The AlamoConsidered to be hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty, the Alamo is a former mission which was also the site of the Battle of the Alamo (1836). Admission is free, although donations are appreciated. Revenues from an adjacent gift shop fund the historic preservation efforts. Aztec on the RiverOn the River Walk, at the corner of E. Commerce and N. St. Marys Streets. The Aztec on the River was touted as the Riverwalks most exciting entertainment attraction. This historic 1926 movie palace was meticulously restored in 2006, complete with a Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ.
Casa Navarro State Historical Park. Homesite of Jose Antonio Navarro, a 19th-century Texas legislator under Mexico, the Republic of Texas and the U.S. The park is the site of Navarro’s furnished house, first residence, and store.
King William Historic Area is a 25-block area south of downtown and east of the San Antonio River. In the late 1800s, prominent German merchants settled the King William area, making it the most elegant residential area in the city. It is Texas' first Historic District. Accessible from Alamo Plaza via the Blue VIA Streetcar. Highlights include the magnificent mansions along King William St., from Beauregard St. to Guenther St. Don't miss the Steves Homestead (1876) on King William St. or the Guenther House (1859) and Pioneer Flour Mills on Guenther St. If you happen to arrive in San Antonio early in the month, try to catch First Friday, like the name implies, it happens the first Friday of the month. On First Friday you can find all kinds of little booth selling things ranging from flowers to art to funnel cakes. There is usually live music.
River Walk (aka Paseo del Rio). The River Walk area, one level below the street level of San Antonio, is an excellent place to explore by day and party by night. The River Walk has guided barge tours by Rio San Antonio Cruises departing regularly. Numerous restaurants, shops, and hotels line the River Walk on both sides of the most popular and developed downtown loop, which winds its way below the streets bounded by Houston to the north, Alamo to the east, Villita to the south, and St. Mary's to the west. The east end of the River Walk is extended to the Convention Center and to the Rivercenter Mall. Further development of the River Walk is proceeding north and south of downtown. No visit to San Antonio is complete without a stroll along the River Walk. Note: Along many sections of the River Walk, there is nothing between the edge of the sidewalk and the River. Be very careful with young children, baby strollers, wheelchairs, intoxicated persons etc.
San Antonio Missions National ParkFour Spanish frontier missions, part of a colonization system that stretched across the Spanish southwest in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, are preserved here. They include missions San Jose, San Juan, Espada, and Concepcion. The national park, containing many cultural sites along with some natural areas, was established in 1978 and covers about 819 acres. San Antonio Zoological Gardens and AquariumThe zoo is home to over 3,500 animals representing 750 species of animals on 56 acres. Open 365 days a year. Hours: 9AM-5PM from Labor Day to Memorial Day; 9AM-6PM, Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission: adults $8; seniors (62+) and children (3-11) $6; military $7; under 2 free. Group rates available.
Museums and galleries
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, 116 Blue Star, 210-227-6960. A part of the Blue Star Arts Complex, the art center is a non-profit, non-collecting contemporary art center that advances the growth and understanding of contemporary art, artists and the curatorial process.
Buckhorn Saloon and MuseumLocated a short two blocks from the Alamo and 50 feet from the River Walk. Hours: 10AM-5PM or later, Su-Th; 10AM-6PM or later, Friday and Saturday. Call for exact closing times. Admission: Adults $11; seniors(55+) $10; Children (ages 3-11) $8. Special rates for group of 10 or more, and discounts for Military with ID. Institute of Texan CulturesIn HemisFair Park; main entrance is off Durango near Bowie. A one-story 50,000 sq. ft. museum featuring Texan history, brought to life by docent-interpreters, and the cultures of over 20 national/ethnic groups of people who have made Texas their home. Admission fee. Snack machines. Accessible from downtown via the Purple VIA Streetcar.
Instituto de México, 600 HemisFair Park, 210-227-0123. Tues-F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su noon-5PM. Free. Contemporary Art from Mexico.
Marion Koogler McNay Art MuseumPhone: +1 210-824-53686000 N New Braunfels. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Sun noon-5PM. Free admission on Thursday evenings and the first Sunday of the month, except for select exhibitions and special events. Fine arts exhibits, library. museum store.
Museo Alameda, 101 South Santa Rosa, 210-299-4300. Tu 10AM-6PM, W 10AM-8PM, Th-Su 10AM-6PM. Free admission with suggested donation. The first formal affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Museo Alameda tells the story of the Latino experience in America through art, history, and culture. Located in Market Square.
San Antonio Children's Museum305 Houston StPhone: +1 210-212-4453Fax: +1 210-242-1313Adm. $5.95. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Sun noon-4PM. Winter (School Year) hours: M 9AM-noon, T-F 9AM-3:30PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Sun noon-4PM. Groups, parties, events, hands-on learning play. San Antonio Museum of Art200 W Jones (2 blocks west of Broadway), 210-978-8100. Tu 10AM-8PM, W-Sa 10AM-5PM, Sun noon-6PM. $8 adult, $7 sen., $5 student, $3 age 4-11. Free Tuesdays 4PM-8PM. Four floors of fabulous permanent collections, from Antiquities to Asian to Contemporary Art, as well as changing exhibits. Bring your sketchpad or camera (no flash, permanent collections only). Cafe SAMA serves only snacks. On the #7 Sightseer Special bus line, or via any of the buses along Broadway (#9,10,14) with several blocks walk. If you can do only one museum visit, this is the one to explore in San Antonio. Southwest School of Art & CraftPhone: +1 210-224-18481201 Navarro and 300 Augusta. Art/museum gift shop in the Ursuline Campus as well as student work in the hallways and cafe. Free. On bus lines, and the Ursuline Campus backs up to an older, parklike section of the River Walk. Witte MuseumPhone: +1 210-357-19003801 Broadway. Tu 10AM-9PM, W-Sa, 10AM-5PM, Sun noon-5PM. $7 Ad/$6 sen/$5 kids 4-11, free Tuesdays 3PM-8PM. Dinosaurs, textiles, natural history, science treehouse, and more. A museum complex with lots of different activities going on - fun with kids!