About This Place
From its 1718 origins as a Spanish mission to its modern status as the second-largest city in Texas, San Antonio has evolved into a vibrant metropolis that proudly displays its diverse cultural heritage. The Alamo City's history, architecture, culture and cuisine have been influenced by its many inhabitants over the last 300 years, including Native Americans, Spaniards, Germans and Mexicans.
Chief among things to do in San Antonio is visiting the River Walk, the second most popular site in town (after the Alamo, of course). The product of an ambitious revitalization effort, the River Walk winds alongside the San Antonio River. Picturesque bridges cross the water at points, and trees mingle with buildings along the riverbank. A temperate climate and healthy mix of retail, dining and entertainment keeps the area hopping throughout the year.
Dining along the River Walk is a popular way to absorb the city's festive vibe. The melting-pot feel of the city extends to restaurants found along the walk, which range from Spanish and Mexican to Italian and German, along with a Texas steakhouse or two.
Head downtown to tour the Alamo and explore history at a collection of four missions, all part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The park’s Espada Dam and Aqueduct is a rare example of a complete Spanish irrigation system from the 1700s. Serious history buffs may also want to visit San Pedro Springs Park, near downtown and adjacent to San Antonio College. The city's founding mission, Mission San Antonio de Valero, was built near the springs in 1718. San Pedro Springs is the oldest park in the city, and the second-oldest park in the U.S.
Artifacts of earlier eras in the city's history can be seen, along with prominent cultural attractions, throughout San Antonio. Near the south bank of the San Antonio River, south of downtown, the King William Historic District stretches across 25 blocks. Showcasing ornate, 19th-century homes of varied architectural origin, the neighborhood was once home to many prosperous Germans who settled in Texas during the 1840s.
Art lovers will find many things to do in San Antonio. Highlights of the city include touring the San Antonio Museum of Art, which houses a far-reaching permanent collection that includes Latin American, American and Asian art. The first museum of modern art in the state, the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum includes three outdoor sculpture galleries and displays works by Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Lighter pursuits, such as shopping and nightlife, are abundant in San Antonio. Shopping attractions include the affluent Alamo Heights neighborhood, where visitors find high-end and designer goods along with custom Western wear. Alternately, Historic Market Square is ideal for hunting down jewelry, blankets and crafts, particularly at El Mercado, a sprawling Mexican marketplace. After dark, the River Walk bustles with nightlife and entertainment, from sedate wine bars and outdoor cafes to live music and dancing. Those looking for a bit of edge can head to Southtown, a bohemian hotspot flush with energetic clubs, quirky galleries and coffee houses.