San Antonio has so much to offer for those who want a taste of Texas or those who want a nice place to visit outside the hustle and bustle of Austin. The city is quick on its feet, always looking toward the future as one of the fastest growing cities in America. Yet, many people have forgotten about the rich history that San Antonio holds. Beyond Alamo Plaza and Market Square, there is a past that deserves just as much attention as any other Texan landmark. A day trip can easily be made from Austin to enjoy some Texas history and soak up what San Antonio really offers tourists seeking a great time with family and friends.
Here’s how it’s done:
Before the sun rises, drive up to Austin and grab some breakfast tacos on your way. Get off I-35 at exit 241 (Old Hwy 81) and take it south all the way to San Antonio. It’s about a two hour trip so you’ll want to pack some snacks for the road. This is part of your day!
Visit Main Plaza in downtown San Antonio near the Alamo. There are some great restaurants offering local fare here as well as antique shops that will interest those who love history or just like browsing knickknacks. Stroll around Main Plaza on Commerce St., visit St .Mary’s Square next door on Military Pl., then walk across Market St., where you can visit El Mercado left of San Fernando Cathedral.
Here, you can find the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and see one of many sites that show San Antonio’s reverence for local businesses over chains . Speaking of the cathedral, though it is open for tours, be sure to visit it at Mass time. The service might surprise you if you’re used to the more laid back Texan Baptists. Be respectful and sit near the back or in a pew on your own to avoid distracting others. This cathedral has been standing since 1738! If you want to stay longer outside mass time, I recommend exploring its history .
San Antonio offers much more than big city amenities now. Many affluent families are now flocking toward the southern part of town due to cheaper home prices , an increased interest in urban living , and the rise of new businesses. They’re also coming for that small town feel they longed for . The city is no longer an open range, though you can still experience some of this on a San Antonio Spurs game at the AT&T Center. However, if you want to get a sense of what San Antonio was like way back when, take a day trip out into the Hill Country towns west of the city.
You can find Hondo by going west from downtown San Antonio all along Old Hwy 90 West. It’s about 50 minutes from the heart of the city but it will be worth it. Downtown Hondo has been restored through community effort and local businesses are thriving here. There’s also a great family-owned brewery here and some great German food and beer if you’re looking for lunch or dinner . Think of it as small town Germany, but with all the conveniences that come from living in modern America.
If you really want to experience what San Antonio used to be like, this is probably the place to do it. It’s about an hour north east of Hondo by taking 90 East again through Kerrville and Junction. You’ll definitely need a car here since there is no public transportation system to speak of. None the less, try your best to make it out here at least once during your life . Bring a camera because there will be plenty of photo opportunities along these gorgeous routes .
Finally, you’ll arrive to Bandera. This is where you can find the Texas experience at its finest. Go through downtown Bandera on Main St., where you can see the German Cowboy Culture Museum . Try some authentic Texas barbecue, go for a scenic drive or horseback ride , take part in some local festivals, you name it! Just leave enough time to make it back home before dark because there are no street lights outside of the city limits along this byway.