One day in San Antonio Itinerary for History-Culture lovers
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hotels.com to bring forth some of the stunning wanderlust destinations in the USA. As always the opinions and ideas are my own.
Located in the state of Texas, bordered by Mexico and Austin, is the historic city of San Antonio. It is one of the popular destinations in the United States for a weekend getaway. In this one day in San Antonio itinerary, we will explore the iconic attractions in the city from the Alamo, Mission sites, museums to market square and RiverWalk cruises – all in a day!
One day in San Antonio Itinerary for history & culture lovers
Note: As travel, today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. Things are changing by the minute, so check the official website for guidelines, current services, and latest closures.
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Getting to San Antonio TX
San Antonio is served by the San Antonio International Airport. If flying internationally, you will have a few connections (1-2) before landing in the city. From Southwest Airlines, Delta, United to American Airlines flights, you will find something that will suit your schedule.
From the airport, you can hop on the VIA Metropolitan Transit bus to get to the downtown area. Public transportation takes about 30 minutes, and costs $1.30 USD.
If you are not renting a car for the day, opt for a Day Pass for $2.75, where you get unlimited rides for 24 hours.
Weather-wise, the best time to visit San Antonio is from November to April. It is considered an offseason, where the weather is mild and comfortable, and the hotel rates are lower.
San Antonio Tours
- Hop on and Hop off Tour 24 hour sightseeing pass
- Full day guided tour of San Antonio with lunch
- Half day guided tour of San Antonio
Sightseeing Map: One Day in San Antonio Itinerary
Start at Downtown San Antonio
Downtown San Antonio is a bustling commercial, historical and leisure district. The neighbourhood gets its charm and character from the colorful cafes and bars that line up the popular RiverWalk.
San Antonio has a lot of historical significance. Its history can be traced back to the Spanish explorers. The city is named after Saint Anthony of Padua.
From downtown, you can easily get to the Spanish heritage sites in San Antonio including taking a guided tour of the Alamo.
Admire the San Fernando Cathedral
San Fernando De Bexar Cathedral is the historic cathedral in San Antonio. It is located in the downtown area, facing the city’s Main Plaza. The cathedral played an important role in the Battle of the Alamo.
Visit the Alamo
The Alamo is an 18th-century Spanish mission and is one of the most iconic (and most visited) heritage sites in San Antonio. It was originally known as the Misión San Antonio de Valero, with the mission and the fortress complex founded by Roman Catholic missionaries. Today is a museum and a great place to learn about the 1836 battle for Texas independence.
To completely explore all of the museum exhibits, set aside one hour. You can also join a guided sightseeing tour of the Alamo Complex.
Explore attractions near the Alamo: Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure
Located right across the street from the Alamo are Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. If you have never been to a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum, you can visit the one here in San Antonio. The museum showcases recounts of bizarre events, and all things wild and weird items on display.
Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, on the other hand, is a haunted house experience with live actors and special effects, that is SCARY! We have only been to one – and no, I am not a fan! Too scary for me, and the music just lingers on for hours after I had left the haunted house.
Explore San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Anyhow, let’s move on to more things history related. Just like the Alamo, there are four more historic missions in San Antonio.
They are Mission Concepción, Mission San Jose, Mission Espada, and Mission San Juan Capistrano. Together they make up San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
You might be wondering why there are so many missions in San Antonio – like a total of five missions. The missions were established primarily to expand Spanish New World influence northward from Mexico.
Today, you can visit all of the five missions along the San Antonio River that were established in the 18th century. And these became the largest concentration of Catholic missions in the whole of North America. The missions also served to introduce native inhabitants into Spanish society.
There is a lot of history and culture in these sites. Mission San Jose interiors are beautiful, and it was recently restored, bringing the grand Spanish designs into perfection.
Then there is the Mission Espada, which is home to a 270-year-old irrigation system complete with a dam and aqueduct. Mission San Juan Capistrano, was founded in 1731 by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order. It still holds regular church services.
The Missions National Park visitor center also has books and souvenirs that you can check out.
Hang out at Market Square
Market Square in San Antonio is the largest Mexican market in the country. This is an amazing spot to spend the afternoon, eating Mexican food, checking out colorful quarters, shops and buying souvenirs to take back home.
Stop at the Market Square for lunch!
Visit San Antonio Museum of Art – SAMA
The San Antonio Museum of Art is an art museum in Downtown. It is located close to the RiverWalk, so you can hangout in the area after a visit to SAMA. The museum is home to rich collections spanning over 5,000 years.
The Museum is housed in the historic site of a 19th century brewery. Today it conducts more than 500 guided tours, and provides approximately 580 public programs every year.
You can reach SAMA via bus, car (parking is available), or on GoRio riverboats and taxis. Or you can embark on a sightseeing river cruise after exploring the museum.
The museum is closed on Mondays, and opens at 10:00 am on all other days, and closes at 5:00 pm (except for Tuesdays and Fridays when it is open till 07:00 pm).
Enjoy sightseeing cruise in a RiverTaxi
One of the fun ways to explore San Antonio is by a sightseeing cruise in a RiverTaxi on the San Antonio River. The Riverwalk connects all the historic attractions in the city, and with a cruise, you can just relax and enjoy the vibrant ambience of San Antonio historic centre.
Alternatively, you can also hop on a vintage bus or trolley to explore the city. The options are endless!
Chill out at the River Walk
After a day filled with history, sightseeing, and cruises, finish your one day in San Antonio itinerary by hanging out at a RiverWalk cafe. If you fancy a walk, go for it. The King William Historic District, located south of downtown is perfect for that. And after the walk, eat Tex Mex, or European food in the heart of San Antonio.
Other attractions for San Antonio one day itinerary
San Antonio is an amazing USA destination to learn about Texan Cultures and understand the early life in the southwest. If you have additional time on your hand, or wish to swap out some of the recommendations above, here are some options
- Natural Bridge Caverns rock formations – Located 30 minutes drive away from San Antonio downtown are the Natural Bridge Caverns, one of a kind in the USA. Inside the cave are unique rock formations that you can explore. You can join a 75 minute guided tour of the cave.
- Botanical Gardens – San Antonio Botanical Garden is the city’s official botanical garden. All of 33-acres, the gardens are a beautiful oasis and lovely to explore in the afternoon. Great for photography as well! There is a Japanese Garden in the city too.
- Witte Museum for kids – This is a fun spot for kids to learn about the history of Texas from prehistory to the present times. This museum is located in Brackenridge Park.
- Tower of Americas – Tower of the Americas watched over the downtown area in San Antonio. It is iconic to the cityscape and was originally built for the 1968 World’s Fair. The tower is a 750-foot tall observation tower, with a restaurant. It is located in the Hemisfair district on the southeastern portion of Downtown San Antonio.
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas – Amusement Park in San Antonio
San Antonio is an amazing city break for the entire family. There is something for everybody. Home to the oldest church in Texas, and the most visited city in the state, we highly recommend adding San Antonio to your USA bucket list.
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