2021 San Antonio Visitors Guide
A unique city and the 7th largest in the United States, San Antonio in Texas has a culture greatly influenced by Spain and Mexico. In fact, the continual welcoming and bi-cultural ambiance are best seen during the annual Fiesta that lasts a week. The historic sites, various architectural styles and modern attractions all help make San Antonio a great holiday and vacation spot. The heritage of the past and the fast-growing, vibrant present makes San Antonio a wonderful place in which to live and visit today.
San Antonio Fun Guide
The city is not far south of the center of Texas and only 75 miles southwest from the state capital, Austin. The San Antonio River Valley is a vast plain only some 700 feet above sea level. In its location beyond the hill country, the city has a semi-arid climate. Temperatures are extremely hot in the summer with the average degrees Fahrenheit in the 90s. Winters are mild with temperatures rarely dropping much below 39 degrees. Spring and fall are the rainiest seasons, and the region does have tornadoes.
The first people known to have settled in the area were the Payaya people. They mainly lived near San Pedro Springs. Then in 1691, missionaries and explorers from Spain came to the valley and river on Saint Anthony Padua’s feast day, the 13th of June. Because of this feast day, they named the region and river San Antonio.
After Mexico won its independence from Spain in the early 1800s, Mexican troops began invasions north to establish their governmental rights to the territory including Texas. A battle that is the most famous historical event remembered in San Antonio today was the Battle of the Alamo in March of 1836. Texas wanted to establish its own independence as a country during that time and a small force of those loyal to Texas fought valiantly and lost to the Mexican troops at the Alamo. Now, the fort is a historical landmark and attraction in the city.
Contemporary San Antonio bases its economy on its regional health care system as well as government, finance, and tourism. The area has so much to see and do that around 20 million visitors come to the city annually. Historic sites, art galleries, performance arts, and museum venues are in abundance. The River Walk Downtown has shops and cafes as well as scenic walkways. Parks, sports and amusement parks are also of interest to residents and guests. The modern growing San Antonio has a thriving present, a significant past and a promising future.
San Antonio Downtown Hotels
The festive and historic heart of San Antonio, Downtown San Antonio is home to everything from great restaurants to endless shopping options to many of the city’s top attractions. Visitors from near and far should spend at least some time in this vibrant and colorful district. Downtown San Antonio offers great things to see and do for families as well as solo visitors. No trip to the city is really complete without at least one stop in this bustling neighborhood. Downtown San Antonio lies in the center of the city and functions as its central point of business, retail, government, and culture. It can be easily reached by car, bus or Amtrak rail service. The district is home to a wealth of shopping, dining, and nightlife options.
Attractions in this area include the fascinating King William Historic District, the city’s famed River Walk, and a wealth of architecture to see. Entertainment options include the Alamodome as well as the sprawling Rivercenter Mall, one of the largest shopping plazas in the region. Finally, the Tower of the Americas offers astounding views of the cityscape from its observation deck, making it one of Downtown San Antonio’s top destinations.
About Downtown San Antonio
Downtown San Antonio has an interesting blend of attractions and cultural activities that locals of the area and visitors can enjoy. The acclaimed McNay Art Museum is especially attractive for the art goers and is the first modern art museum in Texas. For those wanting to explore and take a walk through history, the Alamo is definitely a must-visit for those wanting to learn about a very significant aspect of U.S. history and culture, which is located right downtown.
Sports fans will not be disappointed with the wide variety of sports offered year-round that include the infamous San Antonio Spurs (NBA basketball), San Antonio Rampage (AHL hockey), San Antonio Missions (TL baseball), San Antonio Scorpions (NASL soccer), or San Antonio Talons (AFL arena football). Spanish culture has a prevalent presence in the downtown area and it is common to hear a fusion of flamenco, Folklorico, and banda music along walkways downtown during summer months and particularly during the Fiesta Noche del Rio. Especially attractive and probably most well known in the downtown San Antonio area is the famous River Walk.
This area is a gem of the downtown scene that winds along the river bed of the Paseo del Rìo that is lined with numerous restaurants, bars, shops, and well-known attractions such as the Rivercenter Mall, Arneson River Theatre, Marriage Island, and HemisFair Park. The River Walk has been a favorite sense of enjoyment and relaxation for locals and tourists alike for many years and an important source of commerce for the city.
For the family goers, Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld are fun and exciting attractions that hug just outside of the downtown area. Lastly, the fascinating part of the downtown area is being able to travel via San Antonio’s well-known streetcars. They are apart of the main transit bus system and are a hop-on, hop-off service. Enjoy the “Alamo City”!
San Antonio Weather
If you like cold temperatures, then San Antonio is not the place for you. The summers in San Antonio reach blistering high temperatures almost every day. A typical day in July and August sees temperatures of around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity seems to be worse in June than the other two summer months. The sticky air makes June feel like it’s the hottest month of the year even though it is surpassed in high temperatures by the other two months. Summers are long, dry, and hot for anyone living in or near San Antonio. Sometimes, the only solution to cool down is to go for a swim in the coldest water you can find.
Winters are incredibly mild in San Antonio. In fact, it often happens that entire winters pass without any signs of freezing precipitation at all. There are some nights during the winter when temperatures go below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, although this only happens on a handful of nights each year. San Antonio receives measurable snowfall about once every four years. The largest snow total ever recorded was 16 inches in 1985. The most recent instance of snowfall saw about half an inch fall on the city in February of 2011. Some residents of northern states come to San Antonio to escape the cold in the winter. They know that they won’t be seeing many flakes flying down there.
Spring & Fall
Precipitation in San Antonio follows odd patterns. In general, the city does not receive very much rain at all. The wettest month is usually either June or October. Tropical systems come in from the Gulf of Mexico and cause heavy amounts of rain in the city. San Antonio is one of the most dangerous cities for flooding. Due to heavy rains and high rivers, the city can flood easily and quickly. Tornadoes are rare, though. People always think of Texas when they picture tornadoes, but they happen mainly to the north of San Antonio.
San Antonio’s weather makes it an interesting place to visit as well as study. The hot, dry summers keep residents scampering for air conditioning when they get a chance. Heavy rains can cause flooding, but they don’t occur very often. This is good news for people who live in and visit San Antonio. Severe weather is also not as common as people would initially believe. The biggest thing to remember about San Antonio’s weather is that it is very predictable. They don’t often get surprises out of nowhere with their weather forecasts. This can be good if you like to know what you’ll get, but uninteresting if you like to be surprised.
San Antonio Transportation
The name of the public transit service in San Antonio is VIA Metropolitan Transit. The bus service in San Antonio is very good. The buses run on time, and most tourists will find they can easily get to where they need to go on the buses. There are both express lines and buses that make frequent stops. The best bus line for tourists is the #7 SIGHTSEER SPECIAL. This line travels around San Antonio to all of the biggest tourist attractions, making for an inexpensive way for visitors to tour the city. Day passes for the bus can be purchased from VIA Metropolitan Transit for the cost of a few fares, so anyone planning on making a few trips during the day should go ahead and purchase a day pass.
VIA Metropolitan Transit also runs a trolley service in downtown San Antonio. It travels around downtown only, and it stops at a number of tourist attractions. It is a fun way to see some of downtown, but it cannot get passengers to very many places in town.
Renting a car is not a great idea for most tourists in San Antonio. The city is not very friendly to drivers, especially downtown. The parking downtown is very hard to find, and the parking that is there is quite expensive. Anyone who is planning on spending most of their time downtown should forget a rental car. There are much better methods of transportation available downtown.
San Antonio is one of the most fantastic cities in the United States for tourists who love to walk. The majority of the tourist attractions are centered downtown in the Riverwalk area. The Riverwalk is only for pedestrians. It is absolutely beautiful, and it offers a host of attractions and things to see along its path. The temperature in San Antonio can get very hot during the summer. Tourists should be cautious with the heat. Always carry water, wear sunblock and head into an air-conditioned building if the heat gets to be too much.
San Antonio is a great town for cyclists. There are a number of bike rental shops in town. The city has also recently started a bike-share program. Visitors can rent a bike from kiosks downtown and return the bike to any other kiosk. The city’s streets all have bike lanes, and there are also many bike paths for riders to enjoy.
Taxis are easy to find at the airport and downtown, but they will need to be called for in all other areas of the city. Taxis are a fairly expensive method of transportation in San Antonio.
San Antonio Attractions
Home to some of the most important cultural and historical attractions in the United States, San Antonio is always a fun and fascinating place to visit. Rich with history and home to a diverse array of shops, restaurants and nightlife destinations, this vibrant Texas city offers a truly unique and exhilarating experience. From the historic Alamo to the idyllic River Walk, San Antonio offers a plethora of attractions and historic landmarks to discover during your visit.
The city’s leading destination is the famed Alamo, the former mission that bore witness to the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, a key moment in Texas state history. Open to the public, it is a fascinating place to learn about San Antonio’s rich history and unique heritage. Two more interesting historical locations worth exploring are the King William Historic Area and the Casa Navarro State Historical Park, both of which offer superb architecture and fascinating historical landmarks to discover.
One of the city’s most popular attractions is the River Walk, a pedestrian walkway along the beautiful San Antonio River. Lined with quaint shops and top-notch restaurants and galleries, it offers a leisurely and relaxing place to stroll along the elegant river and sample the city’s robust retail options. Yet another premier attraction to explore is the San Antonio Missions National Park, an astounding collection of four historic missions that date back to the Spanish colonial times. A top destination for families in the city is also the San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium, home to a huge variety of sea life and animals from across the world.
San Antonio also boasts a plethora of renowned museums and cultural institutions worth visiting. The acclaimed San Antonio Museum of Art offers a huge collection of artwork to see while other top museums and galleries in the city include the Witte Museum, the San Antonio Children’s Museum, Museo Alameda and the Institute of Texan Cultures, a unique and fascinating museum that explores the state’s rich history and wealth of cultures. In addition, the city is home to famed amusement parks like SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas as well as a bevy of shops, restaurants and nightlife hubs to discover.
With so much to see and do, San Antonio is a truly unique and exhilarating place to visit. Its incomparable cultural and historical attractions, as well as its celebrated entertainment destinations, making it one of the country’s best places to explore.
San Antonio Dining
While in San Antonio you will certainly want to take advantage of all of the great dining that will make San Antonio more enjoyable and more memorable. You’ll find a large variety of great places to dine that offer what you love in a great meal.
Boudro’s offers a fine dining experience and a broad menu that includes great seafood such as coconut shrimp, yellowfin tuna, herb-crusted fish and so much more. You can also enjoy grilled prime rib, mesquite-grilled Texas quail, tenderloin of pork and duck just to name a few. For sides, you can choose black beans, and assorted veggie platter or even fire fries. They also offer a kids menu that consists of fish, shrimp, and chicken.
Mexican Manhattan is one of the wonderful Mexican restaurants in San Antonio that offers authentic Mexican dishes such as fajitas, enchiladas both cheese and beef, stuffed bell pepper, and tamales. You can also start your meal with their smooth chili con queso or salsa and chips. Perhaps the quesadilla or the bean and cheese nachos would satisfy your hunger best; you’ll have no problem selecting a great meal.
Fig Tree Restaurant
The Fig Tree Restaurant is also a great choice that provides a large menu. You can start with the soup of the day and enjoy a crab cake before having a great entree. Your entree might be beef wellington prepared the Fig Tree way or it may be trout or salmon that is prepared the Fig Tree way. They also offer a wonderful wine list that will allow you to choose the wine that best compliments your meal. After you’ve enjoyed a great meal you can gift yourself with a dreamy dessert such as Bananas Foster or Lemon Mousse.
La Fogota is another great Mexican restaurant in San Antonio where you’ll find an array of Nacho selections, gorditas, and chalupas with all of your favorite toppings. You can also choose queso and quesadilla as well as enjoy your favorite drink from the bar.
Acenar offers delicious Mexican dining as well. Their menu provides a large selection of your favorite Mexican dishes such as grilled shrimp tacos or shrimp nachos. You might choose crab Tinga tacos which are made with fresh blue crabs. After enjoying your tacos, nachos or enchiladas you can enjoy one of their great desserts such as Three Milk Cake or Cookies and Pralines. The bar is always opened to provide your favorite drink to go with your meal.
San Antonio Events
The city of San Antonio is home to numerous entertaining events throughout each year. Some of these include Culinaria, which is a wine and culinary arts festival, the Military River Parade, San Antonio Summer Art and Jazz Festival, a Fourth of July celebration, San Antonio Beer Fest, Contemporary Art Month, Martin Luther King Jr. March, and El Dia de Los Muertos, or the “Day of the Dead” festival. Below we will highlight a few more of the exciting, fun, educational, and cultural events that can be enjoyed in San Antonio.
San Antonio Cocktail Conference
This event is modeled after the well-known Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and also the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Top bartenders from all over the state of Texas show up to showcase their talents. This four-day event also features seminars, tastings, and lots of fun parties.
A family-friendly event, the Asian Festival is full of music, cultural performances, fashion, crafts, and Asian cuisine. Over fifteen food vendors offer Japanese, Thai, Laotian, Korean, Chinese, and Philippine food, as well as other Asian food. Traditional Asian dance and musical performances are also featured at this fun and educational event that celebrates Asian culture.
San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo
Country, rock and roll, and Latin musical artists entertain the masses at this event that also features over 20 rodeo events, shopping, and a carnival. Some artists that have performed include Reba McEntire, Kip Moore, OneRepublic, Eli Young Band, and Lady Antebellum.
Poteet Strawberry Festival
This festival that celebrates the strawberry is one of the oldest and most popular events in the state of Texas. It is also the largest agricultural festival in Texas and it features concerts, dancing, rides, fireworks, parades, over 100 food and craft vendors, rodeo performances, and lots and lots of strawberries.
Fiesta San Antonio
Featuring more than 100 entertaining events, this festival attracts thousands of visitors from around the world each year. It recognizes and celebrates the diverse cultures of San Antonio through parades, festivals, concerts, and art exhibits. The event honors the memory of heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.
Texas Folk Life Festival
This three-day event celebrates the Texas culture and takes place at The Institute of Texan Cultures. At this large celebration of the Texas heritage, more than 40 ethnic groups take pride in showcasing their unique food, music, dance, and crafts.
Family Fun near Downtown San Antonio
Alamo City Ghost Tours are great for family fun in San Antonio. You’re lead through winding hallways in search of the ghastly creatures that are said to inhabit those hallways. There are over 13 different locations to choose from for your ghost touring desires. Younger children will love the thrill of ghost hunt tours even though they may be a bit afraid of what’s going on. They’ll certainly have an enjoyable time, and so will everyone else in the family.
Alamo Helicopter Tours
Alamo Helicopter Tours take you through the air to have a look at San Antonio from the sky. You can call ahead to hear more information and schedule a flight time if you like. The beautiful downtown San Antonio area looks great from the viewpoint of the helicopter. You can also see the river in all its glory from high above San Antonio. Delightful views inside a comfortable helicopter make for great experiences to tell about when you get home.
Embassy Miniature Golf
Embassy Miniature Golf has plenty of fun for the entire family. Each hole has a different par that you need to meet to score the right points. You can choose your favorite putters and balls to take your adventurous spirit to the course. The variety of holes available makes this golf game one to remember. Some holes have little tricks that you have to avoid so that your ball doesn’t get thrown away from the path of the hole. Fun miniature golf games are great ways to enjoy your time with your family.
Laser Legend is yet another place to enjoy for the entire family. You don’t have to be young and in great shape to enjoy the best laser tag action possible. Laser Legend features a two-story laser tag arena with a total of 5,000 square feet of playing area. There are also robots that are at least 14 feet high that add to the enjoyment of the playing area. There are also plenty of arcade games available for more entertainment once you’re done playing laser tag.
Natural Bridge Caverns
Natural Bridge Caverns offers San Antonio visitors a unique view at some underground beauty. This is one of the most visited places in the city, and for good reason. You’ll spend about 75 minutes making your way through a maze of discovery and natural wonder. There are also zip lines and tours of caverns for adventurous people. Some of the tours are more physically challenging than others, so you’ll have to decide which one you like best before you go. Natural Bridge Caverns is a blast for the whole family, and nobody in your family will ever forget it.
Shopping near Downtown San Antonio
North Star Mall
North Star Mall is a favorite shopping location for many San Antonio visitors and residents. This mall has everything you would need in order to enjoy pleasant shopping experience. There are stores that sell clothing, colognes, jewelry, toys, sports memorabilia, and plenty more. Browsing the North Star Mall will definitely take up plenty of your time if you’re shopping in San Antonio. There are plenty of good shops there for kids, and your entire family can have a memorable time as they shop.
Crossroads of San Antonio
Crossroads of San Antonio has a nice section of shopping. You’ll find plenty of familiar names, but also some locally owned stores that you may not have heard of before your visit to San Antonio. You can find unique crafts, candles, seasonal clothing, male and female fashion accessories, and plenty more. The famous playground in the middle of the shopping center draws kids from all over the place. It’s like a miniature play park in there. Parents can go shop while the kids enjoy their time at the play park. There’s plenty to see and do at one of San Antonio’s best shopping areas.
Alamo Quarry Market
The Alamo Quarry Market is the best place to go if you want to buy local food. If you’re staying in San Antonio for a little while, you should pick up some of the popular food from this store, and then take it home and cook it. In addition to good groceries, this store also has plenty of odds and ends to catch your attention. You’ll also find small, handmade crafts that you can browse at your leisure.
The Rim will be your favorite store if you’re into fishing. You can re-stock your bait and tackle supplies here at San Antonio’s most popular bait and tackle shop. The owners are pleasant people who have impressive stocks of items that you can choose from. You might even find a new fishing rod that you or someone you know would really love to have. You’ll just love the friendly atmosphere and the amazing selection they have available.
Huebner Oaks is another store worth checking out in San Antonio. While larger entities are always crowded, you’ll find an intimate setting here. You can browse the store’s great selection at any pace you like. You’ll feel right at home as you look through the beautiful items available. They offer plenty of stuff that you can use in your homes, such as kitchen accessories, cleaning supplies, car service liquids, and more. This is an impressive shop that many people don’t know about, and that’s a shame.