San Antonio (a.k.a. the Alamo City) is located, quite literally, “in the heart” of Texas. Just an hour south of Austin, three from Houston and four from Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio’s geography ranges from rolling hills covered in wildflowers to flat prairie lands populated by a multitude of diverse neighborhoods and cobblestone streets filled with old world charm. Home of the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas, San Antonio is a thriving, progressive city with deep cultural and historical roots. Historic Spanish architecture juxtaposed with arts-oriented residents and initiatives offer a seamless, unique blend of old and new. Downtown, the San Antonio River gives life to the famed River Walk, which runs along nearby residential areas like artsy Southtown, the Victorian historic homes within the King William Historic District and destinations like La Villita, Market Square, Hemisfair and Alamo Plaza. Expect colorful Mexican-style haciendas, artisanal goods and legendary Tex-Mex and margaritas in La Villita and Market Square—not to mention a booming nightlife along the San Antonio River Walk and just north near Broadway and Museum Reach.
As Texas’ number-one tourist attraction, the River Walk is one story below street level but feels as though it is miles away from the noise and distractions of the busy streets above. View the lighted art installations and sculptures along the Museum Reach’s portion of the river banks from a sunset cruise, or hop aboard a river boat for a relaxing tour or dinner cruise.
Head to the top of the Tower of the Americas at Hemisfair (or grab drinks at the Chart House restaurant on top) for the ultimate panoramic view of downtown. At street level, discover such attractions as the Alamo, La Villita Historic Arts Village, the Arneson River Theatre and the Shops at Rivercenter. Just north along the river lies Alamo Heights and the Museum Reach area, where popular museums such as the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio Museum of Art, Briscoe Western Art Museum and the Witte Museum always have a fresh exhibition on the menu. Family-friendly activities at the San Antonio Zoo or the Botanical Garden are perfect for an afternoon treat, and the vintage bookstores and boutiques that line Broadway offer a wide range of indulgences.
While downtown San Antonio offers countless opportunities for entertainment, the Texas Hill Country is a picturesque region is rife with charming suburbs, vineyards, farm-to-table restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, antique shops, museums and more. Head northwest to visit the original Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q (the chain was founded here) in Leon Springs or spend the day at the Shops at La Cantera, shopping and entertainment destination The Rim, or Six Flags Fiesta Texas. (Likewise, SeaWorld San Antonio is one of the city’s top attractions, and provides one-of-a-kind experiences for aquatic animal lovers and thrill-seekers alike.) Northeast from downtown is New Braunfels, home of the original Schlitterbahn Waterpark, rich German heritage and the Gruene Hall—the oldest dance hall in the Lone Star State.