Did you know that San Antonio is the seventh most populous city in the United States? We had no idea before we visited, and also had no idea how much you can do in San Antonio for the weekend. The city is a fantastic size for a weekend getaway, and invites you with warm weather, delicious food, and their beautiful river walk.
To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to make the best of San Antonio for the weekend, click here.
How to Get There
San Antonio is easily accessible by plane with all major US airlines flying there; for us it was less than 3 hours on a direct flight on Friday evening from Chicago. A huge bonus is that the airport is close to the city, so in less than 20 minutes you should be at your hotel and ready to get your weekend started.
Where to Stay
We spent our weekend at Stay Alfred San Antonio. If you haven’t heard of Stay Alfred before, they offer travel apartments in almost all major US cities and allow you to have “your own place” but with the amenities and consistent experience of staying at a hotel.
As our flight was arriving quite late into San Antonio on Friday night, we utilized Stay Alfred’s grocery shopping service and pre-ordered some breakfast items prior to our arrival. When we arrived the fridge was already stocked with our order!
Our apartment was just the right amount of space for us to relax in for our weekend in San Antonio, and included free pool views.
With water this inviting we had to take advantage, and spent our Sunday morning suntanning and swimming in the pool.
Stay Alfred San Antonio is located just off of the San Antonio River, between the downtown core and The Pearl. We rented bicycles for our stay, and were a short bike ride along the beautiful River Walk into downtown or an even shorter bike ride up to the Pearl. It was a great base for our weekend adventures.
Check out Stay Alfred for your next getaway and get 10% off any stay using our code YOURPLACE.
Stay Alfred provided us with a free hotel stay for our weekend getaway to San Antonio, however, all opinions and content are our own.
What to Eat
San Antonio is basically the birthplace of Tex-Mex cuisine, so you will definitely be eating as much chili con carne, nachos, tacos, and fajitas you can find. There is absolutely no shortage of places to eat at, spread all across the city.
We had a delicious meal at Pete’s Tako House complete with more chips and salsa than we could eat, fresh fajitas, and savoury enchiladas, all washed down by a margarita or two.
What To See in San Antonio in a Weekend
San Antonio in a weekend does not seem to be long enough to explore the entire city but we compiled a list of our favorite places so that you can get a good feeling of the city in 48 short hours.
The River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk is specially designed network of pedestrian pathways and bridges surrounding the San Antonio River, running throughout the downtown area. The main area in the downtown core is full of restaurants and bars and is definitely the place to be in San Antonio. You won’t be mistaking yourself thinking you are in Venice, but the River Walk is very impressive and you can easily spend a half day walking the pathways and stopping at a restaurant or two.
We were surprised by how clean and well maintained everything was, it was refreshing coming from Chicago, where most of the city is quite literally crumbling! Extending North and South of the main area, the River Walk pathways total 15 miles of continuous trails to explore. Once outside of the main tourist area, the riverwalk widens and is safe and great for bikes.
The Alamo Mission is located just a few blocks away from the River Walk and is easily accessible. It sits on a historic location where in 1836 Texans fought for their independence from Mexico and is probably what San Antonio is most famous for.
Conveniently, the Alamo Mission is free to enter, with the only cost of admission for us being a 5 minute wait and the requirement to have our picture taken prior to entry, should we feel the need to purchase an overpriced souvenir at the end.
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The interior is quite sparse, but has a lot of information on this historic site. The best views of the Alamo are without a doubt, facing the front of it’s famous façade. While the Alamo may be the most famous, there are a number of other beautiful old historic Spanish missions around San Antonio to see if you have time.
We had briefly read about The Pearl prior to arriving in San Antonio, and knew that it was something that we wanted to check out, but we had no idea how cool it would be!
The Pearl is centered around the site of a former brewery that operated here for over 100 years, but has since been converted into a (what I can only assume to be) a wildly successfully culinary and cultural hot spot. Basically, The Pearl has a large assortment of dining and shopping all centered around the fascinating old brewery location, with a culinary school, apartments, a hotel, and some office space sprinkled in for good measure.
We first went to The Pearl on Saturday night to indulge in some Lick ice cream and devoured our delicious ice cream; Bettina was particularly impressed by the variety of vegan and non-dairy options, of which she sampled almost all of them!
We returned back to The Pearl on Sunday and spend part of the day wandering through the Farmer’s Market, going for brunch at The Granary, and hanging out at Sternewirth in the Hotel Emma lobby, for a drink.
If you haven’t had beef brisket eggs benedict before, you might just be missing out!
If you are willing to venture all around the city neighborhoods, you will be rewarded with great sites! The King William District is just south of downtown and has a huge collection of majestic 19th century mansions. This area is full of quiet residential streets that are nice to bike through.
On the West side of the San Antonio River, the Historic Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the United States.
On your way there, don’t forget to stop and check out the San Fernando Cathedral.
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Still not sure whether you could conquer San Antonio in a weekend? Check our top tips below to help plan your visit.
The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Weekend in San Antonio
1) Stay somewhere with a pool. We visited San Antonio in early June and it was already over 100F (38C). That means it is likely going to be hot when you visit San Antonio, and there is no better way to cool down than with a dip in a pool. The Stay Alfred pool was our respite from the heat. (Use the code YOURPLACE to get 10% off any Stay Alfred stay!)
2) Rent a bike. The main tourist sites of San Antonio are located quite close together and can be easily reached mostly by foot, but if you want to explore the full River Walk, the King William District, or up to The Pearl we highly recommend renting a bike. We used SWell Cycle, but there were multiple companies available, as well as scooters.
3) Spend a half day at The Pearl. It may be slightly commercialized and a “tourist trap” in some minds, but there is a lot to like about The Pearl. The architecture of the converted brewery is amazing, and the food options are all top notch. A must visit!
4) Skip the rental car. Not only should you rent a bike to see the sites (see tip #2) but you really don’t need a car at all. The airport is close to downtown and there is just really no need. Save yourself the money for more Tex-Mex!
5) Eat as much as you can. The great thing about Tex-Mex food in San Antonio is that it is plentiful, very affordable, and located all over the city. And if you are looking for some variety, there’s also no shortage of Texas Barbecue and other restaurants to keep you happy during your visit.
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