From the Missions to the Hill Country, San Antonio offers so many things for visitors to see and do, ranging from major theme parks to the River Walk lined with restaurants, patios, galleries and shops. The city is filled with culturally significant arts, history, museums and architecture.
110 Broadway, Suite 440, San Antonio, TX 78205
Phone: (210) 227-4262 Fax: (210) 212-7602
The San Antonio River is the heart of the country's oldest and most extensive Spanish-colonial water system, having supplied water for the construction of San Antonio's five historic missions. Today, the river still winds its way through the city, defining neighborhoods and offering a landscape of beauty and tranquility to behold from its shady banks. In the city center, the River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is made up of cobbled walkways, bridges, cafés, shops, restaurants and bars along the river's edge. Its three miles of pathways are a full level below city streets, creating the ambiance of a secluded oasis. Aside the meandering San Antonio River, stone pathways connect shops, restaurants, hotels and museums with a blend of historic and modern architecture that resonates the depth of this centuries-old metropolis. Among these walkways, commerce meets culture with the sounds of mariachis serenading diners and river taxis carrying guests across the spring-fed river that has attracted people to this region for centuries. Soon the River Walk will extend from two to thirteen miles, connecting many of San Antonios prestigious museums and historic districts with beautifully preserved 18th century, Spanish Colonial missions.
Comprised of four out of five San Antonio missions: missions Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada. Travel from mission to mission on the eight-mile Missions Bike and Hike Trail.
San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, the “Queen of the Missions,” is the largest mission in San Antonio. Spanish designers, directing workers from the local Coahuiltecan tribe, built the mission in the late 1700s using Texas limestone and brightly colored stucco. At its height, it provided sanctuary and a social and cultural community for more than 300 Indians, and was surrounded by acres of fields and livestock herds. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) almost fully restored it to its original design in the 1930s. The mission church holds a Mariachi Mass on Sundays and has a rose window in the sacristy.
As San Antonio's first neighborhood, La Villita, "the little village," was originally established by Spanish soldiers stationed at the Alamo. Today it is a historic arts village that houses shops, art galleries and restaurants in Spanish, Mexican, German and French-influenced residences.
10500 Sea World Dr, San Antonio, TX 78251
SeaWorld San Antonio, the world's largest marine life adventure park and family entertainment showplace, presents a splashy lineup of more than 26 sensational shows, thrilling rides, animal attractions and educational experiences for all ages. It's actually four parks in one on 250 acres: a show park, a rides and slides park, a water park and an amazing animal park.
17000 IH 10 West, San Antonio, TX 78257
Phone: (210) 697-5050 Fax: (210) 697-5265 Toll Free: (800) 473-4378
Experience the best in thrilling rides, exciting live entertainment and a free waterpark all at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Begin your adventure by facing your fears on the park's eighth roller coaster, Goliath. Towering 105 feet, Goliath propels riders down an 80-foot drop, two massive loops and five heart-pounding inversions all at 50 mph! Continue the thrills by soaring high on the Superman Krypton Coaster, taking gut-wrenching turns on Tony Hawk's Big Spin and enjoying a daring free-fall down on Scream. Then soak up some family fun at White Water Bay, Fiesta Texas free waterpark. Get drenched on over 15 wild rides and slides, including Tornado, Big Bender and The Lone Star Lagoon, a wave pool not only shaped like Texas, but almost as big! Six Flags Fiesta Texas has won Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for "The Best Theme Park Shows in the Country" for an astounding 10 consecutive years! Come see why we're America's number one show park with shows like Rockin' at Rockville High, Showstoppin' and Country Rocks. End your evening with The Lone Star Spectacular, a multi-media experience complete with lasers and fireworks that depicts the history of the great state of Texas along our quarry wall. New for spring 2009 is Wiggles World, a new themed area in Spassburg complete with children's rides, an outdoor theatre, gift shop and delectable food options all dedicated to the popular children's show.
600 HemisFair Park, San Antonio, TX 78205
Phone: (210) 223-3101
For more than 35 years, the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas has offered residents and tourists of San Antonio, Texas, the most breathtaking view of the Alamo City - visitors dine at the Tower's revolving restaurant or enjoy the scenery from the observation deck. Now, Landry's Restaurants, Inc. has taken the experience to a whole new level. Among the improvements are an upscale eatery, banquet facility and a Texas-themed 4-D, multi-sensory theater. Chart House treats guests to pure dining pleasure with a delectable menu and sophisticated atmosphere. The new restaurant, which boasts 360-degree, revolving vistas, seats up to 250 people and has space for 75 more at the bar. On the observation deck, a banquet and meeting space has been added to accommodate a wide range of events. It is a premier location for black-tie galas, business meetings, weddings and more. The Skies Over Texas is a sophisticated ride that takes visitors on a high-flying trip across the Lone Star State, the 4-D theater zooms in on such scenes as a Friday-night high school football game and working up-close-and-personal with a space shuttle at NASA and more. A ground-level café and retail shop give visitors more ways to enjoy their day. Additional amusements, attractions and food vendors greet guests at the base of the Tower. Built in honor of the 1968 World's Fair celebrating San Antonio's 250th anniversary. Owned by the citizens of San Antonio, the Tower is operated by Landry's Restaurants, Inc.
Museums and Galleries
While the collections in some of the museums focus on local, regional and Western art, great works by international artists from antiquity through modern times are well represented in museum galleries.
ArtpaceFounded by legendary art patron Linda Pace, Artpace has earned international acclaim for its innovative artists' residency program. Located in a converted 1920s automobile dealership, Artpace presents original works created by Texas, national and international artists during their residencies, along with contemporary art exhibits, lectures and other avant-garde events in the Hudson Room. Every Friday, a mobile food truck serves delicious tacos curbside in the courtyard.
McNay Art MuseumThe McNay Art Museum, housed in a Spanish Colonial Revival estate, has grown into one of the best small museums in the country—the Wall Street Journal puts it in the top four—with a world-class collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century European and American art, along with changing exhibits in the Stieren Center for Exhibits.
San Antonio Art League Museum
The 100-year-old San Antonio Art League makes its home in the King William Historic District. The organization is dedicated to the support and exhibition of local and regional artists, with exhibits of various artists' works featured throughout the year. The museum's permanent collection includes 400 works of all media, primarily by Texas artists—paintings and water-colors, graphic art, photography, ceramics, sculpture, drawings, silverware, furniture, fabric and wall hangings.
San Antonio Central Library
San Antonio's main library is also an award-winning architectural masterpiece and a good place to view art. The “enchilada red” library was designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. The gallery focuses on local artists and the spectacular hanging glass sculpture is by Dale Chihuly.
The San Antonio Museum of Art
Tour the world of art in encyclopedic exhibits ranging from ancient Greek and Egyptian art to Asian ceramics and Latin American, American, European and contemporary art. Out back, the new Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk features public art installations such as Donald Lipski's giant, lighted sunfish and a fantastic carved concrete grotto by San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés.
Southwest School of Art
Outstanding contemporary shows, most for free, are held in the Russell Hill Rogers Galleries of the Southwest School of Art, one of the largest art schools in the U.S. The school occupies the campus of a Catholic girls' school founded in 1851. The grounds are breathtaking and slope down to a beautiful garden on the San Antonio River Walk. Stop in for lunch at the Copper Kitchen and don't miss the gift shop, one of the best places to buy handcrafted art in San Antonio.
Witte MuseumOne of the city's most popular museum, the Witte Museum, hugs Brackenridge Park and the banks of the San Antonio River. The Witte is primarily devoted to science and natural history, with wonderful children's exhibits and stellar traveling exhibits from around the world, but also boasts the best early Texas art collection in the state. The museum is undergoing expansion, and the 20,000 sq. ft. South Texas Heritage Center opened in 2012 to tell the real-life stories of those who were integral to the history of South Texas, including Native Americans, Spanish settlers, Tejanos, ranchers, trail drivers, farmers and oil and gas pioneers.
San Antonio Art GalleriesIt's great fun when you travel to find pieces of art you love and bring them home. If you don't know a city very well it can be difficult to figure out where to start. Here is a list of the city's main commercial galleries, featuring well-curated shows by dealers knowledgeable about the local art scene.
DowntownLawrence Markey: Drawings, paintings and sculptures from 1960 to present.
Monte Wade Fine Arts Gallery: Contemporary and traditional art.
Nueva Street Gallery: Contemporary works by Texas artists.
SouthtownBlue Star Contemporary Art Museum: Four on-site galleries hold more than 20 contemporary art exhibits annually.
AnArte Gallery : Contemporary artwork across all media by both established and up-and-coming artists.
Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art : Nationally and internationally known artists working in a variety of media.
Hunt Gallery: Realistic and abstract works by regional and national artists.
NanEtte Richardson Fine Art : Regional and national painters and sculptors.
Parchman Stremmel : Contemporary works by American and Latin American artists who are recognized regionally, nationally and internationally.
REM Gallery : Contemporary art featuring Texas artists.
Gallery Nord: Contemporary works by local, national and international artists.
Historic Sites and Landmarks
The Guenther House
In 1860, Carl Hilmar Guenther, founder of Pioneer Flour Mills, built an elegant home nestled between his mill and the San Antonio River. Today, this beautifully restored home offers a museum featuring mill memorabilia, River Mill store and a charming restaurant that proves to be a local favorite.
Historic Sunset Station at St. Paul Square
Sunset Station is nestled in the historic St. Paul district, offering a unique experience in downtown San Antonio. Take a self-paced walking tour to marvel at turn of the century architecture, have lunch at Aldaco's Fine Mexican Cuisine then enjoy one of many concerts from all genres of music.
King William Historic District
In the late 1800's, this 25-block area near downtown was settled by prominent German merchants and was the most elegant residential area in the city. King William was zoned as the state's first historic district.
La Villita Historic Arts Village
San Antonio's Main Plaza, home to San Fernando Cathedral, dates back to the early 1700's and was restored in 2008, vitalizing the city's center.
The Market Square (El Mercado)
Market Square, the largest Mexican market in the U.S., provides a variety of dining, shopping and festivals.
Old Spanish Trail
From St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California, the Old Spanish Trail links cities of Spanish conquest and settlement.
San Pedro Springs Park
The Steves Homestead
The Steves Homestead, maintained since 1954 as a historic house museum, is a Victorian French Second Empire design, three-story residence in the King William area built for Edward Steves in 1876 and furnished in a late 19th-century style.
Villa Finale's Visitor Center is home to a museum and exhibitions focusing on the history of the beautiful King William neighborhood including Villa Finale, the first National Trust Historic Site in Texas.
Aztec on the River
The Aztec on the River is set in an historic 1926 movie palace which has been meticulously restored, complete with a Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ. Modern enhancements have been added to create an incredible experience, including a multi-million dollar special effects show in the Grand Lobby, plus shopping and dining options.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower is filled with significant works of fine art, such as hand-carved Stations of the Cross, a hand-carved retablo above the main altar, marble altars and beautiful stained glass.
Casa Navarro State Historic Site
Casa Navarro is nestled in downtown San Antonio. The half-acre site is the restored home of Texas patriot José Antonio Navarro (1795 - 1871). Today, visitors can tour Navarro's adobe home furnished with period antiques, read copies of his writing, and discuss questions of history with informed interpreters.
Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
The Empire has been used as a venue for vaudeville, silent and talking motion pictures, concerts and live theatre. The Charline McCombs Empire Theatre's intimate and charming atmosphere lends itself to first-rate theatre, contemporary concerts, comedians and performing arts events.
Fort Sam Houston
Established in 1845, the fort moved to its present location in 1876. The post is known as the birthplace of military aviation and the site of the first flight of a military aircraft in 1910 and is now known as the home of Army medicine.
The ornate Majestic Theatre is one of the few remaining vintage vaudeville movie palaces. The theater is home to the San Antonio Symphony and the AT&T Broadway Series.
Arguably the most beautiful mission, Concepción looks much like it did almost three centuries ago.
Mission Espada contains the best-preserved segment of the acequia (irrigation system) that was used to bring water to the fields.
Mission San José
Established in 1720, San José became known as the "Queen of the Missions" for its grand design of stone walls, bastions and magnificent church.
Mission San Juan
Mission San Juan's fertile farmlands allowed it to be self-sustainable; its chapel and bell tower are still in use today.
San Fernando Cathedral
Texas hero James Bowie married Ursula de Veramendi in its sanctuary, and Mexican General Santa Anna used the church as a lookout. Today, San Fernando still serves the city and citizens, now as the cathedral of the Diocese of San Antonio. Built in 1738, its history includes both religious and secular duties.
Southwest School of Art
On an historic 1851 campus alongside San Antonio's River Walk, the Southwest School of Art is one of the nation's largest community-based art schools, offering classes to established artists as well as to beginning and intermediate students of all ages.
Spanish Governor's Palace
A national historic landmark, labeled "the most beautiful building in San Antonio" by the National Geographic Society, this building once housed the officials of the Spanish Province of Texas. Over the entrance is the original keystone which contains the carved, double-headed eagle of the Hapsburg coat-of-arms and the inscription, in Spanish, "finished in 1749."