San Antonio Tourist Attractions
There are many places to visit and things to do in and around San
Antonio, TX. Information about most of San Antonio's most popular
attractions can be found here.
Remember the Alamo! This Texas shrine stands for freedom and people from the
world over come to see the Mission Church that still stands. The long barracks
house a short show and museum, and many surrounding attractions offer movies
that showcase the siege of the Alamo.
Colorful, vibrant and exciting, the Riverwalk offers a wonderful place to
spend the day or evening; whether it is enjoying an upscale dinner at one of our
fine dining establishments or lingering over margaritas and tableside guacamole.
Afterwards, browse through the shops or take the boat ride for a history of the
Riverwalk and downtown San Antonio.
Purported to be the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico, "El
Mercado” is a great place to wander around, and check out the dancing, local
bands, singers and artwork on weekends. Don’t forget to check out the bakery and
Fort Sam Houston was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1975. It
is one of the Army's oldest installations and now part of Joint Base San
Antonio. Fort Sam Houston boasts the largest collection of historic structures
-- more than 900 buildings. Even more consequential than the numbers is the
historical integrity of the post's different sections which represent different
eras of construction. Careful preservation of these areas allows the post to
live with its history, surrounded by existence of the traditions of excellence
established when the first soldier arrived here in 1845. Self-guided tours are
offered, and guided tours can be arranged.
The La Villita Arts Village is a collection of shops, restaurants and
galleries in the heart of historic ‘original settlement’ in downtown San
Antonio. Located on the south bank of the San Antonio River, it was San
Antonio's first neighborhood. Originally a settlement of primitive huts for the
Spanish soldiers, the area changed to brick, stone and adobe houses in the early
1800s. Late in the 19th century European immigrants from Germany and France
moved into the area. These pioneers became San Antonio's business leaders,
bankers, educators, and craftsmen. The cultural mix that occurred at this time
is best illustrated by the variety of architectural styles reflected in La
Villita's buildings. The architecture portrays the evolution of buildings from
palisado to Victorian Houses. But by the first part of the 20th century, the
area was a slum- until ground broke on the San Antonio River Walk development in
1939. The city preserved and restored the area to the thriving art community
that it is today.
HemisFair Park was built to host the 1968 World's Fair. The Fifteen (15) acre
park features cascading waterfalls and fountains, lushly landscaped areas,
historic buildings, children's playground, and the world Famous San Antonio
landmark "The Tower of the Americas". In addition to the Tower of the Americas,
shops and relaxing water features it is also home to the Universidad Nacional
Autonoma de México, Instítuto de México and the Institute of Texan Cultures,
which offers year-round exhibits on the history and people of the Lone Star
state and sponsors the popular Texas Folklife Festival each year. HemisFair Park
is located in downtown San Antonio adjacent to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention
Center. Parking is available off of Bowie Street.
The legacy and history of San Antonio and this region began with a simple
ceremony when, in 1718, Franciscans and Spanish representatives established the
first mission. Within 13 years, five were located along the San Antonio River.
The missions' purpose? To acculturate and Christianize the native population and
make them Spanish citizens. Today, visitors can retrace the footsteps of the
mission Indians and friars. And, possibly, meet descendants of those first
The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the HemisFair Park Campus, a
short walk from the Alamo and the River Walk. The 182,000-square-foot complex
features 65,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and displays that tell the
stories of Texans. Through its research, collections, exhibits and programs,
serves as the forum for the understanding and appreciation of Texas and Texans.
The museum is a component of The University of Texas at San Antonio, and strives
to expand the community's awareness and appreciation of Texas through an
engaging series of exhibits, programs, and special events. At the 1968
Hemisfair, it opened as the Texas State Exhibits Pavilion, and today fulfills
its mandate as the state's center for multicultural education by investigating
the ethnic and cultural history of the state.
Located in downtown San Antonio, the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas
provides guests the most spectacular view of the Alamo City. Ride the
glass-walled elevators over 500 feet up to the top. Enjoy the gorgeous panorama
from the Tower's revolving Chart House Restaurant, take in the scenery from the
Observation Deck or experience the thrilling 4D Theater Ride. For a taste of the
best dining and fun that San Antonio Riverwalk restaurants have to offer, come
take a flight with the Tower of the Americas.
The Institute of Mexican Culture was established by the government of Mexico
and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish permanent cultural
representation in the United States. In 1958 a group of Mexican-Americans opened
the Mexican Art Gallery, and this same group, motivated by the goals outlined by
the government of Mexico during "Hemisfair 68", was granted a new building,
giving them the opportunity of offering many important exhibits. The Institute
opened its doors to the public on June 19, 1972, with the presence of the former
President of Mexico Lic. Luis Echeverria and San Antonio Mayor John Gatti.
Recognized as one of the most ornate facilities in the country, the Majestic
has long held a special place in the archives of Texas theatrical and
architectural history. Located at 224 E. Houston Street in the heart of downtown
San Antonio, the Majestic was designed and built in 1929 by John Eberson, and
stood proudly for many years as the largest theatre in Texas and the second
largest motion picture theatre in the country. It was intended to be the most
modern and ornate building in South Texas - complete with new sound and
projection equipment - and was the first theatre in the state to be totally
air-conditioned. The Majestic remains one of the finest atmospheric theatres
ever built. Inspired by Spanish Mission, Baroque, and Mediterranean
architectural traditions, theatre patrons are transported to a fantasy villa.
Walls become towers with windows of colorful glass. A rare white peacock perches
on a balcony railing as doves are caught in mid-flight. Grape vines creep along
the walls and luscious foliage flourishes. The vaulted "sky" comes to life as
stars twinkle while drifting clouds pass by overhead. Balconies, tile roofs,
arches, and columns, railings, elaborate ornamentation, statues, and a bell
tower all aid in the transformation of the theatre into a mystical village.
Located in the old Lone Star Brewery, the San Antonio Museum of Art houses
this region's finest displays of Greek and Roman antiquities, Asian art, Latin
American and folk art, and American paintings. It’s not unusual for the
first-time visitor to be astonished at the size and scope of the Museum’s
collections. The Museum houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of
ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman, as well as Asian, art in the southern United
States. The Museum also has a significant collection of Latin American art, from
Pre-Columbian times to the present, showcased in the Nelson A. Rockefeller
Center for Latin American Art. Our growing contemporary art collection balances
some true masterpieces with notable Texas and regional art.
Ohio-born oil heiress Marion Koogler first came to Texas in 1918 shortly
after her marriage to Sergeant Don Denton McNay, who died of influenza in 1918.
She moved to San Antonio permanently in 1926 where she married prominent
ophthalmologist Donald T. Atkinson. The following year, she purchased her first
modern oil painting. The couple built a 24-room Spanish Colonial Revival house,
and Marion continued to collect 19th- and 20th-century European and American
paintings, as well as Southwest art from New Mexico. When her marriage to
Atkinson ended in 1936, she returned to using her first husband’s last name. At
her death in 1950, Marion McNay left more than 700 works of art, along with her
house, the surrounding 23 acres, and an endowment to establish the first museum
of modern art in Texas. In 1954, the McNay opened its doors to the public. Seven
additions to the original McNay house between 1970 and 1994 included galleries
to exhibit the museum’s constantly growing collection, space to store and frame
works of art, and an auditorium for programs and special events.
San Antonio's first zoo consisted of a collection of animals assembled in San
Pedro Park in the 1800s. In 1914, Colonel George W. Brackenridge, one of the
city's leading citizens and founder of the San Antonio Express-News, placed
buffalo, elk, deer, monkeys, a pair of lions, and four bears on land he had
deeded over to the city in what is now known as Brackenridge Park. This
collection became the San Antonio Zoo. Much about the San Antonio Zoo has
changed since then. While the colonel may not have imagined what the San Antonio
Zoo would become, we can only hope that he would appreciate all that the Zoo has
accomplished for the people of San Antonio, for science, for children, and for
the Earth itself. For 97 years, the collective efforts of dedicated individuals
have helped the San Antonio Zoo become one of the best in the nation. The
56-acre zoo is currently home to over 8,500 animals representing 779 species of
Just a few miles from downtown, the San Antonio Botanical Gardens offer 33
acres of plantings, including a sampling of all 5 Texas geographic areas. In the
late 1800s, the city constructed a surface water supply system that depended on
the San Antonio River. George Brackenridge bought the water works in 1883, but
he later became convinced the system could fail if the area suffered a long
drought. As a result, wells supplying pure artesian water began to be used and,
in 1899, Brackenridge deeded the water works land and properties to the City. It
was on part of this land that Mrs. R. R. Witt and Mrs. Joseph Murphy, along with
friends and associates organized the San Antonio Garden Center and later the
Botanical Gardens. Funding was obtained and construction of the gardens began in
1970. The official opening was May 3,1980.
In March of 1960, four students from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio,
who were convinced that large underground passages existed under the amazing
60-foot limestone bridge that had been an attraction for many years, discovered
Natural Bridge Caverns. The land's owners decided to develop the first 1/2 mile,
the most spectacular part of the caverns, for the enjoyment of guests from
around the world. Since then, many additional rooms and levels have been
explored and opened. The result is one of the world's premier show caverns, and
one of the most popular attractions in Texas.
From Shamu to dolphins, sharks, seals, sea lions and much more, SeaWorld San
Antonio is the world's largest marine life park. After hanging out with Shamu or
watching one of SeaWorld's shows, head over to the roller-coaster action with
the Great White, which is Texas' first inverted steel roller-coaster or the
Steel Eel for a bout of weightlessness. To cool off, ride Journey to Atlantis
which is part roller-coaster, part water ride or dip into the Lost Lagoon.
Pearl is a culinary and cultural destination in San Antonio, Texas. As a
dynamic and evolving environment, Pearl is committed to stewardship and
learning. This historic gathering place is where everyone is welcome to eat,
play and learn along the banks of the San Antonio River. It is now the third
U.S. campus (along with New York and California) of The Culinary Institute of
America, and two San Antonio natives and CIA graduates have opened up
award-winning, innovative restaurants on site.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas offers an array of award-winning shows, a complement
of thrill and family rides and excitement for the whole family with a free
waterpark in the summer. It has shows like Straight Country, Rockin' at
Rockville High and Ritmos del Corazon. The all-new Lone Star Nights Laser and
Fireworks Celebration features a new storyline and technology for an advanced
production including enhanced video projection, new lasers, audio, pyrotechnics
and special effects. Enjoy one of the parks thrilling roller coasters, including
Goliath, racing at speeds of over 50 mph. Bring your bathing suit in the summer-
admission to White Water Bay is free with park admission. There are many
restaurants located throughout the park.
About 45 minutes north of San Antonio, in New
Braunfels, Texas, is one of the country's largest water parks - and one of its
oldest, too. The park is a Texas tradition, and has grown steadily through the
years from its original beginnings as a river rafting area. It is so large and
complex, that today it is in the class of "Water Park Resort." There is much to
do both in and out of the water, and the park is also family-friendly in that
you can bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages.
If you still have time left, you might want to look at the current schedule of
sporting events, shows and concerts going on at the
AT&T Center, located
adjacent to HemisFair park.
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