San Antonio
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San Antonio, Texas

Home of the Alamo

San Antonio is located in south central Texas about 200 miles southwest of Houston and 150 miles north of the Mexican border. It is renown for its beautiful River Walk and for the Alamo, a national historic site and a shrine to Texan independence. The city has a rich Hispanic culture and a large Tejano (Texan - Mexican) population that produces a distinctive community with the grandeur of an old Spanish colony. It is a popular tourist destination with many historic and cultural attractions and a wide selection of entertainments. You can see complete overviews of popular San Antonio attractions through OverseasAttractions.com.

San Antonio International Airport is located 13 miles north of downtown along route 281. Transportation to the downtown hotels is available via cab for about $15, via shuttle bus for $8 or via public transportation for less than one dollar. You can drive from San Antonio to Houston in about four hours along Interstate 10. You can drive to Corpus Christi, on the Gulf Coast, or to Laredo, on the Mexican border, in a little over two hours.

As in most southern cities, San Antonio can become very hot during the summer months especially July and August. It can get cool in the winter but seldom very cold. The best times to visit are in Spring or Fall.

The Alamo is a top Texas attraction

The Alamo and the River Walk are the main tourist attractions in San Antonio and the top two attractions in the entire state of Texas. The Alamo is a partially reconstructed Spanish Mission in the heart of the city and was the place where 189 Texas patriots died in 1836, while defending their land against a greatly superior Mexican army led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna. The defenders included the famous frontiersman Davy Crockett and colorful Texian knife fighter Jim Bowie. You can tour the small museum of historical artifacts located in the reconstructed chapel for free. The historic Battle of the Alamo is depicted at the San Antonio IMAX Theatre Rivercenter and at the Texas Adventure multimedia special effects theater within one block of Alamo Square.

The Alamo in San Antonio Texas © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
The Alamo is a partially reconstructed Spanish Mission in the heart of the city and was the place where 189 Texas patriots died in 1836, while defending their land against a greatly superior Mexican army led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna.

The Paseo del Rio, or River Walk is the unique attraction of San Antonio. More than 2.5 miles of the San Antonio River, flowing through the heart of downtown, has been converted into a beautifully landscaped riparian canyon. Its banks are lined with trees, tropical flowers, waterfalls and meandering walkways. Numerous picturesque bridges traverse it, and tour boats constantly ply its placid waters. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops compete with hotels, shopping malls and classy apartments for riverfront views. On weekends, the River Walk is jumping with music, entertainment and activity. A riverboat tour costs $5.25 and is a great way to see all of the riverfront scenery.

Hispanic culture and Mexican heritage abound

The La Villita historic area of downtown, located along the River Walk, has been converted into an arts and crafts community with many small shops now selling interesting gifts and souvenirs. A few blocks to the south, the King Williams Historic District contains hundreds of finely preserved Victorian homes. Visit the Guenther House in that area early in the morning and stop at their restaurant for the best breakfasts in the city.

El Mercado, or Market Square, on the western edge of downtown, is the largest Mexican market in the USA. There, you can buy beautiful hand crafted pottery, jewelry, art and clothing at bargain prices. Several other Latino cultural attractions are located in this area including the Spanish Governor's Palace, the Navarro House Museum and San Fernando Cathedral. City trams will take you throughout the downtown area for a modest 50-cent fare.

Buckhorn Museum is an old western saloon

In the vicinity of Alamo Square, are several interesting museums and cultural attractions including the San Antonio Children's Museum and the Hertzberg Circus Collection and Museum. The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum is the most curious. It is an old-time western saloon and restaurant with a museum of animal horns, cowboy memorabilia and strange artifacts. It is a nice place to go for a cold drink or a quick lunch.

HemisFair Park in San Antonio Texas © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
The 750-feet-high Tower of the Americas sits amidst beautiful HemisFair Park a few blocks southeast of downtown.

The 750-feet-high Tower of the Americas sits amidst beautiful HemisFair Park a few blocks southeast of downtown. You can ride to the top observation deck for a few dollars, or you can dine in the tower restaurant overlooking the city. The University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio is located next to HemisFair Park, and the Alamodome sports complex is across the freeway next to the Sunset Station entertainment center.

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is located in the southern suburbs of San Antonio. It contains the remains of four Spanish Missions in various states of preservation. Mission San Jose is the best preserved with its entire compound reconstructed as it would have looked in colonial times. It enables you to see how the mission operated as a self-contained and manufacturing community with houses for hundreds of pacified Native American Indians.

Schlitterbahn German water park in Texas?

There are several theme parks on the outskirts of the city. SeaWorld San Antonio with its aquatic shows is located about fifteen minutes west of downtown. The Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park and the Splashtown water park are located about 15 minutes north of the city center. Schlitterbahn, thirty miles north along route 35, is quite interesting. This German-themed water park complete with replica castle and one of the biggest and best water rides in the country, sits in the middle of the German colony of New Braunfels. Restaurants in this little town feature bratwurst and apple strudel along with the usual Texas barbeque.

There are plenty of opportunities for year-around golf or tennis at the many courses in the San Antonio vicinity. Horse racing can be seen at the Retama Park racecourse about fifteen minutes northeast of town. Horseback riding is available at many ranches and stables outside of the city.

Auto Tours in southern Texas

Daytrips or automobile tours out of San Antonio could include: A half-day drive eastward to the beautiful white sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico at Corpus Christi and South Padre Island with a stop along the way to visit the immense King Ranch near Kingville. A half-day drive southward to visit the border town of Laredo, Texas and to cross the Rio Grande for some shopping in the town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. I personally prefer a leisurely drive northward through the German community of New Braunfels, into the hill country to visit the LBJ Ranch of President Lyndon Johnson then on to the old German community of Fredricksburg. You can even visit Luckenbach, Texas, that tiny town in the middle of nowhere, made famous by country music stars Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Photo Description: The Paseo del Rio, or River Walk is the unique attraction of San Antonio.