November 12, 2021

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 27 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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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. There’s also a glass conservatory and Jason Dady's Jardín restaurant, an essential stop once you’re done exploring the grounds. You’ll be smart to do just that – explore and appreciate every inch of this beautiful area.
Photo via Instagram / momjortz
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. There’s also a glass conservatory and Jason Dady's Jardín restaurant, an essential stop once you’re done exploring the grounds. You’ll be smart to do just that – explore and appreciate every inch of this beautiful area.
Photo via Instagram / momjortz
San Antonio Museum of Art
200 W. Jones St., (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org
Housed in an 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.
Photo via Instagram / sama_art
San Antonio Museum of Art
200 W. Jones St., (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org
Housed in an 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.
Photo via Instagram / sama_art
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.
Photo via Instagram / krystalsizzle
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.
Photo via Instagram / krystalsizzle
Brackenridge Park and the Japanese Tea Garden
3700 N St Mary's St, (210) 207-7275, brackenridgepark.org
San Antonians all love all 343 acres of Brackenridge Park – and visit it for a variety of reasons. Inside the park is the historic Japanese Tea Garden, which was built in a former quarry and features elaborate pathways and carefully cultivated landscaping, as well as waterways filled with koi. In addition to the park's sprawling green spaces are the adjacent San Antonio Zoo, Sunken Garden Theater and Witte Museum, plus the golf course – there’s seriously so many reasons to visit. Honestly, think about it. We may love Brackenridge for all of its separate parts, but consider it as this whole attraction with so much to offer and you’ll love it all the more.
Photo via Instagram / barbarajaylee
Brackenridge Park and the Japanese Tea Garden
3700 N St Mary's St, (210) 207-7275, brackenridgepark.org
San Antonians all love all 343 acres of Brackenridge Park – and visit it for a variety of reasons. Inside the park is the historic Japanese Tea Garden, which was built in a former quarry and features elaborate pathways and carefully cultivated landscaping, as well as waterways filled with koi. In addition to the park's sprawling green spaces are the adjacent San Antonio Zoo, Sunken Garden Theater and Witte Museum, plus the golf course – there’s seriously so many reasons to visit. Honestly, think about it. We may love Brackenridge for all of its separate parts, but consider it as this whole attraction with so much to offer and you’ll love it all the more.
Photo via Instagram / barbarajaylee
Ruby City
150 Camp St, (210) 227-8400, rubycity.org
Ruby City is the posthumous realization of a dream of the late art collector Linda Pace. The contemporary art center offers a range of exhibitions and is a part of a larger campus that includes Chris Park and the Studio exhibition space. What’s more, it’s housed in an award-winning building designed by renowned architect Sir David Adjaye OBE. 
Photo via Instagram / rubycity
Ruby City
150 Camp St, (210) 227-8400, rubycity.org
Ruby City is the posthumous realization of a dream of the late art collector Linda Pace. The contemporary art center offers a range of exhibitions and is a part of a larger campus that includes Chris Park and the Studio exhibition space. What’s more, it’s housed in an award-winning building designed by renowned architect Sir David Adjaye OBE.
Photo via Instagram / rubycity
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. You can choose to visit 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.
Photo via Instagram / txtacomabri
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. You can choose to visit 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.
Photo via Instagram / txtacomabri
Hot Wells 
5503 S. Presa St., bexar.org
Back in the day, Hot Wells hot spring resort was a hotspot for some of the hippest celebs of the silent film era — including director Cecil B. DeMille and actors like Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Sarah Bernhardt — and the 1911 film The Immortal Alamo was partially shot across the river from the property at Star Film Ranch. The Hot Wells ruins are now a park, where visitors can soak in the landmark's unique history, if not soak their feet, since the well has since been capped.
Photo via Instagram / hotwellsconservancy
Hot Wells
5503 S. Presa St., bexar.org
Back in the day, Hot Wells hot spring resort was a hotspot for some of the hippest celebs of the silent film era — including director Cecil B. DeMille and actors like Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Sarah Bernhardt — and the 1911 film The Immortal Alamo was partially shot across the river from the property at Star Film Ranch. The Hot Wells ruins are now a park, where visitors can soak in the landmark's unique history, if not soak their feet, since the well has since been capped.
Photo via Instagram / hotwellsconservancy
Central Library
600 Soledad St, (210) 207-2500, mysapl.org
The bulk of the Central Library makes it stand out, whether viewed from up close or passing by on the freeway, but it is the color – dubbed “enchilada red” by locals – that really grabs the attention. Selected in a design competition held in 1991, the building’s Mexican modernist architecture by Ricardo Legorreta includes a breathtaking multi-story atrium containing the artistic heart of the structure, a blown-glass sculpture created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
Photo by Siggi Ragnar
Central Library
600 Soledad St, (210) 207-2500, mysapl.org
The bulk of the Central Library makes it stand out, whether viewed from up close or passing by on the freeway, but it is the color – dubbed “enchilada red” by locals – that really grabs the attention. Selected in a design competition held in 1991, the building’s Mexican modernist architecture by Ricardo Legorreta includes a breathtaking multi-story atrium containing the artistic heart of the structure, a blown-glass sculpture created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
Photo by Siggi Ragnar
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, folklorico performances, plays, river parades and more at this 800 seat venue over the years .
Photo via Instagram / zachgennett
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, folklorico performances, plays, river parades and more at this 800 seat venue over the years .
Photo via Instagram / zachgennett
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. 
Photo via Instagram / rebekahsantoyo
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.
Photo via Instagram / rebekahsantoyo