With 1.3 million residents, San Antonio is the second most populous city in Texas. But once you’re here, you’d be forgiven for thinking the population was even higher, thanks to more than 20 million visitors who pass through each year. They come for the Alamo, of course, as well as to enjoy the sunny weather, gorgeous River Walk, and family-friendly atmosphere (both SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas are here).
What to See
- The Alamo: Due to the 1836 battle that made it a symbol of Texas independence, the Alamo has become the most visited tourist site in the state. It's actually one of five historic Spanish missions clustered around the San Antonio River.
- River Walk: A 2.5-mile artery in the heart of San Antonio, this picturesque riverside path goes past restaurants, hotels, and other businesses, with little surprises such as public art installations along the way. A new extension connects the walk to the four-story San Antonio Museum of Art, where you'll find more than 25,000 sculptures and paintings ranging from Roman antiquities to contemporary work.
- Tower of the Americas: a 740-foot observation tower with views of the city and a revolving restaurant at the top
What to Eat
- Frito pie: Combine two of San Antonio’s most beloved foodstuffs—chili and Fritos (the latter were born here)—and you’ve got yourself a deliciously spicy-crunchy street food. You can find food trucks, bars, and restaurants selling their own versions all over town.
- The Luxury has a misleading name—for starters, it’s housed in a corrugated metal shack. But the food is top notch; try a local beer and a crispy fish banh mi sandwich.
Tex-Mex: Mi Tierra Café y Panadería in Market Square is open 24 hours a day, serving up homemade tortillas and cabrito, a roasted goat kid with chili-based gravy. Well worth the wait in line.
Where to Stay
- A record-breaker: The Fairmount Hotel, built in 1906, was moved intact to its current location (a convenient three blocks from the Alamo) in 1985. For that feat, the hotel made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the heaviest building ever moved on wheels to a new address.
- A taste of history: Even closer to the Alamo is the Menger Hotel, which was built in 1859. Have a drink at the bar where Teddy Roosevelt recruited Rough Riders as a colonel in the Spanish-American War, and stay in rooms still sporting their original 19th-century furnishings.
- Views of the River Walk: The Riverwalk Vista Hotel is a handsome boutique property with prime access to San Antonio’s trendiest area.