San Antonio Travel Guide

USA  #2 in Best Places to Visit in Texas
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San Antonio Area Map

Neighborhoods

The second-largest city in the Lone Star state, San Antonio is located on the southern edge of the mountainous Texas Hill Country. Its streets follow old Spanish trails and 19th century wagon trails to form what residents refer to as a wheel-and-spoke pattern. The inner loop is formed by I-410, inside which the historic districts can be found. The outer loop is known as Highway (or Loop) 1604.

Downtown San Antonio occupies the site where the original Spanish settlements once stood and includes historical sites such as the Alamo, a mission-turned-fort during the battle for Texas independence, and entertainment hubs like the River Walk, a 3-mile path along the San Antonio River that features numerous shops and restaurants. The area also houses the Alamodome, where the NBA's San Antonio Spurs play basketball. Because it's also the center of commerce and government, downtown is home to many of the city's top hotels, restaurants and shops. This area is lively and vibrant, and you should take some time to explore the historic streets beyond the River Walk, which are peppered with unique shops and mouth-watering restaurants.

The King William district was San Antonio's first suburb. Located just south of downtown, the area attracted a large number of wealthy merchants from Germany in the mid- to late-19th century. This neighborhood's historic buildings make it a great place for sightseeing. Although only a few of the restored homes are open for public tours, several others have been transformed into bed and breakfasts. Accommodations in the King William district are perfect for visitors who wish to explore central San Antonio without paying the high room rates seen at downtown hotels.

Next to King William are Southtown and South Side, home to a large portion of the city's Hispanic population. These districts feature Hispanic goods stores, trendy coffee shops and galleries, as well as four of the city's five historic missions. History buffs will enjoy spending a day at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in South Side, which is home to several of the city's oldest missions, including Mission Concepción and Mission San José. Although these two districts attract numerous visitors every year, there are few hotels worth mentioning.

This neighborhood  located immediately north of downtown San Antonio  was settled in the early 1900s by wealthy politicians, generals and cattlemen. Today, the Monte Vista Area is home to both Trinity University and San Antonio College. This neighborhood also features a popular nightlife area known as The Strip. The area spans a stretch of northern St. Mary's Street, featuring several restaurants, bars and clubs, but since Monte Vista has grown more residential over the past few years, experts say The Strip has grown increasingly sleepy.

The Alamo Heights Area, which was constructed in the 1890s, is located north of Monte Vista and is now home to the Witte Museum, the San Antonio Botanical Gardens and Brackenridge Park. As one of the city's ritzier districts, the Alamo Heights Area features most of San Antonio's fashionable shops and restaurants, as well as the Quarry, a large complex featuring an upscale golf course, marketplace and shopping mall.

Northwest San Antonio, which contains the South Texas Medical Center, is becoming one of San Antonio's prime growth areas and features trendy condos and strip malls. San Antonio's northern suburbs are most popular with families, since they are home to the city's major amusement park, Six Flags Fiesta Texas. This part of the city also features some of San Antonio's most popular resorts, but if you are looking to visit any of the city's historical sites, it's best to find a hotel that is more centrally located. 

Although San Antonio's western suburbs are experiencing commercial development, it is in no way comparable to the growth seen in the city's northern areas. However, western San Antonio does welcome its fair share of visitors as well, since it is home to several luxury resort hotels and SeaWorld.

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.

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