With mountains to see, a beautiful river walk, and the Alamo, San Antonio is one of the most beautiful cities in the US to explore. Not only that, there are tons of gourmet eateries, galleries and viewpoints that can fill any city break. There are honestly so many epic and best things to do in San Antonio; You are spoiled for choice.
For us, San Antonio was our second point of contact in Texas (on our trip through the state). After exploring the best places in Houston, we drove on to San Antonio and spent a long weekend exploring the city …
… And boy, we didn’t disappoint!
To help you get the most out of your San Antonio trip, I wanted to share some of the favorite gems that we loved.
Check out the best things to do in San Antonio when visiting Texas below. Have a nice trip!
1.) The Alamo
You can’t visit the city and you can’t visit the Alamo. It’s one of the best things to do in San Antonio that is absolutely iconic. Not only that, it’s one of the most important historical sites in the United States and is protected as such.
As you can see, the Battle of Alamo was fought here a long time ago – in 1836.
Today you can take a peek inside the museum and library and learn about the amazing ancient history of Texas. Yes, the site may feel quite cozy and small, but it has a ton of history that you cannot miss.
We loved strolling the Alamo at our own pace. However, if you want a deeper story, take one of the tours that all of the artifacts snake around the place.
One thing to keep in mind, the website can get pretty busy on weekends and holidays. If you prefer a quieter experience, choose a day of the week and visit early in the morning.
You can also tour the historic Alamo Church and the Long Barrack Museum while you’re here. It’s really easy to visit after walking the Riverwalk.
Getting hungry? Get a table in Bliss (on Presat Street). Your scallops are delicious.
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2.) Natural bridge caves
About a 30-minute drive from the Alamo, the Natural Bridge Caverns are very easy to visit for a half-day excursion from downtown San Antonio.
By now you will likely find many caves in Texas, but the Natural Bridge Caverns are some of the largest (easily accessible) caves in the state. We totally loved our visit and spent a few hours underground!
It’s amazing inside, especially when you see all of the towering formations on the Discovery Walking Tour. Although relatively easy to access, there are some inclines to consider when entering the cave.
After circumnavigating the cave system, you can also experience some of the above-ground adventures. Try the zip lining (it’s a ball) and the rope course if you’re in the mood for a little workout! 😉
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3.) San Fernando Cathedral
The San Fernando Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States, built in 1873. With its beautiful architecture, the church also features the remains of some of the Alamo defenders and is wrapped in a story that you really cannot miss.
Yes, the interior is stunning, but there is also an incredible light show that takes place in San Fernando Cathedral on most nights. Although
You can see a free light show at night which is so breathtaking. It happens every day except Mondays at 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
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4.) San Antonio River Walk
The River Walk is probably our favorite late afternoon walking area and not to be missed in San Antonio.
The River Walk follows the river itself and is very nice to explore on foot. Along the way, you’ll traverse downtown San Antonio, stopping at many of the small restaurants and bars that line the path itself.
We spent many afternoons chilling by the water with a drop in hand; It was bliss.
When you feel like giving your tired feet a break, hop on the River Walk boats, which navigate the river itself. It’s a great way to see the city and be totally relaxed.
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The marketplace is probably one of the best things to do in San Antonio for some shopping. It is a dream place for souvenir lovers!
Here you can find everything from local ceramics to bespoke jewelry or paintings by local artists. There is something for everybody.
I guarantee you will walk with at least one small piece of jewelry in hand!
Then visit Schilo’s, the oldest restaurant in all of San Antonio. The chicken and cookies are so delicious for breakfast. Her peach cobbler is everything too!
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6.) Tower of America
For a look over San Antonio, make your way to the Tower of the Americas. It’s one of the best things to do in San Antonio, especially for an epic sunset.
We planned our Hemisfair Park walk to coincide with the sunset view and everything went perfectly. Make sure to check the time of the sunsets before planning your day. That way you will get the best views.
7.) La Villita Historical Art Village
Listed on the National Registry of Historic Districts, La Villita Historic Arts Village is a unique location in San Antonio.
We absolutely loved the art galleries and cozy vintage hangouts that are all so cute.
Plus, it’s very easy to visit after walking the River Walk as it’s right across from the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Which, by the way, is also a must in town!
8.) San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Part of the protected UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Missions of San Antonio, it is a place not to be missed when visiting the city.
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, including The Alamo, is a site that oversees five missions that are iconic in Texas.
When planning a visit, don’t forget to explore the San Jose Mission, Concepción Mission, San Juan Mission, and Espada Mission.
Everyone has their own story to discover and is so unique. For example, Mission San Jose is a historic mission where you can learn more about the place, discover the granary, old soldiers quarters, walls and the garden.
The buildings have such a rich history and are so easy to explore.
Also, don’t forget that some of the missions have ranger-led events and tours where you can learn more about their role and history.
For example, Mission San Jose usually holds these every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You are fascinating.
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9.) White Museum
Do you love to visit an epic museum when visiting a new city? The Witte Museum is a place for you!
Here you can take a look at some of the most impressive nature, science and culture galleries that fill the halls. Plus, you can even spot some of the legendary dinosaur skeletons and exhibits.
While the Witte Museum doesn’t just focus on history from millions of years ago, it also displays a wealth of artifacts related to the history, culture, and natural sciences of South Texas. You are spoiled for choice.
Well worth exploring and one of the best things to do in San Antonio when you have a few hours to spare.
10.) San Antonio Art Museum
The San Antonio Museum of Art sits a little back from the river and is an incredible place to visit.
It’s the kind of place to visit when you’re in the mood for the incredible. Native American, Spanish Colonial, and Latin American Collections. They are all so iconic.
You can also visit the collections of Egyptian and Roman antiquities. It’s one of the best things to do in San Antonio for an art lover. Also a great place if you want to avoid some of that intense midday sun.
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11.) Japanese tea garden
The Japanese tea garden is part of the larger area in Brackenridge Park and is a peaceful place in San Antonio that has been lovingly restored.
It’s one of the best things to do in San Antonio when you’re already exploring the nearby DoSeum Museum (great for kids). It is also not far from the Witte Museum.
Once here, you can wander the koi carp ponds, discover the huge waterfall, and explore the ornate gardens that are so breathtaking. It is well over 100 years old and absolutely beautiful.
12.) Mission path
Do you fancy a long walk or a bike ride? Then the Mission Trail is just right for you.
It’s a hiking and biking trail that connects all five missions and is one of the best things to do in San Antonio. This is especially true if you want to take a walk but don’t feel like leaving the city on your own.
The mission path is relatively easy to walk; be prepared though with water and sunscreen; Just take it at your own pace. There are also parks, rest areas, and picnic breaks along the route.
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