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Day In San Antonio: Historic Landmarks & Vibrant Downtown Nightlife!

Day In San Antonio

By: Kiki Gee
Photos: Allen Carrasco

Deep in the heart of Texas and affectionately referred to as The Alamo City, San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the United States (after all, everything is bigger in Texas). From historic landmarks to a vibrant downtown, San Antonio offers a little taste of everything for those heading to the Lone Star State. We decided to giddy up on over to Texas to see if bigger really is better. Join us as we explore San Antonio in a day!

Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, TX Brackenridge Park

Start your day in San Antonio at Brackenridge Park, located in the northern region of the city. Here you will find lush tree-lined paths for walking or biking, primo bird watching and fishing, plentiful picnicking locations and more. Little ones will love the miniature railway offering a two-mile, 20-minute tour of the park and golfers can spend the day at the Brackenridge Golf Course.

San Antonio, Texas Zoo When you are ready for a play-break, the zen-inducing Japanese tea gardens are aaaah-mazing. From the 60-foot waterfall to the gorgeous ponds and shaded areas, this quiet part of the park offers visitors a tranquil spot to relax seven days a week from 8 am ’til dusk.

Brackenridge Park is also home to the Sunken Garden Theater, an open-air amphitheater used for plays and concerts and the Witte Museum, San Antonio’s premiere museum of South Texas history, culture, and natural science, a popular spot amongst locals.

But what brings tourists and locals to Brackenridge Park is the San Antonio Zoo. Home to over 3,500 animals, including one of the country’s largest collections of birds, the San Antonio Zoo sees over 1,000,000 visitors each year! Some fun facts about the zoo: They were among the first to become a cageless zoo and they were also the first in the country to breed the endangered whooping crane. Visit www.sazoo-aq.org for park and ticketing information.

Pearl Brewery and Market Pearl Brewery & Market

Once you leave Brackenridge Park, head to Pearl Brewery. Just look for the giant beer can in the sky. Once a brewery, “The Pearl” is now more like a village filled with shops and restaurants. As the home of the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio, a year-round Farmers Market, a food marketplace and some of the best dining in the country, the Pearl Brewery is a foody delight. Come hungry!

Pearl Farmers Market
Saturdays 9 am -1 pm and Wednesdays 4 – 7 pm, rain or shine.
The scoop: At the Pearl Farmer’s Market, all produce has been grown within a 150 mile radius of San Antonio making this the ideal place to stock up on fresh fruit and veggies for the week.

Museum Reach

San Antonio - Museum of Art

Now that your belly is full, soak in some of the rich art culture of San Antonio. The Museum Reach, which opened in May of 2009, added 1.3 more miles to the most popular attraction in the state of Texas: The Riverwalk. Starting roughly at the Holiday Inn El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel, the Museum Reach portion of the Riverwalk features wonderful displays of public art, in addition to well-manicured grounds and beautiful walking paths.

To travel by boat on the new Museum Reach section of the Riverwalk, keep your eyes peeled for a barge with a large red and black checkered flag on the back—that’s your taxi. $10 will buy you unlimited rides for the next 24 hours.

On dry land, the San Antonio Museum of Art is not to be missed. Boasting impressive collections of art of the Ancient Mediterranean World, Asian Art, Latin American Art and contemporary American paintings, sculpture and decorative art, the museum prides itself on its responsibility to “educate and engage diverse audiences, provide transformational experiences, strengthen our shared understanding of humanity and encourage a sense of wonder and discovery.”

Mission Trail

Get a glimpse into San Antonio history by exploring the Mission Trail. Guided tours are available through www.missiontrailtours.com. Starting at the Alamo and ending at Mission Espada, this tour offers visitors a look at each of the city’s five missions.

San Antonio Texas - Mission Trail

The Alamo

Your first stop on the trail is what San Antonio is most famously known for: The Alamo. Originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo was established as the city’s first mission in
1718. The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 was a pivotal moment in the Texas Revolution. The 13-day siege led by Mexican General Santa Anna’s army resulted in the death of 189 Texan defenders  making “Remember the Alamo” a commonly heard phrase throughout Texas.

Mission Concepcio - San Antonio, Texas Mission Concepcion

Originally established in 1716 in East Texas, Mission Concepcion was moved to San Antonio in 1731. Established by Franciscan friars, this is the best preserved of San Antonio’s missions. And, churchgoers can still attend regular services here every Sunday.



Mission San Jose - San Antonio, Texas Mission San Jose

Soon after the building of the Alamo, a second mission was founded in 1720 about five miles south. Named San Jose, this new mission was established by Fray Antonio Margil de Jesus after leaving a
failed mission in East Texas. Mission San Jose gained a reputation as a major social and cultural center and also provided the toughest stronghold against raids from Native Americans.




Mission San Juan Capistrano Mission San Juan Capistrano

First established in East Texas, Mission San Juan Capistrano (not to be confused with the mission in San Juan Capistrano, CA) made its permanent home on the banks of the San Antonio River in 1731. The mission became a regional supplier of  agricultural and other products like iron, wood, cloth, and leather goods produced by the Native Americans in its workshops.


Mission Espada Mission Espada

Mission San Francisco de la Espada (originally San Francisco de los Tejas), similar to the other San Antonio missions, had its beginnings in East Texas. In 1731, the mission was given a new name and location, making it the southernmost mission on the San Antonio River. Mission Espada can be recognized for its chapel and unusual door as well as its stone entrance archway.





Riverwalk & Downtown

The Riverwalk is a major attraction for San Antonio visitors and locals alike. Whether traveled by foot or boat, this four-mile stretch along the San Antonio River boasts plentiful shopping, dining and sight-seeing opportunities.

Must-See Places Riverwalk San Antonio, Texas Must-See Places Along the Riverwalk

River Center Mall: If you want to shop ‘til you drop in San Antonio, the River Center Mall is the place to be. You can also catch a flick here at the Imax theatre.

La Villita: This historic art village on the water boasts an eclectic array of arts, crafts and unique shopping experiences, from beads to baskets, making this small village perfect for spending the afternoon poking around.

Hemisfair Park: Most noted for the Tower of the Americas, Hemisfair Park is a must-see (and can’t miss) San Antonio destination.

Market Square: Alive with authentic Mexican food and music, the historic Market Square region of San Antonio is rich with Mexican culture and located in the heart of downtown.

River Tour: Soak in the scenes while learning about the history of San Antonio aboard a river tour boat! Visit www.riosanantonio.com for tour and ticketing information or visit one of their many
locations along the river.

A sunset river cruise followed by dinner on the Riverwalk is the perfect ending to your day in the Alamo City. Try Boudros Texas Bistro for chunky guacamole prepared tableside—wash it down with their Prickly Pear Margarita. Or head to Casa Rio for mouthwatering Tex-Mex dishes like enchiladas and tamales.



Downtown Texas Downtown

As your day in San Antonio comes to an end, you will see why they say the stars at night shine big and bright deep in the heart of Texas. The view of downtown at night is so beautiful it is hard to describe…You will just have to visit yourself. True, Texas might be known for big boots, big belt buckles and even bigger hair, but we have to add big fun to that list! Want even more San Antonio travel tips and tidbits? Head on over to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce site, www.sachamber.org for helpful information on the city’s businesses, events and attractions.

Texas Flag The Story Behind the Lone Star State
Texas was coined the Lone Star State to signify the state as an independent republic and to serve as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be spotted on the Texas State Flag as well as the Texas State Seal.

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Posted in A Day In..., September 2011, Travel

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