Skip to main content

Everything You Need to Know About San Antonio, Texas

Looking for a very famous mission, incredible Mexican food and miles of river to explore? Look no further than San Antonio, Texas.

We are huge fans of this little Texas town (small for Texas that is) for several reasons. It doesn’t quite have the insane sprawl that Dallas and Houston have and the downtown area is quite charming. There is a vibrant Mexican vibe here from the architecture, to the clothes, to the drinks. Also, this little town has a lot of great places to eat, which is really half the reason we travel anywhere right? The climate is also a warm relief to anyone looking to escape snowpocalypse weather.

Here are our favorite spots in Alamo City.


The Alamo

Let’s just get this one out of the way. It is pretty cool to be in the same place that Davy Crockett was killed in the Texas Revolution. Established in 1718 as Mission San Antonio de Valero, this former mission (now known as the Alamo) has been a place of pilgrimage for the past 300 years. Wander the grounds, marvel at the architecture and take a tour of the battlefield.

Random fact: Phil Collins donated his priceless collection of hundreds of Alamo artifacts to the people of Texas in 2014. Plans are underway for a museum on site to house all of these treasures. Cue a ‘Take Me Home’ sing along.

The Riverwalk

While it can border on cheesy (i.e. mega touristy), the Riverwalk is still a must do when in San Antonio. Instead of just hopping on a tourist trek down the river, use the river taxis as ways to float around town. Take one to The Briscoe Museum of Western Art or to lunch at Ochos.


If you have time for a day trip, be sure to explore the serene Hill Country; just an hour outside of town is charming Fredericksburg. Founded in 1846 by Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach as a German settlement, it is now an amusingly oddball small town of cowboys and hippies. Yes, you heard us right. To truly get the sense of eccentricity, have lunch at Hondo’s on Main. There is usually live music and they are famous for their donut burgers, a half-pound of thick, juicy Certified Angus Beef, formed into a donut and grilled on an open-flame, mesquite wood grill. There is also a plethora of wineries to check out too, so bring a designated driver! Our pick for wineries – Becker.

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

If you find yourself in town in February, the Stock Show and Rodeo can’t be missed. You can spend the day at the carnival fairgrounds eating funnel cake and riding puke inducing rides then walk over to the stock show to see a plethora of beautiful livestock ranging from cattle, sheep, goats and swine. The big event is the rodeo of course and it is Americana on steroids. Gaze wide eyed at the bull riders who risk their lives to little kids who try to stay on energetic sheep in the ‘Mutton Busting’ event.


Ocho at The Havana

Located in the muy cool hotel Havana (owned by one of our favorite hotel groups, Bunkhouse), Ocho is located in a glass conservatory overlooking the river. Come for a quiet lunch or for a hip dinner with friends and sample their pan-Latin cuisine and wash it all down with an ice cold Michelada. We are fans of the Hippie Torta with fresh black beans, avocado, tomato and sprouts as well as the Cubano.

La Gloria

Chef Hernandez won national exposure not just for appearing on Top Chef as a guest judge, but when he cooked a Cinco de Mayo dinner for President Obama in 2016. Needless to say La Gloria is our top pick for authentic Mexican street food. Go big for the Mocajetes Puerco en Chiles, which is pork with chilies in a huge volcanic rock bowl (like a mortar and pestle). You may need a siesta afterwards.

La Fonda on Main

A little more high end, La Fonda has an incredible outdoor dining area that is perfect for large groups. Their margaritas are perfect and the chicken chalupa is a favorite (New No 7).

Smoke Shack

You can’t go to Texas and not get your BBQ fix. Starting out as a food truck, Smoke Shacks popularity grew so great that they opened a permanent location. Owner Chris Conger has made a name for his BBQ because he smokes his meats over oak with a touch of pecan wood and his rub includes a bit of coffee. We are fans of the pulled pork but don’t pass on the Smoke Shack Mac – mac & cheese piled high with chopped brisket & BBQ sauce.


Boasting the longest bar in Texas, this iconic watering hole sold its first beer back in 1933. Claiming to have the longest bar in Texas, this is a great place for a big night out with the crew or a cozy boozy night cap (since the bar food is pretty good and greasy, too). While the cocktails are delicious, the local beers from Freetail Brewing and Branchline are worth a shot as well.


Paris Hatters

When in Texas everyone needs a cowboy hat. It’s a good souvenir and a great style option over the usual baseball cap. The only place to go for a hat in San Antonio is Paris Hatters. Established in 1917, this place is a serious institution filled with every kind of cowboy hat (and others!) you could dream of. The staff is very friendly and happy to help measure your head size and figure out the right hat for you.

Note: Don’t touch the hats! There are signs everywhere but I was so excited I reached for one and was politely told not to.


One of the biggest events in San Antonio is the annual Fiesta. Even if you don’t make the big event in April, hitting up the Fiesta Store is a must. Located down the street from La Fonda on Main, it’s located in an old house and is filled with every fiesta related product you could ever dream of. Serious sensory overload!

Farmers Market

There is no better way to get a feel for a city than exploring their farmers’ market. The farmers’ market at The Pearl (next to the Hotel Emma) is a great place to start the day. Listen to local music, fill up on a breakfast tostada and coffee and buy yourself some local honey to take back home.


Hotel Emma

Ever dreamt of spending the night in a brewery? Well here is your chance. Granted, they stopped producing Pearl Beer in 2001, but the 146 room hotel has many nods to its past. Have a cocktail in an old brewhouse container at their Sternewirth bar, enjoy coffee in the grand library, or take a dip on their rooftop pool. Built in 1894, the independently owned Emma is one of the best-designed, handsomest, and most enjoyable hotels we have ever rested our brew-soaked beard.

Editors' Recommendations

Cator Sparks
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Cator Sparks was the Editor-in-Chief of The Manual from its launch in 2012 until 2018. Previously, Cator was covering…
What You Need to Know About UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman
Kamaru Usman UFC Profile

UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman is one of the most impressive talents in the entire world of MMA. Following his UFC debut in 2015, "The Nigerian Nightmare" has torn through the welterweight ranks to claim the title and defend it multiple times, establishing himself as one of the league's top strikers. If you want to know more about this African-American champion's rise to fame, here's his story.

Born in Auchi, Nigeria in 1987, Kamaru Usman immigrated with his family to Dallas, Texas when he was a young boy. Usman was a wrestler before embarking on his MMA career and trained in both freestyle and folkstyle wrestling, and even wrestled alongside UFC heavyweight Jon Jones at a tournament when he was a high school senior. After failing to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic wrestling team due to injury-related setbacks, Usman shifted his focus to mixed martial arts.

Read more
What is Bellator? Everything You Need to Know About the MMA Championship
What is Bellator MMA?

For thousands of years, people have enjoyed the thrill of watching men go at it in the arena, from ancient sports like wrestling and boxing to the infamous and bloody gladiatorial games of imperial Rome. Combat entertainment has become a bit more civilized in the modern era, but if it is blood you want to see, then mixed martial arts -- which has exploded in popularity over the past two decades -- is the sport for you, and if you're already familiar with UFC but aren't quite getting your fill, then Bellator is another league you need to check out.

Bellator's name, derived from the Latin word for "warrior," harkens back to the days of the Roman gladiators (although with a bit less death). Nonetheless, MMA is arguably the bloodiest sport you can legally watch today and Bellator is the second-largest league in the U.S. after the UFC, so it's definitely one that fight fans should have on their radars. If you've been following MMA for a while already then this isn't news to you, as many UFC stars both past and present have earned their stripes by cracking heads in Bellator.
Events and How to Watch
Bellator was founded in 2008, so it's more of a newcomer to the MMA scene than the UFC which was established almost three decades ago in 1993. Bellator held its inaugural event in 2009 and has hosted more than 250 numbered shows since then. The league's first-ever pay-per-view event, Bellator 120, came in 2014 and featured talent like Quinton Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Alexander Volkov, and Michael Chandler.

Read more
Everything You Need to Know About Zhang Weili Before UFC 261
everything you need to know about zhang weili zheng ufc

This weekend, UFC 261: Usman vs. Masvidal 2 is bringing three title bouts to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. Serving as the co-main event is a UFC Women's Strawweight Championship fight, where Zhang "Magnum" Weili will be defending her belt against former champ "Thug" Rose Namajunas. The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, but in the meantime, keep reading to learn more about Weili.

Zhang Weili is a 31-year-old mixed martial artist from Handan, China. She began training at age 12 in Kung Fu and Chinese kickboxing after becoming fascinated with combat arts from watching action films. In her 20s, Zhang worked several different jobs after moving to Beijing before embarking on her long -- and so far very successful -- MMA career.

Read more