We are Texas, in the second largest US state by size after Alaska. In our minds we still have the memories of western neighborhood of Fort Worth, the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, the capital Austin and other cities in Texas, but now, aboard our car rented by AVIS, we are traveling the central-south area called "hill country", with its rolling hills, river plains and fields of blue beanies, the blue flowers that represent this state (want to know more? In our article on what to see in Texas you will find a list of attractions not to be missed!).
We are still in winter but the temperature is pleasant and the sky is clear. Next, along highway 35 south, a sign indicates the entrance to Bexar County. As we advance, on the horizon we see the profile of skyscrapers and we see the Tower of the Americas of 230 meters, located in the Hemisfair park from whose top (observation deck) you can enjoy an excellent view of the city comfortably seated at the tables of the revolving restaurant “Chart House Restaurant” or at the “Tower café”. This tower was the focal point of the international trade fair event called HemisFair’68.
We got to San Antonio! The further we go into the city along 37 South, the more we notice other buildings, such as theAlamodome, the stadium that does not go unnoticed with its five floors used as both a convention center and an arena for important sporting events. In the past, in fact, the “Spurs” played their basketball games there, but now they play them at the AT&T center. A little further and then we reach the downtown (city center) of San Antonio, the third largest city in the state by extension and second by population. While we are parking, the caretaker immediately realizes that we are tourists and welcomes us with a warm bienvenidos!
- San Antonio what to see: a city full of history
- Fort Alamo: the Mission of San Antonio de Valero
- Downtown San Antonio
- The Riverwalk "Paseo del Rio": an unforgettable walk
- San Antonio Tours: River Cruises and More!
- Visit San Antonio: other places of interest
- Amusement parks and museums of San Antonio
- San Antonio Explorer Pass: a way to save
- Finally… some further advice!
- The folkloric events of San Antonio
- The "Latin" parties
- Getting around in San Antonio
- Sleeping in San Antonio: useful tips
San Antonio what to see: a city full of history
More than 50% of the inhabitants are of Latin American origin, especially Mexican. The conspicuous presence of Hispanic inhabitants originates from the history of San Antonio starting with the first Spanish Catholic explorers and missionaries who arrived in the area on June 13 1691, the day of the feast of Saint Anthony of Padua. Given its growth, the city had the privilege of becoming capital of Texas from 1776 to 1835 under the Spanish and later Mexican government. But it was really difficult for the Texans to win independence from Mexico and "The Alamo" is a very important testimony.
Fort Alamo: the Mission of San Antonio de Valero
In the city there are five Catholic missions but among them it stands out, in the central Alamo Plaza, the most famous of all, the “Mission de San Antonio de Valero”, known by everyone The Alamo o Fort Alamo, the work of Friar Antonio de Olivares and the collaboration of the local Payaya Indians. The mission, in addition to its normal function, was used as one real stronghold against the Mexican attacks and the memories of historical events are more alive than ever. In fact, it is known to have been the terrible battleground between Texans and Mexicans in 1836 for thirteen days.
The Mexicans led by the ferocious general Santa Anna got the better of it and that is why the historic phrase “remember the Alamo” ("Remember the Alamo") will always remain etched in this place. Mindful of this defeat, during which it also seems that the legendary was killed Davy Crockett, the "lion of the west", the Texans recruited soldiers from all over the territory and subsequently succeeded in gaining the upper hand and gaining independence. The territory was then annexed to the United States in 1845. Many schoolchildren visit the Alamo, whose entrance is free; listening to the stories of the guides, observing the miniature models of the fort and the battle makes the children learn and fully understand an important page of their history.
A little outside the center, we also point out the splendid, eighteenth-century one San José Mission, located in the area of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which collects three other missions in addition to this one. The Visitor Center is located right in San José (6701 San Jose Dr, south of Downtown).
Downtown San Antonio
We now leave the battlefield by continuing into the downtown San Antonio, comfortably accessible on foot and we enter the "Villita”, A lovely historic area with shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafes, located along the south bank of the San Antonio River. The variety of architectural styles (there are brick, adobe and Victorian buildings) reflects the multiple origins of the immigrants who settled here. From here we go down the wide steps that overlook theArneson Theater, a small open-air theater, semicircular in stone and brick, in front of the Villita, and then we arrive directly at the Riverwalk or Paseo del Rio, which is located one level below the street.
The Riverwalk "Paseo del Rio": an unforgettable walk
This is the true beating heart of San Antonio, a pleasant pedestrian walk along the banks of the homonymous river; absolutely not to be missed! The Riverwalk it is called "one of the brightest jewels in San Antonio crown".
The walkways house shops, hotels, cafes, restaurants, with their sounds, colors and smells, for example The Republic of Texas, where the lone star flag, which evokes the nickname of the Texan state, is drawn above the umbrellas of the outdoor tables at which we decide to dine because, in our opinion, a trip is not complete without having tasted the local cuisine. The menu offers various specialties, tasty Tex-Mex dishes or solely of the Mexican tradition. We can choose from meat in barbeque sauce (BBQ), catfish, tortillas, chili con cheese, nacho chips, sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads. It is possible to buy souvenirs from the restaurant; just ask the waiter.
Always remaining along the Riverwalk and announced by a nice ape, another restaurant to report is the Rainforest Coffee of the international chain of the same name, in tropical forest style, in a pleasant atmosphere of soft light. Booking is highly recommended as the venue is in great demand and waits can take a long time.
If you haven't booked at the Rainforest cafe don't be scared, enjoy a drink at the restaurant bar on the fun legged stools in the shape of a giraffe, zebra and tiger with very long flexible rope tails. While you wait your turn you can familiarize yourself with the menu in which, in addition to tasty dishes with traditional names, there are dishes with nice themed names, for example: tribal salmon, jungle safari soup, tropical island chicken salad, burger bestial, grilled gorilla toast and planet earth pasta. And for the little ones there is always the kid's menu; if, on the other hand, you love shopping, entertain yourself in the souvenir shop, always in the theme of tropical forest. For a little more fun, special events can be celebrated here.
Il Riverwalk it's a I keep swarming with people: families with children, small groups of friends, sweet lovers, businessmen who spend their lunch break here, mariachi bands, musicians and tourists. During our walk Marianna comes across Five & Dime General Store where, among other things, you can buy pretty T-shirts. It is a sort of emporium where you can find souvenirs, snacks, cosmetics and stationery products, travel items, toys and much more. Motorcycle lovers will love the Harley Davidson shop. There is no shortage of trees and flowers that grace the colorful riverside promenade, as well boats and boats full of visitors who can choose between a moderately priced riverside tour by the company "Rio San Antonio Cruises", a customized tour in taxi boat, Or a evening cruise with dinner included. The sunset that can be admired from the roofless boats is remarkable and you also benefit from the company of ducks and ducks that populate the river, regardless of the active life that surrounds them both day and night.
The banks of the river are connected to each other by sturdy stone bridges; going from one side of the Riverwalk to the other is therefore simple and convenient. On the way along the river, the boat reaches one of the entrances of the Rivercenter mall, a large four-story mall in classic modern American style.
In some points of the center, thanks to the large windows, you can admire part of the San Antonio River. Some of its stores are: the famous Macy's department store, The Disney Store, The Body Shop, Victoria's secret, Skechers, Dallas Cowboy for football lovers, and Claire's, one of the most popular costume jewelery shops, a favorite of teen-agers. and not only. For Texan souvenirs we recommend going to Texas Treasures where we made good purchases. Inside the mall there are also a nine-screen cinema, an Imax theater and a comedy club for lovers of good humor.
For a quick, inexpensive but also enjoyable meal, head to the food court, the area where some fast-food restaurants are concentrated around an open space in the center of which there are common tables where you can eat comfortably. For some time now, food courts have also been frequent in many of our shopping centers. You can choose from pizza, pasta, ice cream, biscuits (cookies), omelettes, pancakes, sandwiches, chicken dishes, Japanese cuisine and there is also the famous Starbucks cafè.
For those who prefer classic restaurants we recommend Morton’s steakhouse for its dishes of good meat, but in the mall there are also Italian, Mexican and Brazilian cuisine. Inside the mall you can stay overnight in the comfort of the Marriott-San Antonio Rivercenter. When evening falls, the Riverwalk lights up and makes everything even more fascinating; walking along the "Paseo del rio" is pleasant and romantic. The sunset is reflected in the river and the lights are reflected in the water.
San Antonio Tours: River Cruises and More!
There is the possibility of booking a boat ride on the river: Here are a couple of interesting packages that include other San Antonio attractions in the price, such as the hop-on hop-off tour or admission to the Tower of the Americas:
Option 1 (with river cruise and hop-on hop-off)
Option 2 (cruise, historical trolley tour, tower entrance and more)
Visit San Antonio: other places of interest
To learn more about the San Antonio tour we suggest to visit the Roman Catholic cathedral of San Fernando in the Main Square, dating back to 1731, with finely decorated ceilings and the baptismal font, considered a gift from the future king of Spain and with memories of the battle at the Alamo, when the flag flew during the fighting. In 1987 Pope John Paul II visited it on his only visit to Texas. Inside are the relics of Saint Anthony of Padua and Davy Crockett's grave.
even the Majestic Theater in East Houston St., in Spanish-Mediterranean style, it deserves to be included in the list of places of interest; the setting of the walls and ceiling of the room is particularly unusual and spectacular; concerts and Broadway-type shows are staged in the theater. The building can also be rented for private events!
Then to further complete the view of San Antonio, you can drive to theHistoric King William District where there are charming villas in Romanesque, Gothic and Victorian styles. Most of the properties are private, although Stevens Homestead is a mansion that can be visited. The district was originally inhabited by families of German origin and named in honor of King Wilhelm I of Prussia.
Amusement parks and museums of San Antonio
And if you still have more time, we especially suggest to families with children and teenagers, and to all those who feel young in spirit, two theme parks and some museums that are also found in other cities of the States:
- il SeaWorld, with its many marine-themed attractions. It is located at 10500 Sea World Drive. Click here to get some discounted tickets.
- il Six Flags Fiesta Texas (from the Six Flags chain) with its roller coasters, water attractions, rides and shows. It is located at 17000 IH-10 West.
As for the museums of San Antonio, we point out the famous one Arts Center (101 S Santa Rosa Ave), dedicated to Latin American culture, and the surprising Ripley’s believe it or not (301 Alamo Plaza), a museum containing images, bizarre and absolutely out of the ordinary objects; the building itself is a prelude to the oddities that will be seen inside. Finally the famous Louis Tussaud’s Wax Museum (Alamo Plaza) houses wax statues depicting famous people.
San Antonio Explorer Pass: a way to save
Admission to some of these museums and amusement parks is included in the San Antonio Explorer Pass: if you intend to spend a few days in the city and have a feast of all the most interesting attractions without spending too much, you might consider it. But first, read what the admissions included in the price.
Learn more about the pass
Finally… some further advice!
In every trip you certainly cannot miss the purchase of one or more souvenirs to take home to immortalize the beautiful moments of the holiday. Besides you have already mentioned the shops of the Riverwalk, the Rivercenter and the Villita we recommend, not far from the San Antonio River, "The market", a Mexican corner in Texas, with its delightful Market Square; it is the largest Mexican market in the United States, where music and dance events are also offered.
Here it seems to have crossed the border: it is easy to let yourself be tempted by its restaurants, but in San Antonio you don't just eat Tex-Mex the American. Ethnic restaurants are also worth trying, for example Schlo's Delicatessen in downtown, which has been serving German cuisine since 1917. It is also open for breakfast and you can enjoy pancakes, muffins, jams, French toast and apple strudel. Next to El Mercado, there is the aforementioned museum, Arts Center.
The folkloric events of San Antonio
When planning a trip to San Antonio, if you are interested in local culture you can choose dates to coincide with city events. There are quite a few all year round. We will point out some of them. In February, the "San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo”Which takes place at the aforementioned AT&T center, an arena for sporting activities, concerts and various events.
This rodeo it is considered one of the greatest moments for the city. The heart of the event is represented by the bull-riding competitions, the lasso cows and the gymnastic horse between the barrels. Also of interest is the cattle auction which thrived after the civil war of 1861-1865. Don't miss the famous ones Texan longhorn cows with long horns. There is also no shortage of food stalls and various objects, all in a typically country western atmosphere.
Also noteworthy is the "sant patrick's day"In March, in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, the inevitable"Oktoberfest", Just like in Germany, and for music lovers the"International Festival of Accordion ”in October.
The "Latin" parties
The most important festivals that celebrate the Latin culture, an integral part of the soul of San Antonio, are: the "Cinco de Mayo", Which recalls the Mexican victory against the French in the battle of Puebla which took place on May 1862, XNUMX, the celebration"Sixteen"In September which commemorates the date of independence of Mexico from Spain which took place on September 16, 1810. In November, Mexicans remember their dead in"Day of the Dead”With processions, construction of altars and the presence of the usual skeletons. All these events are accompanied by folkloric performances.
Getting around in San Antonio
The hundred cities are easily explored on foot but for longer distances, if you do not have a car, San Antonio it is well equipped with means of transport: taxis, buses, shuttle buses and a local carriage / trolley system. The city also has a international Airport which, however, is not directly connected to the European capitals. To reach San Antonio you can fly from various European capitals on Houston, which is about three hundred kilometers away.
Look for a flight to Houston
Then you can choose whether to fly further or rent a car, choice we almost always opt for. Once you have become familiar with the automatic gearbox if you are not familiar with it, driving will be pleasant, the motorways are wide, easily passable (with the exception of the metropolitan areas): very few are paid. If you have a satellite navigator with a US map, bring it from home or ask for it in the rental rate (it's not exactly cheap), but it is very useful especially in the evening or in places outside urban centers.
Sleeping in San Antonio: useful tips
As regards the pernottamento it's always better book in advance. Search engines for hotels also offer accommodations with the convenience of breakfast included, payment on site, and free cancellation 48, 24 hours or even hours before your stay. San Antonio offers many possibilities both by type of accommodation and by cost, but it is important to be well informed about events, conferences, fairs and school holidays in order not to risk not finding availability, as happened to us, unaware of a series of concurrent events in the city. On that occasion we were lucky enough to find two rooms available at the current Days Inn, 6023 I-10W.
In general, many hotel rooms have a coffee and tea maker or a microwave if you want to eat in your room or are in a hurry; sometimes there are kitchenettes in the suites or mini-suites. The greatest concentration of accommodation and hotel facilities of superior category it is obviously in the neighborhoods of Downtown e La Villita, but out of the center, long Laredo St e Santa Rosa Avenue, there are some inexpensive options of the better chain motels.
All accommodations available in San Antonio
Cheap accommodation in San Antonio
Two Texan adventures took us to San Antonio and we would like to return, so we recommend it. At this point all that remains is to wish good trip!