Along the banks of the San Antonio River, you will find one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, the San Antonio River Walk. This urban sanctuary is one story below street level. Since the early 1950s, tourists and residents alike have walked along the famed River Walk enjoying the scenery, shops, galleries, restaurants, clubs and special events along the way. Extending approximately two-and-a-half miles, the San Antonio River Walk attracts millions of visitors annually. You can enjoy the lush landscapes, pathways, waterfalls and relaxing outdoor patios. A current development project finishes in 2014 and extends the River Walk from two to 13 miles to connect San Antonio’s missions with cultural districts and museums. Though walking is certainly enjoyable, you can also take a river taxi to get to your destination along the River Walk. Numerous festivals, parades, concerts and other activities take place on the San Antonio River Walk throughout the year.
Commerce St., San Antonio, TX 78205. Hours: Open; Admission: Free
Experience San Antonio history at Mission Trail. In 1718, the first mission was built and over the next 13 years, five missions in total were created along the banks of the San Antonio River. Today, these five missions make up what is known as San Antonio Mission Trail. You can visit four of the missions at San Antonio Missions National Park: Mission Concepción, Mission San José, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada. The fifth one, Mission San Antonio de Valero, become known as The Alamo. Admission to The Alamo is separate from the four others. The museum at Mission Trail displays authentic and replicated artifacts, while the bookstore provides educational materials to better understand the history of the area. Park rangers and docents conduct free guided tours, movies and demonstrations throughout the week at Mission Trail. Visitors are also welcome to take self-guided tours to check out the missions and the beautiful natural areas along the trail.
6701 San José Dr., San Antonio, TX, 78214. Hours: Daily 9am–5pm; Admission: Free.
King William Historic District – Guenther House
King William Historic District was once farmland belonging to the Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo). In the late 19th century, the area became a popular neighborhood among German immigrants. King William Street was originally named for Prussia’s Kaiser Wilhelm I. Unfortunately the King William area of San Antonio suffered massive decline beginning in the 1940s. But then in 1967, the neighborhood became Texas’ first Historic Neighborhood District and began to be restored. If you enjoy historic homes, this area of San Antonio is quite interesting and unique. One of the homes that is open to the public is the Guenther House. Built in 1860, the Guenther House is now owned by the San Antonio Conservation Society and features a restaurant, museum and store. In addition to Guenther House, there are a number of other unique homes to see in the King William area. These Greek Revival, Victorian and Italianate-style mansions are very well maintained.
205 East Guenther St., San Antonio, TX 78204. Hours: Monday through Saturday 8am-4pm; Sunday 8am-3pm; Admission: Free
Once a cloistered convent, the Southwest School of Art & Craft is now one of San Antonio’s top cultural and art centers. Southwest School is located on two campuses across the street from each other. The picturesque Ursuline Campus grounds offer a fine crafts Sales Gallery, a weekday lunch café, a Visitors Center Museum and public gardens. The Navarro Campus features contemporary exhibitions that reflect the art school’s teaching mission. One of the best things about the Southwest School of Art & Craft is exhibitions are free! You can also visit the historic grounds and enjoy the architecture of the buildings and surrounding gardens. Art classes, camps and special events are available for a fee. More than 225,000 people attend events, view exhibits, take classes or visit the historic site annually.
300 Augusta, San Antonio TX 78205. Hours: Monday through Saturday 10am-5pm; Sunday 11am- 4pm; Admission: Free
Founded in 1731, San Fernando Cathedral is the oldest continuously functioning church in Texas. Even if you aren’t Catholic, you will enjoy the history, culture, architecture and religious art at the cathedral. Mass is held at the cathedral twice daily Monday through Saturday and six times on Sunday. Popular among tourists is the bilingual mariachi choir mass that takes place at San Fernando Cathedral every Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Hundreds of people visit the cathedral daily to pray, light a candle, or just experience this magnificent place. Symphonies, concerts, and television specials are held at the cathedral regularly. And over 900 baptisms, 100 weddings and 100 funerals take place on site each year. You can purchase a guidebook at the gift shop and take a self-guided tour of the cathedral, artwork and grounds. Guided tours are also free and available for a minimum of 15 people.
115 Main Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205. Hours: Open; Admission: Free