San Antonio
Tips and adviceTrip inspiration
Casey Makovich

25+ Things to do in San Antonio for first time visitors

San Antonio features a unique culture that is a testament to its historical influences.

From its early indigenous inhabitants, the Spanish colonization, its independence from Mexico in the Texan Revolution to the great German migration, San Antonio's culture is unique in its diversity - and that’s something worth exploring.

Here are our top picks of things to do in San Antonio, including museums, theme parks, and more. Here's what you can't miss...

  • SeaWorld® San Antonio
  • Six Flags Fiesta Texas
  • Texas Hill Country & LBJ Ranch Tour
  • San Antonio Missions UNESCO Tour
  • The Alamo
  • Alamo Plaza Attractions
  • And many more!

💰 >> See how you can save up to 50% on San Antonio attractions 😎 >> See all San Antonio attractions

SeaWorld® San Antonio

Part aquarium, part thrill-packed theme park, SeaWorld® San Antonio lets visitors get closer than ever to tons of marine life, including dolphins, penguins, and polar bears, get splashed by killer whales, and then get an adrenaline rush reaching speeds of up to 50-miles per hour on sea-themed themed thrill rides.

Adrenaline-seekers will want to map their day at SeaWorld around the many thrill rides, like the fast-moving The Great White® ride featuring 360-degree flips and corkscrews, or The Steel Eel's 15-story vertical drop and camelbacks that give you a feeling of weightlessness.

When the afternoon sun is at its hottest, cool off on the classic splash-drop coaster ride Journey to Atlantis® or the Rio Loco®--just be prepared to get soaked!

Younger ones will want to spend some time at the Sesame Street® Bay of Play®, where they can meet the cast of Sesame Street, take a spin on fun rides like the Shamu Express® mini roller coaster, or sit back and watch an entertaining, family-friendly show.

💡 Tip: plan your day around the show schedules - between shows, you can visit the animal exhibits and go on all the rides.

SeaWorld San Antonio

2. Six Flags Fiesta Texas

From classic theme park rides like Ferris wheels, bumper cars, water slides, and wave pools, to some of the most cutting-edge thrill ride experiences, like the new 4D Free Fly Coaster BATMANTM: The Ride, Six Flags Fiesta Texas is fun for everyone.

The park features seven distinct, themed areas with a whole bunch of rides of varying thrill levels including a water park with slides, rides, and pools. In addition to all the thrill and water rides, Six Flags Fiesta also has lots of shows and entertainment scheduled throughout the day, plus several dining and shopping spots. Check the schedule to plan your day around the entertainment you want to see.

🎟️ Getting in: Admission is only available on the Explorer pass.

3. Texas Hill Country & LBJ Ranch Tour

Get the full Texas Hill Country experience on this fully narrated, one-day excursion from San Antonio. You'll get a tour of Lyndon B. Johnson's boyhood home and the LBJ Ranch, also known as the "Texas White House," and learn all about the legacies of both Lyndon B. Johnson, America's 36th president, and his wife, Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor.

Next, you'll break for lunch and free time in the picturesque and historic town of Fredericksburg, a classic German town where you'll see the influence of the great German migration of the 1840s and 1850s. After Fredericksburg, you'll head to Luckenbach, home of lots of musical legends, including Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hondo Crouch, and many more. The last stop on the tour will be to an award-winning winery where you'll learn about the Texas wine industry first-hand (for adults 21+, of course).

San Antonio

4. San Antonio Missions UNESCO World Heritage Site Tour

Take a tour of these fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Mission Concepción, San José, San Juan, Espada, and more. Along the 3.5-hour tour, your expert guide will lead you around the sites and provide insightful commentary about San Antonio's Spanish influences.

Inside the churches, you'll see Spanish and Moorish architecture and discover many of their fabulous hidden treasures from over 200 years of history. The complexes were built by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th century and illustrate the Spanish Crown’s efforts to colonize, evangelize, and defend the northern frontier of New Spain.

5. The Alamo

No visit to San Antonio is complete without a stop at the most visited historic landmark in all of Texas: The Alamo.

Located in the heart of San Antonio, this former Spanish church-turned-fortress serves as a testament to those who sacrificed their lives in the Battle of the Alamo following a 13-day siege in 1836. The battle was a pivotal moment in the Texas Revolution that helped inspire many Texians to join the fight against the much larger Mexican Army and the exact location where Texian troops achieved independence to the shouts of "Remember the Alamo!" after months of fighting.

💡 Tip: Get familiar with the legends and myths of the famous battle by watching the 1950s Disney miniseries Davy Crockett and John Wayne's 1960 film The Alamo

The alamo

6. Alamo Plaza

After visiting the site of the Alamo, take some time to explore the area built up around it and visit some of the attractions right in the surrounding Alamo Plaza.

Guinness World Records: learn all about record-setting history at Guinness World Records. Home to many impressive (and sometimes bizarre) exhibits, this experience brings the contents of the famously fascinating books to life. You'll even get a chance to break some records yourself in the recently built Attempt Arena.

Ripley's Haunted Adventure: featuring live actors, creepy artifacts and props, and realer-than-real special effects, this haunted house experience is not for the faint of heart.

Tomb Rider 3-D: part laser tag, part spooky thrill ride, this exciting adventure takes passengers to a world of monsters and mayhem to the ancient tomb of the Egyptian god Anubis.

7. San Antonio Zoo

Home to 750 different species of animals from around the globe, the San Antonio Zoo is dedicated to inspiring curiosity and educating the public about animals, their habitats, threats to their species, and conservation efforts around the world. The San Antonio Zoo is a great resource for educational entertainment that kids and adults alike will enjoy. From alligators to zebras, you'll see tons of animals you otherwise wouldn't get a chance to see.

💡 Tip: Download the San Antonio Zoo app and learn about the animals you can expect to see during your visit.

San Antonio Zoo

8. San Antonio River Walk (free)

Also known as el Paseo del Rio, the San Antonio River Walk area is an area of town defined by the San Antonio River. It's lined with shops, restaurants, picturesque urban gardens, and many points of interest. The pedestrian walkway is removed from the busy downtown streets allowing the area to feel like a remote sanctuary.

The River Walk connects major attractions such as Hemisfair Park, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Rio San Antonio Cruise. Head to the Bier Garten and grab a drink to go (only open containers are allowed in the River Walk area).

9. Buckhorn Saloon and Museum and Texas Ranger Museum

These two museums are located in the same building and serve as the perfect complement to one another, jointly providing a holistic portrayal of Texan history and culture.

The Buckhorn Museum features wildlife from every continent of the world and boasts collections of natural artifacts collected from travelers passing through the area such as bones, antlers, and over 500 distinct species of wildlife, including a 10,000-year-old prehistoric elk. The Texas Ranger Museum features hundreds of Texas Ranger artifacts, including revolvers, automatic handguns, sawed-off shotguns, photographs, and more in the exploration of frontier America with an homage to early Texan history.

Visitors can take a walk through Ranger Town, a recreation of the town of San Antonio at the turn of the century complete with a replica of the Buckhorn Saloon, a jail cell, a blacksmith shop, and more. A must-see for any fans of Texan heritage and the days of the wild frontiers.

Museum San Antonio

10. Witte Museum

Exploring a variety of topics, from history to science, and South Texas heritage, the Witte Museum provides visitors with fascinating immersive experiences. Permanent exhibits feature historic artifacts, Texas art, wildlife collections, and the H-E-B Body Adventure, designed to educate about healthy living in a unique, interactive way. This exhibit empowers visitors to learn about how the body works on a journey to sustained health and wellness.

Visitors can test their energy score, check their stride and height to see how long it would take to walk (or run!) the 13-mile river walk path connecting the Witte to San Antonio’s historic missions, receive a personalized take-home POWERprofile, dig deeper into health topics on a life-size touchscreen anatomy table, and lots more.

In the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center, another popular exhibit at the Witte Museum, visitors can travel back to the days when vaqueros, chilli queens, and cattle kings roamed the wild and vivid land of the state of Texas. Here, you can see Davy Crockett’s fiddle and hear the stories of the cowboys who helped shape and build Texas.

11. San Antonio Museum of Art

Home to an extensive collection of art from around the globe, this former 19th-century brewery-turned-museum boasts more than 30,000 artifacts spanning over 5,000 years of history.

Exhibits at the San Antonio Museum of Art feature a variety of art, including Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities, Latin American artwork, contemporary art, and Asian art. It even has an entire gallery dedicated exclusively to Texas art, making it one of the best things to do in San Antonio.

12. Tejas Rodeo Company

A night at the rodeo is perfect for getting a real feel for Texan culture. You can watch as professional cowboys and cowgirls compete in bull riding, barrel racing, team roping, and more! Then, when the boot-scootin' fever takes over (as it undoubtedly will) try your hand at riding a bull too - mechanical of course!

Little ones won't be left out - they’ll delight in a serene pony ride and the joyfully chaotic calf scramble!

Tejan Rodeo

13. DoSeum

Inspire the kids’ curiosity at this highly interactive children's museum that explores how imagination and creativity can advance the fields of science and technology in hands-on ways. This indoor/outdoor museum features 39,000 square feet of exhibits including Sensations Studio, Explore, Little Town, Innovation Station, Spy Academy, and Imagine it! where kids learn about scientific concepts in a way that feels like play - where it's all about doing.

🎟️ Getting in: Buy DoSeum tickets directly from the museum.

14. Explore The Pearl

The Pearl, an up-and-coming neighborhood located just a few miles up the San Antonio River from downtown, is packed with local favorites and home to some of the trendiest restaurants and shops in the city. The area has a unique culture of its own focused on supporting local artists, celebrating individuality, and inspiring originality.

Head here with the family for lots of good dining options, cute boutique shopping, and to get a feel for the local culture.

💡 Tip: The Pearl is free to visit. Don't forget to check the Farmer's Market schedule for some authentic local eats!

15. HemisFair Park

What was once the site of the 1968 World's Fair now plays an integral role in the urban revitalization of San Antonio, serving as a public space linking downtown San Antonio to surrounding areas. Pack a picnic, or grab some snacks and refreshments at one of the surrounding shops or food carts in the park, then spend some time soaking up the San Antonio sun and community vibes.

HemisFair Park is free to visit.

Hemisfair Park

16. Tower of the Americas

More than just an observation tower, the iconic Tower of the Americas features great views of the city, fascinating historic exhibits, and a 4D theater ride with Texas-specific experiences. Head up to the Flags Over Texas: Observation Deck for 360-degree views of San Antonio.

You'll get info about the many landmarks you'll see from the top so you'll be able to identify your surroundings and associate some history with the most significant sights. Fly over Texas, experience what a Friday night football game is like, and get up close to a NASA space shuttle when you take a turn on the Skies Over Texas: 4D Theater Ride.

🎟️ Getting in: Buy tickets directly from the Tower website.

Tower of the Americas

17. Kiddie Park

If you're traveling with kids between the ages of 1-12, head to America's oldest children's amusement park for some good old-fashioned fun. Featuring classic theme park attractions, rides, arcade games, carnival games, face painting stations and more, Kiddie Park is nostalgic fun for the whole family.

🎟️ Getting in: Buy tickets for individual attractions onsite.

18. Brackenridge Park 

With 343 acres of well-planned land, Brackenridge Park is a hub of outdoor activities in San Antonio for natives and visitors alike. Home to the lush Japanese Tea Gardens, the Brackenridge Golf Course, playgrounds, swimming pools, picnic areas, fishing, trails, the Witte Museum, San Antonio Zoo, and more, there's lots to be found within the park's boundaries. Any special events and activities within the park may be separately ticketed.

Brackenridge Park is free to visit.

19. Japanese Tea Garden

Get your moment of zen during your trip and head to San Antonio’s Japanese Tea Garden, one of the most loved educational and cultural spots in San Antonio. Located in Brackenridge Park, take a walk on the beautifully landscaped and well-shaded walkways, get an up-close look at the variety of plant life, walk over stone bridges, and see ponds filled with large koi fish. Take a break at the covered pavilion, and visit the 60-foot waterfall within the park.


20. World's Largest Cowboy Boots 

Worth a visit just to get the perfect cover to your San Antonio photo album, the World's Largest Cowboy Boots are located outside the North Star Mall, just a short drive north of the city. It's free, so why not!

World's largest cowboy boots

21. Take in an outdoor movie screening 

San Antonio might have the widest selection of outdoor movie screening options than any other city. Attend an outdoor evening flick, a favorite activity of San Antonio residents when the weather is nice. Check the Slab Cinema schedule of free events online and see if there are any fun films airing during your visit.

22. San Pedro Springs Park 

Cool off in the free public pool in San Antonio's oldest park and the second oldest public American park. This beautifully landscaped space is designed around the natural springs and creek. A top destination for active San Antonio residents, this park features walking trails, a tennis court, swimming pool, skate park, playgrounds, paved bike trail, picnic tables, and more.

Any events and activities happening in the park may be separately ticketed.

San Pedro Springs park

23. El Mercado

Spend a morning or afternoon browsing El Mercado, the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico, home to dozens of locally owned shops and food stops. It's free to browse, but you'll definitely be tempted to pick up some souvenirs before you head home.

24. Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort

Located right outside of San Antonio, Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort in New Braunfels features tons of water park thrills and fun. From exhilarating water slides and thrill rides to relaxing lazy rivers and poolside lounges, there's water fun for everyone. For a day of ultimate adventure and relaxation, consider reserving one of the many cabanas for some guaranteed shade and comfy quarters.

🎟️ Getting in: Buy tickets at the site.

Save up to 50% on San Antonio attractions

Planning your San Antonio trip? With Go City®, you can explore big-name landmarks, local hotspots and epic tours, all on one pass, all for one price. Not only that, but you'll enjoy savings of up to 50%, compared to buying individual attraction tickets.

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