While it’s fun to explore off-the-beaten-path treasures, Downtown San Antonio is proof that sometimes the road most traveled can be the road best traveled. In this part of town, you’ll find a mixture of some of Texas’s most important historical sites mixed with an amazing culture and, of course, all the touristy-fun you could hope for.
While you’re in San Antonio, visiting the most iconic site in Texas, the Alamo, is a must. At the mission, you’ll learn about the siege of the Alamo where a few men sacrificed everything for the Republic of Texas and why we still “Remember the Alamo” today. Pay your respects to some of the bravest men in Texas and retrace the events of the battle.
Continue your lesson about the Texas Revolution at the San Fernando Cathedral, where you’ll find the few remains of the Texas heroes who died in the siege of the Alamo, including Travis, Crockett and Bowie. After the battle, Santa Anna ordered their remains burned and scattered, but Juan Seguin gathered them and hid them in this cathedral.
Right in the heart of town is the 1749 Spanish Governor’s Palace, the last remnant of the Presidio San Antonio de Bejar that was built to secure Spain’s claim on Texas from France. You’ll get a glimpse into the luxurious life of aristocrats on the pre-Texas Spanish frontier.
When you visit the Historic Market Square, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a Mexican dream. With imported and Texas-made goods, it is the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico and you can find everything from authentic Luchador masks to handmade leather goods.
Grab your spare horns and head to the Buckhorn Saloon to trade your horns in for a cold beer, a tradition that started with the original owner Albert Fredrich when it first opened in 1881. Yet, the cow horns hanging over this bar and restaurant aren’t the only strange things you’ll see here — check out the museum of curiosities in the back to see eight-legged lambs, shrunken heads and more!
Across the street from the Alamo is The Menger Bar, the oldest continually operated hotel west of the Mississippi, built in 1887. It used to be a tough cowboy bar and Teddy Roosevelt’s top spot for recruiting for Rough Riders, but it’s since calmed down and now you can stop in for a cold drink or a scoop of Mango Ice Cream.
When you get hungry for some classic Tex-Mex, head to one of the most iconic restaurants in Texas, Mi Tierra. As you sit down to eat to the sound of music from the roaming mariachi band, you won’t know what’s more beautiful — the thousands of lights hanging from the ceiling or the plate in front of you piled with homemade cheese enchiladas smothered in chili con carne and made from a recipe that’s been around for 75 years. After your meal, don’t skimp on the flaky pastries from the bakery.
If you like your Tex-Mex with an eclectic twist, head to The Esquire, a local gem since 1933. Saddle up to the longest wooden bar in Texas for unique dishes like Tacos con Papas (mashed-potatoes-filled tacos) or pork empanadas that have been soaked in Big Red.
No trip to this part of San Antonio would be complete without a trip to the Riverwalk. Stroll down the banks lined with a never-ending fiesta of shops, music and food or sight-see this Texas classic by boat for a whole new perspective.