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Your guide to San Antonio
All About San Antonio
San Antonio’s roots date back hundreds of years, to when the Republic of Texas and Mexico fought one of the most famous battles in US history — the Battle of the Alamo. The Alamo Mission is a well-preserved centrepiece of the city, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. Five Spanish missions built in the 1700s remain here, along with one of the country’s oldest cathedrals, the gothic-style San Fernando Cathedral.
The 24-kilometre San Antonio River Walk runs through the city centre, where pedestrian-only streets line both sides of the river and offer restaurant patios serving Tex-Mex cuisine. Market squares along the walk sell artisan goods from handmade bags and huipil dresses to vibrant piñatas. Near the northern River Walk, San Antonio’s Museum Reach is home to the city’s best art, history, and science museums. Here you can see everything from ancient world exhibits at the San Antonio Museum of Art to contemporary paintings at the McNay Museum of Art. Nearby, Texas natural history and science are on display at the Witte Museum.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in San Antonio
San Antonio has primarily dry weather, except for hot, humid summers. In July, the city hosts the annual music festival combining classical music from the symphony and locally inspired cocktails. Spring and autumn are both cool and comfortable and host some of the city’s most-loved cultural events. The week-long Fiesta San Antonio in April commemorates those who fought in the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, and the event features live music, food, and a flower parade where every float is made entirely of floral designs.
San Antonio celebrates its Mexican heritage in October with Dia de Los Muertos — Day of the Dead — one of the largest celebrations of its kind in the country, honouring loved ones who have passed with extravagant altars, parades, and traditional foods from Mexican sweet bread to tamales. Winter in San Antonio is cold and brief. For three weekends in December, candles line the River Walk at night, and glowing boats pass through the river at the annual Fiesta de las Luminarias.
Top things to do in San Antonio
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is one of the only UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Texas, and it preserves four missions established by Spain throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. The 15-mile hike and bike trail at the site offers an easy way to guide yourself through the four stone-clad buildings and alongside the Mission Reach river waters lined with riparian woods.
Historic Market Square
San Antonio’s outdoor Market Square is one of the most extensive Mexican-themed markets in the southern United States. Colourful papel picado — glossy, flag-like papers — hang above hundreds of local shops lining the pedestrian-only streets. The farmers’ market sells homemade goods like marmalades, Mexican pastries, and spices. Small boutiques offer artisan goods from metallic artwork and Talavera pottery to handmade muñecas (dolls) and leather accessories. While you’re there, you can visit more than 20 artisans onsite, at work on their crafts.
San Antonio Museum of Art
The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) is a free museum along San Antonio’s River Walk, set in a former brewery from the late 1800s. Live oak trees more than 300 years old surround the outdoor SAMA sculpture gardens, while some of its most renowned indoor exhibits house collections from ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome, and Latin America.