San Antonio, located in the southwestern corner of the Texas Triangle, is a mixture of cultures and holds an important place in US history. As a gateway to the Texas hill country, the city boasts some of the best scenery in the state, from giant oak trees to rolling green hills. With all its southern charm, it is easy to see why it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

    Famous for its impressive Spanish colonial missions and the battle surrounding one of them, San Antonio will surely be a hit with history buffs. The city also offers an eclectic food scene, from Tex-Mex cuisine to BBQ to farm-to-market food. The San Antonio River walk also gives travellers a relaxing and scenic way of enjoying the sights of the city. To help you have a fantastic visit, we’ve put together a list of must-see places in San Antonio.

    What are the best things to do in San antonio?


    Have a Tex-Mex breakfast on Market Square

    Indulge in a breakfast burrito

    As the biggest Mexican market in the US, Market Square houses over 100 shops selling jewellery, piñatas, textiles and many more Mexican products. These markets are a fine example of San Antonio’s strong connection with Mexico. Littered around these shops are bustling cafes and restaurants offering unique Tex-Mex food. Whether you’re waking up early or ending your night late, these cafes are sure to have something to satisfy your appetite. A visit in the morning is a better call so you can avoid the crowds. If you happen to crave some Tex-Mex food in the middle of the night, Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia serves up a mean burrito.

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    Location: 514 West Commerce Street, San Antonio, TX 78207, USA

    Open: Market: Monday – Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm, Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 210-207-8600


    photo by David (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Take a walk along the San Antonio River

    An attractive way to take in the city

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    The San Antonio River walk follows a network of waterways that wind around the city. The walk, also named Paseo del Rio, brings you across streams of shops, boutiques, bars, cafes and restaurants. It is definitely worth visiting either night or day. The river at night is well-lit with strings of lights across the pathways. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the Fiesta San Antonio, it’ll be even more happening. The Fiesta San Antonio is a springtime festival that features colourful floats streaming down the river. Although the festival is gorgeous, it means the river area becomes incredibly busy.


    Abbreviated simply as ‘The Alamo’, the mission is seen as a crossroads of history. Although not particularly striking in appearance, the bullet-riddled building holds great importance in Texan history and its label as the ‘Lone Star State’. Here, the legendary battle between Mexicans and Texans took place in 1836 – a famous last stand against impossible odds. The mission is now a museum for this time in US history. Tour and audio guides are offered for a more in-depth experience.

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    Location: 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 210-225-1391


    Visit the Mission San Jose

    Explore the Queen of the Missions

    Mission San Jose is beautiful, historic and the largest of the Texas missions. This church has been active for over 250 years and its power and history is evident through its enchanting presence. San Jose is almost fully restored to its original design and is therefore a remarkable example of the architecture of its time. The mission is perhaps the most visually pleasing of the 5 missions of San Antonio, with unique, grand archways and its famous Rose Window. There’s a short documentary you can watch before you enter that offers a more in-depth discussion of its history.

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    Location: 701 East Pyron Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78214, USA

    Phone: +1 210-922-0543


    Stroll around San Antonio Botanical Gardens

    Enjoy the Texan sun in 33 acres of gardens

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    The San Antonio Botanical Gardens impress with their great, green open spaces and the variety of flora on display. Perfect for a relaxing wander in the middle of the day, the gardens are large enough to allow you to get lost. In the fragrant, colourful confines of the gardens, there is a restaurant named ‘Rosella at the Garden’. Here, you can enjoy coffee, breakfast, lunch and brunch in the sun. The restaurant is within the historic Sullivan Carriage House, which is linked back to the legendary cattle drives of the 19th century.

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    Location: 555 Funston Place, San Antonio, TX 78209, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 210-536-1400


    photo by Corey Leopold (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Experience the Old West at the Buckhorn Saloon and Texas Ranger Museum

    Get the full Texan experience in a quintessential saloon

    Between them, the Buckhorn Saloon and the Texas Ranger Museum represent everything you could possibly imagine about the Old West. The walls are covered with displays of animals and horns; a remarkable taxidermy collection. There’s a believe-it-or-not display as well as a recreated Western town and a tribute to the Texas Rangers. The saloon’s attention to detail cuts you off from the outside world and transports you back in time to the Old West. The experience is guaranteed to make you feel like you’re in the heart of Texas.

    Location: 318 East Houston Street, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 210-247-4000


    photo by J.Paylor (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Wander around the Pearl District

    Lose yourself in one of San Antonio’s coolest neighbourhoods

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    The Pearl District has the idealistic vibe of a college campus, strewn with bicycles and well-dressed San-Antonians. It’s a quaint yet hip neighbourhood littered with fashionable boutiques, bars, restaurants and coffee shops. One to note is the famous Hotel Emma – a charming hotel inside a 19th-century brewery. Its rooftop pool has great views of the city. Also worth mentioning are Pearl District’s tacos. You can easily visit both LaGloria or Viva Tacoland as they are opposite one another. Tacoland serves their great food with craft beer out of a food truck, but both offer a lovely atmosphere on a river-view courtyard.

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    Stop and admire the San Fernando Cathedral Light Show

    Enjoy some art under the night sky

    The Light Show illuminates the San Fernando Cathedral for 24 minutes, 3 times a night on 4 nights of the week. The art installation, created by French artist Xavier De Richemont, is a perfect way to fill your night and to admire the cathedral in a new way. It’s also representative of a burgeoning art scene in San Antonio. As well as a show for the eyes, a narration throughout the light show tells the story of the city. Seats are limited and the show is very popular with locals and visitors alike, so try get there early to avoid having to stand.

    Location: 115 Main Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA

    Open: Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 9 pm, 9.30 pm and 10 pm

    Phone: +1 210-762-6665


    photo by Nan Palmero (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Get spooked on the San Antonio Ghost Tour

    Not for the faint-hearted

    San Antonio Ghost Tours cover the most haunted and historical sites in San Antonio on foot, so wearing comfortable shoes is recommended. The guides recount intriguing stories of the past as they take you through the streets of Old San Antonio. Even if you’re not easily afraid, the tour brings you across sights with enticing stories. The sights visited will no doubt solidify San Antonio as one of the most haunted cities of the US.

    photo by Phil Roeder (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Bar-hop along the horseshoe of the San Antonio River

    End your night with a cocktail on the riverbank

    The San Antonio River is very much the cultural hub of the city, with locals and tourists coming to hang out by the glittering waters. The friendly atmosphere of the city is perhaps best felt here, where you can experience a bit of local life. Golden-hued lights dangle across the Riverwalk, creating a magical setting for you to end your night. There are plenty of bars and restaurants along the river and even more in Downtown San Antonio, which is nearby and just as lively.

    Sophia Macpherson | Contributing Writer

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