Lesser-Known Destinations in San Antonio

Rich With History, San Antonio Has Much Visitors May Miss

Viva San Antonio! As Texas’ top destination, San Antonio has the state’s number one attraction, the Alamo, and the famous Riverwalk. But the city has much more to offer.

The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce offers a website full of information and links valuable to planning a trip, including dates of upcoming events and information about the city’s lesser-known destinations. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, for instance, is locally known as the Mission Trail. The Alamo is only one of five missions that Spanish missionaries built along the San Antonio River.

Park headquarters is south of the Alamo at 2202 Roosevelt Avenue. The missions are:

  • Mission Concepcion
  • Mission San Jose
  • Mission San Juan
  • Mission Espada

Each offers its own special history and treasures to discover. Espada is the southernmost mission and is a wonderful place to rest and perhaps take a moment to reflect on life, with tree-shaded grounds and a cool, dark chapel where all are welcome.

The Riverwalk & South Bank

If nightlife is the goal, then the Riverwalk offers plenty of eateries, clubs, English and Irish style pubs, and activities for just about anyone. The Landing, in the lobby of the Riverwalk Marriott, houses The Landing, the home of world-famous jazz man Jim Cullum. See him play live most weeknights.

The South Bank is filled with places to hang out, to see and be seen, such as the Hard Rock Café, Howl at the Moon piano bar, and Dick’s, famous for its rude waitstaff. Rude comebacks will not get guests thrown out here. In fact, guests may earn some respect from locals for standing their own.

Southtown Arts District & King William

A special sort of nightlife occurs on the first Friday of each month, with nighttime First Friday Art Walks in Southtown Arts District, south of downtown, and the Alamo. There is not much parking available, so to avoid hassles, take the Blue Trolley from downtown or the Riverwalk. Southtown is in the historic King William neighborhood, full of sprawling houses, converted warehouses, and artist lofts. Here, there are galleries, restaurants, and shops aplenty for day or night fun, such as Madhatter Tea, with live music on Fridays.

The Blue Star Art Gallery is one of the top destinations when visiting Southtown. A combination of artist lofts, the Blue Star Brew Pub, with live jazz on Tuesdays, shops, and performance venues, it is one of the city’s more eclectic and happening places to visit. On the first Fridays, it is packed, so visitors might want to avoid it on those dates, but otherwise, it offers a nice view of San Antonio’s burgeoning art scene.

Just across the street and railroad tracks from Blue Star Art Gallery is a long-time San Antonio favorite with locals, La Tuna Grill, at 100 Probandt Street. This tin-clad bar and grill with gravel and bottle caps (careful with those open-toed sandals) on the ground and outdoor picnic tables for customers to relax at, serves up hot food and cold beer. On First Fridays, the locals take over and it is quite crowded, so again, visitors might want to avoid it on those dates. Muy loco!

Market Square

Rich with traditional music, food, and events, including an actual farmer’s market, Market Square offers some of San Antonio’s most lively activities. Both day and night, people are drawn by shops galore and two of the city’s most famous restaurants, La Margarita and Mi Tierra, which never closes. Mi Tierra has Christmas lights up year-round, and the festive atmosphere is full of music as mariachis stroll from table to table.

Brackenridge Park

For those who like to golf, try the historic Brackenridge Golf Course, the first municipal golf course in Texas. With the river running through it, this picturesque course is part of the 343-acre Brackenridge Park, worth seeing for itself, just north of downtown at Broadway and Mulberry Street, with headquarters at 3900 N. St. Mary’s Street.

San Antonio offers a plethora of known, as well as lesser-known, experiences. To find some of the local favorites, one must look beyond the Alamo and the Riverwalk and do a bit of research. The city’s hidden jewels, cherished by locals, are there for all to learn from, to reflect upon, and most of all, to enjoy.

San Antonio’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere is one reason it is such a favorite destination for visitors who come to see history preserved in the hubbub of modern life, as well as to throw themselves into the here and now, dancing and singing (and eating and drinking?) the days and nights away. Whatever one is looking for, San Antonio most likely has it, either out in the open or tucked quietly along the gently flowing river that is the heart of this city.


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