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San Antonio: Get Some Fun With Your History Lesson

Photo courtesy San Antonio CVB
Photo courtesy San Antonio CVB

There is so much to see and do in San Antonio that a weekend isn’t enough. Make this an extended weekend or even a vacation.

The River Walk cradles much of San Antonio’s unparalleled charm. Here you’ll find miles of meandering paths along the banks of the San Antonio River connecting hotels, restaurants, shops, historic landmarks and more. It was this river that originally inspired the settlement of San Antonio, and it still flourishes today as the city’s center.

You’ll find many of the city’s best restaurants along the River Walk. Most offer you a choice of dining inside or outside overlooking the river. Pick outside. It’s best to make reservations on weekends and holidays. That said, we got a last-minute reservation at a good restaurant on New Year’s Eve.

You can’t go to San Antonio and not go to the Alamo. Just a block off the River Walk, the Alamo is “the” monument to Texas history. Tours are free and self-guided. It’s open every day except Christmas. Allow about an hour to tour the mission and grounds. Check the excellent website for details to plan your visit.

As long as you’re in Texas history mode, you might want to stay at the Menger Hotel, right around the corner from the Alamo, and a block off the River Walk. Over 150 years old, the Menger has a beautifully restored lobby and bar. The standard rooms are kind of small in comparison to modern hotels, but very comfortable. The hotel is reputed to the haunted. We rode an elevator with a couple who swore they saw a ghost in the hallway. LOL!

Old Spanish missions can be found all over San Antonio. The National Park Service operates the historical missions park that allows you to tour four missions that are still active Catholic parishes today. Although not part of the park district, the towering San Fernando Cathedral is downtown within walking distance. Founded in 1731, it’s the oldest church in the city. It’s open for visits and daily worship.

The cathedral is the scene of a popular special event that will run nightly until the end of this year. The San Antonio Saga is a huge video projection on the front wall of the cathedral, depicting the city’s history. The production is the work of French artist Xavier de Richemont.

San Antonio Saga, Photo by K L Emmons
San Antonio Saga, Photo by K L Emmons

There’s something special going on in San Antonio all the time. The city’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has a list of events on its extensive website. You can also use the site for finding restaurants, hotels and local attractions.

Among those attractions, San Antonio has a zoo, SeaWorld and Six Flags. There are a number of museums, including one honoring the Texas Rangers (the cops, not the baseball team).

There’s a vibrant club scene downtown, within walking distance. We went to a dueling piano bar for fun music and laughs. There’s a great jazz club, Bohanan’s, about a block or so off the river.

San Antonio is a very walkable city. If you’re staying in the River Walk area everything is close at hand. We parked our car at the Menger and didn’t need it for 3 days.

New to San Antonio is the Mission Reach stretch of the San Antonio River, south of town. They took a dank and desolate Corps of Engineers flood-control section of the river, cleaned it up, added trees and a paved bike path, and turned it into an 8-mile long eco tourism magnet. You can walk, ride your bike, or rent kayaks and paddle.

Summary & Recommendation

This is a great trip for an extended getaway or vacation. The drive from North Texas is a little tedious, figure 5 hours, depending on traffic in Austin. This is a good romantic getaway, or you can take the family. There are plenty of kid-friendly attractions. San Antonio has much to offer. I would rate this trip a 9. It would be a 10 if it weren’t for the long drive.

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North Texas Active Life is your guide to resources in North Texas that will help you and your family lead active and healthy lives. We are focused on the Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen areas and surrounding communities. Our topics cover events, recreation, activities, fitness resources, and healthy living . Articles cover hiking, biking, trails, fitness, parks, kayaking, bicycling, rock climbing, walking, and more.