Seventy years ago, almost every country in the developed world had heard the slogan from Texas, “Remember the Alamo”. That is not as true today, but most native Texans still “Remember the Alamo!” San Antonio, affectionately known as Old San Antone, is one of the most exciting cities in the U.S., home to the Alamo, and intensely beautiful. There are tons of fun things to do in San Antonio!
San Antonio’s Most Rewarding Attractions
The legendary Alamo stands as one of Texas’ most treasured historical landmarks. Most notably, the Alamo is the reason for first, the Republic of Texas, and second, the U.S. State of Texas and its independent conservative culture within native Texan culture. Mexican General Santa Anna surrounded the Alamo on February 13, 1836, a Spanish mission established in 1718, with 189 Texian soldiers inside, and on March 6, 1836, massacred every Texian soldier.
On April 21, 1836, Texas became the Republic of Texas after the Battle of San Jacinto. The Alamo today is a historic representation of what Texas was, is, and will continue to be. It is an amazing museum with the Alamo Church, the 18-pounder replica of the cannon of the Siege of the Alamo, the other Alamo cannons, the Long Barrack housing and offices for Spanish missionaries, the gardens, statues of Texian heroes, the Living History Encampment, and five museum exhibitions.
The San Antonio River Walk
The River Walk on the San Antonio River is San Antonio’s #1 attraction offering a beautiful way to spend an entire day and evening or in luxury hotels for a weekend getaway or whole vacation. The weather in San Antonio supports year-round events at the River Walk. San Antonio began developing its River Walk in 1938 on its stretch of the San Antonio River with $325,000 from the Works Progress Act and $75,000 raised from business and citizen organizations.
Today, the River Walk comprises 15-miles of bars, restaurants, hotels, museums, art exhibits, offices, and events. Also called Paseo del Rio, the main drag for entertainment is on the north side of the River Walk by West Market Street. Visitors enjoy hop-on/hop-off river boat cruises and bus passes or rent bikes to hang out at the beautifully landscaped walkways along both sides of the river.
Six Flags Fiesta
Six Flags originated outside of Dallas, Texas, in Arlington. Today, Six Flags operates theme parks at 27 locations in North America. Six Flags Fiesta in San Antonio is one of their best parks. It is jam-packed with thrill rides, family rides, water rides, and kid’s rides. The park hosts concerts, festivals, live shows, restaurants, and shops.
The Aquaman Power Wave water coaster travels over 2,000 feet of track upwards to two 150-foot towers. Riders dive 90° at 63 miles per hour into a super splashdown. Fiesta opened several extreme ride adventures and more kid’s adventures in 2023, and offers different packages plus subscriptions paid by the month for its various adventures. But please be prepared for crowds. Six million people visited Fiesta in 2021.
Sea World San Antonio
Sea World welcomed over three million people in 2021 because it is full of thrilling experiences for all ages. Visitors see much more than orcas at today’s San Antonio Sea World. Its Animal Experiences include meeting a beluga whale in the water, touching a shark, feeding sea lions and dolphins, and hanging out with penguins. Other animal and water encounters feature an Aldabra Tortoise Tour, an Elite VIP Program, and an All-Swim Program.
Experience thrilling roller coasters like the Texas Stingray roller coaster or the Steel Eel hypercoaster, several water rides, and other rides way up in the air or spinning or swaying around. This park also features Live Family Presentations and attractions, a Sesame Street parade with your favorite Sesame Street friends, and daily shows. Sea World offers different packages to see all or parts of its park.
Other Fun Things to Do in San Antonio
The above attractions are not all San Antonio has to offer. There is so much more to see and do in this wonderful, action-packed Old West city. San Antonio serves up the best Mexican food in Texas as a whole. Visitors will find Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican cuisine. San Antonio shares a rich history with Old Mexico and this culture shows just about everywhere one can go in this city.
The Tejas Rodeo Company
The Tejas Rodeo Company hosts a weekly Saturday rodeo from March to November, and it is super popular. It is just 30 minutes north of San Antonio in Bulverde, Texas. The Tejas Rodeo Companyfeatures a steakhouse with an award-winning menu, outdoor food, ice-cold drinks, a pavilion, live music after the rodeo, horse clinics, and special events throughout the year. If you want to go, you have to get there before 7 p.m., or you will not find good seats and find only slim pickings on outdoor food. Gates open at 5 p.m.
Historic Downtown Food and Culture Walking Tour
San Antonio is the oldest major city in Texas. Spain established the city in 1718, but it was in play as far back as the 1500s as Spanish explorers and missionaries began roaming around the U.S. Southwest. This guided tour is aimed at foodies to learn about Mexico’s long-standing cultural influences on Texas. Foodies will visit some of the most historic sites in San Antonio, which partly takes in the River Walk and taste some delectable Mexican goodies.
Ghosts and Dark History Guided Walking Tour
This tour presents San Antonio’s eerier history, where you hear the dark stories behind some iconic historical sites. The tour begins at the Alamo, and then takes you to a graveyard, the Menger Hotel, Emily Morgan Hotel, The Majestic Theater, and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel. Stories about notorious San Antonio murders, Ulysses S. Grant, Oscar Wilde, and a hospital are designed to chill your spine. There is also a Haunted Pub Crawl Tour for adults where you can enjoy a drink while exploring some of the above sites plus haunted pubs.
San Antonio Missions Tour
The Alamo is only one of the old Spanish missions in San Antonio. A fully guided tour takes you to all five San Antonio missions on its mission trail on the first Saturday of the month. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is also open to tour without a guide. Some of these missions are active parishes today and have earned UNESCO World Heritage status. The park offers programs on science and research, education, nature, history and culture, and kid’s ranger programs.
The Texas Rangers Museum
The Buckhorn Museum and the former Texas Rangers Association partnered up to bring about the Texas Ranger Museum. These two attractions are in the same location. The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency in North America, which includes Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. The exhibits in the Texas Ranger museum are priceless historic pieces and documents that cover over a century of Texas Ranger history. Its collection documents the historical, larger-than-life Texas Rangers named Ray Martinez, Joaquin Jackson, John B. Armstrong, and Frank Hamer.
The Buckhorn Museum and Saloon
The Buckhorn Saloon stakes its claim as the oldest running saloon in Texas. Locals and tourists gather at the Buckhorn Saloon for its ambiance, complete with a taxidermy collection. Albert Friederich established this saloon in 1881 and traded a shot of whiskey or a mug of beer for deer antlers. Teddy Roosevelt headquartered in this saloon to recruit his Rough Riders, the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, when the U.S. declared war on Spain. A chair fashioned out of 62 buffalo horns lives at the saloon. The museum and saloon would be a shame to miss if you are visiting Old San Antone.
Bracken Cave Preserve: Bat Conservation International Inc.
Approximately 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats call Bracken Cave home during the daylight hours. Every dusk before nightfall, these bats spin into a tornado-like form and spew out of their cave on their nightly hunt for their insect dinners. Bracken Cave houses the world’s largest bat colony and one of the largest concentrations of mammals on earth. To watch these bats fly off results in an amazing experience. Bracken Cave is a 30-minute drive northeast from downtown San Antonio.
Turtle Races at Little Woodrow’s Bar
Every Thursday night, San Antonio locals gather at Little Woodrow’s Bar in North San Antonio for turtle races. If you pick a winner, your turtle wins you a free shot of tequila! You have three chances to win because the turtle races begin at 9, 10 and 11 p.m. Dogs are welcome on the patio. This bar is a long-time local hangout where people just chill with turtles and dogs. Inside, Little Woodrow’s San Antonio is a sports bar. Little Woodrow’s is a corporation serving up Texas culture in 22 locations all over the Texas countryside, with one opening up soon in Fort Worth.
Garcia Art Glass Studio
Every piece of glass art produced at Garcia Art Glass comes with a well-worth-it Texas-sized price tag. This hot blown glass design and fabrication studio creates exceptional and unique art blown glass products from functional to unique and whimsical world-class glass art pieces. You can visit this studio on Tuesdays through Saturdays to watch the blown glass magic happen from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also find Garcia on Etsy if you are planning a trip to San Antonio to get an idea of this studio’s magnificent glass artwork.
Bask in the sun with a margarita in hand at the Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair in San Antonio. Take the kids to play in the park’s splash pad, garden area, and a vast playground with safety equipment, a sandy play area, for kids of all ages and abilities. Cognitive development expert Susan Goldman designed its playground. All that, while you relax with a variety of craft beers or margaritas served by on-site vendors in Yanaguana Garden. You can play ping-pong or match wits on oversized checker and chess boards. Yanaguana Garden lights up at dusk with artistically placed colors, leading you to stroll toward one of its outdoor eateries.
The Quadrangle at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston
The Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston (JBSA-Fort Sam Houston), Texas, home to the U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), lets animals and birds run wild. The fort is filled with deer, rabbits, peacocks, and other birds that ensure joy in the hearts of kids of all ages. The fort features a huge interior courtyard park, which is surrounded by beautiful stone walls, and the Fort Sam Houston Museum that houses an exhibit of memorabilia depicting its role during the World War II as an arsenal for the US Army with a reference library. Bring plenty of birdseed because the birds will crowd around you at the smell of seeds. The JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is a historical commemoration of U.S. history and a peaceful haven for its animal and bird populations.
The World’s Biggest Cowboy Boots
In San Antonio at the North Star Mall, you can find the World’s Biggest Cowboy Boots. The biggest cowboy boots on earth were first displayed a few blocks away from the White House in Washington, D.C., but Texas never did see the common sense in that. Texas knew the biggest cowboy boots on earth belonged in Texas. Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, an iconic artist from Austin…take a seat for this tall tale…began creating a pair of 40-foot-tall cowboy boots on a vacant lot three blocks from the White House in 1979.
Them boots are even too big for Big Tex to wear at Dallas’ Texas State Fair. Wade built the Texas-themed footwear as part of a Washington initiative called the Washington Project for the Arts. Them boots may be the perfect selfie or group photo op, but them boots should never be reduced to a photo op. When you visit them boots, you will know you have seen Texas.
Daddy-O constructed his big boots from concrete and fiberglass and designed them with ostrich skin lowers and bone-toned uppers adorned with flames. Daddy-O’s boots did not last long in Washington, D.C. near the White House. Daddy-O, in perfect Texas style, just began building his boots on a vacant lot. No, Texas was not going to have one of its own leave them boots in Washington, D.C.
Daddy-O wanted to export eclectic Texas art to the world. Except for some serious Texas musicians, Europe honored Daddy-O’s art long before Washington, D.C. and Texas. Washington, D.C., evidently, did not mind unloading cowboy boots on Texas soil at the time. Daddy-O said this about his boots in Washington, D.C.,
“I was thinking of this whole idea of Texas politicians, starting with Sam Rayburn and all those guys that came up from Texas to be senators or whatever, especially LBJ, who was always wearing his boots and his little LBJ hat and that kind of stuff. I said, you know, there’s already a precedent here in D.C. for these Texas guys blowing in and flouting their boots, so maybe a giant pair of boots would be perfect.”
The Rouse Company, owners of the North Star Mall in San Antonio at that time, wanted to and did purchase Wade’s boots from Wade and returned them to his homeland of Texas. Moving them boots back to Texas sure took some grit and iron-minded determination. Sam Rayburn came up before LBJ, but Wade was born in 1943 and lived all over Texas as a boy becoming a man because of his daddy’s job.
Daddy-O reported, “After that, we wrote a song called Too High, Too Wide, Too Long because they were too wide and they hung over the sides. They were too high and hit an overpass when they were leaving the town, and they were too long. These guys took back roads all the way to San Antonio so they wouldn’t get stopped by the cops.”