Exciting Things to See and Do in San Antonio, Texas

The dynamic city of San Antonio is the seventh most populated city in America and the second most populous in the state of Texas only coming behind its big sister Houston. This popular Texas tourist destination offers a wide variety of sights and activities in every category from arts to history to family fun. Historic landmarks like The Alamo and San Fernando Cathedral give insight into the city’s significant past while the famous River Walk and Botanic Gardens display all the beauty the city has to offer. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to the Lone star state, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of San Antonio and check out some of the great attractions featured here.

10. Majestic Theatre

Built in 1929, this magnificent theater holds all sorts of magic inside its star and cloud plastered dome. Whether there to see a movie, concert or comedic performance the Majestic will make audience members believe they are in a classical Texas theater dating back hundreds of years.

At 2,311 seats the Majestic Theatre is San Antonio’s largest theater as well as its oldest. Not only was the destination designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993, but it’s the home of the San Antonio Orchestra which has been impressing audiences at the venue since 1989. The film The Alamo starring Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton premiered at the Majestic in 2004, a historic setting fit for the epic story that is engraved in Texas’ history. In addition to all its history, the Majestic was also the first theater in the state to be entirely air-conditioned, a feature that if you’re familiar with Texas temperatures couldn’t come soon enough.

Photo by TravelingOtter
Photo by TravelingOtter

9. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

This wondrous piece of history stretches nine miles and contains four important missions from the 18th century. These Spanish frontier missions include: Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada.

Originally established in 1975 as the Mission Parkway, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park holds the outposts held by Catholic religious orders to spread Christianity among the local natives. Each mission shows its age, however the aesthetic appeal is in its recognizable look that most picture when they think of Texan architecture. With iconic bell towers and entrance ways the missions will make excellent photo ops for all visitors. Add in stories of bloodshed, disease, religion and colonization and any history buff will walk away from their visit with all they could have asked for and more. With the fifth mission (the Alamo) not too far from this spot, it should certainly make for a pinpoint on the tourist map.

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

8. Tower Life Building

Another officially recognized historic landmark (since 1991), the Tower Life Building provides a panoramic view of San Antonio atop its 30 floors peaking at 403 feet. It opened in 1929 – then named the Smith-Young Tower – and was intended to be part of a development called the Bowen Island Skyscrapers; however this development was never finished.

The current name stems from Tower Life Insurance Company, but the building has seen many names as corporations have come and gone through its existence. The building housed the first Sears in San Antonio, was a local outlet for Hilton Hotels in 1956 and later converted into Granada Apartments in 1966. Although a TV transmission tower was added more than 60 years ago, it was removed in 2010 and replaced with a 100 foot tall flagpole. The building also includes a fallout shelter, beautiful marble walls and a set of elevators that have more than withstood the test of time.

Tower Life Building San Antonio

7. San Fernando De Bexar Cathedral

The Cathedral of San Fernando is part of the Roman Catholic Church and located in downtown San Antonio. The structure is one of the oldest active cathedrals in the United States having broken ground in 1738.

In 2003, a three-phase, $15 million project was undertaken involving restoration (of the foundation and structure), replacement (of the cafeteria, counseling rooms, museum, gift ship, reception and television control rooms), and construction (of a community center holding social services, hall, church offices and a residence for priests). The combination of colonial and gothic architecture makes for a unique look highlighted at night time with a magnificent lighting system that illuminates the building causing inner glow and drop shadows for an ominous feel. Inside the cathedral one can find the burial tomb of Davy Crockett, William B. Travis and Jim Bowie all of whom died as heroes at the in defense against Spanish enemies during the famous Battle of the Alamo.

San Fernando Cathedral Texas

6. San Antonio River

The San Antonio River is home to the famous River Walk, one of the leading tourist attractions in the great state of Texas. The 240 mile long river is so famous not only because it flows from downtown San Antonio out to the Gulf of Mexico, but because of the magnificent experience that can be had on the renowned boat rides.

The tourist rides travel through downtown San Antonio and by all sorts of shops, markets, theaters and restaurants. Engulfed in eye-catching foliage, the river takes on a different (yet albeit marvellous) look at night, with illuminated bridges to travel under along with trees and buildings draped in colourful lights make the sight-seeing tourists feel like they are taking a ride through a miniature Las Vegas. Great for friends and family alike, the San Antonio River travels by the aforementioned missions including the Alamo. The River Walk deservingly acts as the primary destination and focal point of the city.

Brandon Seidel / Shutterstock.com
Brandon Seidel / Shutterstock.com

5. Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas offers huge roller coasters, events, entertainment, go karts, “Holiday in the Park” during the winter and a waterpark for the summer months. The Boomerang, Goliath, Poltergeist, Road Runner and Superman rides are just a few of the many thrilling roller coasters which will be joined by the much anticipated Batman ride in 2015.

The Looney Tunes are a frequent attraction at this massive Six Flags which will certainly keep the kids entertained. For the hot Texas summer, take in the massive waterpark which includes the Lone Star Lagoon along with a half-million gallon pool shaped like the great state of Texas! Of course, there’s also a lazy river as well as Paradise Cove, which is a more vacation-style setting. This Six Flags location has special group rates and a Season Dining Pass allowing guests to pay upfront for lunch and dinner for the entire season, because everything is bigger in Texas.

Photo by: Mr.512
Photo by: Mr.512

4. Sea World San Antonio

Sea World aquariums are known worldwide, and Sea World San Antonio (like everything on this list) does not disappoint. An all-encompassing ocean experience can be had here from A to Z. Alligators, belugas, dolphins, penguins, sea lions and sharks will peak the interest of visitors, while coral reef displays provide ocean education.

Not only is there a wide array of animals present, but a theme park as well. Roller coasters and water rides for both kids and adults can be partnered with behind the scenes tours to complete the experience. The Animal Connections Conservation Center can teach everyone a little something, and can serve as a precursor to the always wonderful Beluga Interaction Program. Easily the most rewarding, the beluga interactions are sure to leave a lasting impression with all ages as the intelligent mammals swim up to say hello. Vacation packages are available and there is free entry for one child per each adult pass.

Steven Ringler / Shutterstock.com
Steven Ringler / Shutterstock.com

3. AT&T Center

It took $186 million to build the AT&T Center, now the home of the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), Stars (WNBA), Rampage (AHL) as well as the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. The venue formerly named the SBC Center is a state of the art facility that seats 19,000 at its capacity.

The AT&T Center is an inclusive venue that should impress any sports fan. It’s also certainly used to seeing winning teams as home to the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA franchise that has won 5 championships in the last 15 years including one in 2014. Inside, the Terrace Club Restaurant and bar is available to the higher-priced ticket owners, but is well worth the money. Fresh meats and home-made desserts make the experience a pleasant one. Be sure to try out the “Top Dog”, the AT&T Center’s signature gourmet hot dog served with kettle chips available in only one section on the lower level.

Photo by: Katie Haugland
Photo by: Katie Haugland

2. San Antonio Botanical Garden

This one of a kind Botanical Garden holds a wide range of plants from not only Texas but around the world, and spans over 33 beautiful and breath-taking acres. The garden is broken into four major areas: the WaterSaver Garden/Lane, Display Gardens, Texas Native Trail, and Lucile Halsell Conservatory.

WaterSaver Garden and WaterSaver Lane showcase practical home gardening techniques that are the most water friendly. Drip irrigation and other water techniques along with the best San Antonio soils are showcased. The Formal and Display Gardens include four display areas changed seasonally to present a variety of colours and textures. The 11-acre Texas Native Trail has over 250 species of plant representing three ecosystems. All types of wildlife surround picturesque ponds and woodland settings that are as relaxing as it gets. The focal point however is the Lucile Halsell Conservatory. This large glass tower gives a futuristic feel and the 65-foot structure drives home the value of the botanical garden that is open year round.

Shawn Kashou / Shutterstock.com
Shawn Kashou / Shutterstock.com

1. The Alamo

The fifth and most recognizable of the Spanish Frontier Missions, the Alamo is one of the most notable battles in the history of North America. The historic battle of 1836 began upon the arrival of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and lasted a total of 13 days. Despite the symbolic fight being shrouded in debate, among the struggle was legendary David Crockett, former Tennessee congressman whom the famous raccoon hats are made in honor of.

Everything about the Alamo showcases its rich history, from the incredible ambience to the well-preserved/well-detailed structure. Handle the weapons of the time period during the tour and visit the many shops the ground has to offer in and around the surrounding area. With free admission and a plethora of available parking, the natural beauty that is the Alamo should be the mainstay of any American who finds themselves travelling through San Antonio looking for something to peak their interest.

The Alamo

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