Did you know that San Antonio is the seventh most populous city in the United States? We did not know that before we visited, and we also did not know 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. If you are looking for other weekend adventures, check out our blog posts on Albuquerque for the weekend and Alaska's Kenai Peninsula for the weekend.
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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. A huge bonus is that the airport is relatively small, meaning that it is easy to get in and out of, and it is actually very close to the city. As a result you can arrive at your hotel in less than 20 minutes, ready to get your weekend started.
Where to Stay
For our weekend in San Antonio, we stayed at a rented apartment which was close to downtown, which are easy to find on Airbnb or Vrbo. Our apartment was just the right amount of space for us to relax in for our trip to San Antonio for the weekend, and included free pool views.
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 adventures in San Antonio for the weekend.
Alternatively, if you'd prefer to stay in a hotel, the Hotel Emma is one of the best, located at the Pearl. Closer to downtown, the Courtyard by Marriott San Antonio has a great location and is reasonably priced. If you are looking for a luxury weekend escape right in the middle of the Riverwalk district, check out the Mokara Hotel & Spa.
What to Eat
San Antonio is basically the birthplace of Tex-Mex cuisine. As a result 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 enjoyed a delicious meal at Pete’s Tako House complete with more chips and salsa than we could eat, fresh fajitas, and savory enchiladas, all washed down by a margarita or two.
What To See When in San Antonio for the Weekend
There is so much to explore when you are in San Antonio for the weekend. There does not seem to be enough time to explore the entire city in such a short time, 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. However, you won’t be mistaking yourself thinking you are in Venice.
That being said, the River Walk is very impressive and you can easily spend a half day walking the pathways and stopping at a restaurant or two.
The River Walk is clean and well maintained. 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 River Walk widens and is safe and great for bikes. This is definitely one of the best areas to explore when in San Antonio for the weekend.
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. 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. We suggest taking your own pictures instead!
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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. When in San Antonio for the weekend, don't miss the Alamo as it is the most famous attraction!
However, with all of the hype surrounding it, actually seeing it is a bit of a let-down as it is smaller than expected. Luckily there are a number of other beautiful old historic Spanish missions around San Antonio to see if you have time.
We briefly read about The Pearl prior to arriving in San Antonio, and knew that it was something that we wanted to check out. 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. There is 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 liked The Pearl so much that we returned on Sunday and spent part of the day wandering through the Farmer’s Market and going for brunch at The Granary. The afternoon was spent hanging out at Sternewirth in the Hotel Emma lobby, for a drink. This was a great way for us to reflect on our trip to San Antonio for the weekend.
If you haven’t tried beef brisket eggs benedict before, you might just be missing out! The Granary also has some excellent drink choices to round out your brunch, celebrating your trip to San Antonio for the weekend.
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 and is very colorful.
On your way there, don’t forget to stop and check out the San Fernando Cathedral, one of the most beautiful buildings in San Antonio.
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Still not sure whether you could conquer everything when in San Antonio for the weekend? Check our top tips below to help plan your visit.
The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Exploring San Antonio for the Weekend
1) Stay somewhere with a pool.
We visited San Antonio in early June and it was already over 100 F (38 C). 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.
2) Rent a bike.
The main tourist sites of San Antonio are located quite close together, and can easily be reached mostly by foot. However, 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 are 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 no shortage of Texas Barbecue and other restaurants to keep you happy during your visit to San Antonio for the weekend.
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