No longer is it reserved for lonesome cowboys. San Antonians no longer wear spurs and chaps, opting instead for skinny jeans and trendy footwear. San Antonio still has its signature cowboy hat, so don’t worry about it changing too much.

Where the Mexican Revolution took place is now a thriving city rich with art, culture, and history. There’s something for every cowboy, veteran or rookie, to get him hooked. San Antonio has seen no less than six different flags, including the French, Spanish, Mexican, Republic of Texas, Confederate, and American flags. Though thoroughly American in every sense, San Antonio proudly displays its Spanish heritage.

The city’s history is as plentiful as its buildings. San Antonio was founded around the Alamo, the site of the legendary standoff between Texan rebels and Mexican soldiers, and it has preserved and nurtured its thriving heritage while extending an open invitation to visitors and inhabitants alike. San Antonio is a vibrant melting pot of civilizations, with influences from the Native American, Mexican, German, Western, African-American, and Southern American eras all coexisting.

Turn after turn, fresh experiences await. San Antonio is home to several exciting tourist attractions, including the River Walk and the real Mexican market El Mercado. Visit the mission churches along the San Antonio Mission Trail or take a stroll through the King William Historic District. Whatever your interests may be, this special part of the world is teeming with exciting opportunities.


In addition to the Alamo, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, La Villita, Sunset Station, the Southwest School of Art and Craft, the Institute of Texan Cultures, the King William Historic District, and the downtown commercial center may all be reached by four different routes. (More information on each of these sights to see to come.) In order to get visitors to a wider variety of attractions, a new route has been established.

However, VIA Streetcar should be your first choice for most travel. This open-air replica of genuine streetcars has been cruising the streets of San Antonio for over 50 years. In San Antonio, you may begin your trip at the Alamo Street Victorian Inn (951 S. Alamo St.; 210-212-5533

This 1896 landmark has recently been refurbished to include individual bathrooms with marble showers and Jacuzzi tubs, as well as second-floor verandas. The River Walk, the Alamo, and the Convention Center are all within walking distance of this budget B&B, which is located right on the Trolley route and only 15 minutes from downtown.

Try the luxurious La Mansión del Rio (112 College Street; 800-292-7300; if you’d rather stay on the River Walk. This hotel dates back to 1852, making it a significant historical site that has been lovingly renovated. It’s in a great place, close to the river and a number of downtown’s best eateries. Get on the VIA Streetcar and head to the Alamo (300 Alamo Plaza; 210-225-1391, San Antonio’s most famous historical landmark.

While the city of San Antonio has grown up around the Alamo, it was originally built across the river as a mission. For 13 days, around 4,000 Mexican troops and 189 Texans fought here for Texas independence from Mexico.

Although the Mexican army was victorious, many Texans feel that the battle marked the final step toward Texas’s independence. The Alamo is the beating center of the bustling metropolis and a cherished shrine to the residents. When it was revealed that a hotel’s shadow could potentially fall across the Alamo at certain times of day, the hotel’s construction plans were halted. The Alamo is far less than most people think it is, with only the chapel and the Long Barracks remaining from the original fort.

The Alamo is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 10 am to 5:30 pm, Sundays. The event is free to attend, but donations are accepted. Take a stroll along the San Antonio River and visit some of the city’s ancient mission churches.

All four of the surviving Spanish colonial mission churches—San José, San Juan, Espada, and Concepción—are located in this area. This National Historic Park is accessible daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm throughout the year and is home to a wide variety of historical and natural landmarks. The most popular and well-known of the missions is Mission San José (670l San Jose Dr; 210-932-1001). The church’s carvings and the Rose Window, one of the greatest examples of Spanish colonial embellishment in the country, are its most recognizable features.


Start your day off at the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico, El Mercado (Market Square), located at 514 W. Commerce (210-207-8600; Market Square features 32 stores modeled like traditional Mexican marketplaces and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Find great deals on genuine arts, crafts, clothing, and food at the many colorful shops and stalls. Listen to mariachi bands while you dance, and enjoy the show put on by the colorful folk dancers. Visit the Farmers Market Plaza, home to 80 unique stores, later on.

You can get delicious fajitas or steak and enchiladas with Spanish rice and refried beans at Mi Tierra Café & Bakery for lunch. Sugar-powdered cuernos (the Mexican croissant), snappy semitas (flat bread dusted with cinnamon, sugar, and almonds), and delicate palmitas (a flaky, sugar-filled pastry) are just a few of the delights that tempt you at Mi Tierra’s bakery.

Put your purchases away and unwind with a sail down the San Antonio River after a day of shopping. San Antonio’s River Walk, also known as Paseo del Rio, is a major tourist attraction located in the middle of the city.

There are restaurants and stores at river level, accessible via cobblestone pathways that wind around the tranquil river. Enjoy a narrated boat tour of the San Antonio River for 35 minutes (Rio San Antonio Cruises; 800-417-4139 or 210-244-5700; or witness a Mud Festival for yourself. Take three miles to stroll through thick forests and verdant fields.

To go to the Rivercenter, a three-story glass mall featuring restaurants, stores, and nightclubs, you can hail a river taxi.

Is it time to eat? Where can I find some authentic Texas barbecue? River Walk eatery County Line (W. Crocket St.; 210-229-1941; comes highly recommended. The interior has a cool Texas roadhouse vibe and the bar has an outdoor patio, so be sure to check it out.

They really mean business when they say things like “Get it all over ya’!” BBQ ribs, sliced franks, coleslaw, beans, and toast, all cooked in the traditional style of a Texan home. Get yourself a cold one or a margarita on the rocks.

The King William Historic District is a must-see on any visit to San Antonio. The sector, which spans 25 blocks and is located near the San Antonio River’s southern bank, is home to some of the city’s most luxurious apartments. Originally settled by Germans in the 1840s, the town’s main thoroughfare was given the name of Prussia’s Kaiser Wilhelm I in the 1870s.

The name was changed after World War I but later reverted to the original English form, King William. Sydney Lanier, Josephina Niggli, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sandra Cisneros are just a few of the writers with ties to the region.


The Guenther House, located at 205 E. Guenther (210-227-1061 or 800-235-8186), is a European-style residence built in 1860 by Carl Hilmar Guenther, the founder of Pioneer Flour Mills.

The oldest continuously operating flour mill in the United States also houses a fascinating museum dedicated to milling history and a superb dining establishment. Relax under the tiered patio with views of the San Antonio River while feasting on Champagne chicken enchiladas and authentic German pastries prepared with San Antonio River Mill ingredients.

San Antonio’s initial neighborhood, La Villita (418 Villita; 210-207-8610; was a shack colony for Spanish soldiers) is the next area to explore and is known for its vibrant art scene. After the 1819 flood, primitive huts were replaced by adobe homes.

The area has been revitalized and now features cobblestone streets and an arts and crafts community. The old town is the new hot spot for the arts, with galleries, museums, studios, and restaurants all in close proximity to one another. There is no cost to see the shops, which are open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.


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