This Texas hotspot consistently ranks among the best big cities in the US to travel to, so we’re counting down 16 unmissable things to do in San Antonio, both crowd favorites and more unique adventures.
Planning your trip to San Antonio at the last minute?
Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!
Top tours in San Antonio:
⇒ Riverwalk cruise, hop-on hop-off bus, and Tower of the Americas (from $56/pp)
⇒ San Antonio and the Alamo 1.30 Hour Tour (from $59/pp)
⇒ Texas Hill Country and LBJ 8 Hour Tour From San Antonio (from $109/pp)
⇒ San Antonio Ghost Walking 2 Hour Tour (from $21/pp)
⇒ San Antonio 3 Hour Walking Food Tour (from $65/pp)
Top accommodation and lodging in San Antonio:
Best hotels in San Antonio: Valencia Riverwalk (4-star on the famous Riverwalk), Hilton Palacio del Rio (4-star with epic views), Emma at Pearl (5-star in cool district), Embassy Suites Northwest (3-star between Six Flags and Downtown)
Best vacation homes/B&B in San Antonio: Incredible B&B with score 9.2 (at the Riverwalk), Historic cottage (in Downtown), Cozy cottage (in Pearl)
There’s no other city in the Lone Star state that receives so many visitors each year, and it’s not hard to see why.
San Antonio has it all–history, culture, art, natural beauty…not to mention some of the most finger-licking Southern cuisines you’ve ever sampled.
On this list, you’ll find superlatives galore, everything from the largest commercial caverns and the single most-visited tourist site in Texas to the most extensive Mexican market in the country.
So keep reading to uncover all the key spots to stop while visiting San Antonio, as well as need-to-know tips on admission prices, special events, and more!
Lots to see but too little time? No worries. We’ve got you covered with our comprehensive weekend in San Antonio itinerary. It breaks down exactly what to do in the city if you’re only around for a couple of days.
16 Fun Things to Do in San Antonio, Texas
This city is home to a long and storied history. San Antonio has changed hands many times over the centuries, occupied by Native Americans, early Spanish explorers, government officials, armed forces, German immigrants, and more.
The result is a diverse blend of cultural influences and an absolutely unbeatable travel experience.
From Mexican markets to Japanese tea gardens, there’s certainly no shortage of fascinating things to see in San Antonio. Just mix and match activities from this list to build your perfect trip!
Do a Little of Everything at the San Antonio River Walk
This pedestrian street is the heart of the city and full of life at any time of the day. There are so many activities to indulge in that you could easily spend your whole time in San Antonio exploring the River Walk alone.
Kick back and relax in the shade of the beautiful bald cypress trees that line the banks of the river, many of which are more than a century old. It’s a great way to escape the heat during the warmer months and take in the San Antonio atmosphere.
Shop until you drop at the wide range of boutiques and stores. You’ll find antiques, art, and tons of locally-made clothing and jewelry items.
Grab a delicious meal or happy hour drink at one of the many legendary restaurants in San Antonio River Walk. We recommend the County Line’s “legendary barbecue” or a jazz and oyster experience at On the Bend.
Finally, hop on one of the river cruises to catch a different perspective of this famous attraction, or do the paddling yourself on a kayak tour!
Read next: 33 Best Things to Do in Texas
Get up Close and Personal with Texas History at The Alamo
You’ve heard the legends, seen the fort’s walls in the pages of history books, but actually standing in front of this stunning fortress makes it feel as though you’ve traveled back in time.
With 300 years of history under its belt, the Alamo has flown the flags of five different nations and functioned as a garrison for five different armies.
And, of course, it was the site of the famous 1836 Battle of the Alamo, during which Texas won its independence.
Many people don’t realize that there’s much more to see than just the iconic and easily recognizable Alamo Church.
You can also explore the barracks, wander through sprawling gardens, and learn about historical cannons and other artifacts.
Admission to the Alamo Church is free, but advance reservations are required. You can also opt for a comprehensive guided tour of the entire grounds, which costs $40 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under.
Step Into the Past at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Searching for a half-day or full-day adventure that blends education, history, and outdoor time? Look no further! This spot, one of 16 national parks in Texas, is a perfect activity for any group of travelers.
After all, you simply can’t visit San Antonio without a tour through four of the Spanish colonial missions the city is known for. They were built in the 17th and 18th centuries and make up the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.
The missions are even connected by a 15-mile hike and bike trail, offering an opportunity to not only hit some San Antonio highlights but also see a different side of the city.
As one of the best San Antonio trails, it winds through incredible neighborhoods, local farms, and gorgeous San Antonio parks, with a number of rest stops and picnic tables along the way if you want to pack a lunch.
But don’t linger too long–incredible architecture and beautifully preserved pieces of history await!
Walk Among Masterpieces at the San Antonio Museum of Art
Within the walls of the San Antonio Museum of Art are a staggering 5000 years of art.
From the old (they house “the most comprehensive ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art collection in the southern United States”) to the new (hello, groundbreaking contemporary art exhibitions), SAMA can keep you entertained for hours.
Definitely don’t miss their Latin American collection, which is one of the best in the country.
Tickets are just $20 for adults, $10 for youth aged 13-18, and free for children 12 and under!
Experience the Wild West at the Texas Ranger Museum and Buckhorn Saloon
If your trip to San Antonio was inspired by dreams of cowboys roaming the Wild West, then this is the place to go. Get the full Texas experience with a vast array of wacky and wild exhibits and a healthy dose of history thrown in.
Examine artifacts like badges and objects carried by the Rangers themselves and explore a replica jail cell, blacksmith shop, and even Bonnie and Clyde’s iconic getaway car.
The museum is partnered with the Buckhorn Saloon, so you get an unmissable 2-for-1 deal.
Deemed the oldest saloon in the state, the Buckhorn started out in 1881, offering customers the opportunity to trade horns and antlers for a drink.
In fact, you can still grab a beer in the very spot where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his famous band of Rough Riders, surrounded by many of the original decorations.
Dig Deeper Into State History at the Institute of Texan Cultures
Calling all fans of art, history, and culture!
This museum and library is dedicated to telling the stories of the many groups that have called Texas home over the centuries.
They host a number of festivals and special events throughout the year, so check the calendar before visiting to see if you can fit one into your itinerary.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for kids aged 6-17.
Take the Plunge at Six Flags Fiesta Texas
There are plenty of more educational things to do in San Antonio, but vacation is also the time to have a little (or a lot of) fun!
That’s where Six Flags Fiesta Texas comes in. Get ready to scream on some of the country’s tallest, most terrifying rides at this totally Texas-sized amusement park.
Test your bravery on the record-breaking Iron Rattler and the Bahama Blaster (the world’s tallest water slide and one of the best water parks in Texas), or go for something more family-friendly like a tour on the Fiesta Texas Railroad.
If you’re traveling to San Antonio during Halloween, make sure to check out the park’s seasonal festivities for even more heart-pounding thrills.
Go Underground at the Natural Bridge Caverns
The United States’ largest commercial caverns are full of fun at every turn, with adventures to be had both underground and above.
Mine for treasures, embark on a guided tour of the tunnels and unique rock formations or take to the skies on their zip rails and rope course with stunning views of Texas Hill Country.
There are activities for all ages, so adults and little ones alike will love a day spent at the Caverns.
Head South of the Border at Historic Market Square
A big part of what makes San Antonio so unique is its diverse blend of cultures.
The city is home to the largest Mexican market in the United States, and an afternoon spent browsing the lines of colorful stalls is hands-down one of the most popular things to do in San Antonio.
At Historic Market Square, you can shop for folk art, traditional pottery, souvenirs, and more.
Make sure to keep an eye out for live music and dance performances, and don’t leave without sampling one or two of the drool-worthy TexMex and Mexican dishes on offer.
The market is open Thursday-Sunday.
Find Your Zen at the Japanese Tea Garden
Wondering what to do in San Antonio after you’re already well-acquainted with the River Walk, Alamo, and other popular attractions?
This lesser-known but just as worthy destination is a lovely way to spend a relaxing afternoon or evening.
Tucked inside an abandoned limestone rock quarry, the Japanese Tea Garden is full of lush greenery, lily ponds, and a 60-foot waterfall that tumbles through the surrounding bamboo thickets.
There’s also a cafe where you can grab sushi, sandwiches, and a wide range of hot and iced teas.
Admission is free, and pets are welcome, as long as they’re on a leash.
Admire the Architecture of King William Historic District
Like the rest of San Antonio, this collection of neighborhoods has a long history.
Centuries of development have left the area with a fascinating blend of architectural styles–massive houses adorn every corner, from Victorian mansions to grandiose homesteads invoking the French Renaissance.
It’s a great place to cycle or stroll while just soaking in the atmosphere.
The trendy area also boasts a number of boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars.
Stop and Smell the Roses at the San Antonio Botanical Garden
This gorgeous, green urban oasis is just the thing to offer a break from bustling San Antonio. (Actually, there are quite a few state parks near San Antonio that make a perfect day trip if you want to see even more of central Texas’ natural beauty).
Let the little ones run free in the Family Adventure Garden or learn how to cook a nutritious dish picked straight from the Culinary Garden.
For a more Texas-themed visit, a hike along the Texas Native Trail will take you past more than 250 local plant species, as well as historic log cabins and adobe houses.
You can also take things global with a stroll through the Conservatory, home to exotic plants found in Central American rainforests, African deserts, and everywhere in between.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children aged 3-13.
Watch a Broadway Show at the Majestic Theater
San Antonio’s oldest and largest theater looks as though it were cut straight out of Europe and plopped down in central Texas.
The majestic (haha) Mediterranean-style building was built in 1929 and has since hosted concerts, film premieres, Broadway shows, and more.
Check their upcoming events before you visit so you can pop in for one of the performances. It’s sure to be incredible! (Honestly, just sitting in this gorgeous building would be entertainment enough).
Enjoy the Local Flavors at Pearl Brewery
Of all the many things to do in San Antonio, eating is one of the most rewarding. The city’s food culture is innovative, award-winning, and just plain delicious, and no place puts it on display quite like Pearl Brewery.
Pssst: Pearl is one of the best places to stay in San Antonio!
What started as a single brewery back in 1883 has since blossomed into an entire complex featuring shops, green space, a farmer’s market, and dozens of San Antonio’s best restaurants.
Classic Texas barbecue, Mexican street food, and even Peruvian-Asian fusion…this spot truly has it all.
Stay for one meal or make a day of it (we don’t blame you).
Get all the Instagram Pics at the San Antonio Murals
This is truly one of our favorite things to do in San Antonio. Incredible street art and a closer look at the city as you explore–what more could you ask for?
Set off on your own and see where the wind takes you, or join a guided tour to make sure you hit all the best murals while also learning about the city’s art culture.
If something in the middle sounds more suitable, check out the San Antonio Street Art Initiative’s website (SASAI) for a list of 40 murals stretching across 13 city blocks.
They include coordinates as well as information about the artists, so you can plan which ones to hit and know a bit more about who made them too!
Shop in Style at La Cantera
This elevated open-air mall will change everything you thought you knew about shopping centers.
Explore high-end retailers, upscale restaurants, and (if you really want to indulge) the La Cantera resort and spa.
The Shops at La Cantera have become synonymous with San Antonio luxury, so this spot is a must-visit for those that enjoy the finer things in life.
They often hold special events, like pop-up food trucks, deals on dining, and seasonal clothing launches.
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Thursday 8th of December 2022
Hello! In response to your 12 festive ways to celebrate Christmas in San Antonio I wanted to let you know that Don Strange no longer has a light show BUT there are 2 new light drive thru's on 289: Crumbling Castle Lights and the Jones family Christmas ranch. Thank you and merry Christmas to you!