San Antonio is full of sites that fit my personality perfectly. It has history and interesting architecture at The Alamo and Catholic missions, cool neighborhoods to explore on foot, shopping with a local flair at El Mercado, and natural creations at the botanical garden. This city meets all my needs, and this trip ranks as one of my *best* solo journeys.

I stayed at a hotel around the corner from The Alamo. Yes, there’s a capitol “T” in “The” when you’re speaking of The Alamo. Texans hold The Alamo in a place of prestige and honor. No photography inside, and men must remove hats. This is where men such as Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett made their last stand against the Mexican Army during the Texas Revolution in 1836. Their sacrifice inspired others in Texas’s fight for freedom from Mexico.

Texans consider The Alamo hallowed ground

Emily Morgan Hotel and The Alamo

Here’s an interesting tidbit about The Alamo…the facade that we so readily recognize was not complete at the time of the battle. And…that facade is on the church, not the entry to the fort. In actuality, much of what you see at The Alamo is not original. Ok, hope I didn’t burst your bubble there. There are many period pieces in the museum on the grounds. Walk across the street from The Alamo and check out a piece of the original wall of the fort, under a piece of plexiglass in the sidewalk.

In addition to its reputation as home of The Alamo, San Antonio is also known for its river walk.  This area of walkways, restaurants, and shops below street level was originally built as a flood control after the San Antonio River overflowed its banks and claimed 50 lives.  Much of the development was funded by the depression-era WPA.  I highly recommend one or more strolls on the river walk (I took many).  A boat ride is a great way to get around and get your bearings as well.

San Antonio River Walk

Next stop – Catholic missions. First, it’s San Antonio de Valero. Oops, we’ve already been there. It’s otherwise known as The Alamo.  Yes, The Alamo is one of the five missions in San Antonio. Check out the mariachi mass, grist mill, irrigation system, and well-preserved grounds at Mission San Jose. And the frescoes that remain at Mission Concepcion. All easily accessible via mass transit. In fact, everything I did in San Antonio was reached by walking or by bus. There’s a wonderful trolley system that services the downtown area, and your standard bus transit system for the outlying areas.

Mission San Jose

Mission Concepcion

One of my favorite accidental finds was La Jalisco, an independent Mexican restaurant in San Antonio’s main square.  Filled with about 75 people on a Saturday morning, with Spanish as the primary language, La Jalisco serves up a yummy steak quesadilla with refried beans.  Also on the main square, you’ll find the San Fernando Cathedral, the final resting place of Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.  The alters in this cathedral are spectacular.

San Fernando Cathedral

One of the San Fernando Cathedral's many intricate alters

From the main square, it’s a short walk or trolley ride to El Mercado, the Mexican Marketplace.  My discoveries here included a traditional Mexican dance exhibition, and garden planters hand-painted with bright sunflowers.

Transport yourself to Mexico at El Mercado

Let’s make one last stop before leaving San Antonio…La Villita.  “The Little Village” is an artist’s village and San Antonio’s oldest neighborhood.  At the entry to La Villita from the river walk, you’ll find the Arneson Theater.  Seating is on one side of the river, while the stage is on the other side of the river.  Very unique.

River Walk - Arneson River Theater

La Villita presents all kinds of artists and galleries, eateries, and a cute little church in a compact neighborhood. I happened to visit the year before Larry Williams, the village glass blower, retired. During his 50+ years of artistry, he made a fully functioning carousel out of glass.  It is now in the Witte Museum…check it out if you get a chance.

Larry Williams in action

A fully functioning hand-blown glass carousel

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3 Comments on San Antonio and surrounds

  1. Mary says:

    Mary – yes, the missions are quite a draw. Stay tuned…I’m working on another post that will focus just on the missions of San Antonio. It will include a lot more pictures and details of all the missions. You also might be interested in this article about Mission San Xavier del Bac in Arizona.

  2. Mary says:

    It’s amazing to realize San Antonio’s treasures. The architecture and descriptions of the Catholic missions are enough to consider this travel destination. (I never have been to San Antonio and hadn’t considered it.) Thanks, Mary

  3. Lucie says:

    Thanks for the information, it was great. It makes me feel like going back to San Antonio. It`s also one of my favorite places.

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