San Antonio is a beautiful city with a plethora of history, art, and great BBQ. I had an opportunity to visit this past spring and had an amazing time in the city. There are so many free things to see and do, it’s an easy town for a 2 Day, $200 vacation!
The well known Riverwalk shows off this vibrant, revitalized city. With it’s beautiful walkways and bridges, it winds thru the downtown area and is lined with many shops, restaurants, and hotels. There’s even an outdoor theater and a few museums along the path. Not pictured, but I spent a couple hours at the Briscoe Western Art Museum (Free Tues 4-9pm) that resides along the Riverwalk and saw some exquisite representations of the art and history of the American West. One of the more touristy things I did was take a boat ride on the river with Rio San Antonio Cruises: a 35 min narrated, guided boat tour sharing the history and culture around the river.
Cost: $10 (River Cruise ) / FREE (Briscoe Western Art Museum on Tues evening)
North and south of the main downtown portion of the Riverwalk are the Museum Reach (north) and Mission Reach (south). I took a walk along the Museum Reach and got to see a number of various art installations that lined the path (most notable: F.I.S.H. – a school of fishes hanging under freeway underpass that light up at night!), murals, and plazas. You can also watch the water taxis go thru the locks, for a little old-school technical geekery.
Of course, you must Remember The Alamo! This historic site, a Spanish mission turned fortress is most widely known for The Battle of the Alamo (Dec 1835), when volunteer soldiers occupied the fort in the early stages of Texas’ war for independence from Mexico.
Cost = FREE (there are donation boxes if you’d like to contribute to the upkeep of the grounds and facilities.)
My surprise find of the trip was The San Antonio Library! The Central branch (600 Soledad St) is a beautiful, artful building that houses a gallery, multiple statues and it’s very own Chihuly Glass sculpture! I really enjoyed seeing the artwork here and walking the grounds outside. They have an amazing collection inside & out.
San Antonio has a beautiful Japanese Tea Garden, located in Brackenridge Park that is free to visit. You can walk thru the trails, around the water, and the historic pagoda. Developed in 1840, it was managed for many years (1919-1941) by the family of Kimi and Miyoshi Jingu. However, in response to anti-Japanese sentiment during WWII, the family was removed from the grounds and the name changed to “Chinese Tea Garden” in an attempt to prevent vandalism. In 1984, the name was restored to the Japanese Tea Garden. Brackenridge Park has many walking trails and is home to the San Antonio Zoo. If you have kids: be sure to check out the train rides! I didn’t do either the zoo or train, but I did enjoy a lovely walk thru the park after visiting the Japanese Tea Garden.
There was SO much street art in San Antonio! I was able to find all of these interesting gems just by walking around the downtown area near the riverwalk and the library.
San Antonio has some amazing food – there was so much to explore here! A few of the stops I made included: Smoke Shack was an amazing little BBQ I found after my walk thru Brackenridge Park – great service and fantastic food! I found a couple fun choices for my afternoon ice cream treat: The House, Boozy Ice Cream, and Brews (yes, it’s alcohol infused ice cream!) and Lick Honest Ice Creams. Coffee and breakfast at the Ocho in Hotel Havana. And, Boudro’s on the Riverwalk: I came here on the advice of a friend who highly recommended the Prickly Pear Margarita! She has good taste, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong and it was delightful! Not Pictured, but worth the visit was the Mexican street food by Chef Johnny Hernandez at La Gloria!
Here’s my itinerary, plus some of the other places you can choose to see when you visit:
My biggest savings came by sitting thru 2 hr timeshare presentation in exchange for $200 Amex Card and $100 hotel voucher. For the record, I did tell them when I was first offered it that I wasn’t interested or in the market for a timeshare, but they said that didn’t matter, so I agreed to attend the presentation. It was an interesting experience, they did a very hard sell with multiple people talking to me, and they did make me sit there for the whole 2 hours. But, I kept saying “No, thank you” firmly and politely. In the end, they did give me my Amex Card (which I used to pay for the hotel) and my hotel voucher, which I’ll use on another trip. However, it would be easy to replicate my trip without the presentation – a recent web search found more than a dozen hotels in the downtown area priced between $47-100/night.
Visiting other areas of Texas? Check out this Perfect Three Day Guide to Austin for another place to visit!
A reminder, all links are for your convenience only, I am not an affiliate of any company and do not make money off recommending them. I just want to make it easy for you to find them if you’re interested!