San Antonio Vacations
The word "fiesta" comes to mind when thinking of San Antonio. The city just seems to pulsate with a fun-loving spirit for residents and visitors alike. The epicenter of this mood is the Paseo del Rio, more commonly knows as the River Walk. Located 20 feet below the busy business district, the San Antonio River meanders for two and half miles and is bordered by flagstone paths lined with restaurants, bars, boutiques, and cafés. You can either walk along or relax and take one of the popular river cruisers. Of course, the historical site that San Antonio is most remembered for is the Alamo. Located in the heart of downtown, the beautiful old stone mission is now a shrine and a museum.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Who should go?
Families and Couples
Learn history and stroll, shop, and dine along the River Walk in Texas’s most beautiful and atmospheric city.
The Alamo, La Villita, San Antonio Missions National Park, the 1860 Guenther House, and the King William Historic Area will satisfy all history lovers.
What's the climate like?
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, especially March, April, September, and October. May and June are the wettest months with an average of more than 4 inches of rain.
How do I get around town?
Transfers are not included with vacation packages to San Antonio. From the airport to hotels, there are shuttle vans, buses, and taxis.
Busses run from the downtown area to tourist attractions like the Fiesta, Texas theme park. Streetcars offer open-air downtown transport aboard reproductions of San Antonio’s historic rail streetcars.
You can get a taxi at your hotel or on the street.
A rental car is recommended if plans include sights out of town or a daytrip into the Hill Country, otherwise public transportation and walking can get you just about anywhere within the city.
The main tourist areas — Alamo, La Villita, and the River Walk — can all be explored on foot.
What kinds of dining and nightlife are available?
The restaurant scene in San Antonio, naturally, includes Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, but you'll also find great German food, as well as cuisines from around the world.
- La Celesa
Delicious Mexican fare with perfect guacamole and a menu filled with interesting dishes you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
- La Fogata
A highly rated Mexican restaurant serving up homemade tortillas on a lovely covered patio. Breakfast is served on weekends.
- Little Rhein Steakhouse
Dating from 1847, this restaurant was the first two-story structure in the city. Today it's beloved for its filet mignon.
- La Rêve
Rated an impressive #6 on Gourmet's America’s Top 50 Restaurants for 2006. This intimate and elegant space on the River Walk serves the best food in the city and some say all of Texas. The tasting menu is highly recommended, as are reservations.
Authentic Mexican food includes favorites like green enchiladas and fajitas, which go well with the tasty house margaritas.
- Shilo's Delicatessen
A downtown institution that has been serving up hearty German food and fabulous homemade rootbeer since 1917. German music is played on Friday and Saturday nights.
Nightlife centers on the River Walk and around the 3000 block of San Antonio's North St. Mary's Street where there's a wide variety of bars and restaurants, many with live entertainment. The Menger Hotel bar is in one of the city's great cultural and historical treasures and is a great place for a cocktail and to meet locals and other tourists.
Where should I go shopping?
San Antonio, with its rich heritage, is a wonderful city to purchase Mexican imports. Most shopping options are centered around the River Walk, including La Villita, a pleasant place for a quiet stroll on tree-shaded brick- and tile-paved streets filled with shops and boutiques, art galleries, and cafes; and Rivercenter, a shopping mall right on the river.
Away from the River Walk is Market Square, a restoration of an old farmer’s market, and a great place for value-priced Mexican dresses, shirts, and strings of paper maché vegetables.
Fredericksburg makes for a nice drive and its main street is lined with antique shops, German bakeries, and western saloons.
For a longer drive, head to Mexico just over the Rio Grande, where language and currency are no barriers, and you'll discover some well-stocked stores with merchandise that is hard to find elsewhere. Best values are ceramic, papier-mâché, and woolen goods; straw and leather goods, and cotton dresses are, after liquor and cigarettes, the most popular items.
When are the local events?
Here are some annual events happening throughout the city and nearby:
Southtown First Friday Art Walk
First Friday of every month. All along South Alamo Street down to Complex are art studios open to the public, showcasing their painting, sculptures, and other art. In addition, street vendors offer unique merchandise like handmade jewelry and folk art.
River Walk Mud Festival
Second week in January. Held for one week in January to celebrate the draining of the San Antonio River for maintenance by the Parks & Recreation Department. The actual Mud Festival is held after the River is filled back up.
St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick’s Day weekend. A huge, multi-day event, starting with the Dyeing O’ the River Green where environmentally friendly green dye is tossed into the river, transforming the 2.5 mile river into a miniature Emerald Isle, where a proclamation is read, temporarily re-naming the river "The River Shannon" and where decorated barges float down in a parade. There is also an official Pub Crawl where San Antonians and visitors alike celebrate Irish music, dance, and culture outside along the River Walk and inside its bars and restaurants.
Kerrville Wine & Music Festival
Labor Day weekend. Similar musical format to that of the Kerrville Folk Festival, but the focus is also on Texas Wines. Annual three-day event combines camping, music, and the best wines Texas winemakers have to offer. In addition to afternoon and evening concerts, there are Saturday and Sunday wine seminars which pair food morsels with the vintners choice of wine.
Ford Holiday River Parade & Lighting Ceremony
Friday following Thanksgiving. The switch is thrown and close to 130,000 twinkling lights form a magical canopy over the River Walk and shine brightly every evening through January 1. The lighting ceremony is the official kickoff to the Paseo Del Rio Holiday Festival and gathers more than 150,000 people each year.
What are my golf and recreation options?
San Antonio is home to the Spurs, an NBA team; the Alamo Bowl, to determine the Big 12 Championship; the Missions, a minor league baseball team; the Rampage, an American Hockey League team; and the Silver Stars, a WNBA team.
King William Historic District
A 25-block area with homes from the 1870s that mix architectural styles, from Beaux Arts to neoclassical to Early American is a must for any historian or design lover. Most impressive is the Guenther House, which is embellished from top to bottom with gold leaf, carvings, and stained-glass windows. There are also two restaurants that serve breakfast and lunch.
Shopping in Mexico
Mexico is about an hour and a half away and offers some great bargains. Vodkas and tequilas are cheaper there, and American-brand cigarettes sell for less than half of their north-of-the-river price. Each adult returning from Mexico is permitted to bring one liter of liquor and one carton of cigarettes. On the north side of the international bridge, the state of Texas collects a $1 tax on each liter of liquor brought into the state from Mexico.
North of San Antonio, Route 32 skips along parts of a ridge called the Devil’s Backbone and leads through some classic Hill Country landscapes.
Don't Fall In!
Try the prickly pear margarita at the Zuni Grill along the River Walk. It's refreshing, delicious, a lovely shade of purple-plum, and you only need one! Breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the pretty patio is also highly recommended.
Don't Fall In Again!
The river is drained every year, during the first week in January by the Parks & Recreation Department.
Good to Know:
|San Antonio International Airport
|March, April, September, and October
|November – March
|San Antonio is on Central Time
|None needed for U.S. citizens
|Tip 15-20% at restaurants and to taxi drivers
|Casual, but stylish. Dress up in the evening, depending on the venue.