San Antonio

In 1691, whilst the Spanish were on one of their expeditions of conquest in the Americas, they stopped on ground through which a large river flowed, and celebrated the feast of the Portuguese Saint Anthony of Padua, which fell on that day. Over 300 years later, and the river which the American Indians referred to as “refreshing waters” and the Spanish dubbed “San Antonio” now lies by the city of the same name. Texas’ second son after Houston, San Antonio is the seventh most populous city in the United States, housing well over 1.2 million inhabitants. Despite the large population, it remains a warm and friendly destination for tourists with an intimate atmosphere, and is one of the most liberal cities in Texas – it is the home of the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, the state’s first museum of modern art!

When thinking of San Antonio, most people are first put in mind of the Battle of the Alamo which took place in 1836 between the forces of the Republic of Mexico and Texas. Indeed, San Antonio remains an important mixing ground between the United States and Mexico to this day, and is famed for its Tejano culture – that of Mexicans living in Texas. More than Tex-Mex diner novelty, this is a vibrant and intriguing culture which the discerning visitor can witness first hand in San Antonio. And for the less anthropologically inclined, San Antonio also boasts a veritable cornucopia of sights, sounds, and an impressive nightlife. Everything is on offer from some of the finest restaurants in the south of the US, to the wondrous charms of [ SeaWorld San Antonio], the world’s largest marine-life theme park.


Previously mentioned in passing, The Alamo, which was the site of the famous battle, is considered sacred ground in these parts, a shrine to Texas liberty. The former mission can still be visited today, and is one of the most visited cultural sites in the state of Texas. Undoubtedly one of the finest attractions, the Paseo del Rio (River Walk) meanders through the city, and the river banks are home to many of the finest shops, bars and restaurants, making it an ideal route during the day, and at night. Visitors will also stroll past the Arneson River Theatre, one of the most famed theatres in San Antonio as well as the newly restored [ Aztec on the River], an historic movie theatre from the 1920s which immerses its guests in a Meso-American dream world. During the Christmas holidays, the River Walk is adorned in lights and decorations to mark an impressive parade route.

Beyond the river, San Antonio hosts a fine collection of national parks. The Casa Navarro State Historical Park in particular, offers an afternoon’s worth of excellent activities. Similarly the San Antonio Missions National Park spans across 819 acres, and is the sight of four Spanish missions, from the 17th-19th centuries, that remain preserved here. San Antonio is also home to an excellent and spacious zoo which looks over nearly 4000 animals representing over 750 different species. For those enamoured by animal life, [ SeaWorld San Antonio] is the world’s largest marine-life theme park and offers an excellent variety of shows. There is also a large theme park [ Six Flags Fiesta Texas] which has an excellent assortment of rides. For sports lovers three times NBA champions, the [ San Antonio Spurs] are one of the more popular teams in the western division, and play their games at the AT&T Center.

San Antonio is one of the most important artistic centres of Texas, and as such, has an excellent array of museums and galleries for the culturally inclined. The [ Blue Star Contemporary Art Center] is a non profit art centre designed to advance understanding of contemporary art and artists, while the [ San Antonio Museum of Art] offers a fantastic look at some of the country’s more “traditional” art work. This really is a fine museum, with a large permanent collection and a number of changing exhibits throughout the year. The Instituto de México specialises in contemporary art from Mexico, while the Witte Museum documents the life of the dinosaurs and the history of mankind. It is excellent for children with many fun-filled activities, as is the San Antonio Children’s Museum.

Thanks in part to its Mexican influences, the city loves nothing more than a big festival to get the party going! Held yearly in late April, the largest of these is the San Antonio Fiesta which lasts for 10 days and spans across the entire city. It is a celebration of San Antonio’s multi-cultural history and its inhabitants, and features hundreds of events. It is the biggest party in Texas! In June, the Texas Folklife Festival is a celebration of the state’s folk roots, as people from all over Texas gather to share stories, crafts, music and food with the many visitors that attend.


The US invented the mall, so it is no surprise that San Antonio has an excellent assortment of these cultural totems of commerce. The [ North Star Mall] is a premier shopping centre with over 200 shops and a pair of 40 foot tall Texan style cowboy boots sitting just outside. At a slight change of pace, Market Square (or El Mercado) is a site where Texan and Mexican cultures have traditionally intermingled. The market is filled with many shops selling a variety of different goods, and there is also a speciality farmers’ market plaza. The Square is the backdrop for some of the city’s most important Hispanic festivals, which blend fine food and drinks with mariachi music and Mexican style dancing.

Nightlife and Eating Out

San Antonio is famed for its Tex-Mex cuisine which is now represented by restaurants across the world. It is San Antonio that remains the home of authentic Tex-Mex cooking though, so it is no surprise that there are a large number of Tex-Mex restaurants throughout the city. The River Walk is an excellent place to start when looking for somewhere to eat – lined as it is with restaurants, bars and clubs – however the city is crammed with top rate restaurants and night time entertainments. Some of the more famous places to eat include Joe’s Crab Shack, Yokonyu Sushi Bar & Restaurant, and the Zuni Café. Also the Sage Ristorante e Bar housed in the Fairmount Hotel is a very good place to eat.

Tourist Information

San Antonio Visitor Information Center317 Alamo PlazaSan Antonio, TexasTX 78205

  • Tel: +1-800-447-3372
  • Web: []


The city of San Antonio is served by San Antonio International Airport (SAT) which is in north central San Antonio, about 8 miles from downtown. It offers a wide range of flights both domestically and internationally. It is currently being expanded so that it will be able to handle a larger volume of passengers. The airport has excellent shopping facilities and is connected to the rest of Texas by a series of excellent highways.

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