November 23, 2019 Slideshows » Arts

The 25 Best Things To Do with an Out-of-Towner in San Antonio 

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You have family and friends visiting town, but don't want to sit at home? We hear ya. Here's our guide for tourist-y things to do in San Antonio, chock-full of options for food, booze, sightseeing and even a little local history.
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Appreciate history at the San Antonio Missions
Multiple locations, (210) 534-8875, nps.gov
While lots of folks fuss about the Alamo (for good reason, but really?), there are four other historical missions that are just as badass and packed with history. Though it’s worth noting that the structures were built with the intent to colonize the area and spread Christianity, visiting these sites allows visitors to travel back in time to see how some of SA’s earliest residents lived. Mission San José is perhaps best known, as it’s accompanied by undisturbed land, but there’s also Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada, all located on the South Side.
Photo via Instagram / jacobfbryant
Ride up the Tower of the Americas for the view of the city
739 E César E. Chávez Blvd, (210) 223-3101, toweroftheamericas.com
While not everyone will want to dine or grab drinks at the top of the Tower of the Americas, locals and tourists would be silly to miss out on the spectacular views available from the observation deck. The 750-foot tower offers an unbeatable view of the Alamo City that you just can’t get anywhere else.
Photo via Instagram / rubeen100
Drink your way down the St. Mary’s Strip
No matter what kind of vibe you’re looking for, there’s a spot for just about everyone looking to get plastered on the St. Mary’s Strip. Though this isn’t an attraction that brings folks to the Alamo City, this downtown-area collection of bars makes for a solid place for you to pretend you’re visiting and just have a good time. No Ragrets.
Photo via Instagram / airik88
Dine, drink and shop around the Historic Pearl
303 Pearl Pkwy, (210) 212-7260, atpearl.com
Lots of boutiques, cafes and highly-respected restaurants fill the Pearl, which is all-around a badass space to hang out, drink up, pig out and just enjoy. Really though, this place is years in the making, and one visit will actually make you realize how badass the Alamo City is for having such a destination as the Pearl.
Photo via Instagram / southerleigh
Feed the wildlife at the Quadrangle at Fort Sam Houston
1405 E Grayson St, Fort Sam Houston, (210) 221-1886, quadrangle-fort-sam-houston.business.site
On the grounds of Fort Sam Houston, you’ll find a secret spot that actually doesn’t have a lot to do with the military. The Quadrangle is a historical park that is complete with a military museum and a clock tower dedicated to war heroes. It gets better. The grounds also include beautiful wildlife roaming free, from deer to peacocks.
Photo via Instagram / eturner22
Dive into local art and food at the Blue Star Arts Complex
1414 S Alamo St, (210) 354-3775, bluestarartscomplex.com
Spending time in Southtown is essential for locals, whether it’s a regular thing or just a once in a blue moon occurrence. From grabbing a cup of coffee at Halcyon or a cup of gelato at South Alamode to exploring the art at FL!GHT and seeing what’s going on at Brick, there’s lots to do at this creative space.
Photo via Instagram / jvshots_
Watch the Spurs do their thing at the AT&T Center
1 AT&T Center Pkwy, (210) 444-5000, attcenter.com
Spurs fans literally travel from all over the world just to watch the Silver & Black ball up, so it goes without saying that locals should completely take advantage of catching a game at the AT&T Center at some point. Even if you have a seat in the nosebleeds, it’s almost a rite of passage to see the Spurs play at some point.
Photo via Instagram / spurs
Catch the light show at the San Fernando Cathedral
115 Main Plaza, sfcathedral.org
While folks may choose not to partake in Sunday mass here, the downtown cathedral draws crowds wanting to appreciate its gorgeous architecture. Lots of locals also hit up San Fernando for special events like the light show that displays beautiful artwork on the facade of the place of worship, which takes place four nights a week between 9 and 10 p.m. It’s absolutely stunning, and totally worth the hassle of finding parking.
Photo via Instagram / rcronti
Enjoy all that Brackenridge Park has to offer
3700 N St Mary's St, (210) 207-7275, brackenridgepark.org
Spread across 343 acres, Brackenridge Park remains an undisturbed space for those who don’t want to run away to the Hill Country to take in nature. It’s truly the best of both worlds here since the sprawling park has plenty of room to enjoy the scenery (especially at the Botanical Garden — yes, it’s technically part of the larger park — and Japanese Tea Garden), get active with sports, explore the zoo and simply have a good time. You can literally spend the whole day here and not even take it all in — it’s worth plenty of visits honestly.
Photo via Instagram / natureinsite
Test your creative eye at Ruby City
150 Camp St, (210) 227-8400, rubycity.org
New to San Antonio’s art scene, the impeccably-designed Ruby City is already proving to be a destination for local and visiting art lovers. After you take a stroll through Chris Park, you’ll be able to take in all that this creative space has to offer. The Southtown museum is the dream come to life from Linda Pace, one that was years in the making. Consider it an essential stop for anyone who appreciates art.
Photo courtesy of Dror Baldinger FAIA
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Catch (or admire) the creatures at Bracken Cave
26101 FM3009, tpwd.texas.gov
From March to October, an estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats are said to live at this nature spot just north of San Antonio. That’s so many bats that it’s considered the largest concentration of mammals AND the largest colony of bats. In. The. World. Yes, really! Even if the bats aren’t here for the season, the creep aesthetic of this cavern makes for some great photos.
Photo via Instagram / live.4adventure
Browse around Market Square
514 W Commerce St, (210) 207-8600, marketsquaresa.com
Three blocks in the heart of the city are home to perhaps the most lively space in SA. The outdoor plaza is littered with shops, vendors and restaurants, and usually has music bumping to make it feel like a party. From special events to just feel-good vibes on the regular, this is a spot loved by locals and tourists alike for good reason.
Photo via Instagram / leefylu
Dance the night away at John T. Floore's Country Store
14492 Old Bandera Rd, Helotes, (210) 695-8827, liveatfloores.com
Whether you’re a music fanatic or not, folks would be wise to pay their respects to Floore’s. It’s not the site of tragedy, but quite the opposite. The Helotes hangout is prized for its (mostly) country music offerings, plus its bar. Known for being where ol’ Willie got his rise, plenty of musicians have gotten their start here or just entertained us here.
Photo via Instagram /floorecountrystore
Go back in time at the Spanish Governor’s Palace
105 Plaza De Armas, (210) 224-0601, spanishgovernorspalace.org
If part of the reason you love living in SA is because of the history, you’ll likely want to hit up this old-time attraction if you haven’t already. Often overlooked (which is the case thanks to the Alamo), the white-colored adobe structure is like a step back in time, giving a glimpse of the 18th-century colonial Presidio San Antonio de Béxar complex. Pretty cool, huh?
Photo via Instagram / viajento
Travel the world (sort of) at the Institute of Texan Cultures
801 E César E. Chávez Blvd, (210) 458-2300, texancultures.com
San Antonio may claim that it’s a hotbed of culture, but the Institute of Texan Cultures is proof that the Alamo City is truly essential to the history of the Lone Star State. While the museum touches on the cultural influences throughout Texas, lots of SA’s ties are, of course, front and center given that SA is so present in history. If you’re looking to appreciate SA all the more, here’s where to do so.
Photo via Instagram / texbits
Go back in time at Government Canyon State Natural Area
12861 Galm Road, tpwd.texas.gov
Not too far past Loop 1604, you’ll be able to escape to an untouched wilderness without technically leaving San Antonio proper. The state park is similar in terrain to the Hill Country, which is a destination of its own for many Texans. Think of coming to this spot as a way of enjoying the serenity of the country life — whether it be for hiking, camping or just having a photography session — while also staying local. Pretty cool, right?
Photo via Instagram / photos.by.nikkie
Act like a kid at Morgan’s Wonderland
5223 David Edwards Dr, (210) 495-5888, morganswonderland.com
This accessible theme park was created with the mindset of welcoming all backgrounds and abilities. The non-profit park has seen many additions over the years, though it remains a spot where local and folks from around the world can all get in on the fun.
Photo via Instagram / morganswonderlandtexas
Explore the Mission Reach
Southtown-South Side, thesanantonioriverwalk.com
Downtown’s River Walk may draw lots of visitors with the restaurants and shops nestled along it, but going south makes for an underrated experience. Mission Reach is an eight-mile stretch of the San Antonio River that connects the San Antonio Missions, but also lets you retreat into nature that’s super accessible and fun to explore.
Photo via Instagram / sair_ee
Indulge yourself in some spooks with the Sisters Grimm ghost tour
204 Alamo Plaza Suite #T, (210) 638-1338, sistersgrimmghosttour.com
Even beyond the spookiest time of year you’ll find all types of people wanting to get their fill of scares. This downtown-focused ghost tour looks at some of the most haunted sites in the Alamo City and lets you indulge in frights even beyond Halloween time. Now that’s something we can get behind.
Photo via Instagram / sistersgrimmtx
Get cultured at the San Antonio Museum of Art
200 W Jones Ave, (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org
Perhaps one of the finest collections of art in South Texas, SAMA is a poppin’ spot for all things art. But it’s not just that, the art on display here is usually accompanied by cool events that let creative spirits explore extended avenues of what’s on display. Whether you’re on a date, solo adventure or making it a family outing, SAMA comes through every time.
Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Museum of Art
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Appreciate history at the San Antonio Missions
Multiple locations, (210) 534-8875, nps.gov
While lots of folks fuss about the Alamo (for good reason, but really?), there are four other historical missions that are just as badass and packed with history. Though it’s worth noting that the structures were built with the intent to colonize the area and spread Christianity, visiting these sites allows visitors to travel back in time to see how some of SA’s earliest residents lived. Mission San José is perhaps best known, as it’s accompanied by undisturbed land, but there’s also Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada, all located on the South Side.
Photo via Instagram / jacobfbryant

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