The Franciscan monks who arrived from Spain in the 18th century built long-lasting stone mission stations in which they sought to Christianize the natives. In isolated cases, the missions also served as forts, such as the famous example of The Alamo. With the takeover of the Spanish North American possessions by Mexico, San Antonio became the capital of the Province of Texas in 1821.
After the annexation of Texas to the American Union in 1845 and the end of the Civil War in 1865, San Antonio grew very rapidly. When the railroad finally connected the city to other business centers in the United States in 1877, San Antonio became a center of the meat processing industry. The city became a multi-ethnic melting pot with a strong German component.
San Antonio is the ninth largest city in the U.S., yet it is a city largely devoid of high-rises. The Hispanic influence is still widely felt, especially in the nightlife every night and in the Spanish colonial-style architecture. The street life is the real tourist attraction of the place, apart from The Alamo.
Tip 1: Riverwalk
The River Walk in San Antonio is a green paradise, stretching for miles and connecting many individual neighborhoods. You can walk for hours along the small river and explore the city this way – everywhere there are bridges, small signposts and benches along the planted promenade. When you’re exhausted, you can just keep going by water cab!
At the most central point of the River Walk (at the height of the Hyatt Regency hotel) there are many restaurants, bars and cafes that invite you to take a siesta – and of course there is no lack of shopping opportunities.
Tip 2: The Alamo
The year is 1836. A bitter war of independence is raging between Mexico under President Santa Anna and the self-sufficient part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, Texas. From February 23 to March 6, 1836, the opposing forces faced each other at Fort Alamo, a former Spanish mission station. On one side more than 7000 soldiers under the command of Santa Anna and on the other side a little more than 200 defenders, led by James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William Travis, among others.
This battle, in which all the freedom fighters died after a tough fight to the literal last drop of blood and Fort Alamo was taken, is still considered one of the greatest heroic deeds in the history of America. Protagonists, such as Davy Crockett, have gone down in history as paragons of courage, bravery, and principle.
Even today, The Alamo is a place of pilgrimage – especially for American tourists – and by far the most important sight in San Antonio.
Tip 3: SeaWorld
Whether you are traveling with children and teenagers in the USA, whether you are simply interested in marine animals yourself, or whether you just want to experience a typical American amusement park: “SeaWorld” in San Antonio is certainly a good recommendation.
Three parks belong to this chain, which defines itself as a mixture of marine zoo, marine breeding station and amusement park. The chain’s most visited park is in Orlando, Florida, one in San Diego, California, and with the San Antonio location, Texans and their visitors also have a “SeaWorld” nearby. Visitors can experience live how whales, dolphins and other sea creatures are trained for shows, they can swim with sea lions and play with penguins, and finally there are also plenty of roller coasters, rides, restaurants and bars waiting for visitors young and old.
Where, if not in huge aquariums, can the average person ever see a killer whale, a beluga whale or dangerous sharks? That’s exactly what’s possible at “SeaWorld” in San Antonio. And what’s more, these animals are used in big shows here, where they prove that even sea creatures can be trained. Visitors from all parts of the world are thrilled.
Tip 4: El Mercado
For a bit of that Mexico feeling, it’s worth taking a detour to El Mercado in San Antonio! The largest Mexican market in the U.S., in conjunction with the Market Square with more than 30 stores, makes every shopping enthusiast’s heart beat faster and invites you to browse and discover.
Here you can find everything from hand-embroidered clothes to colorful handicrafts and simple leather belts. You’ll feel like you’re in a Mexican marketplace – and in the middle of Texas. The many musicians, dancers and artists on the streets bring Mexican culture to life – a lively atmosphere that will enchant you. Don’t miss this little trip to Mexico and take a few hours to explore!
Tip 5: La Villita
If you want to get to know the original San Antonio, you should definitely take the time to visit “La Villita”. This is where one of the first settlements was established in the founding days of the and the historic Mexican Village looks back on over 200 years of history and has been extensively reconstructed.
Today, much time can be spent in the National Historic District in the heart of the city, as numerous stores and handicraft workshops invite visitors to browse.