The best places in San Antonio to take out-of-towners that aren't the Alamo
Everybody knows about the Alamo and the River Walk, but San Antonio has much more to offer beyond its two most famous tourist attractions. Even so, when you're hosting visiting family or friends, it's possible to draw a blank when trying to show them new sights around the city.
To give hosts a leg up, we rounded up 33 SA landmarks that will appeal to out-of-towners of all stripes, from history buffs to outdoor enthusiasts — and the kiddos too.
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Shutterstock / Christian Hinkle
Historic Market Square
514 W. Commerce St., (210) 207-8600, marketsquaresa.com
The Historic Market Square dates back to the 1700s, on a plaza that was gifted to settlers by the King of Spain. The square is home to over 100 locally owned shops and an indoor mall that has been called the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico, as well as Mi Tierra restaurant and the Centro de Artes gallery.
Shutterstock / TheSoronenPhotographer
Denman Estate Park
7735 Mockingbird Ln., sanantonio.gov
Denman Estate Park features a traditional South Korean pavilion, styled similarly to the Gwangju Democracy Bell in South Korea. Gwangju, South Korea and San Antonio, you may be surprised to learn, are sister cities. Denman Estate Park is a beautiful place to visit, not only for the pavilion, but for the pond and garden as well.
Courtesy Photo / City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture
River Walk Public Art Garden
849 E. Commerce St.
This open-air art garden located on the San Antonio River Walk at the intersection where Market and Alamo Streets meet features permanent and rotating sculptures and art pieces by local and international artists. For those that need help finding the entrance, look no further than the colorful "Welcome to the River Walk Public Art Garden" sign by San Antonio artist Gary Sweeney.
Francisco Cortes, courtesy of Artpace
445 N. Main Ave., (210) 212-4900, artpace.org
Founded by Linda Pace, Artpace was conceived as a “laboratory of dreams.” The nonprofit contemporary art foundation’s International Artist-in-Residence program presents a set of exhibitions created by resident artists each spring, summer and fall. Each IAIR cohort features three artists — one international, one national and one Texas-based — who create a new body of work during the residency, which is then showcased at Artpace for two months. In addition to the IAIR shows, Artpace presents exhibitions in its Hudson Showroom and Main Space throughout the year.
Shutterstock / Kit Leong
San Fernando Cathedral
115 Main Plaza, sfcathedral.org
The cathedral is considered the historic geographic center of San Antonio and serves as a tourist attraction, community gathering place and a symbol of the role of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The church is one of the oldest in the country, with the cornerstone of the 15-year construction project laid in 1738. Today’s visible landmark, however, is the result of an 1868 renovation in the Gothic Revival style. If you time your visit right, you can also take in a stunning light show of images and music telling the history of the city that’s displayed four nights a week on the façade of the church.
Shutterstock / f11photo
La Villita and the Arneson River Theatre
418 Villita St., (210) 207-8614, lavillitasanantonio.com
La Villita wasn't always a cultural art hub. In fact, it was San Antonio's first neighborhood. It was restored in the mid-20th century to become the cultural landmark it is today. Across the river is the Arneson River Theatre, which was built in 1939. Audiences have enjoyed concerts, folklórico performances, plays, river parades and more at this 800 seat venue over the years.
Courtesy Photo / San Antonio Museum of Art
San Antonio Museum of Art
200 W. Jones St., (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org
Housed in the elegantly repurposed Lone Star Brewery within easy walking distance from the Pearl, the San Antonio Museum of Art is an eclectic treasure trove of works from around the globe. In addition to the many discoveries to be made in galleries dedicated to art from Texas, Latin America, Europe, Asia, the ancient Mediterranean world and elsewhere, the museum boasts a solid contemporary art collection that includes works by notable San Antonio artists.
Courtesy Photo / San Antonio Botanical Garden
San Antonio Botanical Garden
555 Funston Pl., (210) 536-1400, sabot.org
Not too far from Fort Sam Houston you’ll get to explore the natural beauty of the San Antonio Botanical Garden. The 38-acre scenic oasis is complete with trails, a pond, roses and plenty of native plants that make for a lovely photo backdrop. The garden regularly hosts events and offers gardening and cooking classes for those looking for a more hands-on experience, There’s also a glass conservatory and Jason Dady's Jardín restaurant, an essential stop once you’re done exploring the grounds.
Courtesy Photo / McNay Art Museum
McNay Art Museum
6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., (210) 824-5368, mcnayart.org
The McNay, opened in 1954 in Marion Koogler McNay’s sprawling Spanish Colonial Revival mansion, proudly presents itself as “the first museum of modern art in Texas.” Greatly expanded in 2008 with the addition of the sleek, 45,000-square-foot Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions, the museum complements its impressive permanent collection of Post-Impressionist paintings, medieval and Renaissance treasures, modernist outdoor sculpture, Southwestern folk art and contemporary Latino prints with both touring and homegrown exhibitions.
Shutterstock / Kushal Bose
The San Antonio Missions
Multiple locations, (210) 932-1001, nps.gov/saan
Yes, the headline says not the Alamo, but San Antonio has four other historic missions that are often overshadowed by the famous downtown landmark: Mission Concepción, Mission San José, Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission Espada. Visitors can go to one or more of the Spanish colonial missions directly, or try to see them all by hiking or biking the 8-mile Mission Reach trail.