The Alamo City has a lot going on. But there are 10 San Antonio musts everyone needs to add to their calendars. Whether it’s hitting the rodeo or enjoying the latest on the food scene, don’t miss these 10 San Antonio musts, and remember why you love calling the 210 home.
1. San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo
San Antonio has been the home of cowboys since cattle drives moved through the city, stopping on the banks of the San Antonio River to rest as they made their way north from Mexico. So of course we’re home to one of the top Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeos in the nation. Put the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo on your calendar, follow our tips, have some family fun, and make it an annual tradition.
Fiesta has its haters or at least some who aren’t into it, but it’s hard not to get swept up into all.the.things. when everyone in town is wearing medals and crackin’ cascarones for 10 straight days.
Follow these tips, check out our guide for everything from how to make your own wreath to what to do with your medals after Fiesta’s over, and check out at least one Fiesta event this year.
San Antonio is known for its culture and that includes an array of world-class museums, all of which offer free hours for you to explore. Whether you’re into art, natural history, firefighting, or really cool tech, you’ll find a San Antonio must you’ll want to explore with your family. Visit the Briscoe Western Art Museum to find out more about how the West starts here in San Antonio. Go to the Witte to see dinosaurs and animals that call Texas home. See Monet and more at the McNay. Dive into 5,000 years of art and culture at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Geek out over the tech at SAMSAT. Roam Chris Park at Ruby City. Hit them all or pick just one—you won’t regret it.
From the glorious Majestic Theatre and its sister Empire Theatre, true gems saved and restored by the Las Casas Foundation, to the magic of seeing a show with your kids at the Magik Theatre, San Antonio is rich with theaters that host amazing touring shows and theater companies that put on fantastic productions. Of course, there’s the Tobin Center (with touring shows, concerts, and more), Magik offers productions geared to kids, and the Children’s Ballet of San Antonio features talented San Antonio dancers in beautiful productions. Enjoy theater as a family or have a great date night at the Public Theater of San Antonio, the Classic Theatre, Jump-Start Performance Company, and more. Whether it’s a play or a concert, get out and enjoy!
5. Shop Local
It’s really easy to click and shop online, but don’t overlook all of the terrific locally-owned shops we have in San Antonio. Downtown, enjoy La Villita. Hit the Pearl. Visit Sunset & Co and the other shops in Sunset Ridge. Pop into a local museum and shop their gift shop. (The Hendler Family Museum Store at the Briscoe and SAMA have things you won’t find anywhere else.) Check out the shops at Broadway News (2202 Broadway) and buy your books at the Twig or Nowhere Bookshop. Visit one of the many markets we have in town (SoFlo, Alamo Heights Farmers Market) and BUY LOCAL. Go a little west and shop the amazing stores in Boerne, but spend your money in person, or on a local website.
6. River Parades
Very few cities can lay claim to floating parades. The parades are free fun (unless you buy a seat for big events like Fiesta’s Texas Cavaliers River Parade or the annual holiday parade where Santa floats into the Alamo City), family-friendly, and a good way to enjoy one of our city’s top attractions. Check out the Mardi Gras parade, the St. Patrick’s Day parade (where you can also see the river dyed green with an eco-friendly dye), the Armed Forces parade, or the new Pride parade. And don’t miss Santa (that parade is the Friday night of Thanksgiving weekend) and of course, the Cavaliers parade.
Psst… San Antonio’s downtown scene is NOT JUST FOR TOURISTS. Yes, I’m yelling that for those in the back who are shaking their head. Check out all of the fun you can explore downtown. Take the kids to enjoy Hemisfair or check out public art thanks to the maps of Centro’s Art Everywhere and the city’s terrific map (and bookmark this guide to some of our favorites). Roam the River Walk, and visit some of the great museums that call downtown home (the Briscoe, SAMA, the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, and yes, the Alamo). Shop at La Villita. There’s so much to see, great restaurants to enjoy, and things for the kids like LEGOLAND Discovery Center and SeaLife San Antonio.
Not sure where to park? Check out all of the city-owned lots and garages here, which includes this interactive map and an app you can download to make it even easier! Pay for parking with your phone, get alerts before your session expires, or extend your session remotely. DO IT!
8. The Missions
The only UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site in Texas, the San Antonio Missions are a true treasure. Mission Espada, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan, Mission San Jose, and the Alamo are included in the World Heritage Designation, while the first four form the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. You can hike, bike, or walk between them all. They are definitely a San Antonio must—something you can enjoy any time of the year.
9. Eat Local
The Missions are not San Antonio’s only UNESCO claim. The city was named a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2017. We’re only the second city in the U.S. to get the recognition, highlighting the confluence of cultures that make up the fantastic food we get to enjoy here. No matter what the cuisine, you can find it in San Antonio. There are neighborhood restaurants to treasure, hot new spots opening every week, and food trucks on every corner. Make it a point to try somewhere you haven’t been and if it’s great, tell other people to go. The only way to keep the fantastic flavors going is to support them. Put San Antonio Restaurant Weeks on your calendar (January and August), venture to a food event (San Antonio Coffee Festival, Paella Challenge, San Antonio Flavor, and more), and make it a point to hit a new-to-you spot with friends, or for a fun date night.
10. Donate Local
The last few years have been hard for so many. If you can give, give money to help your fellow San Antonians. Not sure what you can do? It’s not all about money. Give blood, give your time, give your support by spotlighting a cause that is close to your heart. Check out our list of how you can support San Antonio and give back in a way that works for your family. We also have a list of nonprofits that support families in need and how you can help during the holiday season. Supporting our community is definitely a San Antonio must and connects us all. And we promise you will enjoy the feeling of helping others.
What other San Antonio musts are there? Tell us what we should add to the list!