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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Long remembered for the Alamo, San Antonio makes history come to life. Its enchanting River Walk meanders along the milky green San Antonio River through the heart of town and right into vacationers’ hearts. Those fortunate enough to visit San Antonio during Christmastime will be treated to a festive Ford Holiday River Parade showcasing the city’s top musical acts, local celebrities and about 1.8 million colorful LED lights. History feels like a natural part of this city, from the Aztec theatre of 1926 to the Institute of Texan Culture, showcasing the area’s unique past. And of course, the state’s most impressive site, the Alamo, a 300-year-old former Spanish mission transformed into fortress, sits right at the center of it all. There are also stunning examples of nature waiting to be explored all across San Antonio, such as the Natural Bridge Caverns 180 feet beneath the earth. Above ground, the Natural Wildlife Ranch features close-up encounters with around 750 different species, including bears, birds, hippos and exotic komodo dragons. It feels a bit like Africa, by way of Texas, with large expanses of land where visitors can ride in cars and observe some of the park’s friendlier animals roam free.
What To Do
Ride a popular water taxi along the relaxing waters of the San Antonio River. Take an enlightening River Walk boat tour past unique art installations, colorful landscapes and charming cafes.
Visit the intriguing San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) along the River Walk.
Explore down under the ground at the half-mile long Natural Bridge Caverns. Then peer out above the city from 750 feet up in the air at the Tower of the Americas.
Try some authentic Tex-Mex barbeque and become one with the fans at a San Antonio Spurs basketball game at the renowned Alamo Dome.
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.