Looking for the best place to soak up the charm of the River City? Drift away into the magic of Downtown San Antonio. Thanks to its historic landmarks and heavenly scenery, San Antonio’s city center has evolved into a creative haven full of special experiences.
The centerpiece of Downtown San Antonio is the San Antonio River Walk, a pretty area full of unique shops, museums, and restaurants. Make sure to stop in La Villita Historical Village for extra artisan stores and adorable architecture.
Leave creative spirits at the impressive San Antonio Museum of Art or the eclectic Hopscotch San Antonio. History lovers can get their fix at the San Fernando Cathedral and The Alamo, both defining landmarks for the city.
Ready to discover true Texas delights? Delve into this vibrant neighborhood with our guide to Downtown San Antonio. It’ll take you on a journey through what to see & do, the coolest places to eat & drink, and where to stay.
Why Treksplorer? Founded in 2011 by Ryan O’Rourke, Treksplorer provides travel recommendations and advice to millions of readers every year. Our content is rooted in our writers’ firsthand experiences, in-depth research, and/or collaborations with other experts and locals. Read more about our editorial policy.
What to see & do in Downtown San Antonio
Get a big slice of San Antonio history at The Alamo. This 18th-century Spanish mission and fortress played a huge role in the Texas Revolution. Even if you’ve only got one day in San Antonio, be sure to step inside this UNESCO complex to learn about the history of the buildings and the Battle of the Alamo.
The ornate facade is a window back in time. Enter a world of cool limestone corridors and intricate courtyards. The exhibitions throughout The Alamo will give you an idea of what happened there. There’s also a small theatre showing an informative film. But to get a richer insight into the history of the compound, you can also take a guided tour.
You can see The Alamo Church before you step into the compound, but it appears much smaller from the inside. The cozy space branches into different rooms like the confessional and baptistery. Step into the Convento Garden, where a looming tree sprawls over a large well.
San Antonio River Walk
The pretty San Antonio River Walk is an idyllic spot to soak up the city’s artisan side. The 15-mile-long network of walkways snakes along the San Antonio River. This creative hub is full of photogenic scenery, riverside dining, and unique shopping.
Budding artists will find overwhelming inspiration at the San Antonio River Walk. As well as picturesque sights at every turn, the area is home to some of the city’s top art museums. Spend hours browsing the Briscoe Western Art Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art.
Jump into the personality of the San Antonio River Walk with a stop at the Pearl Brewery. This converted brewery is an emporium of shopping and dining opportunities. Browse the farmers market, pick up funky home decor, and buy thoughtful gifts.
The historic setting and creative buzz attract top restaurants to the San Antonio River Walk. Enjoy upscale cuisine on the stunning patio of Domingo Restaurant or feast on trendy Tex-Mex at Boudro’s on the River Walk.
Jazz up your San Antonio trip with a show at the Majestic Theatre. This historic landmark has stood since 1929. It was the first ever building in Texas to have air conditioning, and, today, is one of the top performing arts venues in the city.
The spectacular Majestic Theatre is guaranteed to give you an atmospheric show. The stunning Spanish revival style architecture is a visual delight, and the elaborate decor will transport you to a world of grand castles and spires. Seating for up to 2,264 people is surrounded by spiraling balconies drizzled in gold and rests under a sparkling night sky.
You’ll find a fabulous choice of shows on offer at the Majestic Theatre. Marvel at the elegance of dance, or laugh your heart out to the latest comedian. With shiny Broadway shows and incredible concerts, there are tickets on sale guaranteed to grab your attention.
San Antonio Museum of Art
The San Antonio Museum of Art captures the artistic soul of the city. Travel across the world as you jump into 5,000 years of art. On your journey, you can fly away to Japan as you unpick intricate weaving techniques or head back in time and admire the ceramics left from Ancient Rome.
One of San Antonio’s must-see museums, the San Antonio Museum of Art has a rich history. It’s located in the former Lone Star brewery building from 1884. By combining its period industrial features with sleek modern design, the museum’s building creates a beautiful frame for four floors of exhibitions.
Permanent and rotating exhibits take you on a tour around the world. As well as an extensive American art collection, there’s an entire wing dedicated to pieces from across Asia. These aren’t just pretty pictures: Some are important artifacts and items with incredible cultural significance.
La Villita Historical Village
Located on the south bank of the San Antonio River, La Villita Historic Village was the first place in San Antonio to snag a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Architecture lovers can lose themselves in dreamy adobe, Victorian, and Texas limestone buildings, while shopaholics can get stuck into unique stores that’ll give their credit cards a workout.
Winding lanes and mossy bridges set a peaceful tone at La Villita Historic Village as the River Walk boat tours drift past. It’s not surprising that such a pretty setting has pulled in local artists and makers. Support 254 artists from surrounding communities by buying pieces from River Art Gallery.
Stroll through courtyards and plazas as you browse the elegant stores selling handcrafted trinkets. La Villita Historical Village is home to independent stores and boutiques selling homewares, soaps, and one-of-a-kind accessories.
Hopscotch San Antonio
Whether you love art, like snapping fun vacation photos, or just want a unique San Antonio experience, Hopscotch San Antonio is a great stop on your visit to Downtown San Antonio. Immersive and interactive exhibits throw you into a world of light and color. It’s brought artists together and encouraged them to show off their work in a creative and sustainable environment.
Ignite your imagination as you make your way through Hopscotch San Antonio, a kaleidoscope of color and creativity. Lay back in a luminous ball pit, test your mind with optical illusions, and get lost in the rainbow cave. The multi-sensory adventure will challenge your perceptions of reality, allowing you to manipulate light or confess your darkest secrets.
With tasty cocktails and a food truck on-site, you can squeeze a whole afternoon of fun out of this curated art space.
San Fernando Cathedral
If you’re into history and architecture, San Fernando Cathedral is one of San Antonio’s must-visit attractions. Founded in 1731, it’s the oldest cathedral in Texas and one of the oldest still-functioning cathedrals in the US. The cathedral’s distinctive Spanish Colonial and French Gothic architecture makes it a standout landmark in the city.
Towering over the Main Plaza, San Fernando Cathedral’s imposing facade is an intricate web of columns and spires. Step into the huge archways of this Catholic church and enter a serene environment for worship and contemplation. Steal a moment to take in the awe-inspiring design, or light a candle and reflect.
In the evenings, you can spill onto Main Plaza and watch a mind-defying light show projected on the San Fernando Cathedral. The artist, Xavier de Richemont, illuminates the building with important moments that defined the heritage of San Antonio, Texas, and the United States.
Soak up local life at Hemisfair Park. This laid-back green space has some important San Antonio points of interest and is a vibrant community hub. With great outdoor activities and beautiful gardens, the park offers a great excuse for the whole family to get some fresh air.
During your visit to Hemisfair Park, why not visit the Tower of the Americas Observation Tower? The observation deck dishes out sweeping views of the city from a dizzying height of 750 feet. You can also enjoy a sky-high dinner at the onsite restaurant.
Hemisfair Park is an instant mood booster, with funky artwork and outdoor fun. Take the kids to the playground or challenge them to a game of ping pong. With cornhole, foosball, and outdoor chess on offer, there’s something to keep everybody entertained no matter what time of year you visit San Antonio.
If you’re there alone, don’t worry: You can hang out with the giant mosaic panther!
Where to eat & drink
Downtown San Antonio has a great knack for mixing the old and the new. Whether that’s weaving classic cuisine with refined elegance or combining historic buildings with modern cocktails, you’ll find endless opportunities to treat yourself here.
Ever thought you could combine German and Texan food? Schilo’s German-Texan Restaurant has given it a go. It’s the oldest restaurant in San Antonio and is set in a charming 19th-century building. Sip their famous root beer alongside delicious deli classics.
It’s hard to say what the bigger attraction is at Boudro’s on the River Walk: its tasty Tex-Mex menu or its leafy riverside patio. Settle down at the riverfront and order their guacamole; it’s a must-try!
Get your Cajun food fix at Bourbon Street Seafood Kitchen Downtown. The modern seafood restaurant is a local favorite, delivering delicious dishes and funky cocktails in a pretty riverside location.
For a chic dining experience in downtown, set your sights on Biga. This fine dining restaurant serves elegant New American cuisine among eclectic decor.
Step into the 1800s at The Esquire Tavern. Surrounded by antiques and the longest wooden bar top in Texas, sip on vintage-style cocktails and browse the refined wine list.
Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub has a long and colorful history. The original has been serving up great beers and hearty fun in Ireland since 1620. This popular Texas branch has been a staple in San Antonio for over 50 years.
Let go of your troubles in the outdoor wonderland of Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen. Whimsical decor and fun events make it one of the most memorable bars in Downtown San Antonio.
Grab a bucket and start the party at Howl at the Moon San Antonio. Dance into the early hours to live music and high-energy performances.
Where to stay
As it’s the heart of the city, Downtown is one of the most popular areas to stay in San Antonio. A wide variety of accommodations peppers the area, with most hotels ranging from the mid-range to luxury price points.
Just a stone’s throw from the San Antonio River, this stylish hotel mixes quirky architecture with modern decor. Dine at the stunning open-air Domingo Restaurant or take in the dreamy downtown architecture from your private balcony. The colorful terrace bar overlooking the river serves up ultimate Mediterranean vibes.
This grand hotel was once the Alamo National Bank. Savor the elegance of preserved period features while basking in luxurious modern touches. Take in the San Antonio skyline from the rooftop pool area with two whirlpools. Evening social events include complimentary food and drink. Or stop by the mezzanine for free popcorn and soda.
This emporium of luxury has endless opportunities to indulge your senses. Leave reality at the door with elegant old-world decor. Relax in the rooftop pool or in the four-star spa. Dining experiences include an oyster bar and rooftop cafe. If you ever want to leave, hop outside and onto a River Walk boat tour.
This National Historic Site is an exquisite world of marble and chandeliers. When you’re not lazing in your vintage-inspired room, soak up the sun in the rooftop infinity pool and sweat it out in the fitness center. Graze farm-fresh dishes in an airy gallery space or feast on upscale seafood in a lavish basement.
Take in sweeping views of San Antonio from this uber-cool and understated hotel. Lounge in a cabana by the pool, or let go of your troubles in the eucalyptus steam room. Have al fresco bites and craft cocktails delivered to your table on the pool deck, feast on local cuisine overlooking the river, then kickstart your night at the stylish rooftop lounge.