Only have one day in San Antonio? Don’t worry, there’s plenty to do, see and explore in the south Texas city of San Antonio!
On my Texas road trip, we stopped in Corpus Christi, and then drove north to San Antonio to spend about 24 hours in the city. San Antonio is the second most populous city in the state of Texas and sits on the border between the culturally diverse portions of Central and South Texas. San Antonio serves as the unofficial capital of Spanish-Mexican culture in Texas.
Indeed, the city was founded as a Spanish mission during the colonial days of 1718. Several structures of the 18th century remain today and exploring them was one of the things I most looked forward to during my visit to San Antonio!
Here are ten ideas for things to do in San Antonio:
1. See the Alamo
The most famous site in San Antonio is undoubtedly the Alamo. The Alamo was a mission dedicated to promoting the spread of Roman Catholicism throughout the region. It became the site of a key battle for Texas Independence from the government of Mexico in 1836. It resulted in the formation of the Republic of Texas, a self-declared nation that existed for about 10 years before joining the United States. For this reason, Texas is the only state in America that is allowed to fly their flag at the same height as a US one. All other states must fly their flags below the US one.
You may be surprised to see that the Alamo is actually much smaller than you think. You can see the Alamo and its surrounding park within an hour of entering.
2. San Fernando Cathedral
Not far from the Alamo is the beautiful San Fernando Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church that opened in 1750. Pass by for a peek at one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States.
3. Eat along the River Walk
San Antonio is well known for its riverwalk – a stretch of river with sidewalks on either side that lead to restaurants and different shops. The riverwalk sits one level below the main city so you need to take a staircase down to reach it. The river walk is beautiful any time of day, but it especially comes alive at night when the light reflects and sparkles in the water. Have dinner at one of the many Mexican restaurants along the river while you listen to the Mariachi bands for a truly unique experience. If you feel like being a tourist, then hop on one of the riverboat tours and learn about the history of this Texas city.
Buy the San Antonio Explorer Pass to get a discounted price on several sites.
4. San Antonio Botanical Garden
This highly-rated botanical garden is a must-visit for nature fans in San Antonio. With scenic views, 38-acre expansive grounds, walking trails, a pond, and a plethora of flowers and plants, you could easily spend all day here!
5. San Antonio Museum of Art
Discover the city’s vast collection of Latin American and world art spanning over 5,000 years. The San Antonio Museum of Art is the perfect place to get your culture fix while in town.
6. Natural Bridge Caverns
Did you know the largest known caverns in the United States that anyone can enter are found in San Antonio? After the collapse of a sinkhole beneath a limestone slab bridge, these caverns were formed after having been discovered in 1960. The caverns are located on the private property of a local family, who developed the interior and still operate tours through the cavern today.
7. Tower of the Americas
For spectacular views of San Antonio, head up the 750-foot Tower of the Americas completed in 1968. Until the 90s, it was the tallest structure in all of the United States. When you get to the top, you can eat at a restaurant and lounge that provides the best panoramic views of San Antonio.
8. Marriage Island
If you plan on getting married in San Antonio, then consider getting hitched on Marriage Island – a small island in downtown San Antonio! The island is heart-shaped and located across from the Hotel Contessa. Locals will tell you it brings good luck to the marriages taking place here!
9. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Located just outside of San Antonio is one of the many missions founded in the region. Since we were driving up from Corpus Christi, we stopped at this mission and got a gorgeous view of the historical cathedral and the grounds that surround it. Sadly we arrived too late to enter the cathedral itself, but we did get a good look from the outside! This particular park includes the Mission San José, established in 1720.
I hope this list of things to do in San Antonio was helpful in planning your trip!