San Antonio Missions National Historical Park#5 in Best Things To Do in San Antonio
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Aside from the Alamo, this is where all of San Antonio's historic missions – Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission Espada and Mission San Juan – are located, making this a must-see site for history buffs. Established along the San Antonio River in the 18th century by Franciscan friars, the missions stand as a tribute to Spain's success in spreading Catholicism through the Southwest and into Mexico. Each mission (located approximately 3 miles apart from one another) is beautiful in its own way, from the undisturbed frescos at Mission Concepción to the Romanesque arches of Mission San Juan.
Recent visitors suggest taking advantage of the free tours offered by the park rangers, noting how much more they learned during their visit. You can also hike or bike the Mission Trail (there are also roads for visitors with cars) past each structure to learn about how the friars lived side-by-side with Native Americans. Scattered around the missions are remnants of granaries, workshops and water mills.
Located a few miles south of downtown San Antonio, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. You can get to the site by car or bus, or even on foot or bike if you take the trail. The best San Antonio tours also make stops here. Each mission has its own visitor center (the main center is located at Mission San José). Visit the National Park Service website for details.
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#1 Brackenridge Park
When the River Walk seems too busy, seek refuge from the heat and the swarms of tourists in Brackenridge Park. Its 343 acres offer much in the way of relaxation: rustic stone bridges and shaded walkways are perfect for strolling, and the Japanese Tea Garden and San Antonio Botanical Garden beckon to botanists. Dress casual so you can take advantage of Brackenridge's jogging trails, golf course and athletic fields. The park also hosts outdoor concerts in the natural Sunken Garden Theater. In and around the park, you'll also find popular attractions like the San Antonio Zoo and the Witte Museum.
Past visitors appreciated the park's train, which runs through the zoo and offers an excellent opportunity to get around the large area. They also recommend bringing some bird seed to feed the ducks that float down the San Antonio River. The park is also a featured stop on many of the best San Antonio tours.
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