Being the eighth largest city in the United States, there is no shortage of fun things to do in San Antonio on a weekend trip. We’ve visited Alamo City twice now, and both times we have been blown away by the amazing and diverse things there are to do here.
From culture, food, history, and outdoor activities San Antonio’s got it all. If you’re visiting Alamo City for a weekend trip we’ve compiled our 13 top things to do in San Antonio so you can make the most of your trip.
1. Visit the San Antonio Missions
If you’re into history (like us) you’ll absolutely love visiting San Antonio’s five Missions. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a part of the National Parks Service.
The Alamo is by far the most famous mission to visit (which we’ll talk more about in a minute), but we recommend taking the time to explore the history of the missions in Texas at the other sites, too.
These missions were built by Franciscan Monks from Spain in the early to mid-1700s when Mexico still controlled the state of Texas. The goal was to convert the local natives to Catholicism and teach them European ways of living.
Entry to the five missions is free. If you’re headed there in summer we recommend driving to each mission. However, if you’re visiting San Antonio during more favorable weather (spring or fall) you can ride a bike or walk the 5-mile Missions trail between each.
Don’t have time to visit all five? Learn about each of the five missions here to see which one would be best to visit.
2. Go up the Tower of the Americas
The Tower of the Americas is a 750-foot tall (~229 meters) tower located in Hemisfair Park in downtown San Antonio. This space-needle-like tower has a rotating restaurant, observation area, and bar at the top.
If you want a great sunset view this is definitely the spot to come to. The observation area is glass, giving you a 360-panoramic view of San Antonio.
Tickets are required for entry. You can purchase your tickets ($16 at the time of this writing), or if preferred you can take a tour which will include a visit to the top as a part of a package deal.
3. Discover the History of the Alamo
The Alamo was the first of the five missions in San Antonio, Texas. It’s also the most well-known mission thanks to the epic battle of the Alamo that happened during the Texas Revolution. Located in the heart of downtown it’s a must-visit destination for a weekend trip to San Antonio.
Like the other missions, it’s completely free to visit the Alamo. However, if you want to enter the church (the facade most people think of when they hear the Alamo), you’ll need a timed ticket for entry. You can get these free tickets at the Visitor Center, kiosk outside, or reserve them online before arriving. Entry to the church is every 15 minutes.
There are tons of placks on the outskirts of the Alamo sharing the history of this site and the importance it played in San Antonio over the last 300 years.
Expect to spend around 2 to 4 hours here exploring the grounds. And don’t miss the free video about the battle of the Alamo in the long barracks. It’s super informative and great for those who don’t want to read to learn the history.
4. Relax or take a stroll in Hemisfair Park
Hemisfair Park is where the 1968 World Fair was held Located about a 5-minute walk from the Alamo in the downtown core, it’s the perfect place to stop for a drink, paleta, or lunch. This is where you’ll find the Tower of the Americas along with lovely shady walking paths, fantastic shops, playgrounds, a splash pad, sand pit, and lots of outdoor space for relaxing.
If you’re coming to San Antonio with kids an afternoon in Hemisfair Park is highly recommended. At the end of the park, you’ll find Dough Pizzeria (a must-visit on a trip to San Antonio). You can also cool down with a delicious paleta (popsicle) from Paleteria San Antonio or a beer from the new brewery Künstler Taphouse next door.
5. Walk along the San Antonio River Walk
Rounding off the downtown activities is a walk along the San Antonio River Walk. The River Walk is by far one of the top things to do in San Antonio. Yes, it’s super touristy (something we often try to avoid when visiting a new place), but is still a must-do activity.
The River Walk as we know it today was created by architect Robert Hugman in the mid-1900s. He hoped to create a little Venice in San Antonio while controlling the San Antonio River water that often flooded the city after heavy rains.
His vision took decades to create, but his goal was accomplished. It truly is magical to walk the narrow pathways lined with flowers, bright umbrellas, twinkling lights in the trees, restaurants, and shops, while colorful boats pass by.
The downtown area is where you’ll see the iconic shots most people take of the River Walk. But the River Walk continues for nearly 15 miles.
6. Visit the Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden is a hidden oasis in San Antonio’s Brackenridge Park. This once-abandoned quarry is now an 11-acre garden with waterfalls, koi ponds, and beautiful Japanese landscaping.
The park has a controversial past. The Japanese artist Kimi Eizo Jingu who resided on the property in the early 1900s was kicked out during a period of anti-Japanese propaganda in WWII. You can learn about the Jingu family and other Chinese and Japanese influences on San Antonio at the park.
It’s totally free to visit this park and is such a tranquil getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
7. Go for a bike ride down the River Walk
San Antonio’s River Walk isn’t just a beautiful tree and flower-lined walkway in the downtown core. On the outskirts of the city, it’s more of a walking and biking path that runs along the river. It’s where you’ll find most locals getting some exercise and spending time in nature.
We highly recommend going for a walk along the River Walk or even renting bikes to see different parts of the city. You can access the five San Antonio missions this way!
8. Visit one of San Antonio’s many art museums
San Antonio takes their art seriously. The city is home to over seven different art museums. The largest and most popular art museum is the San Antonio Museum of Art. This massive museum along the River Walk has over 30,000 pieces on display spanning 5,000 years of history. Tickets to this museum range from $10 to $20 depending on your age or qualifying discounts.
The Witte Museum is a popular museum for families. This part science, part art, and history museum has interactive displays, dinosaur exhibits, art, and photography on display.
We personally spent time at the McNay Modern Art Museum which is located in an historic mansion. Entry ranges from $15 to $20 depending on your available discounts. But if you plan your trip carefully you can get in for free. Every Thursday and the first Sunday of the month you can visit the museum at no cost! We loved the variety of art they had on display, from Western paintings to modern art, and spent several hours perusing.
9. Hang out at the Pearl
No weekend trip to San Antonio would be complete without a trip to the Pearl. The Pearl Brewery is one of San Antonio’s top attractions. Don’t let its name fool you. The Pearl is not an active brewery today (although, you can get beers from the Southerleigh restaurant there).
This historic brewery named San Antonio Brewing Company dates back to 1883. It eventually grew to be the largest in all of Texas in its heyday. The San Antonio Brewing Company survived for over 200 years before PBR bought the property and closed its doors in the early 2000s.
The property sat vacant for a short period and was purchased by developers who revived the grounds and turned it into a fantastic mixed-use property. Today visitors will find apartments, a hotel, a dining hall, bars, and tons of restaurants and shops here. It’s a great place to spend a day or afternoon and has plenty of open space (and a splash pad) for kids to run around.
10. Eat incredible food
We absolutely love getting to know an area through its food scene. And San Antonio did not disappoint. We had the most incredible meals every time we went out to eat and still had a ton of places we would have liked to dine at.
Make sure to carve out time to enjoy the wide variety of cuisines offered here and check out our 13 favorite spots to eat at in San Antonio right now in this blog post.
11. Explore Natural Bridge Caverns
A roughly 40-minute drive outside of the city, visitors can a massive underground cave system at Natural Bridge Caverns. This cave was discovered in 1960 and is still being explored by cave specialists. Inside you can walk along a 60 ft natural limestone bridge.
If you’ve never been inside a massive cave system like this, I highly recommend it. We explored caves in Kentucky and Tennessee and loved the experience. Natural Bridge Caverns looks just as magical. And it’s especially cool knowing they are discovering rooms and passages all the time (including 7,500-year-old bat roosts).
Ticket prices will change depending on the day you’re visiting but expect to spend $26 to $36 dollars per person to visit.
12. Learn about San Antonio’s history at the Saga
In 2023 and part of 2024, visitors can learn about the history of San Antonio through a special light show called The Saga. It’s a 24-minute, 7,000-square-foot video and art installation that is projected onto the historic San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio.
There is no fee to attend, and the show starts after sundown on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This place gets packed (especially on the weekends) so get there early to get a good seat. There will be food vendors around service things like elote, hot dogs, and other treats.
13. Visit Historic Market Square
Historic Market Square is famous for being the largest outdoor Mexican market found outside of Mexico. This market has rows and rows of vendors with colorful papel picado (the banners you see hanging). We’ve spent over a year and a half traveling through Mexico, and can’t say this is the most authentic market we’ve ever been to.
But for those who have never visited Mexico this is a unique place to visit. However, if you visit during Fiesta in spring or Dia de Muertos in fall you will likely experience a much more authentic experience!
Hopefully, this list of the top things to do in San Antonio has given you loads of ideas on how to make the most of a weekend trip here. Please share any of your recommended activities in the city, or if this blog post helped you.