San Antonio is much more than the Alamo and River Walk, and there’s much more to their culinary scene than Tex-Mex and Lone Star beer… Keep reading for my list of the best things to do in San Antonio
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San Antonio is a city in Central Texas full of rich history and entertaining eats. There is just so much to do (and eat!) in San Antonio!
You can experience the city’s historical sites through tours, festivals and trails. Or you can shop, drink and dine at local favorites across the city’s diverse neighborhoods. San Antonio has it all.
If you’re planning a trip to San Antonio, here are the top ten ways you can spend your time!
San Antonio Travel Guide: What You Need to Know
Why Visit San Antonio?
San Antonio is a great place to visit for anyone. But these types of folks are going to love this city the most:
- Families– Big and Small and of All Ages!
- Mixologists and Cocktail Aficionados
- Cultural History Lovers
Where are the Best Places to Stay in San Antonio?
San Antonio has a wide variety of lodging options for all budgets. You can stay in 4-Star hotels like The Hotel Emma at The Pearl or Saint Anthony Hotel in Downtown (pictured above), or you can find boutique options such as Hotel Havana on The River Walk.
What type of lodging you choose for your trip to San Antonio, stay in these neighborhoods if you’re looking to be close to the action:
- In Downtown San Antonio
- Along the San Antonio River Walk
- Near the Historic Pearl Brewery Campus
The Best Things To Do in San Antonio
Below I’ve listed my favorite things to do in San Antonio. Plus, plenty of recommendations and a bit of history behind the best spots.
1. Explore San Antonio By Way of the River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk is 15 miles long and stretches across San Antonio, most notably the downtown area. There’s so much to do, eat, and explore along the river!
Important to note is that this is the most touristy area of San Antonio. You can expect it to be packed on the weekends nearly year round. Still, it’s a fun place.
Here are some of my favorite things to do on the River Walk:
Rita’s on the River is a chill Tex-Mex spot serving up margaritas, fajitas, river views & mariachi music right in the heart of the River Walk.
Ride a Riverboat and make your reservations here.
Hyatt Regency Hotel has a gorgeous glass atrium-type lobby. Stop here for a cool drink in the AC.
Bier Garten Riverwalk is the spot to go if you’re craving some big mugs of beer. Get a semi-authentic feeling German beer hall experience here.
La Villita Historic Arts Village is a cute walking, mall-type area home to several local artisans and shops. Perfect place to shop for San Antonio souvenirs.
Blue Star Arts Complex (South of Downtown) features a wide collection of arts venues, shops, and studios with plenty of opportunities to quench your hunger and thirst.
2. Visit the Alamo (because you can’t go to San Antonio and not make a stop here.)
3. But then take the Mission Trail to see the other four Mission sites
The Hike & Bike Trail along the San Antonio River connects all five missions in San Antonio: The Alamo, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose (my favorite and the one pictured above), Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada. Each mission is about 2.5 miles from the next and very easy to bike.
4. Eat Your Heart Out with Amazing Tex-Mex
San Antonio is the homeland of delicious Tex-Mex and breakfast tacos. There is no shortage of great places to eat in San Antonio, but here are my favorite places to munch on delicious Tex-Mex.
- Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia (pictured above)
- Rosario’s Mexican Cafe Y Cantina
- El Milagrito Cafe
- La Fonda on Main
- La Hacienda de Los Barrios
5. Shop, Eat, and Drink in The Historic Pearl District
The Pearl Brewery was a large-scale brewery operating from 1883 to 2001. Today, it’s home to one of the most happening neighborhoods in San Antonio.
The 22-acre Pearl complex is home to dozens of restaurants and shops. The last time I was in San Antonio, we actually ended up visiting this area a few times.
There’s always something to do or eat. My tip is to plan a weekend visit when the farmer’s market is alive and happening.
Where to Eat and Drink at The Pearl:
Southerleigh Brewing (above): Some of the best craft beer in San Antonio, no argument about it. I highly recommend getting down with their brunch menu. The interior still contains many structures and equipment left behind by the original Pearl Brewery– it’s a beautiful spot.
Bakery Lorraine: Bakeshop set in a remodeled home, serving sandwiches & an array of cookies, tarts, muffins & more.
‘Cue & Brew: Cozy modern joint features BBQ staples, microbrews & upscale global dinners in a warm wood interior.
Cured: Situated in a renovated historic building in the Pearl District, Cured is the way to go if you’re looking for meat. All the meats are made in-house and are aged for three months to a year.Bottling Department: The Bottling Dept. is the Pearl’s own food hall. Hamburgers, donuts, and ramen– it’s no secret, there’s plenty of choices for food here.
6. Visit the Japanese Tea Gardens which features a lush year-round garden and a floral display with shaded walkways, stone bridges, a 60-foot waterfall and ponds filled with Koi.
7. Have an ice cold Shiner at the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum
The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum has been known as a gathering place for the spectacular wildlife exhibits for over 131 years. Grab an ice cold shiner from the full service bar (which is the “oldest saloon in Texas”) and walk through the interactive and exciting Texas History museum.
8. Shop at San Antonio’s Historic Market Square
San Antonio’s Market Square is a three-block outdoor plaza filled with shops and restaurants located right in the heart of downtown. Market Square is also the largest Mexican market in the United States.
9. Imbibe at One (or Several) of San Antonio’s upscale cocktail bars
While San Antonio might be lacking in craft beer, they more than make up for it in the cocktail scene. There’s a number of upscale cocktail bars, hotel bars, and watering holes to explore.
Not to mention, the city is home to the exciting San Antonio Cocktail Conference which happens every January at the Saint Anthony Hotel. For more details about that, check out this guide I wrote after attending my first conference.
Here are some of my favorite cocktail bars in San Antonio:
Sternewirth (pictured above) at the Emma Hotel in the Pearl District is the hotel’s bar and clubroom.
Blue Box Bar is also at the Pearl and is a sleek bar emphasizing classic cocktails served to a buzzy crowd in a modern-industrial setting.
Paramour at The Phipps is a sleek rooftop bar with great views of San Antonio’s River Walk.
Havana Bar in Hotel Havana is a moody, romantic bar right off the River Walk that won Best Hotel Bar in 2018.
The Esquire Tavern opened in 1933 as a celebration to the end of prohibition. These days, the bar is still serving delightful libations & pub grub in vintage digs with a patio & the longest wooden bartop in Texas. Check out the downstairs speakeasy for a more relaxed vibe.
10. Have a Day of Thrills at One of the Nearby Amusement Parks
Finally, San Antonio is home to a great number of amusement parks big and small. Here are a few worth checking out when you visit:
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas
- SeaWorld San Antonio
- Aquatica San Antonio
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
- Tower of the Americas (Not really an amusement park, but still an exciting San Antonio Landmark to visit!)
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