Home of The Alamo and the River Walk, San Antonio is one of the primary Texas tourist attractions, but there’s far more to the city than those claim-to-fame spots. If you’re planning an extended stay here, you will be entering a city with a rich blend of American and Mexican culture. Through its historic sites, food and music, San Antonio offers a distinct experience. The more you explore, the more you’ll come to love the city.
San Antonio, surprisingly to some, covers an area twice the size of Chicago. The city boasts a population of more than 1.4 million in the city proper, which makes it the second-largest city in Texas and the seventh-largest city in the nation. It’s a major commercial hub and still growing.
Things are happening in San Antonio, so here’s our guide for you.
Four Recommended San Antonio “To-Dos”
Two of these options are obligatory for anyone visiting or living in San Antonio, but we also list some lesser-known attractions that we think you shouldn’t miss. Without further ado, here are our four “to-dos.”
- The River Walk — It’s no surprise that this is the first option on the list. Located in the center of the city, the River Walk has been called “the American Venice” and features beautiful landscapes. Restaurants, bars and shops line a series of winding paths adjacent to the San Antonio river. The River Walk features a charming boat tour, but there’s nothing like walking around on a sunny day or enjoying a traditional Mexican meal along the banks.
- The Alamo — The most recognizable monument of the Texas Revolution, the Alamo is among the primary historic sites in the state. What began as a Spanish mission eventually became a military outpost that was later used by the Texan army in its battle for independence. Both guided and audio tours are available for this window into history.
- Mission San Jose — The San Jose mission is the largest of the Spanish missions in San Antonio. The mission was founded in 1720 as not just a church, but a community. In 1933, the Civil Works Administration rebuilt and restored the grounds of the mission and the church. The mission walls and Indian quarters were completely rebuilt. Tours are available daily.
- Underground Walking Tour — The largest commercial cavern in Texas (the most spacious chamber is comparable to the size of a football field), the guided Underground Walking Tour will take you more than 150 feet underground to see an incredible subterranean landscape. You’ll learn about the formation of the caves and admire one of Texas’ most precious natural treasures. Tours are 75 minutes.
Where to Eat in San Antonio
- MIXTLI — If you’re looking for an alternative to your typical Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant, look no further than MIXTLI. Their food explores the deeper nuances of Mexican food and the menu changes based on their Mexican region of choice. If a tour of niche Mexican dishes is your thing, definitely pay this place a visit.
- Barbaro — Need a pizza fix? Barbaro is the perfect spot for a delicious late-night meal. The place can get busy, but that’s simply a testament to the quality of the pizza. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, pizza toppings can include razor clams and even octopus!
- Boudro’s on the River Walk — If you’ve already made the trek to the River Walk, then it only makes sense to enjoy a meal at Boudro’s. Here you can indulge in a mouthwatering blackened prime rib or the succulent mesquite-grilled Texas quail. Before the main course, it’s highly recommended you ask for the table-side guacamole.
- Mad Hatters Tea House and Cafe — When you need a brunch and/or tea fix, you absolutely must check out Mad Hatters. A wonderfully quaint place to enjoy your friends’ company, this is one of the best places in the city for a light lunch or early morning meal. Choose from an enormous variety of teas (black, green, herb, white and oolong) and enjoy one of the many Mad Breakfast Plates or sandwiches.
Where to Shop in San Antonio
- Shops at La Cantera — A chic open-air shopping area, the Shops at La Cantera offer a wide assortment of trendy fashion options and some notable restaurants and bars. Here you’ll find Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms and Banana Republic, but also an Apple and Microsoft store if you’re looking to buy or repair your devices. You can also stop by Bar Louie for a refreshment and a little shopping break.
- Shops at Rivercenter — If you’re already on the River Walk, you’ll be near one of San Antonio’s premier shopping areas. More than 100 retailers have set up shop here and you’ll have access to the IMAX and AMC Theatres to watch the latest feature films.
- Pearl Farmers Market — When looking for some of the best the San Antonio culinary world has to offer, you should definitely visit the Pearl Farmers Market. More than 40 vendors gather to sell fresh produce, dairy, honey and salsas to give you a taste of the local flavor. If you’re looking to eat right away, here’s a list of places to check out while you’re visiting.
Local Coffee Shops
- Local Coffee - A San Antonio staple (and one that’s moving to other parts of Texas), Local Coffee has three locations in the city that all brew from coffee beans that they source themselves. You can tell their staff pours their heart and soul into their coffee craft. No matter where you are in the city, you can get your morning fix at some of the best coffee shops in town.
- Rosella Coffee - Whether you need a cuppa, a glass of wine or a pint of beer, Rosella Coffee has it all. You can also complement your beverage of choice with a selection from their kitchen. Grab a Reuben, a Hummus Platter or some baked eggs for a night out with work friends. Whatever your choice, your taste buds and your caffeinated brain will sing.
Top School Districts
- Alamo Heights ISD
- Boerne ISD
- Lackland ISD
- Fort Sam Houston ISD
- North East ISD
- Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas — Six Flags has something for everyone, whether you’re into thrill rides, family rides or you’re looking for rides specifically for your kids. This park features BATMAN: The Ride, the world’s first 4D free-fly coaster. If roller coasters don’t suit your vibe, you can book a spot at one of Six Flags’ many shows.
- Sea World — While the roller coaster array isn’t quite as impressive as what you’ll find at Six Flags (yes, there are roller coasters at Sea World), you and the kids also have the option of swimming with dolphins, beluga whales and sea lions.