San Antonio is the second-largest city in Texas. From war to migration, the vibrant history makes it one of the top places to visit in Texas.
If you’re planning for an upcoming trip, I previously wrote about some of the best places to eat in San Antonio. For the best things to do in San Antonio, I’ve got you covered here with this list. Let’s explore some of the favorite historical sights, natural attractions, entertainment, and even attractions that will excite and even get your adrenaline flowing.
Are you ready to see what makes San Antonio such a popular destination? Check out these top things to do in San Antonio!
There’s no doubting that the Alamo is the most famous landmark in San Antonio. In fact, many tourists visit specifically just to see it in person. It’s the most famous mission to learn about its history and see the remaining buildings.
Lots of effort goes into preserving the Alamo, which was built in 1718. It was the site of the infamous Battle of the Alamo, which occurred in 1836. The site is in remembrance of the fallen soldiers and offers guided tours.
The best part about the Alamo is that it’s free to visit for the public!
Historic Market Square
San Antonio has a significant Mexican influence. One of the best places to visit in San Antonio to experience it is at the Historic Market Square. It’s the largest Mexican market in the US.
The Market Square is always busy any day of the week. It’s an outdoor plaza covering a few blocks with over 100 shops. The market is divided into two sections – El Mercado and the Farmer’s Market Plaza.
Check out El Mercado to find unique handicrafts, clothing, souvenirs, and art from Mexican artists. The Farmer’s Market Place sells lots of fresh produce.
San Antonio Riverwalk
On a nice day in San Antonio (and there are plenty), you’ll find a lot of people hanging out at the San Antonio Riverwalk. It’s one of the vibrant areas downtown where people go for dining, leisure, and entertainment.
The San Antonio Riverwalk is a paved pedestrian walkway along the San Antonio River. It’s an excellent place to go for a stroll. Stop by the boutique stores to shop local souvenirs and dine-in at a tasty Tex-Mex restaurant. You can also find lots of live entertainment.
There are river cruises for sightseeing or a romantic dinner.
Institute of Texan Cultures
Immerse yourself into Texas’ diversity at the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC). It’s a cultural institute to explore Texas’ history and the different peoples who settled the region.
ITC Is located in Downtown SA in HemisFair Park. The venue holds one of the best collections preserving the history and culture of Texas. It’s one of the top things to do in San Antonio for history buffs.
Browse the art exhibits to see artifacts and even scale models of depictions of different cultural groups. Check the calendar to see if any events or festivals are happening when you visit!
The Pearl District is one of the trendiest areas in San Antonio. Over the past decade, it’s completely transformed into the place to be for anyone visiting the city.
Pearl District is named after the Pearl Brewery, which was one of the largest breweries in TX. It’s now developed into an entire community filled with restaurants, green spaces, shops, and more. One of the original towers of the brewery still stands as a landmark.
Visitors can enjoy live entertainment or grab a bite to eat at the Culinary Institute of America. It hosts a Farmers Market on the weekend and has festivals throughout the year.
The Witte Museum is often considered one of the best in San Antonio. The extensive collections exhibited in the museum are focused on all things Texas. It covers everything, including prehistory, natural history, science, and cultural heritage.
Witte Museum opened in 1926 and continues to grow its massive collection. There are permanent and temporary shows where you can see scale models of dinosaurs and their fossils, Native American exhibitions to see their lifestyle, and Texas animals. There are tons of interactive exhibits to keep kids engaged.
The museum is free on Tuesdays after 3 pm.
Japanese Tea Garden
You can find Japanese gardens in many major cities across the US, but the garden in San Antonio is one of the most beautiful. The garden is part of Brackenridge Park, developed on donated land. It’s one of the most relaxing places to visit in San Antonio.
The Japanese Tea Garden is a garden landscape designed in a Japanese style. It features many decorative features, such as waterfalls, ponds filled with Koi fish, and stone bridges. You’ll have plenty of scenic overlooks over the garden.
The garden is free to enter and also a very popular photoshoot spot.
Tower of the Americas
Want to see the most spectacular view in San Antonio? Visit the Tower of the Americas for a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city.
Tower of the Americas is one of the best things to do in San Antonio. It’s a must-visit for all tourists. Located downtown, it was built as a landmark piece for the HemisFair World Fair in 1968. It has a height of 750-ft, making it the tallest building in San Antonio.
Take the elevator ride to the top to see 360-views from the observation deck. It also features a rotating restaurant and a 4D thrill ride.
San Antonio Museum of Art
Get ready to spend a few hours inside the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) because there are tons to see. It’s the only fine art museum in the city where you’ll see art from Latin America, the Mediterranean, Asian, European, and contemporary works.
SAMA has multiple levels to browse the exhibitions showcasing world-class artwork. Some of the pieces date back as far as 5,000 years.
One of the unique facts about the museum is that it is established in the building which formerly housed the Lone Star Brewery.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
Did you know that you can have an African safari experience right in San Antonio? The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is one of the best things to do in San Antonio that lets you see your favorite animals up close.
At Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, you get to drive through the safari. You encounter Africa’s famous animals right from the comfort of your car. The safari has more than 500 animals of 45 species. Some of the favorite animals include giraffes, ostriches, rhinos, and zebras.
The park has a six-mile-long drive-through area where you can even feed the animals!
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Spending the day at six Flags Fiesta Texas is one of the most fun things to do in San Antonio for all ages. From the thrill rides to the live shows, you’re in for a day full of fun!
Six Flags Fiesta Texas is the largest theme park in San Antonio, spanning 200 acres. You’ll have plenty of rides to choose from, including 10 roller coasters and a water park. Soar above the ground on the Superman: Krypton roller coast or take the long plunge on the high-speed Iron Rattler ride.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Four of the five prominent Spanish missions in San Antonio are preserved within the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The historical park is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to preserve its historical significance.
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a popular tourist attraction to explore history. Each mission represents an entire community established to promote Christianity to Native Americans back in the 18th Century.
Take a guided tour to see the preserved architecture of cathedrals, arches, and more. It’s a place with a rich historical legacy.
You’ll love walking around the historic Mexican-style architecture of the buildings in La Villita. The historic district was the first neighborhood established in San Antonio back in the 1700s. Today, it’s transformed into a historic arts village.
La Villita is one of the most charming places to visit in San Antonio, filled with art and creativity. The main block holds several art galleries, stores, gift shops, and more. You’ll get to see the work of local artisans and other unique items to pick up for souvenirs.
Natural Bridge Caverns
The Natural Bridge Caverns are the largest commercial cave system in Texas. It’s a state park that preserves one of the most impressive natural landmarks that you’ll see in San Antonio.
If you think that the namesake natural bridge at the cavern entrance is impressive, wait until you go inside of it. The attraction offers two different tours – the Discovery Tour and the Hidden Passages Tour.
You’ll get to see massive stalagmites hanging from the ceiling and explore secret passages winding throughout the cave system.
After the cave tour, stick around for the adventure course, which includes an exhilarating zip-line.
San Antonio Sea World
San Antonio Sea World is a must-visit attraction. It’s the largest marine park in the US that has something fun to do for all ages. The theme park is divided into different sections to see animals and ride roller coasters.
Experience marine life up close with large tank exhibits of your favorite animals, including dolphins, whales, and penguins. Be sure to check the schedule because you won’t want to miss one of the live shows.
Get your adrenaline pumping with marine-themed roller coaster rides like the Great White and Steel Eel.
San Antonio Botanical Garden
Regardless of the season you visit, the San Antonio Botanical Garden is always a beautiful sight to see. You’ll be amazed by the colorful flowers and creative design of the garden landscape.
The San Antonio Botanical Garden covers 38-acres with stunning plant life. Take the Texas Native Walk to see many plants native to Texas. It’s a tranquil setting with incredible views all around you.
The botanical garden also has a conservatory and a gift shop. Throughout the year, you might even find special events and art installations throughout the gardens.
San Antonio is home to the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. The five-time championship team continues to be a big-ticket attraction and pride of the locals. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to attend one of the high-energy games at the AT&T Center.
The AT&T Center is the home of the Spurs – it fits more than 18,000 fans. What a rush to be able to see the home crowd cheering for the team.
If there isn’t a game scheduled, you can still make reservations for a guided stadium tour to see behind the scenes.
Sunsets at Hays Street Bridge
Hays Street Bridge is an architectural wonder in San Antonio. It was formerly used as a railroad crossing but now offers one of the city’s best views.
You’ll see lots of people hanging out on the bridge and taking photos. It’s pedestrian-only and part of a cycling route. The most popular times to visit Hays Street Bridge are for sunrise and sunset. Not only does it have an incredible San Antonio skyline view, but you’ll get to take in the sights of the colorful sky as the backdrop.
San Fernando Cathedral Light Show
San Fernando Cathedral is the centerpiece of the Main Plaza in Downtown San Antonio. The gothic-style architecture is a stark contrast to the modern office buildings located in the district. It makes it a stand-out building that you’ll definitely need to check out.
The cathedral opened in 1750 and still holds active service. Visitors are more than welcome to peek inside to see the beautiful stained-glass windows and courtyard.
You’ll want to stop by on one of the nights where it holds a spectacular light show. The entire cathedral gets illuminated with a colorful light performance.
San Antonio Zoo
With over one million visitors every year, the San Antonio Zoo is one of the most visited tourist attractions in San Antonio. It welcomes visitors all year long to see animals from around the world.
The San Antonio Zoo is home to over 3,500 animals – it has over 750 different species. There are themed sections that represent different habitats. You’ll get to see popular animals such as elephants, lions, jaguars, alligators, and birds.
Prepare yourself for a lot of walking as you go from exhibit to exhibit. If you get tired, there’s always the fun train ride that goes around the zoo.
There are tons of things to do in San Antonio that we’ve only picked out the best of the best. You’d be surprised that even most locals have barely scratched the surface on tackling everything on this list.
These attractions and activities should definitely be on your itinerary, whether you have a couple of days visiting or living there. Let us know in the comments what is your favorite activity on the list of best things to do in San Antonio.