January 07, 2016 Slideshows » Arts

25 places every San Antonian should take an out-of-towner 

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Remember the Alamo? Founded as a Roman Catholic mission and fortress in the 18th century, the compound served as the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and today is often the first and only destination on tourists' site-seeing agendas in San Antonio. Whether it's a sibling in town for a wedding or a friend visiting during a business convention, don't let your out-of-towner fall victim to the pattern. Here are more than a few ways to entertain anyone and everyone while showing off San Antonio and its surrounding areas.
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Get lost in El Mercado.
One of the most famous outdoor markets in the country, El Mercado consists of over 100 shops, galleries and stalls. Largely family-owned, the shops of El Mercado offer everything curio from hand-embroidered Mexican dresses and hats to musical instruments. Browse through the plethora of colorful vendors and pretend to explore the streets of old Mexico. Historic Market Square, 514 W. Commerce St., 210.207.8600, getcreativesanantonio.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Catch a show at the Arneson River Theatre.
The picturesque Arneson River Theatre was constructed as a part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" during the Great Recession, and remains an icon on San Antonio's River Walk today. Invite family and friends to a local festival or show hosted at the historic theater, such as Muertos Fest or the Maverick Music Festival. The Arneson River Theatre, 418 Villita St., (210) 207-8614, getcreativesanantonio.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Watch a performance at the Tobin Center.
The Tobin Center is the "pride of the River and a shining beacon of creativity," boasting highly coveted touring acts and 10 excellent companies in residence. Performances by local organizations such as the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA) and contemporary theater group AtticRep are sure to enchant and awe any traveling connoisseur or tastemaker. Tobin Center, 100 Auditorium Circle, (210) 223-8624, tobincenter.org.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Chill out with a tubing adventure.
Anticipating company during a summertime scorcher? Squad up for a tubing trip along one of Central Texas' lazy rivers just 45-minute away from the heart of San Antonio. Visit tubetexas.com for the most up-to-date list of outfitters.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Practice your parseltongue at the Snake Farm.
Are your friends in town for the weekend strong of heart? Find out by visiting the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels for slimy, slithery fun. (Or just stop by the cuddly creatures in the petting zoo to avoid thoroughly traumatizing your more squeamish buddies.) Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo, 5640 I-35 Frontage Rd., exoticanimalworld.com.

Photo via Instagram (Snakefarmtexas)
Pop a squat at the Toilet Seat Museum.
Convey our city's flair for the unusual with a tour of the equally charming and perplexing collections in Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum. Created by plumber Barney Smith, artworks range from a lamentation of the Space Shuttle Challenger to a commemoration of his appearance on Montel Williams. Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum, 239 Abiso Ave., (210) 824-7791.

Photo via Facebook (AAA AUGER Plumbing Services)
Hitch a cliché River Walk barge tour.
We know, we know. The 35-minute Rio San Antonio cruise takes the prize for the most banal tourist activity in the city. But, consider this food for thought – the River Walk is completely foreign to outsiders, and passing up the barge tour would be a serious bummer for pretty much any family member from the Midwest. It's worth getting over yourself to give everyone the traditional San Antonio experience. Rio San Antonio Cruises, 205 N. Presa St., (210) 244-5700, riosanantonio.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
All aboard the Brackenridge Eagle.
Do your out-of-towners have kiddos to entertain? Try hitching a ride on the Brackenridge Eagle, a miniature train that meanders through Brackenridge Park. Consider rounding out the grand outing with a to the Witte Museum (3801 Broadway) to brush up on science and history. Train Station Gift Shop, 3910 N. St. Mary's St., (210) 735-7455, sazoo-aq.org.

Photo via Facebook (San Antonio Traveler)
Converse over spirits at a haunted hotel.
Occupying an innocuous corner in the pulsing heart of downtown San Anto, the lovely Menger Hotel is supposedly home to over 30 ghosts that roam the establishment's historical corridors, making it one of the most haunted hotels in Texas and a prime haunt for those with superstitious tendencies. The Menger Hotel, 204 Alamo Plaza, (210) 223-4361, mengerhotel.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Take flight with Bat Loco in Bracken Cave.
San Antonio's very own Bracken Bat Cave is the summer roost of an estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats—the largest colony of bats in the world—from March to October. While tours of the bats' sleepy hideaways are limited to summer months, Bat Loco offers educational opportunities to raise awareness about the importance of the winged critters in Bexar County's ecosystem, perfect entertainment for any curious animal lovers in San Anto. Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk (at the Camden St. bridge), sara-tx.org.

Photo via San Antonio Current
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Bike or canoe the Mission Reach.
Hosting a Sporty Spice for the weekend? Grab your bike or canoe and snake along the revitalized part of the San Antonio River on a cool afternoon. Espada Park, 330 Mission Parkway, missionkayak.com.

Photo via Facebook (Anne Ferguson)
Fuel up at Mi Tierra.
Rated a first-class Mexican restaurant by morning birds and night owls alike, Mi Tierra Café y Panadería has something for everyone. A beloved San Antonio institution since its initial opening in 1941, Mi Tierra today is like an Alamo City museum, complete with award-winning menudo. Mi Tierra Café y Panadería, 218 Produce Row, (210) 225-1262, mitierracafe.com.

Photo via Facebook (Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery)
Cheer for the Big Three at a Spurs Game.
If the full extent of Alamo City's love for Tony, Manu and Tim isn't already evident to your company, drag them to the AT&T Center for a home game. Your friends will bleed silver and black by the final quarter. AT&T Center, 1 AT&T Center Parkway, (210) 225-8326, attcenter.com.

Photo via Facebook (San Antonio Spurs)
Appreciate diverse exhibitions at Artpace.
Artpace is a world-renowned artist residency program that put San Antonio on the art world's radar. The non-profit contemporary art gallery, which was founded by Linda Pace in the space of a former Hudson automobile dealership, invites curators to select one Texas-based, one national and one international artist for three two-month residencies each year. Artpace is applauded for its ability to engage locals with the international community, and is a must for any art purveyor passing through Alamo City. Artpace, 445 N Main Ave., (210) 212-4900, artpace.org.

Photo via Facebook (Artpace San Antonio)
Track down a local food truck.
It seems the food truck phenomenon swept San Antonio overnight. The industry that started as a smattering of "roach coaches" in dive territory almost immediately evolved into a unique, inexpensive culinary experience popularized by the lot of urban hipsters and foodies. Take to social media to track down an illusive vendor posted up downtown or stop by a food truck park like Alamo Street Eat Bar in Southtown to grab a bite. Alamo Street Eat Bar, 609 S Alamo St., (210) 227-2469, alamostreeteatbar.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Marvel in the beauty of the Majestic Theatre.
The Majestic, San Antonio's oldest and largest atmospheric theater, brings acclaimed productions and mega-musicals to thousands of theatergoers in Alamo City. Make anyone's trip to San Antonio remarkable with a billboard show such as Phantom of the Opera or Les Misérables. Be sure to admire the elegant facade of the theater's interior during intermission. The Majestic Theatre, 224 E. Houston St., (210) 226-3333, majesticempire.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Have a drink in the Tower.
The Tower of the Americas is a San Antonio icon, and the acrophobic elevator ride up to the top is totally worth the hassle if you play your cards right. Ditch the tourist trap Observation Deck, and instead take advantage of happy hour—4:30-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday—in the bar area of the Tower's Chart House Restaurant. Tower of the Americas, 739 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., (210) 223-3101, toweroftheamericas.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Booze your way down the North St. Mary's strip.
Stretched over a half-mile tract of concrete in midtown, the North St. Mary's strip encompasses a litany of bars, nightclubs and music venues with the potential to elicit the devil in any San Anto barfly. Go for the stupid-cheap well drinks, and stay for the drugs, sex and rock n roll ... Or just the stupid-awesome taco truck outside Hardbodies. Tacos El Regio, 2726 N. Saint Mary's St.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Feel the onda with a tour of San Antonio murals.
The best way to take in public art is to live in the area and let the pop-art frescos soak into daily life. However, if you are confident in your ability to navigate the city's West Side, you can lead your troupe of tourists on an adventurous route up and down Colorado or Zaramora, where many murals take residence. For those with a defunct internal compass, book a guided tour of the most vibrant murals around town via San Anto Cultural Arts. San Anto Cultural Arts, 2120 El Paso St., (210) 226-7466, sananto.org.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Tour the city's abundance of taco locales.
San Antonio is practically synonymous its myriad of breakfast taco destinations. So why not introduce out-of-towners to the majesty of migas or chilaquiles on a groggy morning? With a surplus of options, there's something for even the pickiest of eaters. (Looking at you, vegan cousin from Portland.) Embark on your culinary journey at El Milagrito, our readers' top pick for the best breakfast tacos in San Anto, and trek over to Rolando's Super Taco (919 W. Hildebrand Ave.) and Taco Taco (145 E. Hildebrand) to satiate your appetite. El Milagrito, 521 E. Woodlawn Ave., (210) 737-8646, elmilagritocafe.com.

Photo via Facebook (El Milagrito)
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Embark on a bar crawl on the Main Strip.
Need to indulge that wild cousin's need to party during her trip to San Antonio? Responsibly hail an Uber or Lyft, and jet over to "the Gay Strip," a mile-long span of bars and clubs situated on North Main Avenue. Kick off your adventure at Sparky's Pub to find sweet drink specials on most nights, and migrate down the bustling street to Luther's (1422 N. Main Ave.) for a snack as the night draws to a gradual end. Expect to meet some zany characters along the way. Sparky's Pub, 1416 N Main Ave., (210) 320-5111, sparkyspub.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Go caving at Natural Bridge Caverns.
Looking to make a day trip? Nestled halfway between San Antonio and New Braunfels, Natural Bridge Caverns is the largest commercial cave in Texas. It's so expansive, in fact, that exploration of the cave still continues. The attraction offers a variety of tours, and the adjacent Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is home to zebras, bison, gibbons and giraffes. Think of all the Kodak moments. Natural Bridge Caverns, 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd., (210) 651-6101, naturalbridgecaverns.com.

Photo via Facebook (Natural Bridge Caverns)
Play a round of miniature golf.
Renovated by new owners in 2013, Cool Crest Miniature Golf is a vintage staple for family excursions and date nights. This historic landmark tucked away in the retro Deco District is a definite must for visitors with a taste for nostalgia. Cool Crest Miniature Golf, 1402 Fredericksburg Rd. (210) 732-0222, coolcrestgolf.com.

Photo via Facebook (Cool Crest Miniature Golf)
Ride every single roller coaster at Six Flags.
Enjoy a wild rode on each of the nine roller coasters at Six Flags—Iron Rattler, Boomerang, Goliath, Poltergeist and Pandemonium to name a few—but save the absolutely bonkers-looking Batman: The Ride for last. Modeled after Anton Furst's award-winning set design for the original Batman film, the steel inverted roller coaster made history as the first of its kind when it opened in 1992. Your friends will have a blast, but don’t expect your stomach to thank you. Six Flags Fiesta Texas, 17000 I-10 W. (210) 697-5050, sixflags.com/fiestatexas.

Photo via San Antonio Current
Fly through the hill country on a zipline.
Experience the vistas of Central Texas above the treetops at Wimberley Zipline Adventures. Zig-zag down the hillside via 10 zip lines, complete with steep drops and the wind in your face. Wimberley Zipline Adventures, 300 Winn Valley Dr., Wimberley, (512) 847-9990, wimberleyzipline.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current
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Get lost in El Mercado.
One of the most famous outdoor markets in the country, El Mercado consists of over 100 shops, galleries and stalls. Largely family-owned, the shops of El Mercado offer everything curio from hand-embroidered Mexican dresses and hats to musical instruments. Browse through the plethora of colorful vendors and pretend to explore the streets of old Mexico. Historic Market Square, 514 W. Commerce St., 210.207.8600, getcreativesanantonio.com.

Photo via San Antonio Current

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