Why Go To San Antonio
Davy Crockett may have perished at the Alamo, but San Antonio clings to the Texan pride shown by the "King of the Wild Frontier" and his compatriots in 1836. This modern city's history especially rears its head throughout downtown. In addition to the Alamo, you'll find several other famous missions, all of which are now a part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. And amongst the gleaming skyscrapers, the austere San Fernando Cathedral still stands as a testament to the city's religious past.
But, don't be fooled: You don't need a hankering for history to enjoy this city. Families will particularly enjoy the Texas city's theme parks, top-notch museums, professional sports teams and the famous River Walk. What's more, San Antonio is a burgeoning culinary destination, with a selection of its signature Tex-Mex style and an assortment of new barbecue establishments and eclectic upscale eateries. With the array of ways to spend your day, you might have too much to do to "Remember the Alamo."
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Best Months to Visit
The best time to visit San Antonio is from November to April, when the weather is comfortable and the hotel rates are lower. Summer sees the largest influx of tourists from in- and out-of-state. Because of its historical significance to the state and its family-friendly theme parks, San Antonio attracts hordes of Texas families when the kids are on summer break. But the long Texan summer is close to unbearable (for most people) with high humidity and temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The masses also make for more crowded attractions and higher prices at hotels. You'll enjoy the city a lot more when you are less damp, saving cash and enjoying the festivals of the winter and spring.
Weather in San Antonio
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
What You Need to Know
- An educated city San Antonio boasts several institutions of higher education, including Trinity University, San Antonio College and UT-San Antonio, that surround the downtown area.
- A true taste of Texas Fiesta San Antonio takes over the entire city for 10 days in April to honor Texan heroes of the past. Visit during the fiesta to get a dose of Texas pride.
- Mexican influences Although Texas gained independence from Mexico long ago, Mexican influences abound. The current Mexican-American population is proud of its ancestry and you'll find frequent displays of it in the form of parades, artwork and local cuisine.
How to Save Money in San Antonio
- Be a weekend warrior An influx of business travelers causes hotel room rates to surge during the week. Stay on the weekend for an opportunity to save big.
- Check the calendar Conventions lead to sold-out hotels across town. These travelers probably booked their accommodations months before San Antonio popped into your head as a viable vacation spot. Check the city's tourism bureau website and try to avoid convention-heavy weeks and weekends.
- Eat around the corner Restaurants around the River Walk and other touristy areas will have higher prices than those only a few blocks away.
Culture & Customs
San Antonio contrasts the old and the new of Texas: the Alamo stands strong among contemporary skyscrapers and the banks of the San Antonio River are populated with the River Walk's burgeoning businesses and restaurants. San Antonio residents are proud of their history, with many shops selling memorabilia engraved with the words "Remember the Alamo."
Additional cultures have influenced the customs of this city over time. Mexican culture heavily shaped San Antonio as it developed. Travel experts recommend stopping by Market Square (or El Mercado) to find a variety of tasty Mexican foods, homemade goods and south of the border crafts. Mexican art is displayed everywhere you turn and Spanish is widely spoken. For a more festive taste of Tex-Mex culture, plan your trip during Fiesta in April or during the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo in February.
What to Eat
San Antonio dining primarily revolves around two types of food: Tex-Mex and meat. Those craving spicy enchiladas or cheesy chimichangas from below the border are encouraged to dine in the Southtown neighborhood. Recent visitors highly recommend Rosario's, which receives top marks for its prompt service and delectable plates like ceviche and chicken flautas.
However, the large influx of business and recreational travelers has jumpstarted the diversity of cuisine in San Antonio. Downtown restaurants cater to carnivores, offering local favorites like prime rib and chicken-fried steak, and feature some of the more upscale eateries like Bliss and Bohanan's. When you make your way to the River Walk, consider calling the restaurant you select ahead for a reservation since this area is quite popular. Some visitor favorites along the river include Texas bistro Boudro's for its steaks and Ácenar for its contemporary Mexican cuisine.
Compared to other U.S. cities of similar size, San Antonio is a safe place to visit. You may see more guns than you're used to thanks to lax firearm laws in Texas, but gun violence does not generally affect tourists. You should still use common sense, stick to well-lit areas after dark and keep a close eye on your valuables.
Those who are not used to the Texas heat should take precautions against heat stroke and dehydration, especially during the summer months. Heat stroke and dehydration symptoms commonly include headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Drink plenty of water, apply sunscreen regularly and if you are participating in more strenuous activities, such as hiking or biking, make sure to rest periodically.
Residents of Texas Hill Country share the land with numerous creepy-crawlies, including scorpions, rattlesnakes and water moccasins. While you most likely won't come face to face with these creatures within the city itself, those exploring the countryside surrounding San Antonio may encounter these critters or insects. Keep an eye out when walking around to avoid confrontation. If you're bitten or stung, seek medical attention immediately.
Getting Around San Antonio
The best way to get around San Antonio is by car, especially if you need to reach sites like Brackenridge Park and SeaWorld. Driving through the narrow downtown streets can be difficult, however, so plan to park your car in a lot or garage and explore some of the downtown area on foot. The bus system is also a handy and relatively inexpensive way to navigate the city center. Many travelers arrive through San Antonio International Airport (SAT), about 10 miles north of the city center, where you can find a plethora of rental car agencies. There is an airport shuttle service ($15 per person for a one-way ticket; $28 for a round-trip) that takes visitors between the airport and downtown hotels; city bus route No. 5 also services the airport and downtown areas. Taxis from the airport to downtown San Antonio cost between $24 and $29. Using taxis downtown is unnecessary, and you'll probably have to wait for one to arrive.
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