fun. The newly opened SEA LIFE San Antonio Aquarium takes visitors into the ocean’s depths with a walk-through underwater tunnel and aquariums with more than 5,000 species of marine creatures.

A short walk away, Louis Tussaud’s Plaza Wax Museum houses more than 225 life-like characters in four themed sections–Hollywood, Horrors, History and Religion. Next door, the world’s largest Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium is located in San Antonio’s historic Alamo Plaza, right across from The Alamo and next to the famed River Walk. Proving that truth can be stranger than fiction, Ripley’s is known for providing exhibits that showcase the ultimate in odd and bizarre like a two-trunked elephant, a 512-pound iron meteorite and locks of Marilyn Monroe’s hair, among other oddities. The Guinness World Records Museum is a state-of-the-art, interactive experience that brings the world-famous book to life. Another popular stop is the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum which showcases a 131-year old bar, one-of-a-kind oddities, Western memorabilia, and offers visitors a journey back to the Old West through exhibits, an old-fashioned arcade, the saloon and a shooting gallery.

Brackenridge Park, a 343-acre refuge in the heart of the city, provides a full day of family fun. Play a round of golf at Texas’ most historic course. Feed ducks and picnic along the adjacent San Antonio River. Refresh with a stroll on the walking trails or catch a ride on the park’s miniature train, the Brackenridge Eagle. Here you’ll also find the San Antonio Zoo, the third largest in the nation with a collection of more than 3,500 animals representing 750 different species from around the globe. It is also the only zoo in the country to exhibit endangered whooping cranes. Nearby, The Witte Museum and its H-E-B Lantern Valero Great Hall Orientation Gallery offers hands-on learning, with exhibits exploring history, science and anthropology. The Witte recently underwent a transformational $100 million expansion that features new exhibits, classrooms, and laboratories.

Not far from Brackenridge Park, you can follow your senses through the San Antonio Botanical Garden, where acres of beautiful, lush vegetation replicate three distinct landscapes of Texas. Wander through formal gardens and even a sensory garden, where emphasis is placed on the texture and scent of plants. With an addition of eight acres in October 2017, the Botanical Garden offers new culinary opportunities through the Culinary Garden and the Family Adventure Garden, where landscapes of South Texas and the Hill Country abound.

Rivers in the Texas Hill Country, which forms an arc around the northern edge of San Antonio, provide venues for canoeing, tubing and white-water rafting. Area lakes attract fishing enthusiasts, as well as water skiing and sailing fans. Dude ranches offer a taste of the Old West, complete with horseback riding. Numerous state parks offer opportunities for hiking in this picturesque terrain.

Visitors to San Antonio also have a variety of spectator sports to choose from. The NBA’s San Antonio Spurs are a hometown favorite and play at the AT&T Center. The NCAA’s UTSA Roadrunners bring fans to the Alamodome during the football season since their first game in 2011. The San Antonio FC of the USL Championship provide soccer action at Toyota Field while the Missions baseball team encourages everyone to get out and enjoy the beautiful Texas weather. Plus, live action-packed thoroughbred and quarter horse racing seasons are presented at Retama Park from May through November.

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