San Antonio - AttractionGuide

San Antonio

Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of San Antonio-area attractions. The Greater San Antonio area is full of attractions for all ages. Apart from being the “Remember the Alamo” rallying point of the Texan revolution against Mexico, much of San Antonio's identity comes from Spanish origins. Yet San Antonio's action-packed history has evolved under six flags: French, Spanish, Mexican, Republic of Texas, Confederate, and the Stars and Stripes. Accordingly, San Antonio captures the spirit of Texas with flavors of Native Americans, Spaniards, Germans, Old Mexico, the Wild West, and the Deep South. Founding came in 1718, when Father Antonio Olivares established Mission San Antonio de Valero, etched in history as the site where, in 1836, a paltry 189 defenders held the old mission against nearly 5,000 Mexican troops for 13 days. The Alamo remains as a shrine and museum and a downtown tour uncovers centuries of history along with the largest Mexican marketplace outside Mexico. Sequestered 20 feet below street level, the Paseo del Rio – River Walk --- runs some 2.5 miles from the Municipal Auditorium on the north to the King William Historic District on the south, quiet and park-like in some stretches, abuzz elsewhere with sidewalk cafes, boutiques, clubs and hotels. The first public golf course in Texas was built in San Antonio in 1916, and golfers have flocked here ever since. Texas Hill Country rivers, forming an arc around the northern edge of town, provide for canoeing, tubing and white-water rafting. Area lakes attract anglers and sailing enthusiasts. Working ranches provide hunting leases for wild game, dude ranches offer horseback riding, and Hill Country state parks have hiking trails. San Antonio dining options vary from fine French cuisine to Chinese, Cajun and Soul, but the big magnet is a passion for Tex-Mex, helping San Antonio attract nearly eight million visitors a year with a hearty “howdy and y'all come back” style welcome.

Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the San Antonio Metropolitan Area, with links to more details when available.

The Alamo
Here lies the most famous spot in Texas, if not the entire wild west, where the 189 defenders including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie finally fell on March 6, 1836, after repeated attacks by Mexican General Santa Anna's army. The oft-photographed chapel and the Long Barracks are all that remain of the original fort. The relic-filled museum offers narration on all that led up to the slogan “Remember the Alamo.”
300 Alamo Plaza. (210) 225-1391
Buckhorn Saloon & Museum
Jammed with cowboy memorabilia and such oddments as a two-headed calf and an eight-legged lamb, the Buckhorn Saloon history is ever more of a grabber, dating to 1881 when Albert Friedrich opened on Dolorosa Street. Some of the region's biggest cattle deals unfolded at the Buckhorn, and by 1890 some 10 million Texas longhorns had been driven up to Kansas. Teddy Roosevelt (bunking nearby at historic Menger Hotel) recruited Rough Riders at the Buckhorn, where it's also believed Pancho Villa hashed over plans for the Mexican Revolution of 1910 while downing a few. In 1922, when Prohibition was dusting over most saloons, Friedrich moved the Buckhorn to the corner of Houston and South Flores streets and proceeded to offset losses in liquor revenue by peddling lunch along with armadillo baskets and rattlesnake ties. A friend of Mrs. Friedrich, W.S. Porter (writing under the O. Henry pen name), modeled some of his characters after Buckhorn regulars. Still embellishing the Buckhorn are the bar with the original brass foot rail, a 1909 gas chandelier and the 1913 cash register maxing out at $6.99, from when beer sold for a nickel.
318 East Houston. (210) 247-4000
Casa Navarro State Historical Park
The home of Jose Antonio Navarro (1795-1871), a Texas legislator under Mexico, the republic of Texas, and the U.S., illustrates the state's rich tapestry of Mexican history. The park includes Navarro's furnished house, first residence, and store.
228 South Laredo Street. (210) 226-4801
Guenther House
Carl Hilmar Guenther, founder of Pioneer Flour Mills, built this elegant home in 1860. The restored house includes a museum displaying mill memorabilia along with Dresden china anniversary plates made in Germany until WWII.
205 East Guenther. (210) 227-1061
Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley's Haunted Adventure
Opening in late June, 2003 across from the Alamo, the Guinness museum provides interactive exploration of world records for categories such as travel, including the longest taxi ride (London to Cape Town and back, June 3 to Oct. 17, 1994). Ripley's Haunted Adventure allows visitors to live out bone-chilling fears at the abandoned warehouse of San Antonio's Grimsby & Streaper Casket Co., known for its raised-coffin engineering wizardry. Due to a periodic need for cash, the son of the now deceased night watchman offers tours. Combination tickets are available.
329 Alamo Plaza. (210) 226-2828
Japanese Tea Garden
Winding pebble walkways and stone bridges highlight this lush garden brimming with photo opportunities contained within Brackenridge Park, covering nearly 350 acres and also housing the Pioneer Memorial Hall, a zoo and an aquarium.
3800 North St. Mary's Street. (210) 821-3120
King William Historic Area
In the late 1800s, this 25-block area near downtown and originally settled by prominent German merchants, was the most elegant residential area in the city. As the state's first zoned historic district, it includes many attractions and is once again a fashionable residential neighborhood.
South Bank of San Antonio River.
La Villita
La Villita, one of the original civil settlement areas with old adobe buildings and vine-covered stone walls, and fountains, is an arts and crafts community with shops, working artists, restaurants and a post office. The Old San Antonio Exhibit (in Bolivar Hall) has artifacts and symbols relevant to city history.
418 Villita. (210) 207-8610
Majestic Theater
One of the few remaining vintage, atmospheric vaudeville movie palaces, the Majestic Theater is home to the San Antonio Symphony.
224 East Houston. (210) 226-5700
Market Square - El Mercado
Patterned after an authentic Mexican market, El Mercado pulses with activity at nearly three dozen shops. In addition, there are 80 specialty shops in Farmers Market Plaza. Market Square hosts frequent Hispanic festivals dispensing food and beverage near Guadalajara lamps with mariachi bands providing music for dancing.
514 West Commerce. (210) 207-8600
Mission Trails
The San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, beginning at the Alamo, winds southward along a nine-mile stretch of the San Antonio River and includes Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Francisco, Mission San Juan, Los Compadres, Mission Espada, Mission Labores, Esada Aqueduct and History of the Missions. Admission-free, donations are accepted.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, 2202 Roosevelt Avenue. (210) 534-1540
Plaza Wax Museum & Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Just across the street from Alamo Plaza and the River Walk, the Plaza Wax Museum has themed sections reflecting Hollywood, Freedom's Journey, Horror, History, and Religion, including the Last Supper. Ripley's Believe It Or Not deals in one-of-a-kind curiosities and illusions with more than 500 exhibits and odditorium presentations including Chinese governor born with double pupils in each eye, and more.
301 Alamo Plaza. (210) 224-9299
River Walk
The Paseo del Rio, centerpiece of downtown, has lush landscaping lining river banks and cobblestone walkways leading to restaurants and shops. The historic river surfaces on grounds of the University of the Incarnate Word, threading its way downtown. Along the horseshoe-shaped bend, the river is shaded by towering cypresses, oaks, and willows and bordered by gardens of flowering ornamental plants. River boats travel River Walk with narrated cruises, dinner cruises, and transportation back to hotels.
454 Soledad River.
San Antonio Botanical Garden, Lucile Halsell Conservatory
Modernistic glass pyramids and a log cabin are part of this 33-acre living museum with a forest walk, and exotic plant specimens. Highlights include the Old Fashioned Perennial Garden and native collections representing Hill Country, East Texas and Southwest Texas. The futuristic Lucile Halsell Conservatory includes the Palm House, Fern Grotto, with the Aquatic Garden Pool.
555 Funston Place. (210) 207-3255
San Antonio Museum of Art
SAMA's castle-like building, housing collections ranging from ancient to modern art, is the original home of the lone Star Brewing Company. The museum is noted for its Mexican folk art, pre-Columbian art, Spanish colonial art and the 30,000 square foot Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Arts.
200 West Jones Avenue. (210) 978-8158
San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium
With a naked mole rat among 3,500 animals of 751 species spread out over 35 landscaped acres, the zoo has a Gibbon Forest exhibit and one of the world's largest bird collections, including the endangered whooping crane.
3903 North St. Mary's Street. (210) 734-7183
SeaWorld San Antonio
The world's largest marine life adventure park presents a splashy line-up of more than 25 shows, thrilling rides, animal attractions and educational experiences. As a four-in-one park – a show park, a rides and slides park, a water park, and an animal park, SeaWorld San Antonio has 250 acres of fun.
10500 SeaWorld Drive. (210) 523-3000.
Six Flags Fiesta
The Superman Krypton Roller Coaster, one of America's newest, rounds out other coaster thrillers including the twisted-track Poltergeist coaster, the forward-backward-looping Boomerang coaster, the Rattler wooden coaster, and Scream, involving a 20-story free fall. Within the flume line-up are the Texas Tumble, the Blow Out , the Triple Dipper and the Mine Shaft.
17000 I-10 West. (210) 697-5000
Spanish Governor's Palace
Labeled the “most beautiful building in San Antonio” by the National Geographic Society, this national historic landmark once housed the officials of the Spanish Province of Texas. Over the entrance is the original keystone containing the carved double-headed eagle of the Hapsburg coat-of-arms and the inscription, in Spanish, “finished in 1749.”
105 Plaza De Armas. (210) 224-0601.
Steves Homestead Museum
This three-story Victorian French Second Empire design was built for Edward Steves, founder of Steves Lumber Company, in 1876 and furnished in a late 19th century style. The single-story brick River House served as San Antonio's first inside swimming pool. The two-story frame Carriage House, built in 1875, was used for storage, and servants quarters were built around 1877. The Steves Homestead has been maintained since 1954 as a historic house museum.
509 King William. (210) 227-9160
Getting around downtown can be a snap with VIA Streetcar, an open-air authentic reproduction of rail streetcars traveling San Antonio byways more than a half century ago. Five routes lead to downtown locations including The Alamo, La Villita, Market Square, Sunset Station, the King William Historic District and more. Horse-drawn carriages and bicycle rickshaws are alternative options for travel downtown.
(210) 362-2020
Sunset Station
Set in the historic backdrop of a turn-of-the-century train station, food, entertainment and shopping are abundantly available here.
1174 East Commerce. (210) 222-9481
Texas Adventure – Alamo Special Effects Theater
This special effects theater, employing the “Encountarium F/X Theatre” format, portrays Texas Independence with the Alamo drama as its centerpiece. The Cactus Cantina and a retail store round out the adventure experience.
307 Alamo Plaza. (210) 227-8224
Texas Air Museum- Stinson Chapter
The Texas Air Museum was founded in 1985 in Rio Hondo, Texas, and subsequent branches opened in Slayton in 1990 and Stinson Field in 1999. Promoting education through preservation and restoration of aircraft and artifacts, the Stinson chapter presents the history of flight, emphasizing San Antonio aviation. Aircraft include the extremely rare German WWII Focke-Wulf FW-190.
8406 Cadmus. (210) 977-9885
Tower of the Americas
Glass-walled elevators ascending more than 500 feet to the restaurant and observation level provide a panoramic view of San Antonio environs. The Tower stands as an 80-ton reminder of its role as the theme structure for the 1968 HemisFair, Texas' World's Fair, and is still one of Western Hemisphere's tallest freestanding structures. Rising 750 feet to the antenna tip, the Tower is 87 feet higher than Seattle's Space Needle, 67 feet higher than the Washington Monument and 52 feet higher than the San Jacinto Monument.
600 HemisFair Park. (210) 207-8615
Vietnam War Memorial
Created by combat artist Austin Deuel, “Hill 811 S” depicts a marine holding a wounded comrade whle looking skyward for an evacuation helicopter.
Hill 811 South, Veterans Memorial Plaza.
Witte Museum
With an extensive collection, acclaimed traveling exhibits, the H-E-B Science Treehouse and beautiful grounds where historic home and log cabins reside, the San Antonio's premier museum brings history, science and culture to life.
3801 Broadway. (210) 357-1866
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San Antonio: A night view of the Tower of the Americas