San Antonio is a beautiful city that sits between Austin and Houston in Texas. Before moving to Texas, I had a vague, stereotypical of this Southern State. Having lived in Toronto for the majority of my life, I’ve always thought of the ‘Wild Wild West’ as a place with little to do.
And truth be told, living on the outskirts of Houston semi-confirmed my initial suspicions of suburban boredom. However, the beautiful weather, the charming Southern hospitality, and its close proximity to Mexico have made Texas much more enjoyable than I initially anticipated. Especially places like San Antonio, with its colorful layout and delightful atmosphere, has made my job in Texas seem like a constant work-cation.
Do spend a few days roaming the San Antonio streets and soaking in the gorgeous Texan sun!
1. Relive History at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
The Alamo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Texas. The historic Spanish compound was founded by the Roman Catholic missionaries in the 18th century.
Originally built to ‘educate’ the converted Native population, the space was abandoned in the late 17th century and became a fortress for the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras.
The mission was surrounded to the Texian army during the Texan Revolution in 1835 and eventually became a designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
The history of the Alamo resembles the history of Texas. It is complex, confusing, and knotted by an array of sociopolitical events. Following Texas’s annexation by the United States, the U.S Army rented out the Alamo as a facility. It was later abandoned (yet again) and resold to Texas.
Now, a trip to the mission/museum will reveal several things. The most intriguing being that the entrance of the church lists out the U.S. Army personnel that sacrificed their lives during the Texan Revolution.
Native narratives and the history of colonization are complex topics. But despite the Battle of the Alamo being a key event to Texan independence, I wonder if it is particularly just to document history in such a way that neglects many key aspects.
2. Enjoy a Stroll at San Antonio Riverwalk
San Antonio is known for its beautiful riverside pedestrian streets. Constructions for the 4 km San Antonio River Walk began in the late 1920s. A casual stroll will lead you along the river, in-between some cute buildings, and dozens of restaurants, hotels, roadside cafes, tourist souvenir shops, theaters, and museums. All of these facilities are pleasantly located in the valley below the city street level. It is a relaxing experience altogether.
3. Get a Glimpse of the City on the Go Rio Cruise
At San Antonio River Walk, there is the option of cruising downstream with a Go Rio Boat. Sightseers will enjoy a view of the downtown area with boutiques, restaurants, hotels, museums, and architectures. The colorful outdoor umbrella area is especially charming. For those looking to snap some photos, do try to get a seat on the side of the boat for the optimal view.
Where can I find Go Rio Cruises, San Antonio TX?
To catch a River Walk Taxi Boat, do look for signs that are located around River Walk downtown and on the Museum Reach. These Taxi Boats are labeled with the GO RIO Shuttle sign. It takes you down the stream, giving you a view of the city from below.
When do Go Rio Boats Operate?
Narrated cruises are usually offered between 09:00 am and 10:00 pm. Times may be extended during tourist season. The River Walk Taxi Boats are approximately 40 minutes in length and run every 60 minutes during operation time.
How much are Go Rio Cruises, San Antonio TX?
The general narrated cruises cost around $10.00 for a one-way ticket. However, prices may differ based on a number of specialty services. Do take a look at their pricing here.
4. Wander the Streets of San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is a beautiful city. There is a wealth of historical architectural sites. Hundreds of Spanish and Mexican-styled buildings dot the streets. They contrast greatly to the industrialized layout of Houston.
San Antonio is also known for its vibrant culture. In addition to the Spanish and Mexican ruins, the national colors of Mexico-green, red, and white, are spread across the city. Combined with the traditional culture of the Natives, the diversity of the city creates an unforgettable experience.
5. Stay at a Haunted Hotel in San Antonio, Texas
For those interested in supernatural and paranormal activities, San Antonio may be the place for you. The city has numerous locations that are claimed to be haunted. A number of these hotels are located downtown and are easily accessible.
I’m not a fan of anything horror-related. In fact, I can’t even brave the trailer of a scary movie without leaving the room. However, after being convinced (or tricked :'(, I might add), I did spend a night at Hotel Gibbs, a 19th century established across the street from the Alamo.
Thankfully, I didn’t experience anything major. However, reviews online speak of experiences a lot different from my own.
Tips & Advice for San Antonio, Texas
When to go to San Antonio, Tx
Southern weather is much better than that of the Great White North. However, I’d say Spring and Fall are the two best seasons to visit San Antonio. Not many can stand the crazy summer heat of Texas during July and August, I can attest to that without hesitation. For those that love a good celebration, do plan the trips around local festivals. They are often incredibly fun!
Festivals & Events in San Antonio, Tx
San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in February
A three-week San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Tournament has been a local tradition since its establishment in 1950, meeting the needs of those looking for the most authentic Western experience and providing thrilling entertainment. The event includes activities such as horseback riding and cattle sprinting.
Of course, music is also essential at rodeo shows, with big-name country music bands and other pop and rock bands performing alongside each other. The carnival rides and Texan barbecue are also not to be missed.
Fiesta San Antonio in April
Fiesta San Antonio is filled with fun and interesting activities that bring together hundreds of events with colorful visual, auditory and culinary experiences.
Originally a festival that in celebration of the Alamo Independence War, it has evolved into a traditional festival to commemorate the long history and culture of San Antonio. Fiesta San Antonio attracts 3.5 million people annually and hosts more than a hundred entertainment events.
Fiesta Oyster Bake has more than 90 years of history and features more than 100,000 live, toasted, or fried oysters accompanied by live music and fireworks.
The costume contest, the Miss San Antonio contest, plus numerous art exhibitions, and carnivals for food and entertainment showcases the rich history and culture of the city. The purpose of the Fiesta is to commemorate the different cultural traditions of San Antonio.
Holiday lights in November and December
Right after Thanksgiving, the San Antonio River Walk will be lit up with the bright Christmas lights, and the month-long celebration till New Years will kick off. Countless flashing lights illuminate the riverside pedestrian walkway and the huge Christmas tree on the Alamo Square will be put into place shortly after.