Not Your Typical San Antonio Travel Tips

San antonio travel tips

Google what to do in San Antonio and you will get a list of ideas. Places to see, where to walk, what to enjoy and just maybe, how to get there. But what about all the great places that the locals enjoy in their city? Where are those places and are they just as fun as the tourist spots? What is the easiest way to get around if you don’t have a car so you can take in those hidden gems. Don’t worry, I have answers for you.

Let’s at least start with a few of the obvious reasons of why we went to San Antonio, then I will get into the stuff that will really help you get around and enjoy your time.

Typical  San Antonio Travel Tips

hotels on the san antonio riverwalk

There are beautiful hotels along the Riverwalk. There was a show playing on this stage one evening.

san antonio river cruises

The Riverwalk is in the heart of the city. Tour boats take in all the history along the way.

san antonio riverwalk

Dining along the Riverwalk is plentiful.

san antonio texas riverwalk

The Riverwalk goes on for miles outside of downtown. It’s such a beautiful stroll.

  • The Downtown Riverwalk – It can get crazy crowded, but it’s beautiful to walk through especially at night all lit up.
  • Don’t forget the Alamo – Don’t miss this. Not only is there a ton of information to read throughout, there are lots of people in red vests that are willing to tell you even more.
  • Tower of America’s – Ummmm. Kind of anticlimactic. San Antonio is so flat that there really wasn’t much to see. The downtown area is all hotels, so you could look for your hotel. I suggest saving your money on this. Now Seattle’s Space Needle is worth the look around.
  • King Williams district for beautiful old homes.
  • Six Flags Fiesta Texas – We needed to ride the Rattler. It was worth the trip out just for that ride alone. By the way our favorite travel tips for parks still worked. Discover for easier entry and ask for free water all throughout the park.  In case of lines check out my Games to Play while standing in line.
We ran through the park to get on the front row first ride of the day.

We ran through the park to get on the front row first ride of the day.

I could go on with the typical travel tips, but you can find those anywhere. Here’s the tips I really want to share with you.

Not Your Typical San Antonio Travel Tips

How to get from the airport into downtown:

  • If you have a hotel shuttle you are good to go, but we did not.
  • You can catch a shuttle that goes downtown for $25 a person.
  • You could even grab an Uber car (if you have never used Uber and you put in this promo code amyb901 you will get a free trip up to $30)
  • Ride the city bus for just $1.20 each. It’s bus #5, it’s on the island all the way to very end. Can’t find it? Just ask. It took us roughly 30 minutes and saved us a ton of money and dropped us off within 2 blocks of our hotel.

Don’t feel like you need to stay on the river or downtown.

  • This was my biggest pre requisite, then we ended up spending a lot of time in other parts of town.
  • If you do stay downtown get a place with a pool to hang out at or a place with a balcony. The river gets crowded so just trying to sit and enjoy was not easy. We ended up in our room, although nice, it was very boring. No balcony, so we ended up wandering a lot. We did score a great deal on our room through Expedia.
  • I would suggest a B&B in King Williams.

Use Public Transportation

  • There are tons of Hop on Hop Off buses. They are expensive, but you get historical information. There are coupons all over for these too. We got some from our hotel.
  • There is even Tour Boats, which again are expensive, but you get the history tour.
  • The Water Taxi’s are a little less, but are super crowded if you intend to board in the downtown area. They do go quite a ways north towards the Pearl Brewery and south, but not sure how far south.
  • I had read that the public transportation VIA (same as the city bus we road from the airport) had all day passes for $4. I don’t like to spend time figuring out bus schedules. What we didn’t know is there are a few trolleys that are part of the VIA system and they will take you to every single point of interest in San Antonio. We realized this the very last day. They say VIA Trolley really big on the sides. Oh well, now you know. Google VIA Trolleys and you will see the PDF with all the info you need.
Ride your B-cycle all the way to Mission Conception.

Ride your B-cycle all the way to Mission Conception.

Beautiful doorway of Mission Conception. There was a service going on and you could ride your B-cyle down to attend it if you would like.

Beautiful doorway of Mission Conception. There was a service going on and you could ride your B-cyle down to attend it if you would like.

Use B-cycle:

  • There are B-cycle stations all over town. All the way into the Pearl Brewery and all the way south to Mission Trail.
  • If you want to get a helmet you can pick on up at one of the centers for free. The B-cycle stations do not have them as they are only a docking stations for your bikes.
  • You can ride on the Riverwalk outside of the downtown area.
  • There are B-cycle stations close to all the sites.
Hot Joy San Antonio

Bon Appetit ranked this as one of the best restaurants in San Antonio. Located in Southtown

The Boiler House San Antonio Pearl

Double Pork Chop from Boiler House with spaetzle. Best meal of the trip. Located in Pearl

The Luxury San Antonio

A local told us of this great hang out. Shipping containers with beer on tap and food. Plus a great place to sit back and relax. Located between downtown and the Pearl.

Don’t feel like you need to eat every meal on the Downtown Riverwalk

  • There are tons of restaurants down there serving food to the masses. The few meals we ate at were marginal at best.
  • Find where the locals are eating and drinking.
  • The Pearl or Pearl Brewery area (locals call it one thing, tourist signs refer to it as another) has great food. The culinary Institute is there and the restaurants are there to offer some spectacular food.
  • Cured is the coolest building in the Pearl. Make sure you at least walk through it even if you sit outside. The food was spectacular.
  • Boiler House was exceptional. Probably the best meal of the trip. We shared a double cut chop $28 and a salad.  Prices on the Riverwalk are just as expensive for the nicer places, but the food is not nearly as good.
  • The Luxury is a shipping container with well over 20 beers on tap, bottled beer and wine. Another shipping container sells food. It’s right on the Riverwalk between downtown and the Pearl.
  • Southtown is another fun area. We managed to be there during First Friday. The streets were packed with vendors and the restaurants were hopping. We ate at Hot Joy, per a locals recommendation. It was the most eclectic menu I have ever seen. I can’t even begin to describe it. It has an Asian flare, but we also had pasta and Migas fried rice. Only try it if your adventuresome.
  • Also in Southtown was The Friendly Spot. I loved the look of this outdoor space. It was cheery, all outdoors and tons and tons of beer on tap. There is even a play structure for kids to play on.
  • Sip coffee Shop had GREAT coffee, loose leaf tea and really yummy breakfast sandwiches.
  • Although not spectacular we did eat at the Gunther House in King Williams district. Loved the outdoor seating.

What we Discovered

  • Like I already said we discovered the VIA Trolley’s too late, but be sure to take advantage of them.
  • San Antonio is all tourists. We actually got there during the week in October. Not only were there no tourists during the week, there were also no people on the streets or cars. It was weird.
  • We can’t handle humidity.
  • We wanted to ride the B-cycles all way through all the missions on the Mission Trail, but the humidity kicked our butts, so we rented a car and drove.
  • Three days is plenty unless you intend to hit every garden, zoo, and museum.
  • The Riverwalk is more than just the downtown area. Don’t miss the spectacular views of the river either north or south.
  • The Pedicab drivers know what’s going on. The one day we chose to ride in one he took us to a laser light show at Cathedral at San Fernando. It was so spectacular. He wheeled us up right to the front and we sat in our comfy seat and watched the whole 20 minute show. Read here for the schedule to the light show. They bought rights to play this for the next 10 years.
  • We like to see what the locals do. Where they eat and drink and play. I’m glad we took the time to find those things out. It made me love San Antonio ever more.
  • I wish we would have spent more money on a room worth spending some time in and definitely not in downtown.
  • Everyone was super friendly.
  • The missions are still being used as churches. I loved this!

Stay tuned for

Where to Eat in San Antonio and I will go into more detail and even share with you what an Ice House is. Such a great place.
Plus I will share with you all the history that abounds in San Antonio.

What’s your favorite thing about San Antonio?

Also check out another favorite USA trip we took in Utah.



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  1. I have been a resident of the city for 23 years and have to share this amazing place I always recommend to anyone saying they are coming to San Antonio, the Shops at Broadway News. It’s located at 2202 Broadway just a block or two from the Historic Pearl Brewery and Hotel Emma. It’s amazing shops that are housed in converted Airstream trailers all nestled together… it’s something I haven’t seen anywhere else and if you’re looking for amazing jewelry stop by the Nina Berenato shop!

  2. Thanks for the added tip. We will definitely have to check it out next time we are there. Loved your city!!!

  3. Tara in TX says

    THIS is the type of blog post I love! A little bit of the “norm” ~ and great insider tips that truly enrich your experience. I’m a native here. So few know about the VIA trolley. What’s even better is that they are not part of the regular bus system, they are very clean and dedicated to only their route. Pick up every 30 min and $4 like you mentioned! Across from the Alamo is the SA Visitor Center. You can pick up all types of brochures with coupons to restaurants & attractions and they have all the bus & trolley schedules. You can purchase your passes there and their customer service is so helpful. All the missions are beautiful, rich in history & have docents that love giving free tours.
    Next time you are downtown, walk into the Hyatt Regency and go to their concierge. Ask for coupons ~ especially for free early entry into Howl at the Moon (huge piano bar) ~ go early before the crowd, grab some great cocktails and sit out on the enormous, quiet balcony over the Riverwalk. If you plan to stay, grab a table inside early ~ it gets completely full but is SO much fun! Alternatively, instead of paying to go up to observation deck at The Tower, consider going to the bar (Bar 601) ~separate FREE elevator and has great 1/2 price apps & drinks specials happy hour. Best view in town.
    Tip for Six Flags parking if your readers don’t have season/parking. Park in new covered parking garage (free and keeps your car cooler) across the highway in The Rim shopping/restaurant center. Call an Uber and have them pick up and drop off. So much cheaper than paying for parking and you’re dropped right off near front (there’s a separate Drop Off entrance). Also, consider leaving the park for lunch/dinner ($$$ & not very good)…there are SO many awesome restaurants at The Rim. Hop Doddy, Tiagos, Stonewerks, Urban Pizza are just some of our favorites.
    Thank you for your post!


  1. […] have another post, Not Your Typical San Antonio Travel Tips. In that post I shared how you need to get out of downtown for the good food. Even though the […]

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