Hey there Travel Lovers! I’m so so so happy to be back this travel Tuesday. If you missed out on either of my past SA posts, you can find them here and here. Today, we’re talking about all the AMAZING things to do within the city limits of San Antonio. There are SO many things to see, all within walking distance of The Riverwalk. Do you love history? You can head to the Alamo. Want to learn more about the Mexican Culture? Head to Market Square. Or maybe you just really really really REALLY need a drink after being in a hotel room with your family for a few days… don’t worry. There are plenty of great bars. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in San Antonio! So let’s get started!
Getting Around the downtown area is crazy easy. You can pretty much walk to anything because it is all super close, and each neighborhood is connected by The Riverwalk. I liked this because when I was alone, I felt safe walking from place to place. If walking isn’t really your thing, check out their BCycle system. It’s super easy to use, and biking will get you places in half the time! If you are planning to stay within the parameters of downtown, you honestly don’t need a car.
The Alamo. We’re starting off with Texas’ most visited landmark. You literally have no excuse not to go and see this amazing, little bit of history. It is right by The Riverwalk and is completely free. However, I’m going to tell you right now, it’s probably not what you’ve imagined your entire life. It is small, and a lot less grand than you would expect. So, if you go in knowing this, you won’t be disappointed and you will really enjoy your time there! The set up is neat. They have a huge timeline set up, a lot of artifacts, and a small museum inside the building.
They also have a really awesome gift shop, where I highly recommend you buy most of your “Texas” themed souvenirs! (Like this amazing t-shirt!)
So what exactly is The Alamo? Originally, it was one of the Spanish missions on the conquistadores land before it belonged to America. It was meant to educate the native people on Christianity. It later became a military fort, that is home to the famous Battle of the Alamo. Here, you see not only the history of the battle, but also get a better understanding for the cultures that have influenced Texas.
My tips for visiting? Stop by early in the morning before it opens. You’ll be able to get some great pictures without anyone in them! Also, be sure to stop by at night when it’s lit up. It really is beautiful!
The San Antonio Riverwalk. Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, you’ve probably heard of the San Antonio Riverwalk. And you’ve heard about it for a reason. The Riverwalk feels like it is a world away from the bustling city streets just above it. From malls to boutiques, entertainment to restaurants, The Riverwalk seems to have it all. Plus, it is absolutely stunning! No matter what time of year you are planning your visit, there will be some sort of event happening. You absolutely have to take a river tour with Rio San Antonio! I wasn’t planning on doing one originally, because I figured it was just a touristy gimmick. But you guys, I learned so much! It was amazing to see the city from the river and it was really, really fun. I recommend planning to spend an entire day exploring The Riverwalk. Especially if you are staying close. (Which you should be! Most of the hotels in the area are on, or very close to it.)
Okay. That sounds super weird. But there are quite a few things you just can’t miss while your visiting!
Must Sees. El Mercado. La Villita. San Fernando Cathedral. HemisFair Park. Boom. A nice little list for you. These are my must sees right downtown. Also, if you’re traveling with children… San Antonio is home to a zoo, Sea World, and Six Flags!
Let’s start with El Mercado, or Market Square. It is seriously cool, however, it’s not in the best part of town. I really wouldn’t recommend walking to it. I had planned to walk there by myself, and am really glad Trev ended up coming with me. However, once you reach Market Square, it feels completely different than the surrounding area. We went first thing in the morning because we heard breakfast at Mi Tierra was a must. And trust me… it is! It is honestly in my Top 5 favorite breakfasts of all time! The market itself is the biggest Mexican markets in the US. There are so many cool things you can buy there. I’m telling you, you’re going to end up leaving with a TON of things that you probably don’t need! It’s kind of like getting to spend a morning in Mexico without needing a passport. You won’t want to miss it.
Next up is La Villita. This beautiful little art community was San Antonio’s first neighborhood. Think gorgeous buildings, brick streets and tons of little shops to visit. While I was there, it just so happened to be the San Antonio Coffee Festival. And holy cow was it packed. So, if you’re heading there the first week in January, don’t plan on getting to see too much of this quaint little place. You should also be sure to see the Arnseon River Theater just off The Riverwalk. It’s basically at the steps of La Villita and you will love it! It’s beautiful. And you can totally reenact scenes from Miss Congeniality 😉
Now it’s time for one of my favorite things I saw in San Antonio! The San Fernando Cathedral. Now, I didn’t go inside, or attend mass here, but I’m positive it’s beautiful. This cathedral makes my list for the video art installation that plays on the front of the church every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday Night. Oh man. This is the COOLEST thing. Trev wasn’t too sure about it, and he wasn’t to pleased I drug him away from his friends to go see this. And then, he was so happy I did. “San Antonio, The Saga” is an absolutely stunning art instillation of the history of not only San Antonio, but Texas. It lasts about a half hour, and I promise it will absolutely captivate you. Be sure to get there early, because Main Plaza fills with people to see it. If you can, bring a blanket or chair. If not, there are little walls you can sit on, or just plop down on the ground. Be sure your phone cameras are charged, because you’re totally going to want to video this!
Last, but certainly not least, is HemisFair Park. This place is so freakin serene. Like you would never know you are in the middle of a city. It’s quiet and beautiful, and it’s home to the Tower of the Americas. It’s a nice place to sit back and relax and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Must Eats. Ahhhh food. My favorite part of every travel post. I LOVE eating any time, but I especially love eating while on vacation. It means I get to try new places that I’ve never been. When we go on vacation, we try to stay away from chain restaurants, and eat at places unique to the location we are in, or unique to us.
That being said, I’m just going to get this out of the way right now. San Antonio has an In-N-Out Burger. If you’re from the Midwest like me, and don’t have an In-N-Out any where close to you, this is a huge deal. And you can bet that your girl rented a car and drove out to get some. And I wasn’t disappointed!
Trev and I also wanted to get some BBQ while we were there. I mean come on, you can’t go to Texas and not get BBQ! Our original plan was to drive out to Lockhart for their world famous BBQ restaurants. But, his conference let out later than planned, and we wouldn’t have made it before the restaurants closes. So we drove to Rudy’s. Which, is a chain in Texas, but new to us. And we really loved it! It was a good substitute since we couldn’t make it to any “real” bbq joints.
Now that’s out of the way, please note that I am only sharing restaurants that are on or near The Riverwalk. There are TONS of other places with super high recommendations out there. However, I chose to stick near The Riverwalk where I knew I was safe, because I was alone. And honestly, how can you not want to eat places with views like this?
For breakfast, I would for sure recommend Mi Tierra. I had the Papa con Huevo breakfast tacos and I seriously loved them. Plus, you just HAVE to see the inside at least once in your life!
Right along the river you’ll find Casa Rio, it is so much fun, and I fell in love with the chili con carne. Read more about it here.
Want to know what Texas would be like if it was a restaurant, and not a state? Then check out The Republic of Texas. It makes my list of places to eat mostly for the atmosphere. I freaking loved it there. I loved their decor, I loved their wait staff, and I loved my burger.
Must Drinks. You can’t go to San Antonio without going out for a drink at least once. The Riverwalk LITERALLY lends itself to an awesome night out!
How does a margarita that’s bigger than your head sound? Like a dream… right? Well dreams become a reality at Rita’s on the River. Their margaritas freaking rock, and so does the queso.
If you’re looking to catch a game, look no further than Ticket Sports Pub. Just around the corner from The Alamo, you’ll find this little gem. I have never had more fun watching a football game at a bar than I did here. The crowd was INSANE. Like standing room only, packed full with huge football fans. The atmosphere was insanely fun and I loved every minute of it.
Ever wondered what it was like to celebrate the end of prohibition? Head to The Esquire. It’s website boasts that it’s the quintessential downtown bar, and they couldn’t be more right. It feels a bit like your stepping back in time, to a secret club that maybe you shouldn’t be a part of. With dim lighting and cozy booths, it’s the perfect place to cozy up to your date and keep those swanky cocktails coming. PS. Order the Pimm’s Cup or the French 75. Both were phenomenal! The Esquire can not be missed. If you had to only choose one place from this entire post to visit, I’d tell you to pick this. Maybe even over The Alamo. (Yes. I’m shaking my head at myself too…)
One thing to note… they do drain the river. It’s not every year, and sometimes it’s not the entire river. But it is always in January. So if you’re planning a trip at the beginning of the year, be sure to check out the draining schedule!
From mariachi bands to margaritas, river boats to The Alamo, San Antonio had me smitten within minutes of being there. It’s charming, welcoming, and full of history. It’s a tourists dream with it’s easy walkability and many shops and restaurants. It’s a perfect little slice of Texas, that you really have to visit at least once in your life.
Next week, I’m wrapping up with my final thoughts on San Antonio, and you guys… that will be my LAST TRAVEL POST OF THE YEAR. Not because I’m done blogging for the rest of the year, but because then it’s time to get into full out Christmas mode!
Tomorrow I’m back with another Wedding Wednesday post! Enjoy your evening!