A charming bridge over the San Antonio River Walk with a yellow boat cruising underneath.
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Perfect 3 Day Weekend In San Antonio Itinerary For First Timer’s

Ready to spend a fun-filled weekend in San Antonio, Texas? San Antonio might be most famous for Tex-Mex food, the River Walk, and the Alamo but wait until you see what else this awesome city has up its sleeve. Use this 3 days in San Antonio itinerary to guide you through this unique town!

The River Walk is where a lot of the San Antonio attractions can be found in the midst of downtown. Steps below street level and lined with Cypress trees is a fascinating and vibrant section of the city that makes it one of a kind!

An old cannon on a light blue support with wheels in front of the Alamo and one of the top things to see on a weekend in San Antonio.

Everything from restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels on the River Walk makes it a perfect central location to base your activities.

Without a doubt, San Antonio has the coolest river walk of any city in the United States. Whether you cruise along the River Walk by foot or boat, you will instantly feel the relaxed vibe of this town.

The newer Greetings from San Antonio is one of many fun sights to see on this San Antonio itinerary.

San Antonio has a rich and interesting history with the Battle of the Alamo and its colonial missions. With its close proximity to Mexico, you will find a blend of American and Mexican culture that creates magic!

If you are a foodie, then San Antonio will not disappoint as it is a true gastronomic delight! It may be known for its Mexican food and Texas BBQ but there is every type of food you could wish ever for.

Let’s get started and discover the best things to do in San Antonio on a long weekend getaway!

Where Is San Antonio?

San Antonio is located in the southern part of Texas in the United States. And it is the second-largest city in Texas behind Houston.

San Antonio is a great base to explore other areas of Texas with Houston 3 hours away (200 miles) directly east and Austin a much easier 1.5 hours away (80 miles), northeast.

Walking along the River Walk is one of the best things to do in San Antonio. A small stage along the River Walk was featured in the movie Miss Congeniality.

If you want to escape the city and are a wine lover, then head north about 1 hour to Fredericksburg, Texas. For more info on wine tasting along the Texas Wine Trail read 11 Best Wineries In Fredericksburg!

Texas in general is considered to be part of the Southwest of the United States. When looking at a map, Texas is in the middle of the country along the southern border that meets Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico.

By land, Texas is bordered by the states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

Heading to Louisiana? If so, explore:
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Ultimate New Orleans Bucket List: 35 Fun Things To Do In NOLA

How Many Days Do I Need To Spend In San Antonio?

San Antonio is one of those cities that you could spend days in especially if you are looking to sample the endless list of fantastic dining and bar options!

For a first-time visit, I recommend spending 3 full days in San Antonio. If you can stay longer then do so as there is plenty to keep you busy.

The San Fernando Cathedral at the evening Saga Light Show with tons of bright colors displaying on the façade beautifully.

Once you spend a little time in San Antonio you will quickly realize this won’t be your last trip there. It is a fun city to explore over and over again!

How To Get To San Antonio

I’ve been to San Antonio twice flying the first time and the most recent visit I drove while on my epic road trip from California to Alabama.

When flying into San Antonio you will want to book your flight arriving at the San Antonio International Airport (SAT). The airport is about a 15-minute drive to the downtown/ Riverwalk area of San Antonio.

A charming door and window of a church that both have a pointed top with two potted plants on each side of the door.

Start planning for your trip to San Antonio and explore the best flight deals today!

If you plan to stay mostly in the San Antonio downtown and Riverwalk area, you can get away without renting a car.

For some of the sights a little further out or wanting to take day trips, I recommend booking a car.

San Antonio River Walk Hotels

Most of the San Antonio attractions are located along the Riverwalk, a short walking distance or a close Uber ride.

All of these hotels are in awesome locations right along the Riverwalk adding to the appeal.

Courtyard by Marriott Riverwalk

Omni Hotels & Resorts – La Mansion del Rio

Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk

The Westin Riverwalk

Hotel Emma – located along the Riverwalk but in the area of the Pearl neighborhood which is about 10 minutes from the above options. See more on the Pearl below!

A Little History Of The Alamo

Even if you haven’t visited Texas or San Antonio in particular, you have likely heard of the Alamo. The Alamo was initially built in 1718 but the structure you see today was established in 1744.

What made the Alamo famous started on February 23, 1836, with a siege that lasted thirteen days known as the Battle of the Alamo.

A close up front view of the Alamo made of limestone with a dark brown wooden door.

Prior to the battle, Texians had driven Mexicans out of Mexican Texas in an attempt to gain independence from Mexico. Texians were comprised of Anglo-American residents and Mexican settlers referred to as Tejanos.

With only about 100 Texians stationed at the Alamo they were undermanned to sustain an attack by the Mexican troops set out to reclaim Texas.

The Texians begged the United States to send reinforcements but since that went against their treaty with Mexico, they couldn’t support the Texians.

A small wooden half circle shaped window within the stone along the outside of the Alamo.

Within 90 minutes of the Mexican troops attacking, the Alamo was taken and hundreds of Texians were killed, wounded, or attempted to flee. The well-known David (Davy) Crockett was also one of the Texians to be killed that day.

Less than two months later, the Texians attacked the Mexican army and were heard saying “Remember the Alamo!” which resulted in Texas gaining independence from Mexico.

Today the Alamo is a shrine to remember the ugly battle that occurred at the site of the Alamo and how Texas gained its freedom.

Note: Texas was not yet part of the United States until the end of 1845 and was the Republic of Texas in the interim.

If you want a complete guide on the best restaurants in San Antonio (with tips from a local) then sign up to get a FREE list that you can print out and take with you!

Best Time To Visit San Antonio

San Antonio is one of those cities where you can visit any month of the year which is a major bonus.

My first trip was in early February with absolutely perfect weather (low 60s)! Nice temperatures throughout the day that was ideal for hanging outside on the Riverwalk most of the time.

A beautiful stone bridge connecting the two sides of the River Walk with bright yellow flowers.

My most recent trip was in mid-June and even though it was really hot and humid (94 F – 96 F) I still had a fabulous time. Of course, I did have to take more indoor breaks with a cold beer! 😊 But I didn’t mind…

If you struggle with humidity and would like to avoid sweating like a pig, I say overall the best months to spend a long weekend in San Antonio are from October through April/ May.

Top San Antonio Tours

San Antonio – Tower of Americas, River Walk Cruise and Bus Tour

This is a great tour option if you don’t want to walk a ton and don’t feel like renting a car. You get a bus tour with tickets to the Tower of the Americas and a River Walk Cruise. The tour will take you to almost every sight you would want to see!

San Antonio Go City Explorer Pass

If you plan to see a lot of attractions, this is a great deal as you get up to 45% off on more than 25 of the most popular attractions!

UNESCO World Heritage Missions Trail Tour

The four missions that are included on this tour are must-see south of downtown San Antonio. If you don’t have a car this is this perfect tour as it includes a guide and transportation to each of the missions.

Ghosts of San Antonio Walking Tour

If you have a curious mind to the haunted history of a city, then purchase your ticket for a walking ghost tour. Learn about San Antonio’s spooky past!

A row of fun art murals at the industrial Essex Modern City.

Tips For Visiting San Antonio

Walking on a beautiful path along the San Antonio River Walk and under Cypress trees is one of the most relaxing things to do in San Antonio.

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book and tablet covers of the San Antonio travel guide

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Map of Things To Do In San Antonio, Texas

Trip map courtesy of Wanderlog, a road trip planner

Weekend In San Antonio: Best Things To Do

Day 1 In San Antonio

Breakfast Tacos

Start your first morning off right with an awesome breakfast and the first activity on your San Antonio itinerary. I’m sure you have heard of a breakfast burrito but a breakfast taco you say?

I had never heard of such a thing but I figured why not as they came highly recommended!

Sign for Pete's Tako House in San Antonio has the best breakfast tacos.

In my own hometown of San Diego, I am always on a hunt for the best tacos and when I visited Pete’s Tako House I knew it was a winner!

Pete’s makes the most delicious breakfast tacos that are served up on homemade and quite addictive flour tortillas.

The tortillas cradle a tako (taco) of your choice with my favorite being the chorizo & egg and the bacon & egg.

A chorizo and egg breakfast tako at Pete's Tako House in San Antonio.

A delicious breakfast taco on a homemade flour tortilla that is a must to try in San Antonio.

I found them so good I actually had to go back the next day! Just to confirm that they were indeed that good… 😊

They have a whole menu dedicated to Mexican food but the star here is the “tackos”.

Note: In case you are questioning my spelling abilities for taco, they actually spell it with a “k”! The use of a “k” instead of the regular taco spelling is in honor of the original owner named Tink.

Address: 502 Brooklyn Ave, San Antonio, Texas 78215

Wander The River Walk

Even though I suggest you explore the River Walk on your first day, the reality is you will likely visit it on many occasions during your stay.

It’s hard not to stroll along some section of it every day as the River Walk is the heart of San Antonio. Plus, there is something so tranquil about it that screams “I’m on vacation”!

Looking across onto the other side of the River Walk that is lined with shops, restaurants and numerous Cypress trees.

A beautiful yellow and green plant with the San Antonio River and the walkways on each side.

Maybe it is the fact that if you buy a drink from a bar or restaurant you can carry it to go and drink along the River Walk. From my knowledge, you only want to do this in the River Walk region.

Although around every curve and turn of the river is photo-worthy, there are a few famous spots you want to make a point of seeing.

The Selena Bridge might be the most recognizable as it is not only a lovely bridge but it is known for lovers to kiss on.

The famous Selena bridge on the River Walk in San Antonio is a very pretty and romantic bridge.

A scene from the movie Selena (1997) starring Jennifer Lopez filmed a scene with her kissing her love interest.

So, you can reenact the scene or just admire it from the banks of the River Walk! The bridge is located along the Riverwalk between N St Marys Street and Navarro Street.

Another photogenic spot is Marriage Island which might be the tiniest island there is! Located a few steps off of the River Walk bank is a huge Cypress tree and a bench taking up most of the island.

This island is widely famous for you guessed it, getting married! Over 200 weddings are held here each year and the bonus is that your guest list is limited to 20 people.

Note: The pint-sized island is located between Navarro Street and Presa Street on the River Walk.

Take A River Walk Cruise

Taking a River Walk Cruise gives you a different perspective of the River Walk and gives your feet a rest! I quite enjoyed taking the boat ride during the late afternoon after a long day of walking and seeing the sights.

A pink river boat cruising down the river on the San Antonio River Walk.

The San Antonio River runs through the area known as the River Walk and is 15 miles long. You can find most San Antonio attractions along about 2.5 to 5 miles of this stretch.

Not only do you get to take a relaxing boat ride, but the guide will provide an overview of the River Walk history and interesting facts in regard to particular buildings or sights.

A blue boat cruising along the river on a River Walk boat tour in San Antonio with restaurants lining the river.

The boat cruise lasts about 35 or 40 minutes and drops you off where you started.

During the busy summer months, I would recommend buying your tickets ahead of time. But most of the time you can just walk up and buy them as boat rides are usually taking off every 20 minutes or so.

Note: Boat Rides run from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm daily year-round (weather permitting) except for early January when it is being drained.

Tip: There are 3 locations you can buy tickets with the most popular in the heart of the River Walk under the Market Street Bridge across from the Hilton Palacio del Rio.

Remember The Alamo

I know it might be hard to believe but I missed seeing the Alamo on my first trip as I thought it was far away. I was very mistaken as it is literally a few minute’s walk from the River Walk!

The grounds of where the Alamo resides is rather large but the Alamo itself is much smaller than I had anticipated.

The famous Alamo made of limestone, a green patch of grass in front and a Texas flag blowing in the wind.

The Alamo is made of limestone and a beautiful church although many think it as more of a fortress from the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.

Either before or after visiting the inside of the Alamo, venture out and around the surrounding grounds as it is a lovely space. There are numerous trees, statues, and signs describing various points in the history of the Alamo.

View of the side of the Alamo with its walls and in the distance a sign for the Crockett Hotel.

There is even a small outdoor seating area with a short movie depicting events of the Alamo. And if you are in need of refreshments or an Alamo souvenir, there is a gift shop to visit.

If you are looking for more detailed info, you can book either an Audio Tour (self-tour) or one led by a guide.

To promote a nice visiting experience and prevent overcrowding inside you do need to reserve a time slot to visit. But don’t worry, the tickets are free!

A large memorial to the Alamo called the Alamo Cenotaph in San Antonio, Texas.

Interesting Fact: Look up and around you when standing in front of the Alamo. You might notice that no tall buildings are built around it. That is on purpose to prevent any building from casting a shadow on the Alamo.

Note: You can’t take photos of any kind when inside the Alamo and please remove any hats before entering.

Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

San Fernando Cathedral

The San Fernando Cathedral is the oldest operating sanctuary in North America founded in 1731. The cathedral has a distinct Gothic-style architecture and is a gorgeous and impressive church to see.

The San Fernando Cathedral during the day with its Gothic-style architecture.

The cathedral played an important role in the Battle of the Alamo when its church bells alerted Texians that the Mexican army was close approaching.

Although I enjoyed viewing the exterior more, the interior is also very spectacular!

I recommend visiting San Fernando Cathedral both during the day but also at night if you happen to be visiting on a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

San Fernando Cathedral lit up at night with bright colors of the Saga Light Show displaying on the front with the Texas flag.

On those 4 nights, the Saga Light Show is held in the main plaza displaying lights and images against the front façade of the cathedral. The images narrate the history of San Antonio and Texas evolving to the present day.

It is one of the most amazing things I have ever watched as far as outdoor art performances go and one of the coolest things to do in San Antonio!

You will find yourself saying “wow” a few times in awe of this vibrant light show!

The vibrant colors displaying on the front of San Fernando Cathedral for the Saga Light show at night.

The Saga Light Show displaying images of San Antonio's history with an image of Abe Lincoln flashing across.

The light show is free to attend, but I recommend you get there a little early to find a spot to sit or stand. The main plaza of the church is a 5 – 10 minute walk from the River Walk area.

The Saga Light Show lasts about 30-minutes starting after dusk which will vary throughout the year. In the summer months that is around 9:00 pm.

Note: Make sure you plan your weekend in San Antonio around one of the 4 nights that the Saga Light Show plays as you don’t want to miss it!

Address: 115 Main Plaza, San Antonio, Texas 78205

Dinner On The River Walk

Now that you have had an incredible day exploring the heart of San Antonio, it’s time to unwind and enjoy a great meal.

While the best restaurants in San Antonio are not exactly along the River Walk, the River Walk has the best ambiance by far…

Drinking a beer while sitting at a restaurant on the River Walk in San Antonio watching people walk by and boats cruising in the distance.

Just keep in mind that there will be more touristy type restaurants and chains on the River Walk but there are still some great places to eat. And if you can eat at a table outside along the river that is a bonus!

Four restaurants that I have enjoyed right on the River Walk are The County Line, Rita’s On The River, Iron Cactus Mexican Grill, and Ostra.

The County Line is an excellent spot for some Texan BBQ with the brisket as the star here. It was so good and makes my mouth water thinking back to that meal!

There are two cuts of brisket, with the 2nd cut being more flavorful due to more fat than the leaner 1st cut. I didn’t think I’d like the fattier cut but it was phenomenal and I can’t recommend it enough!

A huge plate of Mexican food including a taco, enchilada and rice and beans from Rita's on the River Walk.

Both Rita’s on the River and Iron Cactus serve Mexican food that is ok/good but with the atmosphere of the river, they are awesome.

Ostra is a seafood restaurant that is a little higher-end and located in the Mokara Hotel.

And if you have a sweet tooth, take a stroll over the get a Blue Bell Ice Cream at Mr. Ice Cream. Blue Bell Ice Cream is outstanding and made in Texas!

Day 2 In San Antonio

Breakfast at Guenther’s

The best breakfast in San Antonio is at Guenther House. It might even be one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had!

Guenther House is located in the King William Historic District along the San Antonio River. The Guenther House was the home to the Guenther family who owned the Pioneer Flour Mills that got its start in the late 1800s.

Walking around admiring the beautiful old house of Guenther House.

Now a restaurant, Guenther’s is a pretty popular breakfast/brunch spot that offers American and Tex-Mex cuisine.

There is both indoor and outdoor seating under a semi-covered veranda. I sat on the serene outdoor patio eating the most delicious Chicken & Sweet Cream Waffle meal.

Outdoor dining under a veranda at Guenther House with a huge lawn in front of it and the river in the background.

Oh, my goodness, the sweet cream waffle and grade A maple syrup were a party to my palate and then when combined with the perfectly fried chicken it was intoxicating…

And with the encouragement of my server, I got a side of the country gravy to dip the chicken in. Amazing… Top it off with one of the best cups of coffee and I was in heaven!

A plate of sweet cream waffles, fried chicken and the best maple syrup might be my favorite breakfast at Guenther House.

They serve Founder’s Choice Coffee which I couldn’t get enough refills of. In fact, on the last day of my trip, I went by to get coffee beans and coffee to go as I hit the road!

They have a small shop that you can purchase an assortment of items such as coffee beans, sweet cream pancake mix, cornbread mix, gravy mix, and preserves. It makes for a great souvenir to take back home.

Tip: Get there close to when the restaurant opens as they get busy fast! The wait can be 1 – 3 hours at times but know it is completely worth the wait.

Note: Enter the parking lot on S Alamo Street.

Address: 205 East Guenther Street, San Antonio, Texas 78204. Open Wednesday – Sunday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Walk King William Historic District

Now that you are blissfully satisfied after a meal at the Guenther House, take a stroll through King William Historic District.

A beautiful old house in King William Historic District in San Antonio, Texas.

From Guenther House, walk over and up to King William Street. On this street, you will see the grandest historic homes. Most of the homes are dated from the mid to late 1800s.

One of historic houses in King William District with detailed brown and tan colors.

Once on King William Street, the Steves Homestead House Museum will be on your left side. It is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm.

It is a three-story mansion built in 1876 that provides a look into the elegant living of the Steves family and other families during that era. Edward Steves was the founder of the Steves Lumber Company.

As you leave the Steves house continue on and admire house after house that will captivate your attention!

A beautiful old house that has a gorgeous front yard with plants, a lawn, trees and a walkway.

This neighborhood was also known as the “Sauerkraut Bend” for the predominantly German residents. In the 1840s, a large number of Germans immigrated and settled in this neighborhood.

They named it King William in honor of King Wilhelm I, King of Prussia. Most of the houses you see have been restored or in the process of.

Steves Homestead House: 509 King William Street, San Antonio, Texas 78204.

Note: S Alamo Street that runs parallel to King William Street has a ton of great bars, restaurants, and shops.

Tower Of The Americas

From King William District, you can either walk or grab an Uber/Lyft over to the Tower of the Americas. If you decide to walk, it will take about 15 – 20 minutes.

The Tower of the Americas is a 750-foot tall tower that you can take an elevator up to the top for fantastic panoramic views of San Antonio.

The Tower of the Americas with the Hemisfair wings near its base.

A close up view of the Hemisfair wings that you can pose in front of for photos.

It was built for the 1968 World’s Fair (Hemisfair ’68) and until 1996 was the tallest observation tower in the United States.

Once at the top, walk around the observation deck trying to spot different buildings and sights of San Antonio. Thankfully they have signs that describe what you are seeing in any particular direction.

View of downtown San Antonio from the top of the Tower of the Americas.

Back on the ground, there is a pretty manmade waterfall that makes for great photos. On the platform above the cascading waterfalls take notice of the Hemisfair Wings of Mexico that is fun for photos.

Steps away from the Tower of the Americas is a series of cascading waterfalls that are manmade and so beautiful.

They were a gift from Mexico City in celebration of San Antonio’s tricentennial. This entire location is the Hemisfair district, with various art installations and murals in this area.

Address: 739 E Cesar E. Chavez Blvd, San Antonio, Texas, 78205.

Hours & Admission: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Tickets are $14.50 for adults, $12.50 for seniors and military and $11.50 for kids 4-12.

San Antonio Mission Trail

Visiting the San Antonio missions also known as the Missions Trail consists of 4 different missions that run south of downtown San Antonio along the River Valley.

Mission Concepcion is the first mission to see on the Missions Trail south of San Antonio, Texas.

The four missions are located miles apart with Mission Concepcion the closest to downtown and the first one you will come upon.

Next further south is Mission San Jose, then Mission San Juan, and finally Mission Espada. From the first mission to the last is about 5 miles or 12 – 15 mins apart from one another.

Mission San Jose with an old well and flowers is one of the prettiest and largest mission on the Mission Trail in San Antonio.

You will definitely need a car or book a tour of the missions that includes transportation.

So why are the missions so important to San Antonio’s history? In the early 1700s, Spain was on a quest to expand its territory and build as many Catholic missions in North America as possible.

Mission San Juan stands out from the rest as it is stark white with bells at the top surrounded be a large green lawn and trees.

Expanding the number of missions was strongly tied to converting the local Indians which in turn would increase the power of Spain.

Each mission you see on this trail had its own community with everything they needed including the church, protected by a fortress, and housing.

Mission Espada is smaller and very charming with bells hanging from the top.

Within a hundred years, the missions no longer served the same role as they once had but they were the catalyst to building San Antonio’s foundation.

Note: The main visitor center can be found at Mission San Jose (6701 San Jose Dr, San Antonio, Texas, 78214). It is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

San Antonio Murals

San Antonio has a surprising number of art murals scattered around the city that will amaze you. Searching out art murals is one of the cool things to do in San Antonio!

The first one I stumbled upon is an older and small vintage-style “Greetings from San Antonio” mural with some big and quite impressive murals across the street.

The older Greetings from San Antonio art mural that is blue with scenes of San Antonio painted on each letter.

An art mural of a man playing on the guitar and bright colors surrounding him.

The vibrant and colorful "Let's Fiesta" art mural is a favorite with a man and woman looking festive.

The above murals can all be found on N St Marys Street with the most recognizable, The Fiesta Mural. You can use the address 2702 N St Marys Street to get you there. You can find more murals up and down this street too.

Over on Brooklyn Ave between the river and Pete’s Tako House is a newer “Greetings from San Antonio” mural.

The coolest and biggest group of vibrant and very talented art murals can be found at Essex Modern City. I was blown away at the volume and the high quality of murals at Essex.

The word ESSEX painted in multiple colors against a black outer wall of a building.

A vibrant series of art murals at Essex Modern City with one saying "You belong here" and a beautiful girl looking out in colors of blue and yellow.

An art mural at Essex Modern City in San Antonio of an eye in colors of purple, gray and blue. The eye looks to be crying paint.

There are rows of murals, one right after another in what looks like an old abandoned industrial site. Or more like the framing and partial walls of one.

The Essex Art Project brings artists and the community together to appreciate and connect via art.

An art mural at Essex Modern City of a guy in black and white and then pops of yellow of pineapples.

Note: Essex Modern City is only open during the week, Monday thru Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Address is 51 Essex Street, San Antonio, Texas 78210.

Get Some Texas BBQ

Texas is known for their BBQ so you have to try it at least once or maybe a few times… If you are craving BBQ, then look no further than Augie’s Alamo City BBQ.

Augie’s BBQ has an assortment of options that are true Texan BBQ comfort food! This is a casual joint so come ready to eat great food with no frills.

The front of Augie's BBQ with an outdoor bar with the American and Texan flags blowing in the wind.

You can get brisket, pulled pork, chicken but a top favorite is the brisket! If you get a plate, two sides are included choosing from a variety of beans, mac & cheese, potato salad, coleslaw, or rice.

I recommend the Borracho Beans (drunken beans) as one of your sides as they are so yummy! Borracho Beans are pinto beans soaked overnight in Mexican beer with bacon and a host of spices that makes for a sensational bite!

A BBQ plate of brisket, mac & cheese, pickles, borracho beans and bread at Augie's BBQ in San Antonio.

Augie’s has been serving up mouthwatering BBQ for over 20 years so they know what they are doing! Most recently, Augie’s has added to its Broadway location Brazed Bourbon & Beer. It’s a beer and whisky bar that also has a fantastic bar menu.

Address: 909 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas 78215. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Drinks On A Rooftop Bar

After your fill on BBQ, why not end the night getting drinks up on a rooftop bar? An awesome rooftop bar that isn’t too far from Augie’s Broadway location is Paramour at the Phipps.

Paramour is an upscale swanky rooftop bar next to the San Antonio River and has spectacular views of the San Antonio city skyline.

They have a full bar with plenty of cocktails, wine, and beer to choose from no matter what you desire!

Address: 102 9th Street 4th floor, San Antonio, Texas 78215. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Day 3 In San Antonio

Mi Tierra Café

For your last day in San Antonio head over to Mi Tierra Café for a traditional Tex-Mex breakfast! Mi Tierra Café opened in 1941 by Pete and Cruz Cortez.

The café & bakery is in the Mexican Market Square section west of the downtown River Walk or about a 10 – 15 minute walk.

The front entrance of Mi Tierra Cafe & bakery in San Antonio.

In the beginning, there were only a few tables but once people realized how fantastic the food was, they quickly expanded.

Because they are so good and no one seems to be able to get enough, they are open 24/7!

And if you still have room walk over to the bakery or panaderia section to choose from a variety of Mexican pastries.

Walking along the walkway in the old Mexican Market with colorful decorations, restaurants and shops.

You always have room for a few to take with you right? Make for an excellent snack while out sightseeing…

As you leave Mi Tierra walk along the pathway admiring the shops and very colorful decorations hanging overhead.

Address: 218 Produce Row, San Antonio, Texas 78207.

Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden is a tranquil outdoor escape that has been a popular San Antonio attraction for 90 years.

The garden is strikingly beautiful with stone structures, bridges, a koi pond, exotic plants, and a 60-foot waterfall!

Although you can visit any month of the year the spring and fall months will provide the most pop of colors to see. From spring flowers to fall foliage…

I found it interesting to know that this lush nature oasis used to be an old rock quarry. Using prison labor, the Japanese garden and pagoda were realized from the city’s vision.

View of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio with its lush and green landscaping.

For a period of time after WWII, the gardens were renamed the Chinese Tea Garden in fear of damage to the gardens due to anti-Japanese sentiment. In 1984 the gardens had their name restored back to the original Japanese Tea Garden.

Today visiting is a delight to wander, take tons of photos and just relax… The gardens provide a romantic and intimate space for small weddings too.

If you happen to want a snack or some tea, make your way over to the Jingu House Café. No better place for a bit of tea than at a tea garden!

Note: The San Antonio Botanical Garden is next door if you are looking for more time in nature!

Address: 3853 N St Marys Street, San Antonio, Texas 78212.

Hours & Admission: Open daily from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is FREE!

The Pearl

The Pearl is a neighborhood in San Antonio that is the southern part of Midtown and northern part of downtown along the San Antonio River. If I were to move to San Antonio, it would be in this neighborhood!

In 1883 the Pearl Brewery opened for business and by 1916 it was the largest brewery in Texas. Because the area got its start with the Pearl Brewery, the neighborhood eventually became known as the Pearl.

A structure that looks like a huge can of Pearl beer on the roof of a building in the Pearl.

An old historic building in the Pearl with a red and white "Pearl" sign, tons of lush trees and tables to sit outside in the small park.

After the brewery closed its doors in 2001, the area surrounding it was deserted and left without a purpose.

Soon after, the 23 acres of land were purchased, and plans were set to develop shops, restaurants, and a hotel that would draw visitors to this section of town.

A water fountain blended with items from the original brewery to form art and the old smoke stack of the historic Pearl Brewery in the Pearl district of San Antonio.

Most of what you see today walking around was built between 2009 and 2020. So overall it is a pretty new neighborhood!

There is plenty of outdoor seating, parks, shops, cafes, restaurants, and pathways along the river to spend a few hours exploring.

Various bricks in shades of red, white and tan from a walkway in the area of the original Pearl Brewery.

Walking along the San Antonio River in the Pearl neighborhood.

Everywhere you look you can see history combined with modern touches in all of the buildings and décor which is exciting to see.

Parking: There are a few parking lots in the Pearl and across the river from the Pearl. The one I parked, located at: 307 Pearl Pkwy, San Antonio, Texas 78215.

Drinks At The Sternewirth

If you only visit one place in the Pearl, make it to the Sternewirth Tavern & Club Room at Hotel Emma! It is the coolest bar that has such a unique décor and is a spot you know you could spend some time at…

This bar and Hotel Emma are located in what was the previous site of the Pearl Brewery that opened in 1883.

Front view of Hotel Emma which used to be the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio.

Walking through the archway leading into the Sternewirth Tavern with many items left from the Pearl Brewery making it a cool space to visit.

I nabbed a comfy leather chair that I practically sunk into after walking for hours out in the summer heat. Even though it was the afternoon I was craving a Bloody Mary which was fantastic!

They also have a full bar, wine list, and beer plus some fun signature cocktails! The atmosphere has an elegant Texas cowboy vibe. Much of the original brewery is still present which adds to the cool factor.

Sipping on a spicy Bloody Mary at the Sternewirth Tavern in Hotel Emma.

The bar is named after the Sternewirth Privilege which allowed 19th-century brewery employees the privilege to have free beer during the work day!

I’m not sure if that was the smartest business decision but heck, I would have loved to have been an employee at the brewery then! 😊

The very hip and cool bar in the Sternewirth Tavern.

You can sit at a small table inside a previous grain silo inside of the Sternewirth Tavern.

Even through Prohibition when most breweries outlawed this rule and were shut down, the Pearl Brewery kept going strong until the 1990s. It opened in 1883 and officially closed in 2001.

Hotel Emma has quite a fascinating history that I won’t spill all so that you have a reason to visit and find out more for yourself!

Note: Hotel Emma is a very upscale hotel that might put a dent in your wallet but from what I have seen it is well worth it. I’m hoping that I can stay here on a future trip!

Dinner In The Pearl

So, although there are several more awesome Mexican and BBQ places to eat in San Antonio, I don’t want you to get burned out thinking San Antonio only has those two cuisines!

For your last night, here is a list of some incredible restaurants to choose from. And since you have been touring the Pearl, let’s give you a few options in this trendy and sophisticated neighborhood!

A bright red machine in the center of Hotel Emma lobby that was used in the previous Pearl Brewery making it very historic!

Of these 4 choices, you are bound to find a flavor to your liking. All of these restaurants are located in the Pearl and have spectacular food!

Either I have tried them or they came highly recommended by a friend that is a local.

Supper – You definitely know what meal you are having here! Supper is an elevated American farm-to-table restaurant located in Hotel Emma and what was previously the Pearl Brewery. (136 E Grayson Street)

Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery – Located in the same complex as Hotel Emma, is delicious Texas meets Southern cuisine. They also brew their own beer with 15 on tap!

Brasserie Mon Chou Chou – A French restaurant located across from Hotel Emma that dishes up traditional French fare. With a vibrant pink décor, comfort food blends with sophisticated flavors.

Best Quality Daughter – Another hotspot in the Pearl is a few minutes walk from the rest of these providing guests with Asian-American fusion. The dining area has a funky and whimsical vibe inside an old house from around 1900.

Tip: If you want to end the night with something sweet and cooling (during hot months), grab an ice cream from Lick Honest Ice Cream!

And if you want a complete PDF restaurant guide of the very best places to eat in San Antonio, sign up to receive emails from Traveling Ness! That way you can print and take it with you!

Additional San Antonio Attractions

If you decide to stay longer than 3 days, here are some activities to add to your list! Plus, I would highly encourage you to visit Fredericksburg, Texas if you like wine.

  • Texas Rangers Museum & Buckhorn Saloon
  • Natural Bridge Caverns
  • McNay Art Museum – Admission is free Thursday nights (4-9 pm)
  • La Villita Historic Arts Village – First neighborhood in San Antonio and now an arts community with cobblestoned streets.

Part of the "Let's Fiesta" art mural with just the words "Fiesta" and the woman's face next to it.

Have a fabulous fiesta while spending the weekend in San Antonio!

 

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For your convenience, you can download a copy of this guide for visiting San Antonio or print it to take with you. It includes pictures and links within the article. It’s ad-free and handy for on the go.
book and tablet covers of the San Antonio travel guide

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58 Comments

  1. I love a good first timer’s guide! No matter how much of a seasoned traveller you are, visiting somewhere for the first time is always overwhelming! Guides aimed at first time visitors take so much stress out of the visit! This guide is so comprehensive! San Antonio looks like such a charming place! I’ll definitely be putting your guide to use when I visit!

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful for those visiting for the first time! It’s a very fun city to explore which makes it even better! 🙂

  2. Oooh I love the look of the river walk, and those amaaazing looking breakfast tacos! But the thing that surprises me the most about San Antonio is just how European and old everything looks. It’s really cool to find these corners of the United States that have long history and older architecture. They have mixed it in with the more modern areas really well…

    1. San Antonio really does have a great mix of history with new which makes it a fun city to explore. I hadn’t thought of it until now but it does have a European feel. The River Walk is such an awesome place to walk or just sit and enjoy the ambiance. And you can never have enough of those breakfast tacos, they are so yummy! 🙂

  3. This post is amazing! I’ve wanted to go to San Antonio because I’ve heard it’s great, but you’ve shed a lot of light on great things to do. And you’re right, I’ve definitely heard of the Alamo, but never really knew the story behind it. I loved reading and learning about the battle.

    1. Thank you so much! I agree, the Alamo is one of those places that is famous yet most don’t know why. Including myself before I visited! Haha. It is a very easy city to explore and love. 🙂

  4. Since I have never visited San Antonio, this was a great guide for first timer’s to see what there is to do for a great 3 day stay. You have certainly covered a wide range of things for everyone. We would definitely want to try a river cruise to see the city from a different perspective. It would be fun to be there when the Saga Light Show is put on the San Fernando Cathedral. And I would not miss the street art murals!

    1. I’m so glad you would find this guide helpful for a first-time visit to San Antonio! There really is a lot to see and you’re right, a little bit for everyone depending on the interest. I can’t recommend the Saga Light Show enough as it is phenomenal! I hope you get to visit and see it for yourself one day soon! 🙂

  5. I’m impressed with how many of these I’ve managed to do – almost all of them (minus the food)! I really loved the cathedral show, and you got some awesome photos of it. I didn’t know about the Japanese Tea Garden before, though – that seems really cool! And a tea garden is on my bucket list 😀 The mural photos were awesome too.

    1. That’s awesome that you’ve done so many of these fun activities in San Antonio! Isn’t that the light show amazing? That is one I feel is a must for anyone visiting. I was a little surprised when I heard about the Tea Garden and it is next to the Botanical Garden which is another great outdoor space! 🙂

  6. There’s so much to see and do that San Antonio is definitely a destination for a long weekend. I would love to do that river walk, it looks so incredible. The Japanese Tea garden looks like a peaceful place to visit. And there appears to be no end to eateries.

    1. San Antonio is one of those cities that you could eat incredible food for days! And the River Walk is such a cool and unique atmosphere that it is easy to explore different parts of it each day! 🙂

  7. San Antonio has so much history to learn about in it, so I would definitely love to travel here. I haven’t been to this part of the states yet but I hope to soon!

    1. I hope you do get to visit one day as it is one of the coolest towns in the U.S.! There is definitely a lot of history in San Antonio which makes it all so much more interesting to visit. 🙂

  8. I have visited San Antonio a couple of times and loved it both times. My girls would like to go back! We did a scavenger hunt around the River Walk, explored missions, toured the Alamo. Your post gives a great outline of so many more things to see and do.

    1. Oh doing a scavenger hunt on the River Walk would be tons of fun! I’m glad you enjoyed visiting and plan to take your girls back too. 🙂

  9. It would be interesting to learn a bit more about the Alamo, and that boat ride looks fun. But the one thing I hear about San Antonio is some of the great food, and that looks amazing. What a great place to visit, I hope to get there one day

    1. You could easily justify a trip to San Antonio just for the food alone it’s that good! Yes, exploring the Alamo and the River Walk by boat while learning about its history is fun! 🙂

  10. This is a perfect weekend guide for first-time visitors to San Antonio. I haven’t been there in decades so this would be a great resource!

    1. Thanks Karen! San Antonio is one of those cities you can go back to over and over and it’s always fun! You would enjoy touring the Pearl neighborhood as it is fairly new and the many new restaurants are so good! 🙂

  11. I visited San Antonio with my boyfriend and his sister back in June. It was hot and humid as hell but it was a lovely day trip! Since we were only there for a day, we couldn’t do nearly as much but loved visiting the Alamo, the Riverwalk, having lunch near the river and taking one of those boat tours of the river.

    1. I was there in June too and agree it was crazy hot and humid and like you I still loved it! I’m glad you were able to get past the hot discomfort. Oh you will definitely have to go back and see the other sights as it is a cool city to explore. That sounds like a fantastic day though! 🙂

  12. Awesome super detailed guide. Even if I have visited San Antonio before, I was there for business and not much time to explore, I am saving this guide for when I get back. I really loved San Antonio and I know I still need to go back for more. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks Paula! I was the same way on my first visit, mostly work but knew I wanted to visit again. If you loved San Antonio then a second visit will only be better to see more of the sights! 🙂

  13. This is such a fantastic post about San Antonio! It makes me miss it terribly. The cathedral is so beautiful, and it looks amazing with the light show. I can’t believe I lived in San Antonio for 10+ years and never knew about Marriage Island. lol I definitely didn’t get down to the river often enough. Totally love the whole Pearl Brewery area. 🙂

    1. Thanks Erin! That means a lot from someone who lived there! The light show was one of my favorites for sure and yes Marriage Island is so cute and well tiny! I’m the same way where I live, sometimes I see more of other towns than my own. Haha. I think if I moved there I would live in the Pearl area as it is pretty awesome. 🙂

  14. I’ve never even been to Texas but this guide really makes me want to visit San Antonio! What a cool place! I’d definitely be heading to the Pearl Brewery as I love craft beers and so cool it’s the biggest in Texas!

    1. Thanks Helena! San Antonio is such a fun city to explore and yes, the Pearl neighborhood is a very cool neighborhood to hang out in. The brewery itself is no longer active but all the businesses, restaurants, and the hotel in it are pretty awesome! 🙂

  15. I’ve never been to San Antonio so this is perfect! I love the mix of history + new places to explore and I’m always all for delicious discoveries too! That breakfast looks amazing!

    1. So much to discover in San Antonio and it does have a great combo of new and old which is a plus! Omg, every breakfast I had was so so good! 🙂

  16. My mom was actually born in San Antonio, but I’ve never been there! Lately it sounds like it’s really the next up-and-coming place 🙂 The Japanese Tea Garden looks like such a relaxing place, I would never have expected to find that in TX!

    1. Oh that is exciting that you have roots there! I’m sure it would be fun to go back with her and see where she lived and how it has changed. Regardless it is an awesome town to see! 🙂

    1. Thank you! Yes, when the time is right, San Antonio is an awesome city to explore and of course eating tons of great food too! 🙂

    1. It’s my pleasure to take you on a virtual trip down memory lane! Now you have a great excuse to go back to San Antonio again. Yes, the brisket is so so good! 🙂

  17. Vanessa, this is another complete guide that is loaded. How can you do all of this in 3 days? Who can pass on Texas BBQ and Pete’s Tako House. We would love to walk King William Street and see the San Fernando Cathedral light show.

    1. I somehow find unlimited amounts of energy when traveling. Quite the opposite at home. 🙂 Yes, walking King William street and seeing the Saga Light Show are tops after the incredible food of course!

  18. I had no idea that San Antonio was so picturesque. The Riverwalk looks beautiful and the bridges are really cute. The river cruise and drinks at Sternewirth Tavern & Club Room at Hotel Emma would be on the top of my list if I was short on time. Such a great San Antonio itinerary Vanessa.

    1. San Antonio really is a beauty with so many activities along the River Walk! The Sternewirth might be one of the coolest places to have a drink and one I think you’d enjoy! 🙂

  19. A fantastic guide to San Antonio! You had me at breakfast tacos Vanessa! I love the history and architecture here, I’ve heard of the Alamo but didn’t know about the history. Selena Bridge is so charming, it reminds me our of bridges in Vicenza!

    1. Thanks Lisa! Those breakfast tacos are so so good and keep you wanting to go back. I never thought it before but the Selena Bridge does look like one you’d see in Vicenza! 🙂

    1. Thanks Lannie! Yes, you would enjoy those breakfast tacos and well pretty much all the other amazing food. It really is a foodie city to taste one’s way through! 🙂

  20. Food, drink, history, river walks…what’s not to like about San Antonio. A great guide for first timers or anyone planning a second visit. THXS for all the details and posting.

    1. Thanks Steve, I’m glad you found the tips and info helpful! It’s true, San Antonio is one of those cities you can’t help but like everything about it! 🙂

  21. I’ve been hearing what a great place San Antonio is for years, but I had no idea there was so much history and color there! I’ve heard the Riverwalk is a must, and I would love to do that Missions tour and explore the street art. I can never get enough Mexican food (that’s why I live in Mexico) and pulled pork BBQ! I’ll definitely have to look at visiting “North of the Border”.

    1. San Antonio is such an awesome city with top attractions of the River Walk and the Missions! You would definitely enjoy the food as there is a ton of Mexican flavors and influence. 🙂

    1. Thank you! Those are some great picks as you can’t go wrong with eating some BBQ and searching for street art in San Antonio! 🙂

  22. You made the most of your 3 days there Vanessa. No wonder you needed that Bloody Mary at the end. It looks a brilliant city. The food has me salivating (that brisket!) and there’s a good history to the place. This really must be the most comprehensive guide to it too. Top work.

    1. Thanks John! 🙂 It is an awesome city to explore and yes that Bloody Mary felt very refreshing after a long day of walking! If you love brisket then Texas has the best!

  23. Quick question! I’m planning a trip to San Antonio for the first time for the end of March and don’t plan to rent a car. Is it worth the splurge to stay on the Riverwalk, or is the walking distance from surrounding hotels to the Riverwalk okay? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi! I do think it is worth staying on or very near the Riverwalk as you will be within walking distance of almost everything on this list and can avoid getting a rental car. A few attractions are not within walking distance but you can easily hop in an Uber/Lyft for those. The Mission Trail is farther but you can take a tour that will include transportation. Enjoy your time in San Antonio!

  24. Thank you, this was so helpful! I used alot of information here to help me plan our trip there in October.

    1. You’re welcome and have a wonderful time! October will be a great month to go! 🙂

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