Why didn’t anyone ever tell me what a beautiful city San Antonio was before? That was my first thought when my “epic road trip” took me to this city of 1.4 million people located in south-central Texas. A meandering river, lots of open green spaces and plenty of public art, San Antonio blends old and new with sleek architecture standing side-by-side with historical monuments.
One of the things that sets San Antonio apart is its famous River Walk—a waterside promenade along the San Antonio River. Located one story below street level, the River Walk is lined with trendy restaurants, cafés, hotels, shops and galleries. One of the best ways to explore downtown San Antonio is aboard one of the frequent guided barge tours operated by Rio San Antonio Cruises. Reminiscent of a ride at Disneyland, these small passenger boats cruise along the waterway between the tall buildings and under the city’s many bridges. The shoreline is lush with foliage, and a canopy of trees with dangling strands of twinkle lights adds to the charm. The east end of the River Walk extends to the San Antonio Convention Center and Rivercenter Mall, which offers many great shopping opportunities too.
Of course, the crown jewel of San Antonio is The Alamo. Built as a Spanish mission in the early 18th century, The Alamo is infamous for the battle that took place there in 1836 during the Texas Revolution for independence from Mexico. To this day, the Alamo remains hallowed ground and is recognized as the Shrine of Texas Liberty. Visitors can tour the chapel as well as the Long Barracks, which houses a small museum with paintings, weapons, and other interesting artifacts. Admission is free, although donations are appreciated.
Another historical site in downtown San Antonio that’s worth a visit is the Cathedral of San Fernando. Completed in 1750, the cathedral, also known as church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe claims to be the oldest cathedral in the continental United States.
A great way to round off a visit to San Antonio is to see the sprawling city from up above. Looming high over the skyline is the Tower of the Americas. At 750 feet (229 meters), the tower is the second-tallest observation tower in the U.S. (after the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.) There’s an observation deck and rotating restaurant near the top, which affords unbelievable panoramic views of the city below.
Although I only passed through San Antonio for one night, I can definitely see myself returning someday. The city boasts many colorful celebrations—including the springtime Fiesta San Antonio and the Art & Jazz Festival in the summer—so the only question remains, when to come back for a visit?
Getting There: By airplane – San Antonio International Airport is located about eight miles north of downtown. By car – San Antonio is about 1 hour south of Austin by way of I-35 and about 3 hours west of Houston on I-10.
For More Information: Visit the official San Antonio tourism website.
Below are more photos from my visit:
Have you ever been to San Antonio before? What were your impressions? Feel free to comment in the section below!
Michael Figueiredo is a freelance travel writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he’s not gallivanting around the world, he’s enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and perfect weather of Southern California. So far he’s visited forty countries and territories on five continents. His goal is to see at least one new country every year! . Read more from this author