With mountains to see, a gorgeous River Walk and the Alamo, San Antonio is one of the pretty fun cities in the US you have to explore. Not only that, there are loads of foodie joints, galleries and viewpoints which can fill any city break. There’s honestly so many epic and best things to do in San Antonio; you’ll be spoilt for choice.
For us, San Antonio was our second Texan port-of-call (on our road trip across the state). After exploring the best spots in Houston, we drove on up to San Antonio and spent a long weekend exploring the city…
… and boy, it didn’t disappoint!
So, to help you get the most outta your trip around San Antonio, I wanted to share of favourite gems that we loved.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in San Antonio when you visit Texas. Have a great trip!
1.) The Alamo
You kinda can’t visit the city and not visit the Alamo. It’s one of the best things to do in San Antonio that’s totally iconic. Not only that, it’s one of the most important historical sites in the United States and protected as such.
You see, way back when, the Battle of the Alamo was played out here – back in 1836.
Today, you can take a gander around the museum and library and learn some amazing old history of Texas. Yes, the site might feel quite cosy and small but it packs a punch with the amount of history that you can’t miss.
We loved strolling around the Alamo at our own pace. Though, if you want a deeper history, join one of the tours that meander all the artefacts around the site.
One thing to note, the site can get quite busy on weekends and holidays. If you prefer a quieter experience, choose a weekday and visit early in the morning.
You can also tour the historic Alamo Church and Long Barrack Museum whilst here and it’s really easy to visit after strolling the Riverwalk.
Getting hungry? Grab a table at Bliss (on Presat Street). Their scallops are delicious.
Oh, and don’t forget to book your Alamo, River Walk Cruise and Tower of Americas before arriving (see below). This way, you can guarantee your entry time so you’re not waiting around when you arrive.
2.) Natural Bridge Caverns
Around a 30-minute drive from the Alamo, the Natural Bridge Caverns are really easy to visit for a half-day trip from Downtown San Antonio.
Now, you’ll likely find loads of caves in Texas but the Natural Bridge Caverns are some of the largest (easily accessed) caves in all the state. We totally loved our visit and spent a good few hours underground!
It’s incredible inside, especially when you see all the towering formations on the Discovery Walking Tour. Although relatively easy to access, there are some inclines to consider once you’re in the cave.
After moseying around the cave system, head for some of the above-ground adventures, too. Try your hand at zip-lining (it’s a ball), and the rope course if you fancy a little workout!
3.) San Fernando Cathedral
San Fernando Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals in the US built back in 1873. With its beautiful architecture, the church also features the remains of some Alamo defenders and is shrouded in history that you really can’t miss.
Yes, the interior is stunning but there’s also an incredible light show that happens at San Fernando Cathedral on most nights. Though
You can see a free light show at night that’s so stunning. It happens at 9 pm, 9:30 pm and 10 pm every day except Monday.
4.) San Antonio River Walk
Probably our favourite area to stroll in the late afternoon, the River Walk can’t be missed in San Antonio.
Following the river itself, the River Walk is totally lovely to explore on foot. along the way, you’ll criss-cross lots of Downtown San Antonio and get to stop in lots of the little eateries and bars that line the walk itself.
We spent many afternoons with a tipple in our hand and chilling by the water; it was bliss.
If you fancy giving your tired feet a break, book a River Walk boat cruise that sails the river itself. It’s a great way to see the city and totally chilled.
5.) Market Square (El Mercado)
Probably one of the best things to do in San Antonio for a little shopping, Market Square is a souvenir-lovers dream spot!
Here, you can find everything here from local pottery to bespoke jewellery or paintings by local artists. It’s got a little something for everyone.
I guarantee you’ll leave with at least one little trinket in hand!
Afterwards, head over to Schilo’s which is the oldest restaurant in all of San Antonio. Their chicken and biscuits are so delicious for breakfast. Also, their peach cobbler is everything!
6.) Tower of the Americas
For views across San Antonio, you’ll want to get yourself across and book tickets to the Tower of the Americas. It’s one of the best things to do in San Antonio, especially for an epic sunset.
We planned our stroll through Hemisfair Park to coincide with the sunset view and it all worked out perfectly. Just be sure to check what time the sunset is before you plan your day; this way you can get the best views.
7.) La Villita Historic Arts Village
Included in the National Registry of Historic Districts, La Villita Historic Arts Village is a one-of-a-kind spot in San Antonio to visit.
We totally loved the art galleries and cosy vintage haunts that are all so cute.
Plus, it’s really easy to visit after strolling the River Walk as it’s just across from the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Which, incidentally is a must-visit museum in the city, too!
8.) San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Part of the protected UNESCO world heritage sites of San Antonio’s missions, it’s a spot you can’t miss when visiting the city.
Including The Alamo, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a site that looks after five missions that are totally iconic in Texas.
When planning a visit, don’t forget to explore Mission San Jose, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada.
Each one has its own history to explore and is so unique. For instance, Mission San Jose is a historic mission where you can learn more about the site, and spot the granary, old soldiers’ quarters, walls and garden.
The buildings have such a rich history and they’re so easy to explore.
Also, don’t forget that some of the missions have ranger-led events and tours where you can learn more about their role and histories.
For instance, Mission San Jose typically holds these during the hour between 10 am and 3 pm every day. They’re fascinating.
9.) Witte Museum
Love to visit an epic museum when visiting a new city? Well, the Witte Museum is a spot for you!
Here, you can take a gander at some of the most amazing galleries of Nature, Science and Culture that fill the halls. Plus, you might even spot some of the iconic dinosaur skeletons and exhibits, too.
Though the Witte Museum doesn’t just focus on the history of millions of years ago, it also shows off a wealth of artefacts around South Texas history, culture, and natural science. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
It’s well worth exploring and one of the best things to do in San Antonio if you have a few hours to spare.
10.) San Antonio Museum of Art
Just shy of the riverfront, the San Antonio Museum of Art is an incredible place to visit.
It’s the kind of place to visit if you fancy a peruse around the incredible; Native American, Spanish colonial and Latin American collections. They’re all so iconic.
Not only that, but you’ll also get to see the collections of Egyptian and Roman antiquities. It’s one of the best things to do in San Antonio for art lovers. Plus, a great spot if you want to avoid some of that intense midday sun.
11.) Japanese Tea Garden
Part of the larger Brackenridge Park grounds, the Japanese Tea Garden is a peaceful spot in San Antonio that’s been lovingly restored.
It’s one of the best things to do in San Antonio if you’re already exploring the nearby DoSeum Museum (which is great for kids). Plus, it’s not too far from the Witte Museum, too.
Once here, you’ll get to wander around the koi carp ponds, spot the huge waterfall and explore the ornate gardens that are so stunning. It’s well over 100 years old and totally lovely.
12.) Mission Trail
Fancy a long stroll or bike ride? Then the Mission Trail is for you.
It is a hike and bike trail that connects all five missions and is one of the best things to do in San Antonio. This is especially true if you want a stroll but don’t fancy leaving the city itself.
The Mission trail is relatively easy to walk; though be prepared with water and sunblock; just take it at your own pace. There are also parks, rest stops and picnic breaks to be had along the route.