If all you remember is the Alamo, then you didn’t get out enough. With sizzling fajita platters, margarita meccas and mariachi music spilling from restaurants along the River Walk (which boasts a sophisticated new Museum Reach with modern art installations), let’s face it, it’s hard not to have a good time—and eat and drink to your Tex Mex heart’s content—in San Antonio.
Centrally located between the east and west coasts, San Antonio is one of the most frequently visited cities in the U.S. More than 26 million travelers come (and return) each year. The hundreds of hotels, restaurants, night spots and shopping options concentrated downtown, including along the River Walk below street level, secure its rank as a popular and convenient convention town. (Its 300 days of sunshine and average temp of 70 degrees don’t hurt, either.)
San Antonio is a playground for adults and kids, with endless options for fun. For little ones, there’s SeaWorld, Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Six Flags Fiesta Texas and the San Antonio Zoo (the third largest zoo in the country, it shelters more than 230 endangered species).
For adults, there’s amazing food with a profound sense of place, tequila tastings and the vibrant arts scene that makes San Antonio one of the most culturally fascinating cities in the U.S. You’ll get a hearty downtown along the meandering San Antonio River, which used to supply water to Native Americans and clergy in the old Spanish missions; today it’s the below street level pedestrian trail known as the River Walk, and one of the city’s most famous attractions. But be sure to venture further and stroll the historic King William District and San Antonio’s El Mercado shopping district (the largest Mexican market outside Mexico). Sophisticated and funky, San Antonio has recently been doing a particularly impressive job of honoring its past while ushering in a new era of innovation. Two former beer breweries are now a brilliantly designed shopping center and a striking art museum. A Catholic girls’ school from 1851 is now a bustling school for artists.
What you might not know is that the city is also surprisingly green (with 68 miles of urban hike and bike trails and more than 11,000 acres of urban parks, it’s considered one of the best and safest walking cities in America). There are also great spas (such as Mokara Hotel & Spa), top golf (try your hand at the toughest shot: Pecan Valley Golf Course, No. 18, Par 4, 418 yards), and great basketball—The San Antonio Spurs have won multiple NBA championships.