San Antonio: Like No Place Else

Learn about the attractions that put San Antonio on the map.
By: Elaine Aradillas

San Antonio draws more than 20 million visitors, hosting more than 300 events and creating an economic impact of nearly $9 billion annually. Here are a few of the city's famous attractions:

The San Antonio River Walk. It is considered the heart of downtown. Instead of paving over the San Antonio River, architects and city planners decided to turn it into a local attraction. The river is lined with local shops and restaurants. Guests can take a tour -- or even dine -- on a river barge for a fee. During the holidays, the cypress trees that line the meandering sidewalks and hang over the bridges are decorated with thousands of colored lights. Unfortunately, the river water is opaque due to the muddy bottom, so jumping into the water is discouraged. But leave it to the city that is always ready for a party to turn river maintenance into the annual Mud Festival.

The Alamo. There is no basement in the Alamo. And yes, it is smaller than you expect. But the area, considered a burial ground, has been turned into a shrine of sorts where traffic is prohibited. The Alamo Plaza is a quiet place to relax and people watch, and it’s steps away from the River Walk. And while you’re sitting under the shade of a tree, escaping the glare of the South Texas sun, order a raspa for a cool refreshment. Raspas are snow cones, or shaved ice, with your choice of flavored syrup.

The Majestic Theater. The Majestic, as it is often called, was built in 1929. It almost closed permanently in the 1970s, but a nonprofit group considered it worth preserving and restoring to its natural, ornate beauty. After a multimillion-dollar renovation, the theater opened in 1989 as home of the San Antonio Symphony. Since then, dozens of touring Broadway shows from “Chicago” to “The Lion King” have performed there. The best part is the ceiling that looks like a twilight sky; a machine projects moving clouds as well as stars that twinkle before each show.

Tower of the Americas. The 750-feet structure was built for the 1968 World’s Fair, which was hosted by San Antonio. It’s an observation tower with a restaurant that rotates at the top. A glass elevator takes you to the top for a fee. But it’s one of those places that locals never visit unless they have a guest in town who desperately wants a panoramic view of the city.

Sea World of Texas. Sea World is a well-known attraction. Shamu does his regular routine of shows. There’s a place to feed the dolphins, as well as a beautiful, serene aquarium. To compete with a neighboring amusement park, Sea World rolled out a roller coaster and other thrill rides. In fact, there’s the Lost Lagoon water park, as well. So, it’s not just an educational marine park.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Fiesta Texas carries on the traditional flavor of the city inside the park. Folklorico dancers perform, as well as mariachis. It’s funny to think that the Rattler, the wooden roller coaster at the park, was considered the most thrilling of the rides when the park opened in the 1990s. Now there are inverted coasters and high-speed water rides. There’s a also a water park to stave off the heat.

Museo Alameda. The Alameda Theater was originally built in 1949 as a theater for Spanish language entertainment. The theater eventually became old and beyond repair, until a group of people recognized its potential as a cultural icon. The Alameda became the first formal affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution outside of Washington, D.C. It is located near Market Square, which features live music on the weekends. It’s a great place to experience the city’s culture through food and music.

San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are the only professional team in the city. The NBA team brought four championships to the Alamo city. In turn, the residents are loyal and protective of their men in silver and black. Once the playoffs approach, the entire city is decorated with placards that read: Go Spurs Go. Simple but infectious. It is not uncommon to be standing in line at a grocery store and everyone starts chanting, "Go Spurs Go."

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