The 10 Best San Antonio Tours
Experience one of Texas' best cities with the help of a local.
The San José mission is one of four sites that make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.Getty Images
Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.
Known worldwide for its River Walk and Spanish influence, San Antonio is one Texas locale you don't want to miss. Tourists regularly wander around the city's downtown attractions, embark on daytrips to learn about the surrounding area's colorful history and sample its famous Tex-Mex cuisine. One way to see it all is with the help of a local. After consulting both expert and traveler opinions, U.S. News determined the following 10 tours to be the best available. Whether you want to explore the city on foot or beat the Texas heat in a comfortable ride, one of these tours is bound to suit your interests and budget.
San Antonio Detours – San Antonio Missions Tour
Though the Alamo is the best-known mission in San Antonio, the city is actually home to several of these Catholic heritage sites. This van tour visits the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park to see the Concepción, San José, San Juan Capistrano and Espada missions, which sit just south of downtown. As guides take you to the sites, you'll learn about the missions' historical significance and life in San Antonio during the 1700s. Tour guides regularly win plaudits for being both knowledgeable and entertaining. The three-hour tours begin at 10 a.m. on Monday and Thursday and at 1 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost approximately $40. San Antonio Detours provides a number of other tours in the city and its surrounding Hill Country.
City Sightseeing San Antonio – Bus + River Walk Cruise
Ideal for visitors short on time, this outing combines a hop-on, hop-off bus tour with a 40-minute boat cruise down the San Antonio River. Stops along the bus route include the Alamo, Market Square, the San Fernando Cathedral, the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Tower of the Americas, among others. The boat cruise features entertaining and informative guides, according to travelers. However, visitors offer mixed reviews of the bus tour portion. Some say the route is an easy way to see the sights, while others complain of long wait times for the buses and say there are too many stops at area hotels. Tickets cost around $80 for adults and $70 for children 5 to 11; online discounts are available. The price includes a bus pass that's valid for 48 hours and the boat ride, as well as water, snacks and coupons for select local eateries. Buses run every 20 minutes daily from 8:40 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can also purchase tickets for the bus tour without the river cruise.
Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours – The Ghost Bus Tour
Visit a historic cemetery, the city's former red-light district, the Old Bexar County Jail and the most haunted hotel in Texas on this 2 1/2-hour bus ride. Tour-takers regularly praise the entertaining guides for their skillful storytelling. They also say that the stories aren't too scary, but rather rooted in local history. Tours are generally offered Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m., but availability changes seasonally. Tickets start at $40 per person. The tour is not recommended for children and teens 15 and younger. Sisters Grimm operates a number of similarly themed outings, including a walking tour and a haunted pub crawl.
Gray Line Tours – Texas Hill Country & LBJ Ranch Tour From San Antonio
This daytrip takes travelers to some of the top sights outside of San Antonio. Start your day at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park before driving through the Hill Country. You'll stop in the town of Fredericksburg where you can enjoy lunch or a wine tasting, or pay a visit to the National Museum of the Pacific War. The excursion also includes a visit to a local winery and the town of Luckenbach, which is known for its musical history. Patrons typically find this guided outing both fun and informative. Tickets for the roughly eight-hour trip cost around $110, which includes round-trip transportation from select hotels, but excludes admission to museums (other than the LBJ Ranch grounds), food and beverages. Tours take place daily starting at 9 a.m. Gray Line also offers half-day outings about San Antonio's history as well as a craft beer outing.
SA Food Tours – Downtown Delicacy
There's more to San Antonio's dining scene than the Tex-Mex fare for which it's known, and this tour takes curious foodies to sample the city's best bites. The three-hour, 1 1/2-mile walking tour stops at five restaurants as well other area landmarks. Along the way, guides share insights about the city's food as well as its culture and history. Tastings may include a Cuban sandwich, guacamole, pastries and desserts. Foodies tend to find the guides personable and well-informed. They enjoy the food, too, though some say that the amount doesn't justify the cost. Tours are offered Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets start at $53. Groups are capped at 12 participants. SA Food Tours also conducts private outings.
The city's River Walk attracts visitors for its scenery, shopping and dining.Getty Images
Go Rio San Antonio River Cruises – Narrated River Cruise
This boat ride winds through the River Walk area of downtown as guides provide commentary about its architecture, heritage and culture. La Villita (the city's first neighborhood), the Briscoe Western Art Museum and Selena's Bridge are among the sights glimpsed from the barges along these 35-minute cruises. Riders tend to appreciate the views from the boat as well as the historical information provided by the guides. Others wish that the rides were longer. Boats launch approximately every 15 minutes between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day. Tickets cost approximately $15 (with discounts for local residents, children and seniors). Go Rio also operates river shuttles.
Cottonwood Wine Tours – Taste of Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg, which sits in the heart of Texas Hill Country, boasts several dozen wineries, and this tour takes wine enthusiasts to two of them before letting participants explore the town on their own. The tour includes round-trip transportation to Fredericksburg, which sits about 70 miles northwest of San Antonio, lights snacks, as well as tasting fees at the two included stops. Oenophiles find the guides' knowledge of wine and winemaking impressive. The approximately $125 price does not include lunch in town. Overall, the outing last about 6 1/2 hours, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and runs daily. Cottonwood Wine Tours provides several other beer- and wine-focused expeditions in the area.
Amigo Walking Tours – King William District Tour
San Antonio's King William Historic District was named for King William I of Prussia by the German immigrants who began developing the area in the 19th century. This approximately 90-minute, mile-long walking tour of the historic neighborhood provides insights into the district's people, history and culture. Reviewers describe guides as passionate, experienced and friendly. Amigo Walking Tours does not charge a fee for this outing, though guides welcome tips and reservations are required. Schedules for tours are released on a monthly basis, usually a few weeks in advance. In addition to the King William District Tour, Amigo Walking Tours offers a stroll through downtown San Antonio as well as private tours.
Craft Cruiser – Brewery Tour
Thanks to San Antonio's burgeoning roster of microbreweries, the city has become a destination for beer lovers. For help navigating the ever-changing local brewery scene, consider this four-hour tour from Craft Cruiser. Beer enthusiasts gather at the Growler Exchange before heading out at noon to visit three different breweries. Specific breweries visited can vary from one weekend to the next and could include Kunstler Brewing, HighWheel Beerworks and Middleton Brewing Company, among others. Patrons typically find the drivers courteous, professional and helpful. Tours are offered on Saturday and Sunday only. Tickets start at $35 per person and include transportation between breweries, a souvenir and a tour of one brewery. Upgrade to an all-inclusive ticket for unlimited samples at the three breweries visited. Food can be purchased separately. The company also offers private and custom tours.
Nation Tours – Historical Landmarks and Alamo Segway Tour
Ride a Segway among some of the key historic sites and most popular attractions of San Antonio on this two-hour expedition. The tour route encompasses St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Buckhorn Saloon & Museum, the Alamo, the Menger Hotel, the Tower of the Americas and Hemisfair park, among many other notable spots. Unexperienced Segway riders find the guides helpful and patient, while tour-takers generally regard this as a fun way to see the city. Tours take place daily starting at 9 a.m. The approximately $70 ticket includes use of a Segway, instruction on how to operate it and use of a (required) helmet. Participants must be 14 years or older to tour. The company also offers a sightseeing tour of San Antonio as well as a haunted evening tour.
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