San Antonio Texas: A Plethora Of Culture, History & Fun For Families

From the moment my son and I touched down in San Antonio, Texas and settled into our room at the brand new Home2 Suites by Hilton, we couldn’t wait to hit the trail and discover the hidden charm of the city. We decided to begin our quest immediately and set out armed with only our camera and giddy enthusiasm. Within minutes we were touring the newly expanded River Walk, drinking in the sights, sounds and smells of the vibrant South Central Texas culture. In the middle of downtown where one would expect steaming manholes was an oasis of the San Antonio river shaded by enormous Bald Cyprus trees.

The shops, restaurants and historical architecture and art vied for our attention as we spun in circles trying to take it all in.

The most distinguishing feature of San Antonio is the San Antonio River. The river continues to provide a constant heartbeat of life to the city from the days of long ago when simple Mexican farmers worked the land to modern, high class, luxury hotels and five star restaurants.

One of the great things about this river is that while cruising along it, you can see most of the city. This is a great idea for families! We enjoyed a river boat cruise through Rio Taxi, which took us from the downtown location all the way to the northern most developed headwaters of the San Antonio River. Not only did this sight-seeing tour of architecture and local artistry make our tour interesting, but the Rio Taxi’s drivers are wonderful local history buffs who take you back in time by weaving their tales as they wend you through the water. Storytelling at it’s finest!

We ate an incredible meal from Boudro’s; a Texas Bistro on the River Walk, of blackened steak and delicate salmon, topped off with a desert to die for. Our incredibly knowledgeable tour guide/history buff, navigated us to the northern most section of the river and back, all the while weaving historical stories of the buildings and events of days gone by. The history was a perfect seasoning for a delightful evening.
The next day we headed south of town a few miles to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

There are five separate missions which comprise this National Historical Park: San Jose’, Mission Concepcion, San Juan, Espada and the Alamo. Budget conscious families will appreciate that there is absolutely no entrance fee at the National Historical Park! You can even take advantage of a complimentary tour (just ask) by your very own tour guide.

They will walk you through the missions giving you more historical information than a mind can rightly digest. The Alamo is the only exception to this free service.

The passing of time and poor engineering of the early 1900’s separated the river from the missions. We saw this most dramatically with Mission Concepcion where Woodrow Wilson and his team of engineers actually diverted the flow of the river. The San Antonio River Authority has several projects underway to restore different aspects of this river system.

The missions tour ended all too quickly and we soon found ourselves in what I can only describe as “the heart of Mexico” or downtown San Antonio, enjoying another cultural meal of Mexican cuisine at Mi Tierra. I find I can’t get enough of enchiladas, corn chips, salsa and guacamole!

We then shopped the largest Mexican market north of the border. El Mercado is alive and hopping with the artistry and bright colors prevalent to Mexican craft. It is pure eye candy! I only wish I lived closer to take home a few sink basins and sets of dinnerware!

If you are looking for an out of this world dining experience, hit up Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood. This ritzy restaurant is located on East Houston Street, just a couple of doors down from Home2. It is owned and operated by Mark Bohanan, a chef who knows his steaks and seafood.

We dined here on our last evening in San Antonio and I was blown away with the service and richness of their cuisine. The food was incredible; the red snapper melted in my mouth as I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I watched my son enjoy every moment of our last meal in San Antonio. I can’t decide what was sweeter, the crème brulee or the comradery of new found friends.

From El Mercado to the Alamo; from brightly colored trinkets and bobbles to the sacred ground of fighting patriots who gave their lives for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” we consumed the rich culture of San Antonio. Although we barely scratched the surface on all this city has to offer, we did see enough to know we want to come back again and again.

I haven’t even begun to tell you about the musical history and influence of the city or of the many festivals put on during the year. Nor have I sufficiently described the cultural arts and museums, street mosaics and sculptures that line the River Walk and embellish the buildings.

With the rich cultural and historical sites of the missions, museums and other sites you will have a hard time running out of things to do. The trip in itself is a fun, enjoyable and educational experience for adults and children of all ages.

*A big thank you to The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau and Home2 Suites for inviting us to experience the beauty, culture and history of San Antonio.*