San Antonio Vacations
In most large cities, downtown is bustling with businesspeople dressed for office work hurrying to their meetings and luncheons. Not so in San Antonio. Instead, downtown is filled with tourists in shorts carrying cameras and consulting their maps. In fact, many people are surprised to find that two of the state's most popular destinations - the Riverwalk and the Alamo - are right smack dab in the middle of downtown, surrounded by historical hotels, tourist attractions and souvenir shops.
The rest of the city sprawls out around downtown, careful not to impinge on the tourist trade. And even though San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the USA, it never feels particularly crowded.
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What To Do
Plenty of outdoor activities await in the area around San Antonio; perhaps the strongest drawcard is the river that shares the town's name. Caving, hiking, horse-riding and cycling complement the many water-based ways to get fit or relax.
San Antonio is a city with a full calendar of festivals and events: any time of the year you arrive there's bound to be something going on. The San Antonio Mud Festival is held on the first Saturday of January: workers drain the Riverwalk canal, lug out all the garbage, fix the pumps and refill it with water that stays clean and sparkling fresh - until February, anyway. The event is celebrated with live music, general mayhem and the annual crowning of the Mud King and Queen. Mid-February brings the San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo to the Freeman Coliseum, with two weeks' worth of buckin' broncos and other Western whoop-ass. Beginning five days before Ash Wednesday, Carnaval del Rio fills the riverfront with all manner of local musicians: from adagio to zydeco, and all the Texan twang most folks can take.
On the weekend closest to St Patrick's Day (17 March), the city dyes the river green and celebrates their feat by tossing back downright Irish quantities of beer. Fiesta San Antonio, a 10-day series of events in late April, is the city's biggest celebration, with fairs, feeds, rodeos, races and a whole lot of music and dancing. A few weeks later on Cinco de Mayo (5 May), similar activities celebrate Mexico's victory over French troops at the 1862 Battle of Puebla. Also in May, don't miss the Tejano Conjunto Festival, five days of the world's best conjunto musicianship and Tex-Mex cooking.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from Memorial Day (30 May) through Labor Day (first Monday in September), the Fiesta Noche del Rio brings Latino music to the Ameson River Theater in a series of concerts and dance performances. From June through August, the same venue hosts the Ballet Folklórico de San Antonio on Sundays.
The Texas Folklife Festival in June is the main arts and crafts fair, held at the Institute of Texan Cultures. On the weekend closest to September 16, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated all across the city with food, music and theater. December, of course, is full of festive gatherings. The most colourful are the traditional Mexican festivals: the December 12 feast of the Virgin de Guadalupe and the celebrations of Las Luminarias and Las Posadas on the two weekends preceding Christmas.