Though often overshadowed by Texas’ more cosmopolitan urban areas such as Dallas and Austin,
San Antonio offers an array of history and culture that brings to life the vibrant spirit of the Lone Star State. As soon as you take in San Antonio, you will realize that overall, Texas has its own unique culture. Like they say, Texas indeed is like a whole other country. San Antonio maintains its heritage in the heart of downtown. Texans are proud of their legacy, and San Antonio is no exception to that.
An hour south of Austin, San Antonio is situated between the Texas Hill Country and the Rio Grande
Valley. Many people new to Texas do not realize that with over a million residents, San Antonio
is the ninth largest city in the nation. However, anyone from here can tell you that in spite of that, the city still maintains a small-town feel. Citizens may attribute this to the smoothly flowing traffic, quiet neighborhoods and the sense of Southern hospitality characteristic to all of Texas.
Upon visiting San Antonio, you will soon learn that this city is rich in cultural diversity. The city has major German, Mexican and African-American influence, as well as other cultures. If you’re interested in the cultural influences of San Antonio, the Institute of Texan Cultures downtown is the perfect place to begin. Opened in 1968 as the Texas Pavilion, the Institute of Texan Cultures was initially an exhibit for the World’s Fair. Today the museum contains more than 50,000 square feet of exhibits.
Photo ops abound in the colorful, lively heart of San Antonio. Within a mile’s radius you can find shopping, history, and architectural wonder with the Rivercenter Mall, the Alamo, and the Tower of the Americas. Located in
HemisFair Park, the newly renovated Tower of the is a memento of the 1968 World’s Fair and an attraction that natives and tourists alike enjoy. The 605-foot tower has an observation deck and a revolving restaurant.
A trip to the world-famous Riverwalk downtown provides visitors with a unique tourist experience. The holiday season is the perfect time to visit – lights adorn the trees, bridges, and buildings on the banks to an extent that puts the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center to shame. No matter the season, though, no trip downtown is complete without a ride down the river. Rio San Antonio Cruises condenses over 300 years of heritage into a 30-minute tour. Natives often visit the Riverwalk time and time again for the opportunity to take home with them a new bit of knowledge of the city’s background. The tour provides a brief overview of the city’s history and visits the sites talked about. Each tour guide has something new to share, which appeals to natives that enjoy a trip downtown every once in a while. On one ride you may learn about the hotel that was picked up in its entirety and moved two blocks, and on the next one you may hear about the year-round festivities downtown, which will probably inspire a more leisurely visit to San Antonio in the future.
The major landmarks of San Antonio illustrate the evolution of the city from a small Catholic mission to a flourishing metropolis. From the Alamo to the Tower of the Americas , San Antonio manages to hold true to tradition while allowing the city to prosper as an inviting city to tourists as well as a place that the natives can proudly call home.