Whether you are a San Antonin native, new to the area of just paying a visit, there are some things that you absolutely have to experience while you are in San Antonio. San Antonio offers a full range of activities, sights to see and a boat load of things you want to experience.
Taking advantage of many of the things on this list will cost you nothing but time and it will be time well invested. Getting to really see this great city might mean moving out of your comfort zone and getting off the beaten path. While there are some ole faithful things that you want to experience there are a few out of the ordinary things that you may not even know exist that has made this list of the Top 60 Experiences to have in San Antonio.
The sights, attractions and other suggestions are not listed in any particular order because they are all great in their own right, so print off the list grab your pen and just checking things off as you get them done.
San Antonio puts on a great first Friday. One of the best things about First Friday is if you don’t make it this month you can go next month, you have 12 opportunities to make it to this fun filled monthly event. It is a great way to get out and meet people and mingle. If you are from out of town it is a great way to check out the vibe of San Antonio and see how the locals through a little First Friday fun.
What to Expect: fun, live music, entertainers, and art galleries that stay open just for the occasion, some shopping and generally the vibe of a fun street fair with likeminded people strolling around. You can get some dinner while you are perusing the shops at the Blue Star Brewing Co., or Bar 1919. It is a great event that you have plenty of opportunities to attend. Don’t miss it.
Spend the day drinking your way through the Texas wine trail. Starting right outside San Antonio you will find a slew of wineries that offer free tastings. It is a nice way to spend the day but do bring a DD (designated driver) so you can enjoy the wines without getting behind the wheel. Who would have thought that San Antonio had wineries to tour?
What to Expect: Travel through the beautiful countryside and soak in the views. Enjoy great wine tasting and a have a load of fun. Experience more than 30 different wineries.
View a piece of Texas history at Stinson Field. View the original plane of Katherine Stinson which looks nothing like today’s planes. This hybrid bicycle, flying machine is a must see. The crowds are nonexistent which is always nice and the staff is super helpful and patient when it comes to questions.
What to Expect: Learn about the early days of Texas aeronautics. It is a nice way to spend a few hours and learn something.
Remember “get out of your comfort zone’? Well you can take a ghost tour of one of the 15 haunted locations any time of year. If anything it is a nice historical tour, of course it may also be the way skeptics are convinced of other worldly presence. This is obviously not for little kids, it may be a bit to terrifying and if you decide to take the tour do it with an open mind. You just never know what you may come across.
What to Expect: Learn more about historical sites that are said to be haunted. Give yourself a little scare, it is a great place to take out of towners to show them the “other side” of San Antonio.
This may also take you out of your comfort zone! You will be lowered down an old well shaft 160 feet with only the light from your helmet to guide your way through these natural caverns. May not be for everyone but it is an experience you will not be soon to forget. Why would you let someone lower you down a hole? It is for the experience. You instantly become an explorer and then you get to say you did it.
What to Expect: An adventure you will never forget. You can also opt for the guided tour and nix the rappelling down the dark hole.
San Antonio has a bike share program, so you can grab a bike from one of the 30 B stations scattered about down town and take a ride. They are a great way to get around down town San Antonio and of course they are fun. Get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air while you see all the sights downtown.
What to Expect: Why walk or drive when you can ride a bike. Each bike is outfitted with a basket so you can use them to shop. It is a fun form of transportation.
Yes it is touristy and not a “secret” little known thing to do in San Antonio but if you are going to be there anyway you might as well see one of the most famous historic sites in the US. If you are in San Antonio you have to visit the Alamo and that is all there is too it. If you don’t you will regret not going. It is educational, beautiful and an absolute must see.
What to Expect: You will be in awe by this rich historical place to think of all that has happened on these grounds is simply breathtaking.
Man VS Food host made Big Lou’s in San Antonio famous on his food network show. Now it’s your turn to see if you can conquer the 42 inch pizza at Big Lou’s. It is a fun challenge and if you can do it you will be part of the legend.
What to Expect: Maybe the challenge is not for you but you can still grab a quick slice or two over at Big Lou’s for lunch or dinner.
Get your groove on and dance the night away into the wee hours of the morning at the Bonham Exchange. This historic gay bar has been around for a long time and the word is that the locals continue to shake their groove thing well past the 2am last call. It is a giant party all night long.
What to Expect: A lively crowd a good time and a great dance floor! What else could the perfect night out require?
Six Flags is just pure Tee fun. The “Rattler” one of the most popular wooden coasters got a makeover so now it is a steel coaster but still offers the same about of fun and an even faster speed. Of course its Six Flags so you have your choice of thrills. Everyone loves Six Flags. Even if you hate rides you’ll love Six Flags because you can shop, eat, catch a show and meet Bugs Bunny and the other Looney Tunes, who doesn’t love the Looney Tunes?
What to Expect: Great amusement park, plenty of walking so wear comfortable shoes and bring a bathing suit for the water rides.
You may already know how to cook but picking up a few new tips and tricks is a great way to spend some of your time while in San Antonio. You can attend one of the “culinary boot camps” at the Culinary Institute of America. The boot camps range from simple meals to complex gourmet meals to desserts and other topics.
What to Expect: Boot camp durations vary so call the school to find the perfect boot camp to fit your schedule.
SeaWorld is a favorite of everyone. Visit and pay the few dollars extra to get behind the scenes. It is well worth the cost. What else can you say about this world renowned aquarium/amusement park/conservation center? It is just a place you have to experience at least one time in your life to get the full idea of what SeaWorld is.
What to Expect: A full day of fun that is educational and thrilling, a great family outing.
The Southwest School of Art holds regular seminars and mini classes to help you feed your inner artist. Call the school to see what is up and coming. If you always wanted to learn to paint, draw or sculpt than this may be the opportunity you have been waiting for.
What to Expect: A great opportunity to further you interest in art.
Gemini Ink’s Literary Festival -University without Walls offers great writing tips, seminars and a way to network with authors. If you have dreamed about putting pen to paper and living behind a legacy of written work this is something you can take full advantage of. You are never too old or too young to learn something in an environment that is comfortable and relaxed.
What to Expect: A fun engaging way to kick around your ideas and meet some interesting people.
If you have yet to visit the San Antonio Botanical Gardens put it on your list. It is breathtaking, peaceful and just a lovely way to spend the day. The Gardens host special events that are a must see. Keep up with the Botanical Gardens by checking out their websites for special event days AND nights. It is a different way to spend an evening and one that is reward by beauty.
What to Expect: The San Antonio Botanical Gardens can be a very romantic spot for a date during the view the gardens by moonlight events. Be prepared to be wowed.
Food trucks are not like the old “roach coaches” anymore you can get some really high end dining experiences by perusing the Food Truck Park and deciding which your favorite is. There are food trucks everywhere! You can check out the schedule and grab some lunch or dinner while you enjoy a stroll around. The San Antonio food trucks have been featured on several travel and food television shows. They have really taken food truck fare to a completely different level.
What to Expect: Great food served in a unique way.
Go get your photo taken with the giant boots at the North Star Mall. These monstrous 40 feet tall boots are legendary in San Antonio and everyone should have a picture with them. They are 35 feet wide and hard to miss.
What to Expect: A fun sight to see. These boots have been standing tall for over 30 years and they make an excellent back drop for a picture.
Spend a day browsing the flea markets and antique shops in Alamo City. You never know what you may find in these charming little shops. The fun is in the hunt in these shops and there is plenty to hunt through. If you like to “pick” than you will love these shops.
What to Expect: Great finds of unique items both antique and just unusual.
The splendor of the Alamo lit up at night is spectacular and a must see sight. Of course you can stick around after your day at the Alamo to witness the beauty. If it is lit up and looks like every inch the monument that it is.
What to Expect: You can expect to be awed by this awesome sight.
Grab a couple of drinks at the Menger bar across the street from the Alamo. This is the oldest pub in Texas and is where Roosevelt recruited soldiers. It is an exact replica of one of the most famous pub’s in London and is a work of art. This historical pub is a great place to grab a cold one and kick up your boots for a while.
What to Expect: A real Texas Saloon with a ton of history. You can sit and drink where heads of state made war plans. The saloon has not changed in over 100 years.
Whether you are a native a transplant or a visitor you have to spend at least one night in a dance hall in San Antonio. It just would not be right if you did not. A few options are John T Flore Country Store, Leon Springs Dance Hall and Gruene Hall. Go on kick up your boots.
What to Expect: You can grab a couple of drinks than hit the floor with your partner and take a few spins around the hall. Even if you don’t dance you will enjoy the atmosphere.
Being in Texas means you are in cow country even if you are in the heart of San Antonio and there is not a cow in sight. No proper Texan or guest of Texas would miss out on the chance to see Texas cowboys in action. You must see a Rodeo. Tejas Rodeo Company has Saturday night competitions. Bring the whole family. See the famed rodeo clowns. Watch as cowboys compete in a range of challenges.
What to Expect: A great show and a real Texas experience. Get your boots on and go visit the Rodeo.
Get out and go walk around the outlying neighborhoods to get a feel of what the back bone of San Antonio is really like. Boerne and Gruene are two great places to stroll around. You can pick up some goodies while you are out that way.
What to Expect: See local culture at its finest. Eat in one of the neighborhoods to get a taste of authentic San Antonio.
Take an inner tube and head to the Guadalupe River and just float along. You can also hit up the Comal River for the same experience. Sure you are not supposed to have a cold one while you are headed down river but most people float on by with an ice cold beer in their hands.
What to Expect: A great day on the water.
Can you really live/visit San Antonio and not have visited the Institute of Texan Culture. Not every state has a museum dedicated to the unique culture and how it developed for their state. Check out this interesting fact filled museum. Texas history is very interesting and this fact filled museum makes it fun to learn everything you ever wanted to know about Texas.
What to Expect: A fact filled, eye opening learning experience.
The San Antonio Museum of Art is a must see it has the largest collection of Roman, Egyptian and Greek art in the Southern US. It is packed to the brim with artifacts that are just simply grand. You can see exhibits here that you cannot see anywhere else in the world. This museum has a huge collection that is quite impressive.
What to Expect: A great way to spend an afternoon browsing through the extensive collection.
The Witte Museum offers a look at science and history through many different displays. It is a great way to spend some time. You can stroll through the museum and check out all the displays and utilize some of the interactive displays to learn everything you want to learn. It is nice on a rainy afternoon to be able to walk through such a well laid out museum.
What to Expect: An interesting take on history and science.
San Antonio is known as the “Military City” so it is a great chance to really extend you’re thanks to a service member. Many service members are not greeted when they arrive back in the states, imagine their surprise when you show up waving your flag! Go to the airport walk into the USO and shake hands with a hero. You can welcome home military members by shaking a flag as they depart their aircraft or meeting up with a few in the USO at the airport. The y deserve our thanks and San Antonio is ripe with the opportunity to say thank you!
What to Expect: Make a soldiers day!
Get tickets to see the Spurs. It is a local favorite and it can be the highlight of any fans trip. Seeing the Spurs play is exciting but the game itself is really about the entire experience. Spurs fans are fanatics and they are not afraid to show it. Half the fun of going to a Spurs game is checking out the people in the stands.
What to Expect: A great game!
So you can’t get Spurs tickets but you are a sports nut well than you are in a great place. Come out and support one of the other great San Antonio teams. Choose from the Talons, Silver Stars, Scorpions, Rampage and Missions. These teams are all pretty impressive and offer a great opportunity to watch your favorite sport be played by some of the winningest teams in the south.
What to Expect: Great soccer, women’s basketball and minor league baseball!
Shop Market Square and find treasures that you cannot find anywhere else. Of course there is always some food to enjoy as well. It is considered one of the top ten outdoor markets by Frommers and just about everyone that visits agrees. This is a fine open air market that just begs to be strolled through as you talk to the vendors and explore all of the amazing offerings.
What to Expect: Find amazing unique items and enjoy the food vendors.
Get up early and get to the Pearl Farmers Market not only for the locally grown fresh food and treats but for the fun atmosphere as well. They are open on Saturdays only. You can stroll around from vendor to vendor and pick up some new recipes and other information that will serve you well in the future. As a bonus a lot of the vendors offer free taste tests!
What to Expect: Find great locally grown foods and helpful vendors that would love to chat you up.
If Saturday did not work for you, then head out on Sunday to the Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market on Sunday. Locally grown food, some livestock and great people. It is a great way to get out meet some local growers and craftsmen and maybe learn a few things about your food.
What to Expect: Fresh locally grown food, vendors that will tell you how to prepare their wares and other types of vendors.
Downtown is a great place to be in San Antonio. It is even better on a Tuesday when there are special discounts available if you mention downtown Tuesday. The River walk can get a little busy on the weekends so visiting on a Tuesday helps you to beat the crowds and the Chamber of Commerce is trying to beef up business during the week and has encouraged retailers, eateries and other vendors to offer Tuesday discounts. All you have to do is ask! It is a great way to see the River walk without the typical expense.
What to Expect: Beautiful scenery, easy parking and less congestion than during the weekend.
Houston Street Takeover by Artpace each year invites artists to leave their marks in chalk all over the sidewalks. You are invited to leave behind your masterpiece as well. It is an interesting way to view art and it’s just plain old fun. This is not your average sun and cloud pictures that you mind find in chalk these works are literal masterpieces that will make you gasp.
What to Expect: You will be amazed what people can do with chalk!
Throw caution to the wind and do your best to out do the best known Spurs super fans like Spurs Jesus, the Coyote or Silver Dancer. If you don’t have the courage to add some silver sparkle to your Spurs fan look at least get a picture with one of the super fans to show your support. Have fun with your fandom.
What to Expect: You only live once, why not be the guy or the gal that is on the Jumbotron sporting their fandom.
Maybe it is the beer that makes this theater more than a movie theater or maybe it is the sing alongs or the cartoon showings where PJ’s are encouraged. The classic films may have something to do with it or maybe it is just the whole package that makes this one of the most awesome viewing experiences you will ever have. It is a different kind of theater experience. Most theaters you visit and sit quietly and watch the show, in the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema you join in on the show. It is really a great time and something you have to experience.
What to Expect: A complete viewing experience that you will not soon forget.
Believe it or not you have two very authentic pizza options in San Antonio. If you are all about the New York Style fold your slice in half Pizza than hit up Florio’s. If you prefer Chicago Deep Dish that is a okay because San Antonio has Chicago style pizza as well at Kennedy’s. Either place is great it just depends on what your favorite style is. San Antonio truly offers something for everyone. Both the two restaurants are owned by transplants. Florios is owned by a family from New Jersey and Kennedy’s is owned by a family from Chicago. Now that is authentic.
What to Expect: Affordable food that is just delicious.
Everyone remembers the Alamo but there are other missions that are in San Antonio that are pretty amazing historic sites so go to see the four mission buildings located in San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. It is an 8 mile trail that is scenic. Stop and see the forgotten missions of Mission San Juan, Mission Espada, Mission San Jose and Mission Concepcion. These impressive historic buildings are lovely and deserve to be visited.
What to Expect: Great scenery dotted with important historical mission buildings.
The Tower of America was constructed for 1968 World’s Fair and is a big draw in San Antonio. The 750 foot tower offers an observation deck that gives you stunning views, a restaurant (high end no pun intended) and the ever popular Skies of Texas 4D Ride (a favorite of the kiddos). The restaurant is upscale (another term for expensive) but you can absolutely not beat the views and the food is well worth the cost.
What to Expect: Great views, a great meal and fun for the kids.
The Majestic Theater hosts all the headliners that come through town. You can catch a show, grab a glass of wine and check out the mural in the basement that has been signed by many of the acts that have passed through over the years. The building itself is “majestic”. This legendary theater has hosted many famous acts throughout the years.
What to Expect: Great shows, great atmosphere and a look at history.
Climb beautiful Enchanted rock. This granite rock formation rises 425 feet above the surface and is froth with legend. It is believed that this rock is the site where many native warriors lost their life along with a native princess, the legend is that this rock is still haunted by the souls that perished here. True or not it makes for a really great back story and only adds to the fun of the climb.
What to Expect: Beautiful scenery, a medium challenge climb and the possibility of running into a spirit or two.
Marriage Island is a heart shaped island and is the home of many a wedding. Now we are not encouraging bad behavior but if you happen by and there is a wedding going on you could just sit around to check things out. Locals and out of towners alike flock to this island for their nuptials because legend has it that anyone that ties the knot on this island will have a long successful marriage.
What to Expect: A super romantic place where you may be able to crash a wedding.
Crack a few cascarones over friends and families heads (confetti filled eggs) for luck during the Fiesta. The Fiesta is lively and fun be sure to visit the King William Fair and the Cornyation (for adults). There is plenty to do and see at the Fiesta. San Antonio knows how to throw a party and the Fiesta is the crowning glory of the year. If you really want to experience the heart of San Antonio than you have to make it to the Fiesta. The celebration just sucks you right in.
What to Expect: Food, games, fun, and spectacle all rolled into one event.
Take a carriage ride through downtown San Antonio to see the city from a different perspective. It is super romantic and just a unique way to get around downtown. These handsome carriages are truly beautiful and just feel exquisite while you are moving along. It is a throw back in time that offers a special treat for anyone.
What to Expect: You can ride around in a horse drawn carriage and feel like royalty.
Experience the river on a barge. It is a fun way to travel down the river and will be a great memory someday. Riding the river on a barge is almost a have to when you are in San Antonio. It is a favorite local attraction and is a once in a lifetime chance, so take the chance.
What to Expect: You can ride down the river on a barge or another boat there are plenty of options to choose from.
The Hemisfair was the site of the World’s Fair in 1968 and is home to the Towers of the Americas. This lush area offers historic buildings, beautiful fountains and a general feast for the eyes. There are festivals that are held here throughout the year. Like the Asian festival in February or the Celebrate San Antonio December 31. It is a great place to see even when it is sans any festivals but if you can catch one you should.
What to Expect: Even if you are not going to be around for one of the festivals in the park you should visit it anyway. It is a great place to hang out. You can pack a lunch and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
In San Antonio the River plays a big role in everyday life and it is where most celebrations are held. You can view the river parades that are held throughout the year by sitting on a chair along the river or climbing aboard a barge. No matter how you do it you do want to do it. San Antonio looks for reasons to throw a river parade so you can be sure that there is one in the near future that you will be able to attend.
What to Expect: The river parades are legendary in San Antonio and are hard to beat. This is one of the few places where you can see such a spectacle.
Learning how to make a tamale is actually a lot harder than you would think. There are a few places where you can get your lessons on but if you still struggle with the process take heart you are not alone. You can always grab some form any of the exceptional tamale makers in the area and claim them as your own.
What to Expect: The fun is in the attempt.
There are plenty of eateries all over San Antonio but you want to enjoy food that locals have been enjoying for a long time so visit Deweese’s Tip Top Café, The Pig Stand, Earl Abels, Little Rhein, Jacala’s, Little Red Barn and/or Los Barrios. Get your authentic San Antonio eating on at any one (or all if you have time) of these legendary favorites. You can choose based on your preference.
What to Expect: A full range of great tasting food that is priced right and authentic.
You’re in San Antonio tacos are a breakfast food so you might as well hit up one of the local favorites. Taco Taco has some excellent breakfast offerings. If you just cannot assimilate than hit up the Original Donut Shop for breakfast but you should try the Taco for breakfast you will be glad you did.
What to Expect: A great start to the day. A nice big breakfast will give you the energy you need to visit all the sites in San Antonio.
LaVillita or little village is one of the first settlements in San Antonio. It is chockfull of historical buildings. Check out the Piazza, the fountains and original adobe buildings. It has narrow alleys and roadways and is reminiscent of what San Antonio was 200 years ago. It transport you back in time and space. You feel like you are walking the streets of Spain.
What to Expect: This village is simply charming. It is aesthetically beautiful and offers real old world charm.
The Buckhorn Museum and Saloon is part saloon and part Texas Ranger Museum. The bar is over 100 years old. You can grab a table and enjoy the gunslinger fight that unfolds. The Buckhorn is museum and old west show wrapped up in a bar where you can get a few beers and have some fun.
What to Expect: You will enjoy the entertainment and browsing through the artifacts for the Texas Ranger Museum.
This beautiful cathedral is a must see. It was constructed in 1755. It played a pivotal role in the Texas Revolution. This historically significant cathedral is open to the public. The stain glass windows are a marvel in and of itself. It is just a beautiful must see cathedral.
What to Expect: Whether you are a history buff or you just appreciate architecture the San Fernando Cathedral will be a thrill to see.
Visit the zoo! Zoos are always great fun and the San Antonio Zoo is no exception to the fun rule. Parking is free. They are open 365 days a year. The zoo is not the largest zoo in the world but they do a good job of using the space that they do have. They have a nice range of animals and the zoo grounds are kept nice so it is an overall enjoyable experience.
What to Expect: Enjoy the day walking around to see the animals. Tip- get there early to beat the crowds and a lot of the animals are most active in the mornings.
Ripley was quite a character and collected the most interesting things from his trips around the world. You can see some of his displays while in San Antonio. The museum is located right across from the Alamo. It is a fun experience for everyone. There is plenty to see and do in the museum.
What to Expect: Be prepared to be wowed by the artifacts and other fun displays.
Visit the Spanish Governors Palace. Built in the 1700’s this modest 10 room building housed the “governor” of Texas as implemented by the Spanish. It was here where the first meeting was held requesting permission to settle part of the state with Americans. Beware it is said that this palace is haunted by a little girl that was dumped down the well and other unhappy spirits.
What to Expect: You can feel the history as you explore this historical building. You may not get to see the ghosts that haunt the building but you are sure to enjoy your time here.
If your thing is old architecture than you do want to walk around the King William historic district where the majority of the buildings were constructed in the 1800’s. This is not a huge neighborhood but it is a must see neighborhood. The neighborhoods is about 5 square blocks but it is rich in history and the houses are just ideal. Certainly well worth the look.
What to Expect: Take your time to meander through this neighborhood of beautifully crafted homes.
Check out the grounds of the McNay Art Museum to view all the sculptures that are strategically placed. It is a nice place to stroll around when the weather is nice. Some of the sculptures are really amazing and seeing them outdoors makes the experience even nicer.
What to Expect: View some very nice pieces of art outdoors.
Bussey’s Flea Market is a local favorite for something to do on a Sunday afternoon. There are plenty of booths to shop and there is plenty of merchandise to snag at great prices. The cost is $1 per car load of visitors to enter the gate! It is a great place to meander around if you like flea markets, antiques or just a great deal.
What to Expect: This may be your opportunity to find that magical piece that is going to wind up on the Antique Road Show and make you a millionaire or you may find some great trinkets for the mantle!
Technically right outside of San Antonio (about a 20 minute drive) but still worth a look. Visit the old west in this western replica town. Check out the water buffalo and grab a bite to eat while you are out that way. Your cowboy tour guide will take you through the town. You will view a short movie and be treated to a little show. Overall it is worth the short drive. It is a real touch of the old west and a great family experience.
What to Expect: Old west town with entertainment and it is actually a real working ranch.
Want to see your favorite star but don’t have time for Hollywood? Hit up the Plaza Wax Museum and see all your favorite celebrities. Grab a photo or two for your scrap book. The kids love it and so will you. There is a full range of wax models to check out. It is a pretty amazing place.
What to Expect: Amazing life like wax creations made to look like celebrities and other famous figures.