A significant city in south-central Texas with a strong colonial history is San Antonio. The Alamo, a Spanish mission from the 18th century that has been conserved as a museum, commemorates a memorable struggle for Texas independence from Mexico in 1836. The miles-long River Walk, which follows the San Antonio River, is a famous pedestrian promenade dotted with cafés and stores.
The 750-foot Tower of the Americas at HemisFair Park offers magnificent city views. There’s no shortage of things to do during an upcoming visit to San Antonio, Texas. To help you plan your next trip to the city, keep reading as we share ten of our top recommendations for things to do in San Antonio.
10. Mission San Jose
(image via Mission San Jose Church)
Mission San Jose is a historic site that allows you to learn more about its mission. It is part of the San Antonio Missions, which is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state.
You’ll learn more about the stories of the people who walked among the grounds over 300 years ago and understand the challenges that indigenous people struggled with during the colonial period. It’s a chance to celebrate the culture and history of the city and is well worth a visit on your trip to San Antonio.
9. Market Square
(image via Christy Ash)
To avoid returning home empty-handed to your family, make sure you head to Market Square. It’s the ideal location to pick up gifts for your friends and family back home. The City of San Antonio is in charge of the majority of the structures in the multi-business Historic Market Square.
Each year, there are programs and group displays in the market. It is one of the biggest Mexican marketplaces north of the border with more than 100 stores altogether. You’ll find plenty of items on offer from local artists here, including jewelry, artwork, and even some epic pottery!
8. Japanese Tea Garden
(image via Jingu House at the SAJTG)
If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a little while, head to San Antonio’s Japanese Tea Garden. The garden reopened in 2008 and it contains walkways, a 60-foot waterfall, and ponds filled with Koi.
It’s free to visit and is open every day from dawn to dusk. After a busy few days seeing all of the sights of San Antonio, you’ll appreciate having somewhere to sit and reflect on your time away from home.
7. Tower of the Americas
(image via Tower of the Americas)
To fully appreciate the scale of San Antonio, head up to the observation deck in the Tower of the Americas. We recommend booking a ticket for sunset here as it’s the best time of day to view the city from up above.
This 750-foot-tall tower is also home to a revolving restaurant called the Chart House Restaurant. Teens will want to have a go on the 4D Theater Ride, which takes them on an exciting tour of Texas.
6. San Antonio Zoo
(image via San Antonio Zoo)
For anyone traveling to San Antonio with children, you won’t want to miss the San Antonio Zoo. This 35-acre zoo is located in Midtown San Antonio and is home to 3,500 animals from over 750 species.
It’s a popular zoo with both visitors and locals, so we recommend trying to visit during the week where possible. They host various events throughout the year, so check out their website to see what’s going on during your trip.
5. The River Walk
(image via Weston MacKinnon)
After a day of exploring some of the area’s best attractions, head to the San Antonio River Walk to finish off the day. We recommend arriving in the late afternoon, and you can follow the river itself on foot.
On the walk, you’ll find there are plenty of amazing spots to stop for something to eat or drink, like the notorious Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant and Margarita Bar, or the infamous Saltgrass Steak House. You could easily spend the whole evening exploring the area. If you need a break from walking, take one of the River Walk boats along the river to continue your exploration.
4. San Antonio’s Texan BBQ
(image via Smokey Mo's BBQ San Antonio)
No trip to San Antonio and Texas is complete without dining in one of their top BBQ restaurants. You’ll find there’s no shortage of great places to eat, but you’ll want to plan ahead if you are hoping to visit one of the most popular locations.
We love 2M Smokehouse on the East Side, which often gathers a huge line of diners in the evenings. Another popular restaurant is Smoke Shack, which has a great selection of delicious meats and sides. One of our favorite dishes here is the brisket grilled cheese, but you’ll find something to suit anyone’s tastes.
3. Natural Bridge Caverns
(image via Natural Bridge Caverns)
If you are in the city for a few days, head out for a half-day trip to the Natural Bridge Caverns. It’s located about 30 minutes away from the Alamo, and it’s one of the largest caves in the state. Even though there are other caves throughout Texas, this is one experience you won’t want to miss.
We recommend taking the Discovery Walking Tour, where you’ll have the chance to spend a couple of hours underground exploring the incredible formations. It’s generally a very accessible cave, making it a fun adventure for the whole family.
2. San Fernando Cathedral
(image via San Fernando Cathedral)
The San Fernando Cathedral was built in 1873, making it one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States. It features stunning architecture on both the exterior and interior and is a great stop for history buffs in your family.
As well as exploring the inside of the building, one thing you won’t want to miss here is the evening light show. This starts at 9 pm each night, with the exception of Mondays, and each show runs for about 24 minutes. It’s the perfect way to finish off a day of exploring the city.
1. The Alamo
(image via Matthew LeJune)
No trip to San Antonio is complete without visiting The Alamo. It’s one of the most important historical sites in the country and was home to the Battle of the Alamo back in 1836. Visitors can enjoy walking around the library and museum on the site, where you’ll learn more about the history of the state of Texas.
Even if you think the site looks quite small upon your approach, you’ll be impressed by how much history is hidden within its walls. It gets pretty busy here at the weekend, so try to visit during the week or first thing in the morning for the best experience.
As you can see, there’s so much to see and do in San Antonio. You could easily spend a whole week exploring the city, and it’s the perfect vacation spot for families, couples, or solo travelers. San Antonio has a rich and vibrant culture, so we encourage you to take the time to learn more about the history of San Antonio during your upcoming trip.
If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips nearby San Antonio. These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.