I’m thinking about going to San Antonio for a long weekend, what do you recommend doing? I’m particularly interested in museums, historic sites, and natural areas, but am open to other suggestions and don’t mind driving a fair distance to see things. What’s good to eat? Also, people have recommended staying near the Riverwalk, is it worthwhile to do so? Thanks.
Of course, the one site that you must not miss is the Alamo.
Go the the Alamo just so you can say you’ve been there, but don’t expect anything spectacular. Other than a shrine and a few dioramas, there’s not really much there.
But the other missions are pretty interesting, especially if you like Spanish colonial architecture. They’re also bigger and much more well preserved than the Alamo.
The Riverwalk, as I’m sure other people will tell you, makes for a nice stroll, but most of the restaurants are overpriced. Other than that, though, the city has a plethora of reasonably priced Tex-Mex restaurants and it’s hard to go wrong with most of them.
Staying on or near the Riverwalk is generally preferable for the infrequent tourist. That puts you proximal to a number of restaurants and shopping, plus it’s just nice for relaxed strolls. Most restaurants have a menu displayed. They run the spectrum from mediocre to pretty good. There’s another shopping area right by the Hilton. Can someone help me with the name?
If you’re interested in that kind of thing, one aspect of the Alamo I really enjoyed was the flora and landscaping surrounding it. Most of the trees and shrubs surrounding it are identified with a small placard, or the groundskeepers are friendly and knowledgable.
West of downtown is SeaWorld. There’s a huge waterpark if you’d like to bring a suit.
Then west towards Boerne and beyond is the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Can’t go wrong there.
If you enjoy driving, taking a route towards the Devil’s Backbone on the way to Canyon Lake (NW of SA) is really quite scenic. I’ve been going to San Antonio for years for work and that was the first time I think I really “got” Texas.
You can have a drink or two at the restaurant at the top of the Tower of the Americas for a good view. County Line on the Riverwalk has decent bbq. Alamo is worth a visist and taking a stroll on the Riverwalk is nice. I definitely agree that you should try to take a trip into hill country, it’s really nice. If you want to go shopping, you can drive north to San Marcos and visit the outlet mall for some really good deals.
If you visit the Alamo, stop for a drink in the bar of the Menger Hotel across the street. Teddy Roosevelt recruited some of his Rough Riders there.
Definitely check out the missions. The church at Mission San Jose is closed for repairs but it’s the best preserved–there’s still stuff to see in the mission complex. This site has the story of the Alamo–that began before That Battle. I first visited as a kid fresh from viewing “Davy Crockett”–but I was impressed by the ancient European feel of the building, plunked into downtown San Antonio. Staying near the Riverwalk puts you near the Alamo, the Menger Hotel, theInstitute of Texan Cultures & a bunch of places to eat, drink & shop.
The city has a serious tourism site–here’s the “culture” section.
Fort Sam Houston has some interesting history & is fairly easy to visit.
Museums? The San Antonio Museum of Art is in the beautiful old Lone Star brewery & has a great collection. The McNay Art Museum is just north of downtown; in a lovely mansion with a great theater collection. The Southwest School of Art & Craftis located in the old Ursuline school; New Orleans architecture in Texas! The Blue Star Contemporary Art Center has some new stuff.
And there’s a bunch of stuff in the countryside. Plenty to see for a long weekend!
Echoing: For nature, absolutely check out the Hill Country to the north and west. Boerne (as mentioned- note that it’s pronounced “Bernie”), Kerrville, Bandera, Fredericksburg- driving to any of them will give you a good idea of what the Hill Country is about. The vantage point from Devil’s Backbone- there’s an overlook you can pull over into- is also fantastic. It’s on (Ranch Road? FM/Farm-to-Market Road?) 32 between Wimberley and Canyon Lake. If you’re into caves, Natural Bridge Caverns is cool.
When are you going? If you can wait a couple of months until April, the wildflowers will be out, and they would absolutely be worth waiting for. If you go during warm enough weather (say, from May onward) you can go tubing on the Comal or San Marcos Rivers just a little ways north- very fun.
The County Line does have decent barbecue, but for the most part, the restaurants along the Riverwalk are not paricularly memorable, food-wise. The setting is nice, though, if you can get an outside table.
The history angle has already been pretty well covered- the Alamo and the missions are the main draws, but yes, the Alamo is a bit underwhelming. It’s hard to go to San Antonio and not see it, though. With a bit of a drive, there’s Goliad, site of another battle and massacre.
Thanks guys. It will probably be sometime in the spring, but before it gets too hot. I’ve actually been to Enchanted Rock, on a side trip from Austin. I didn’t realize San Antonio was so close to Austin until I checked the map just now. Imagined it was considerably further west and south.