The Alamo by night, San Antonio, Texas
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Built around the Alamo, the famous fort that withstood the onslaught of the Mexican troops for 13 days, San Antonio offers more historic architecture than cities like Dallas and Houston. A strong influence of Tejano (Spanish for "Texan", persons of Hispanic descent born and living in the state of Texas) gives the city an almost Latin American feel, especially in the mostly Tejano El Mercado market.
- Downtown is home to many districts including the Alamo District, Alamodome District, Central Business District, Convention Center District, Historic Civic District, Houston Street District, King William Historic District, La Villita District, Market Square District, North Downtown, North River District, River Bend District, SoSo (South of Southtown), Southtown, and the University District.
- The Central Business District is home to Rivercenter, anchored by Dillard's and Macy's. The five-level Art Deco Dillard's, at the corner of Alamo and Commerce streets, opened in 1887 as Joske's, and changed when Dillard's bought the Joske's chain in 1987. Today, Dillard's only occupies a fraction of the original building.
- Alamo Heights Alamo Heights is an affluent incorporated city that is surrounded by the City of San Antonio in Bexar County in the U.S. state of Texas. At the time of the 2000 U.S. Census, this city's population was 7,319, and 7,477 by 2009.
- Midtown/Brackenridge Park Bounded by Hildebrand Avenue to the north, Broadway to the east, I-10 to the west and I-35 to the south, Midtown features an assortment of neighborhoods ranging from the working class Beacon Hill to the up-and-coming Five Points to the established upper middle class Monte Vista. Each neighborhood has distinctive housing characteristics, from Victorian in Beacon Hill to French Eclectic, Neoclassical and Italian Renaissance in Monte Vista.
- Located between Alamo Heights and Downtown, Midtown is one of the most historic areas of metro San Antonio, home to Temple Beth-El, the Pearl Brewery, Trinity University, and neighborhoods such as Five Points, Tobin Hill, the Monte Vista Historic District, Alta Vista, Beacon Hill, University Hill, and Trinity Heights, Brackenridge Park, and the Japanese Tea Garden.
- Olmos Park Terrace - a neighborhood that was granted historic district status by the City of San Antonio in 2007, lies just north of Hildebrand next to the City of Olmos Park. It borders the districts of Midtown, Uptown Broadway, and Downtown.
- Uptown Central Uptown, officially Uptown Central, consists of a very large area separated into two large segments.
- Uptown Broadway is home to a concentrated area of "old money" bedroom communities. These communities are Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, Lincoln Heights, and Terrell Hills.
Sights and Activities
Originally built as a mission and called San Antonio de Valero, the small stucco building was dubbed the Alamo by the Spanish military who took the site over in the early 1800s after the units home town of Alamo de Parras. The site changed hands between the Spanish, rebels and finally Mexican militias throughout the early 1800s. In 1835, Texas rebels took over the Alamo from the Mexicans, but didn't hold the fort for long. In February of 1836, Santa Anna's army laid siege to the Alamo. The Texan revolutionaries held the Alamo from February 23rd until March 6th, When Santa Anna's forces stages a pre-dawn raid and took the compound.
Among the dead at the Alamo are famous names like James Bowie, David Crockett, and William B. Travis, and a few months later, General Sam Houston shouted "Remember the Alamo!" as it routed Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
The Alamo is open every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours of operation are 9:00am to 5:30pm Monday through Saturday and 10:00am to 5:30pm on Sunday. The Alamo remains open on Fridays and Saturdays until 7:00pm during the months of June, July and August. Admission to the Alamo is free.
The Alamo is located at 300 Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio, Texas. To Reach the Alamo from U.S. 281/Interstate 37 southbound, exit at Houston Street, turn right, and proceed three blocks to Avenue E, turn left and continue to the intersection of Houston and Alamo Plaza. From Interstate 37 northbound, exit at Commerce Street, turn left on Commerce and proceed ten blocks to Alamo Plaza, turn right and continue on one and one half blocks. Parking is available at several pay lots in the vicinity of the Alamo.
Built for flood control by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) after the Great Depression, the San Antonio River Walk (also known as Paseo del Rio) is a network of walkways around the San Antonio River linking several major attractions one story below street level downtown. Lined by bars, shops, restaurants, and an amphitheater, the River Walk is an important part of the city's urban fabric and the state's top tourist attraction.
In addition, there are a number of boat cruises and dinner cruises that ply their way along the river in San Antonio. Mexican music can often be heard played by musicians on the barges. The Riverwalk website has specific details on restaurants and bars in the area.
El Mercado (Market Square)
El Mercado is an indoor/outdoor market "patterned" (according to the San Antonio visitors bureau) after an authentic Mexican Market. Lots of bric-a-brac available, and many stalls and restaurants serving good food, cheap (and cold) beer and bands playing Spanish and Mexican music in the main building.
El Mercado is located Santa Rosa and Commerce streets, approximately 3 kilometres to the west from downtown. VIA Red, Purple and Yellow streetcars stop at Market Square and are available from early morning until late evening. Streetcars run throughout downtown and arrive every 10 minutes. The cost is just US$0.80 a ride with discounts for seniors, children, the mobility impaired and Medicare recipients. Check out the Marketsquare website for more details.
- Ride the rollercoasters at San Antonio's theme parks - SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme parks
- Catch a San Antonio Spurs basketball game at the Alamo dome. The Spurs are a NBA team.
Tower of the Americas - Observation tower in San Antonio, Texas. The Tower of the Americas is a 750-foot observation tower/restaurant on the southeastern fringe of Downtown San Antonio, Texas, USA Address: 739 East Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, San Antonio, TX 78205, Phone: (210) 223-3101
San Antonio Museum of Art - The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) is an art museum in Downtown San Antonio, Texas, USA. In the early 1970s, plans were initiated to purchase the historic Lone Star Brewery complex for conversion into the San Antonio Museum of Art and following a $7.2 million renovation, the San Antonio Museum of Art opened to the public in March 1981 Address: 200 W Jones Ave, San Antonio, TX 78215, Phone: (210) 978-8100
Fort Sam Houston - Fort Sam Houston is a U.S. Army post in San Antonio, Texas. Known colloquially as "Fort Sam," it is named for the first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston. Address: Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234, Phone: (210) 221-1211
Mission San José - Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo is a historic Catholic mission in San Antonio, Texas, USA. The mission was named in part for the Marquis de San Miguel de Aguayo, José de Azlor y Virto de Vera. Address: 6701 San Jose Dr, San Antonio, TX 78124, Phone: (210) 932-1001
Guadalupe River Tubing
- Tubing on the guadalupe river - canyon lake texas! River Sports Tubes is located on the famous Guadalupe. Address: FROM SAN ANTONIO: Take IH-35 North to New Braunfels, Texas. Take Exit 191: FM 306 (Canyon Lake) Approximately 14 miles on the right., Phone: 830-964-3800
Events and Festivals
In San Antonio during April, you can partake in Fiesta, an annual party celebrating Texas' "Independence and Diversity." The Fiesta includes a water parade, a unique parade of floats that actually float down the river along the river walk. In addition, there are bands and booths set up in downtown and in the Market area.
San Antonio's weather is alternately dry or humid depending on prevailing winds, turning hot in the summer, mild to cool winters subject to descending northern cold fronts in the winter with cool nights, and comfortably warm and rainy in the spring and fall. Only a few days with temperatures below zero (at night) occur each year and snow is very rare. Summers from June to September see average highs of 32-35 °C wiht nights in the 20-23 °C range. The absolute high is 44 °C! Winters from December to February have highs of around 17-20 °C with nights in the 4-6 °C range. Average annual precipitation is around 800 mm with May and June and again October being the wettest months with around 100 mm or a litte more.
San Antonio International Airport (SAT) has a decent number of flights. It mainly serves other US cities, though there are flights to Mexico City, Monterrey and Cancun as well.
The Sunset Limited operated by Amtrak travels between New Orleans and Los Angeles, stopping in San Antonio.
The Texas Eagle travels between Chicago and Los Angeles, stopping San Antonio. It continues three times a week to LA, but travels between Chicago and San Antonio every day.
San Antonio can be reached along the Interstate 10 (to El Paso, Phoenix and Los Angeles), Interstate 35 (south to Laredo, north to Austin, Dallas and into Oklahoma), and Interstate 37. Interstate 410 basically loops around the city.
Greyhound buses operate on a number of routes throughout Texas and beyond.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
By Public Transport
San Antonio's public transit is provided by VIA Metropolitan Transit. It operates buses and streetcars throughout San Antonio city and surroundings.
The Granary 'Cue and Brew - This chic warehouse of exposed brick and nostalgic wood panelling, opened in late 2012, is one of the architectural and culinary highlights of the emerging Pearl district. Slow-smoked beef brisket has long been the king of Texas barbecue, and the Granary's meltingly tender version (ask for it fatty) is easily the best version in town. House-made pastrami is another revelation. In keeping with the current urban American trend of fetishising the cuisine of the rural poor, there's a high-low theme to the more elaborate dinner menu: balled, deep-fried grits are sprinkled with "ham salt", while fried green tomatoes come fussied up with ranch dressing ice cream. Address: Pearl Brewery 602 Avenue A, Phone: (210) 228-0124
Mi Tierra Café y Panadería - With ceilings full of tinsel and piñatas and bands of mariachis patrolling the cavernous series of dining rooms, this is San Antonio's definitive Tex-Mex experience, 24 hours a day. There seems hardly a moment throughout the night when the place isn't packed. Cabrito (roast goat kid with a chilli-based gravy) is the quintessential order, but the classic Tex-Mex combination plates are great too: refried beans redolent of pork fat, rice cooked down in flavourful stock, homemade tortillas. Portions are huge. Expect a long wait on weekend afternoons, when the surrounding Market Square neighbourhood is at its most exuberant. Address: 218 Produce Row, Phone: (210) 225 1262
Chris Madrid's - Since the 1970s, swarms of locals, from hungry college students to businessmen, have come to devour cheeseburgers in this beloved mess hall. With or without bacon, they're a greasy American archetype: the bun is perfectly toasted, the cheese melts well over everything, the patty is indulgently big, and the whole thing is generally impossible to eat, so you'll feel a deep sense of accomplishment when you're done. Skip the more elaborate speciality burgers, which can get soggy from too many ingredients. Address: 1900 Blanco Road, Phone: (210) 735-3552
Dough Pizzeria Napoletana - The best pizzeria in San Antonio, and one of the best in Texas, is worth the 15-minute haul from downtown. Before opening the place, owner Doug Horn travelled to Naples to study with the world's best pizza makers, then imported an absurdly authentic pizza oven across the ocean to Texas. The taste is worth the trouble: the margherita is the classic test of a serious pizzeria, and Dough's is sensational. The daily special pizzas are no less impressive. The vibe is casual – best for lunch. Address: 6989 Blanco Road
The Esquire Tavern - This eternally popular cocktail bar is an unexpected dose of hipster Brooklyn in an otherwise tacky stretch of River Walk. So highly touted are the Esquire's throwback whiskey and mescal-based cocktails (and so over the top are its evocative wallpaper, stamped tin ceilings and 100ft-long wooden bar) that the food here is often overlooked. That's a mistake, as the kitchen serves subtly modern spins on classic American recipes: devilled eggs are studded with flowery pink peppercorns; fried fish and shrimp po' boy-style sandwiches pay homage to New Orleans, and for dessert how can you not order a fried apple pie? Address: 155 East Commerce Street, Phone: (210) 222-252
The Luxury - This refreshingly remote stretch of the River Walk, across from the San Antonio Museum of Art, has been dubbed "Midtown" (how original!) in an attempt to distance itself from the tourist-trap reputation of the downtown area. It seems to be working. However, the name of this place, along with its "haute cuisine" subtitle, is tongue in cheek: it's a corrugated metal sandwich shack, fashioned out of a shipping container and parked in a sandlot just off the river. There's good local beer and delicious upmarket sandwiches. Highlights include pulled pig, lamb souvlaki and a crispy fish bahn mi. Even the french fries are done just right. Address: 103 East Jones Avenue, Phone: (210) 354 2274
NAO at the Culinary Institute of America - The third and newest campus of the CIA – America's foremost cooking school, not the surveillance operation – launched in 2010 to much fanfare as the anchor of the Pearl district, thanks in large part to local philanthropist Kit Goldsbury. This being south Texas, the campus has a particular focus on Latin American cuisine, so the school's flagship student-run restaurant incorporates ingredients such as huitlacoche (Mexican corn fungus), aji amarillo (Peruvian hot pepper), and nopales (cactus strips) into classic French recipes. Portions are small given the mid-range prices, but the quality is consistent. Address: 312 Pearl Parkway, Phone: (210) 554 6484
Sandbar Fish House - In 2009, Andrew Weissman closed Le Rêve, the haute French restaurant that had put San Antonio onto America's culinary map. In the years since, Weissman's star has only grown, with the opening of several new establishments, of which Sandbar, in the Pearl Brewery complex, is arguably the best. It's not cheap, but prices are fair, portions are ample, and the maritime-themed dining room and picnic-tabled patio are wonderfully airy places to relax and eat. An unfussy menu pays homage to the seafood traditions of the Gulf coasts of Texas and Mexico. The absurdly creamy onion tart is perhaps San Antonio's best dish. Address: 200 East Grayson Street, Phone: (210) 212 2221
Schilo's Delicatessen - The most American food of all is German-American food, from hot dogs to hamburgers to deli sandwiches on simple, homemade breads. All are well prepared here. The ultra-traditional American mains (corned beef and cabbage) and simple sides (potato salad) are also worth trying for a taste of the past, and the homemade draught root beer is a prize. You might have to wait for a table during the busy lunch hours, especially on weekdays, but it's worth it: to walk in here is to travel back to the 1950s. Sitting at the old diner-style counter adds to the fun. Address: 424 East Commerce Street, Phone: (210) 223 6692
Rosario's - It's hard to go wrong with Mexican food in San Antonio (especially off the River Walk), but Rosario's has won legions of customers for its sophisticated atmosphere - high ceilings, colourful artwork, abundant light - reasonable prices and service which isn't the least bit pretentious. Avoid the overwrought dishes and anything with fruit, and stick to standards like enchilada. For a more upmarket version of the classic queso, try rajas de chile poblano con crema, a rich white pepper-and-onion dip. Address: 910 South Alamo Street, Phone: (210) 223 1806
Pat O'Brien's - Where the history of the Alamo meets the New Orleans Legend, Pat O'Brien's Bar and Restaurant and its famous Hurricane Specialty Drink! Address: 121 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, Phone: (210) 220-1076
Atomar Bar & Lounge - Bright and metallic greens, blues and yellows modernize the décor and make Atomar one of the more colorful places to eat and drink at on the San Antonio River Walk. A long curving bar in stainless steel, lounge chairs and post-modern art draw a down-to-earth yet trendy crowd that lives off overly colorful cocktails. Up the stairs Acenar restaurant serves up gourmet Tex-Mex, like the Bistec Avenar, a steak topped with sweetbread salsa ranchero with rice and beans - to demolish any hunger. After dinner, stick around the Atomar lounge to digest and ingest a few more drinks. http://www.acenar.com Address: 146 E. Houston St., San Antonio TX 78205, Phone: 210.222.2362
Dick's Last Resort - Features barbecue and steaks, with live music. Includes menu, event information, beer and wine list, and party packages. Address: 406 Navarro St., San Antonio TX 78205, Phone: (210) 224-0026
Durty Nelly's Irish Pub
- The concept of the San Antonio location came from Bill Hunter, the general manager of the Hilton Palacio del Rio in the 1970’s. After visiting the bar in Ireland, he returned to the Alamo City to convince Mr. Bartell Zachry to build the identical pub on what was then a seldom used corner of the hotel under the Market Street Bridge. The pub is designed in the tradition of the European style with two fireplaces, slate floors and stone walls. Since Durty Nelly’s doors first opened, this corner has become a hot spot on the Paseo del Rio. Address: 200 S. Alamo, San Antonio TX 78205, Phone: 210.222.1400
Esquire Tavern - Established in 1933, The Esquire Tavern is the oldest San Antonio Riverwalk bar. This quintessential downtown bar is sure to be a great time! Address: 155 E. Commerce St., San Antonio TX 78205, Phone: 210) 222-2521
Tex's Riverwalk Sports Bar
- Watch the game and enjoy your favorite brews, cocktails and burgers at Tex's River Walk Sports Bar! Address: 200 S. Alamo, San Antonio TX 78205, Phone: (210) 222-1400
V Bar - he juxtaposition of silvery curtains and silk pillows against rock walls make V Bar stand out among San Antonio bars as a low-key getaway for after work drinks or a night on the town. Young San Antonio businesspeople brush elbows with the seasoned businesspeople that fill the bar on the second floor of Hotel Valencia. Address: 150 E. Houston St., San Antonio TX 78205, Phone: (210) 227-9700
Zinc Champagne & Wine Bar - Classy folks who find the excitement on the San Antonio River Walk a little too intense only have to walk on over to Zinc Champagne & Wine Bar for a low-key, relaxing and equally fun time Address: 207 N Presa St, San Antonio, TX 78205, Phone: (210) 224 - 2900
Swig Martini Bar
- Located right on the beautiful San Antonio River Walk, Swig Martini Bar is a contemporary martini and cigar bar that provides customers a pleasant place to people watch or enjoy a drink. In addition to their martini menu, Swig also has a large selection of bottled beer, wine, champagne and premium liquors for drinking fanatics. Live jazz plays nightly at the South Bank establishment and can pack the San Antonio bar any night of the week. With the largest humidor on the River Walk, Swig allows the classiest of San Antonio to sit on the patio with a cigar and martini in hand and watch the people pass by. Address: 111 W. Crockett #205, San Antonio TX 78205, Phone: (210) 476 - 0005
- La Quinta Inn South Park - San Antonio's La Quinta Inn offers the amenities you've come to expect from one of the country's most popular hotel chains. Centrally located and just minutes from the Alamodome, Riverwalk and the shops and boutiques of downtown San Antonio, this no-nonsense hotel is perfect for travelers who don't want to sacrifice quality, and would rather spend their money on the real attractions: dining, dancing and shopping! 7202 S. Pan Am Expressway, San Antonio TX 78224 | 1.800.916.1436
- Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk - The Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk Hotel is a full service hotel with 313 Guest Rooms and 12 suites. This San Antonio hotel is walking distance to many San Antonio fabulous attractions including the Historic Alamo, Market Square, the Alamodome home of the San Antonio Spurs, River Center Mall, Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center, and Hemisphere Park and other great San Antonio attractions.
- Hotel Valencia Riverwalk - Located on the Riverwalk in the heart of San Antonio, the Hotel Valencia is an impressive choice among San Antonio hotels. Designer furnishings in the sleek, modern guestrooms combine with A-list amenities like flat-screen televisions, marble bathrooms, premium bedding, complimentary wired and wireless internet access, balconies and much more to offer a luxurious experience for both business and leisure travelers. Home to the popular Citrus restaurant and the ultra-sleek Vbar Lounge, the Hotel Valencia is in the heart of San Antonio’s dining, shopping and nightlife district. 150 E. Houston St., San Antonio TX 78205, Tel. 1.888.566.6860
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.