Though best known as the home of the Alamo – the symbol of Texas’s break from Mexico – San Antonio today is more defined by its integration of Anglo and Hispanic cultures. Using this cultural amalgamation to its economic advantage, San Antonio annually attracts 8 million tourists with a variety of sights and offerings. The region’s early Spanish influence can be seen in missions originally built to convert Indians to Catholicism and in La Villita, a village for the city’s original settlers and now a workshop for local artisans. Mexican culture is on display in Market Sq., where mariachi bands entertain weekend revelers. Visit one of San Antonio’s galleries for exquisite displays of Southwestern art. The blend of diverse cultures comes together in the eateries and shops of the vibrant Riverwalk.
Hilly San Antonio is both one of Toledo’s largest villages and the largest Mopan Maya community in the country. Founded in the late 1880s by refugees fleeing forced conscription in the neighboring Peten region of Guatemala in the late 1800s, the village retains a communal feel despite its size and scattered layout. The village’s large stone church, with stained glass windows and a heavy gray aesthetic, seems out of place here. On the road 0.7 miles west of town, the San Antonio Waterfall is a quiet spot for a cool dip beneath the 20ft. cascade.
Much of historic San Antonio lies in the present-day downtown and surrounding areas. The city may seem diffuse, but almost every major sight or park is within a few miles downtown and accessible by public transit.
Make the most of your time in San Antonio. We have narrowed down the sights of San Antonio to our top three favorites. Click the links to explore and book tours or local guides.
Expensive cafes and restaurants surround the Riverwalk. North of town, Asian restaurants open onto Broadway across from Brackenridge Park. On weekends, hundreds of carnival food booths crowd the walkways of Market Square. If you come late in the day, prices drop and vendors are willing to haggle.
From beef, to pork, to beef again, Texans like to throw it on the grill. Eat at any of the many barbecues joints, though, and they’ll tell you that the real secret’s in the sauce. For those in the mood for something ethnic, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, and fajitas are scrumptious Tex-Mex options.
In late April, the 10-day Fiesta San Antonio ushers in spring with concerts, carnivals, and plenty of Tex-Mex celebrations to commemorate the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas’s heroes, as well as the state’s diverse cultural landscape. The huge Battle of Flowers parade is a longstanding San Antonio tradition that began as a reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto, using ammunition of a more floral (and less dangerous) variety.
In the US, good table manners means quiet eating. Loud chewing, talking with food in your mouth, or slurping are seen as rude, and burping or flatulence is not seen as complementary to the chef. Servers at sitdown restaurants usually expect to be tipped 15-20%.
Dress in the US tends to be more modest than in Europe. Toplessness, particularly in women, should be avoided. Many establishments will require a customer to wear a shirt and shoes. The most acceptable forms of public affection are hugging and holding hands; kissing in public will usually draw some glances. Although most cities are tolerant of homosexuality, gay or lesbian couples should be aware that they may receive unwanted attention for public displays of affection, especially in rural areas. Also, note that many American will say “see you later” without really intending to make future plans.
One of the most offensive gestures in the US is extending your middle finger at someone. Known as “giving someone the finger,” this gesture is considered not only rude, but obscene. On the other hand, a “thumbs up” gesture is a sign of approval and a widely recognized signal for hitchhiking, which Let’s Go does not recommend.