As the 2nd largest city in Texas, San Antonio had plenty of things to see or do. I admit I was well prepared for this trip and created a list. To this day I’m certainly glad for that list because there were times we needed to make adjustments at the last minute due to weather, limited hours and travel mistakes.
I’m sharing you a few activities and food choices below but, my list is much bigger than what’s listed here as San Antonio had so many places to see and do that we didn’t have enough time for.
When visiting San Antonio for the first time, I suggest to rent a car. San Antonio as I mentioned is the 2nd largest city in Texas. Everything is spread out like it is in L.A. with the exception of The Riverwalk area. Now, unless you plan to stay in the Riverwalk area during your entire trip, having a car to get around is highly recommended.
Things to See or Do:
Natural Bridge Caverns & Wildlife Ranch
Address: 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd. 78266
Price: $30 | Parking: FREE | Hours: 9am-4pm
Make reservations ahead of time
This cave exploration was one of my favorite experience in San Antonio given the fact that it was my first time in a “real” cave. Approximately 18 stories deep below the ground, the cave is home to bats, stalagmites, stalactites and will challenge your fit going up about 180 steps. You can choose individual Cavern Tours and for us, we decided on a combo tour to get more time in the cave. Personally, I liked the Hidden Passages tour better because it was a smaller group and it felt more personal. Additionally, we were also able to have a conversation with our guide, ask questions and came out with a better idea about the cave’s history and its current situation. If caves aren’t your thing, they also offer “surface attractions” onsite such as zip trails, ropes course, maze and much more.
The Missions of San Antonio
Price: FREE | Parking: FREE
Reservations required to get in to the Alamo Church
You’ve likely heard people say that ‘You can’t come to San Antonio without visiting The Alamo’. It’s true! On our Mission expedition day, we started our way first to see the church of The Alamo and it truly is a sight to see. Photos and videos are not allowed inside the church but, it is well worth seeing it in person to get an appreciation for its history, its architecture and the major restoration efforts they’ve done to keep the historic site up to date. Our exploration continued to see the other 4 Missions nearby. We drove from 1 Mission to another eyeing each one intently, walking through their arches and simply taking in their beauty. Without a doubt all 5 Missions well-deserved to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
McNay Art Museum
Address: 101 Emporia Blvd. TX
Price: $20 per person | Parking: FREE
Address: 200 E. Grayson St.
Price: varies | Parking: FREE
A cool industrial open market style with a food hall, brewery, hotels, shops, eateries and apparently some apartments all right next to the River walk. This area alone we could’ve spent hours roaming around and still feel like we didn’t see everything. Let’s just say this would be the place I’d see again if, I am back in the area. The time we did have was spent on eating. We ordered food from Mi Roti located inside the food hall and ate outside their patio munching on some yummy Grilled Jerk Chicken bowl, a side of fries and salad. After that we walked over to La Boulangerie to order macarons with Panna Cotta desserts. Every calorie intake was worth it.
Parking: Public Parking or metered spots (prices will vary)
Known as the “Venice” of U.S.A. It is one of the most picturesque spots I’ve seen in U.S.A. with one canal after another making this a hot spot for tourists. There are plenty of things to see or do in the area from hotels, restaurants to retailer shops on the river. We stayed at the Palacio del Rio Hotel with access right on the canal that I highly recommend. Moreover, in keeping up with the holiday spirit, there are over 1000 Christmas lights set up throughout the Riverwalk right now making the boat rides through the canals extra special.
San Fernando Cathedral (“The Saga”)
Address: 418 Villita St. TX.
Hours: Tues. and Sun. 7:30-8pm & 8:30pm | Fri. and Sat. 9-9:30pm & 10pm
If you want a break from The Riverwalk, walk over to see the laser light show in front of San Fernando Cathedral which depicts the history of Texas. It’s free and the light show takes about 30 min. long, so be sure to bring or wear something warm.
La Villita Historic Arts Village
Address: 418 Villita St. TX
Price: varies | Parking: varies
The Japanese Tea Garden
Address: 3853 Broadway
Price: FREE | Parking: FREE
You’ll have to drive to this location but, it is worth seeing. The garden was previously an old limestone quarry and it was converted to a garden with lily ponds, waterfalls and bridges. We strolled through the walking paths while stopping here and there to take photos. There’s also a small shop with a restroom onsite where you can buy souvenirs. It was quite a peaceful afternoon, a change of pace and bit of tranquility in compare to the busy life on The Riverwalk.
Tower of the Americas
Address: 739 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.
Price: $14.50 | Parking: $8-11
Places to Eat:
Originally, we never had this restaurant on our list but, I’m glad we found it at the last minute. It was one of the restaurants on the list that met our cravings for something organic. As a restaurant known for their “inflammatory” food, I knew I was in for something good. We ordered The Vegan Sweet Potato Waffles and Avocado Collar Bowl that definitely hit the spot. Overall, we enjoyed the ambiance of this place down to their food.
Address: 301 E Houston St.
Address: 207 Broadway St.
Hilton Palacio del Rio
Address: 200 South Alamo St.
I loved our hotel and its accessibility. Our room had a mini fridge, tv, and bathroom essentials we needed throughout our stay. Besides sleeping comfortably, the balcony was the main focus of our room providing us front row seats to sunrise and sunsets. There’s a balcony in every room of this hotel overlooking either the river side or the city and luckily, our view had both. The only minor tick we faced with their service was the umbrella availability. It rained hard for a day in San Antonio and the hotel did not have one we could use. Other than that, we could easily explore the city within the few steps from our hotel door.