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Looking for things to do in San Antonio, Texas, over a weekend? If you’ve only got a short period of time in San Antonio, here are some great highlights you’ll want to see, most of which are within easy reach of downtown and for which you don’t even need a car. They’re perfect for a weekend getaway or if you’re attending the basic training graduation for your new Air Force member.
San Antonio is an easy drive from Austin (2 hours), Houston (3.5 hours), Corpus Christi (2 hours), or Dallas (4+ hours). It also serves as a great home base for those visiting the Hill Country. And you won’t want to miss an opportunity to experience the wineries in Fredericksburg. Of course, spending Christmas in San Antonio adds some additional highlights to your itinerary.
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The Best Things to See and Do in San Antonio TX:
1. Go to the San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio’s River Walk is one of two iconic sights. The Riverwalk is both an inside mall plus an area of walkways with restaurants along the downtown river. I do feel that some of the restaurants here don’t try too hard since they know that tourists will be coming anyway, so I would warn you to check out Yelp reviews before you commit to a place for dinner. On the other hand, we ate at Fogo de Chau (an all you can eat Brazilian steak place) and had an excellent dinner.
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2. Visit the Tower of the Americas
The Tower of the Americas is a fabulous observation tower from which to enjoy the San Antonio skyline. Read all about why should visit this tower which was the tallest building in 30 years here. They also host outdoor concerts during the warmer months, so check out that schedule.
3. Visit the San Antonio Market and Enjoy a Meal at Mi Tierra
This cafe and bakery is open 24 hours. When I asked my friends and family where to eat in San Antonio, Mi Tierra came in heads above the rest, and I can see why. Located in the Market area of San Antonio, Mi Tierra really feeds into what we all imagine San Antonio is like – great Mexican food and Mariachi guys. Don’t forget to walk around this area after dinner. It is such a classic San Antonio area that we actually saw a quinceanera taking photos!
4. Visit the Alamo
Everyone who is familiar with US history knows at least a little bit about the Alamo and the famous cry “Remember the Alamo!” When we lived here, I couldn’t believe how small it seemed. Over the last ten years, they’ve really created some wonderful exhibits here. We also took a ghost tour years ago to see if we could find any lost souls in the fort (one of my sons claimed he saw something). For those needing a pop reference, Ozzy Osbourne was banned from San Antonio from 1982-1992 after he relieved himself on the property! You can read more about the Alamo here.
5. Take a Boat Tour on the San Antonio River
You can catch the GoRio at two spots along the River Walk. On a busy weekend, you’ll wait approximately 45 minutes for a boat ride. Once you’re on, the ride itself lasts approximately 45 minutes. The most important aspect of the ride is the historical points you’ll learn from your guide – plus you don’t have to walk! At a cost of $12 (discounts available to some groups), I actually recommend taking this tour if you’ve got the time. We did not buy the tickets in advance but you can get a discount if you do. Check out their website. (You can take your drinks on the tour, including alcoholic drinks.)
6. Visit the Missions
I visited the Missions originally with a third-grade social studies trip. It was nice to explore them without having to keep track of a lot of 8-year-olds! My original plan had been to bike the road to the Missions but I ended up taking the Viva bus. These UNESCO sites are not to be missed!
7. Enjoy a Walking Tour of San Antonio:
There is so much history in San Antonio, that walking tours can really appeal to whatever interests you may have. Like the dark side? Take a ghost tour. Enjoy drinking? Take a bar tour. Like good food? Take a foodie tour. My personal favorite was a FREE walking tour with Brent.
8. Admire the Great Churches in San Antonio
San Antonio has some great historic churches. I was intrigued by the location of the Saint Joseph Catholic Church, which is essentially surrounded by the Rivercenter Mall. Or visit San Felipe on Main Square, where the remains of James Bowie lie at rest.
9. Visit The Pearl in San Antonio
“Pearl” is one of the hottest spots in town. Located at the former Pearl Brewery site (from back in the 1800’s and closed shop after prohibition), this area has been transformed into a place to see and be seen. Featuring a food hall and 17 other eateries and establishments, it isn’t surprising that the Culinary Institute of America has opened a campus here.
10. Catch a Show at a San Antonio Art Deco Theater
San Antonio’s downtown revival includes the re-opening of beautiful art deco theaters. Catch a musical performer at the Majestic or Empire Theaters, or a comedian at the Aztec. You’ll be amazed at the classic decor.
Things to Know Before You Go to San Antonio TX:
If you’ve only got a short visit planned in San Antonio, you need to carefully time where to go and what to see. If I were spending a weekend in San Antonio, this is how I would do it:
- Friday night: After checking into the hotel, I would take the walking tour (#7) which is at 6:30pm. You’ll see some of the great churches (#8). I would then visit The Pearl (#9) and enjoy dinner and the evening.
- Saturday: Walk along the River Walk (#1), go up the Tower of the Americas (#2), ride on the Viva Centro bus which will take you to the Market (#3) where you should enjoy lunch at Mi Tierra. Get back on the bus (or walk) back to the River Walk and enjoy a River Walk Boat tour (#5). Close out the night by catching a show at a historic theater. (#10)
- Sunday: Visit all of San Antonio’s missions! Start with the missions (#6) along the bus route and finish at The Alamo (#4).
This is a really full schedule but so worth seeing if you only have a weekend and want to visit the best things to see and do in San Antonio.
If you’re in San Antonio, these posts might help you plan your activities too:
- Visiting the San Antonio Missions
- Why You Shouldn’t Miss the River Walk
- See The Alamo!
- 5 Reasons to Visit the Tower of the Americas
- Using VIVA to get around the sights
If you happen to be in San Antonio because you have an Airman graduating from boot camp who will be going on to Tech School in Wichita Falls, take a look at our weekend itinerary if you’re visiting your Airman.
Annick, The Common Traveler