Mesmerizing historical icons, thrilling rides, relaxing strolls along the river and enough shopping to make sure you go home happy ... with so many things to do in San Antonio, where do you begin?
1 The Alamo
Established in the early 18th century as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo plunged into history on March 6, 1836, the day that 188 men died honorably after being attacked by Santa Anna's forces. A symbol of the state’s independence and courage, the Alamo draws continuous crowds year-round. 300 Alamo Plaza, 210.225.1391. www.thealamo.org.
2 El Mercado
This bright, colorful market square alone makes the trip to San Antonio worthwhile. Complete with a farmers market, souvenir shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants and all the Southwestern arts and crafts visitors could desire; it’s a must-see that is as visually stimulating as it is rewarding for those looking for unique trinkets. 514 W. Commerce St., 210.207.8600. www.marketsquaresa.com.
3 San Antonio Botanical Garden
This oasis offers a dazzling array of colors. Explore exotic plants in the Lucile Halsell Conservatory and unique plants along the Texas Native Trail. In addition to the gorgeous blossoms and fun concerts, guests will love the Garden Gate Gift Shop. 555 Funston, 210.207.3250. www.sabot.org.
4 The San Antonio River Walk
This stretch of restaurants, galleries, hotels and clubs runs beneath the city’s main street level and covers the gamut between energetic and bustling, to calm and reflective. Commerce Street. www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com.
5 San Antonio Zoo
Home to more than 600 species and 3,500 individual animals, the San Antonio Zoo is a favorite of visitors. Explore the Nanyuki Market in the Africa Live exhibit, or sing with a fairy bluebird in the Hixon Bird House. You can even immerse yourself in the lush surroundings of a butterfly habitat at the Butterflies! Caterpillar Flight School. 3903 N. Saint Marys St., 210.734.7184. www.sazoo-aq.org.
6 San Fernando Cathedral
Established as the parish church for the original Canary Islanders who settled San Antonio, San Fernando Cathedral has graced the city since 1731. Santa Anna’s red flag was hoisted here during the Battle of the Alamo, and tradition holds that the remains of the Alamo defenders were interred at the front of the church. 115 Main Plaza, 210.227.1297. www.sfcathedral.org.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort in New Braunfels (open April-September) has more than three miles of tubing adventures, children’s water playgrounds, water slides and three uphill water coasters, spread over 65 acres of fun. 400 N. Liberty Ave., New Braunfels. 830.625.2351. www.schlitterbahn.com.
8 SeaWorld San Antonio
A must for any family trip to San Antonio, SeaWorld combines all of the pleasures of a marine life exhibit with that of a thrill park to create something that appeals to anyone with a pulse. Don't miss the Texas Splashdown, The Great White roller coaster and the Journey to Atlantis. 10500 Sea World Dr., 1.800.700.7786. www.seaworld.com.
9 Six Flags Fiesta Texas
The Six Flags name carries with it thoughts of jaw-dropping roller coasters and exciting concerts and events. San Antonio’s Fiesta Texas offers all of that and more, but with a decidedly Southwestern twist. You can stroll along the Fiesta Bay Boardwalk or through the Mexican town of Los Festivales while contemplating your next thrill. 17000 W. IH-10, 210.697.5050. www.sixflags.com.
10 La Villita
La Villita is the original “Little Village” of San Antonio, settled by the indigenous Indians, families of the Alamo Garrison and later by other European immigrants. Today these historic homes showcase the unique wares of artisans and craftsmen. You’ll find art, jewelry, clothing and more. Arneson and S. Alamo and Nueva.