Creative Things To Do In and Around San Antonio
The Alamo City is primarily known for, well, the Alamo. It’s also home to SeaWorld, Six Flags, and the River Walk, but that’s only a start! Think of San Antonio as a cascarón (a hollow egg full of confetti): unassuming on the outside, but filled with an explosion of color and fun!
Take in the San Antonio Museum of Art
Located in a complex that once housed Lone Star Brewery, the San Antonio Museum of Art offers visitors an amazing cultural experience. The collection spans over 5,000 years and touches upon many different genres, from antiquity to contemporary. The museum is best known for having the most impressive Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art collection in the southern United States and an astounding Latin American art collection in the Nelson A. Rockefeller Latin American art wing. Enjoy SAMA’s free hours on Tuesday and Sunday.
Take in the art on the River Walk’s Museum Reach
The River Walk is a staple of San Antonio, but what many don’t know is that there’s more to River Walk than just what’s featured downtown. Starting around the Pearl District, the less bustling end of the River Walk has some amazing art installations under the bridges, including F.I.S.H. by Philly artist Donald Lipski. The best (and coolest, temperature-wise) time to see them is toward twilight, as the gigantic fish light up and it’s sort of like you’re walking underwater.
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Visit the McNay Art Museum
Set amidst the backdrop of a Spanish Colonial mansion, the McNay Art Museum is named for artist and art collector Marion Koogler McNay, who moved to San Antonio from Ohio in 1926. McNay began construction on the house in 1926, and it became the first modern art museum of Texas in 1954. During her lifetime, McNay collected over 700 works of art by Diego Rivera, Van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Picasso. Today the museum includes 22,000 pieces of art, mostly from the 19th- and 20th-centuries.
Learn more about Latinx culture at The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center has the largest Virgin Mary mosaic in the world. The 40-feet-tall mosaic was constructed in the shape of a prayer candle in 2004 by artist Jesse Trevino. You can find Trevino’s work all over town. See the mosaic, then venture inside to learn more about Latinx arts and culture. There are workshops, art shows, and dance, music, and theater programs.
Visit the Yanaguana Garden.
Part public art show, part playground for kids and adults, it’s all beautiful. It’s a great place to relax and see extraordinary urban design. The garden offers a few places to eat and drink both in storefronts and nearby food trucks.
Artists in residence at ArtPace
See contemporary art (and its creation) at ArtPace. The museum invites nine artists per year to live and work here in three four-month cycles. Three of the artists are from Texas, three from elsewhere in the United States and three from around the world. They provide a broad creative perspective. ArtPlace offers artist lectures and other events.
Stroll through time at La Villita Historic Arts Village
La Villita is an artist’s market located right off the River Walk. It’s delightful to stroll through the galleries and find regional folk art and wares. La Villita is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the architecture is worth a visit, even if you don’t want to shop.
People watch at the Farmers Market at the Pearl
The farmers market features vendors selling standard grocery fare as well as brunch and lunch options. Set amidst the picturesque community in the Pearl District, it’s dog-friendly, kid-friendly, and filled with locals and visitors. The beginning of the River Walk is just steps away, so it’s relatively easy to walk into central downtown.
Explore San Antonio’s Missions
The San Antonio Missions are part of a UNESCO world heritage site. They span the San Antonio River for several miles south of downtown. The most famous mission is the Alamo. But Missions Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan, and Espada are also quite beautiful (and slightly less crowded), so be sure to see them, too. The best way to see them all is to go to the farthest one (Mission Espada) and visit each Mission along the 15-mile riverside trail.
Drink bubble tea at the Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden used to be a rock quarry. But it’s now a beautiful public space listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. The garden is tranquil and scenic, containing a torii gate, pagoda, café and many varieties of flora and fauna. The garden has a fascinating past for history buffs. The beautiful Jingu House serves lunch and tea. Sometimes local artists play at the Sunken Garden open-air amphitheater, just a few steps from the tea garden.
See the San Antonio Botanical Garden
Thirty-three acres of exotic and local plants and trees are at home in this park that features old log cabins, bird watching areas, formal gardens, veggie gardens and a variety of ecosystems. The large, architecturally awe-inspiring greenhouse will inspire you.
Gaze at the murals of I-35
You only notice it in flashes as you’re driving by, but once you get up close, the murals under I-35 (near St. Mary’s and Elmira Streets) are breathtaking. Brought to the city by the Street Art Initiative, the murals showcase a variety of graffiti styles on a giant scale. Viewing is free and will leave you wanting to create your own supersized art!
Walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs at Government Canyon State Natural Area
If you feel ambitious and ready for a good hike, head for the hills. Government Canyon is a 12,000-acre park with hundreds of preserved dinosaur tracks. The trails are open to the public, and a three-hour hike gets you to the tracks and back. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring water!
See the gorgeous houses on the King William District
If you like to drive through beautiful neighborhoods and see the lovely old mansions, King William District is for you. Drive it, walk it, or if you are venturesome, rent a paddle boat near the Blue Star Brewery and go for a long paddle through the ancient Oaks and elaborate Victorian houses.
Celebrate the weekend on First Fridays
On the first Friday of every month, San Antonio lights up with food, music, art and street entertainment. Find parking early in the evening and head into Southtown, the Blue Star Arts Complex and/or St. Mary’s Strip to see and hear local artists. You can enjoy wonderful food and beverages during San Antonio’s longest running art walk. Find inspiration at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum and all the galleries found in the King William Historic District.
St. Mary’s Strip
Monday nights at Jandros on St. Mary’s Strip is the place to be for anyone who’s into the spoken word scene. Showcasing both new and seasoned poets, the patio at Jandros is a great spot to relax with a cocktail and let the words flow over you — the poetry’s free.
Take in the city lights from the Hays Street Bridge
The Hays Street Bridge is a historical landmark and offers a breathtaking view of San Antonio without the flood of visitors. The best way to get to the bridge is to park at Alamo Beer Company and walk up from there.
Enjoy a drag brunch at Paramour
Paramour has some of San Antonio’s best rooftop bar views, and the décor is worth the visit. Right off the River, the bar itself is upscale and urbane, but brunch at Paramour is especially exciting, featuring a stacked roster of drag queens and a tasty list of brunch items.
Go two-stepping at John T. Floore’s Country Store
Experience an old Texas tradition and take the whole family to see some good old-fashioned country music at Floore’s in Helotes. This place has been open for about 75 years, and in that time many country music legends have performed here. You might catch one or see a future legend perform!
Visit the Pearl District
The Pearl District is named after the historic Pearl Brewery, which is now the artsy boutique Hotel Emma. Filled with historic buildings, unique restaurants, charming gift shops and art galleries, the Pearl District is a true cultural hub. You can hear live music during the monthly night market, find a drink or snack, listen to a literary reading at the Twig Book Shop or do some retail therapy among the cute boutiques – all within a few blocks.
El Mercado or the Historic Market Square covers three blocks of an outdoor plaza. Lined with over 100 locally owned restaurants and shops, it is the largest Mexican market in the United States. Visitors can explore indoor and outdoor shops full of authentic Mexican crafts. Hungry visitors can snack on delicious Mexican pastries at Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery. Enjoy live bands on the plaza on the weekends.
Experience the DoSeum
The DoSeum is one of the country’s most innovative children’s museums. Its interactive rotating exhibition includes a spy academy, an outdoor park and spaces that inspire creativity. Hands-on exhibits teach kids about science, art, sound, and more. While programming focuses on families, The DoSeum also offers adults-only nights for grown-ups to become kids again.
Buckhorn Saloon and Museum
The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum was opened by local bellhop Albert Friedrich in 1881. At the time, when customers didn’t have enough cash to pay for drinks, Friedrich accepted horns, pelts and other objects for payment. The saloon is now also a museum, displaying eclectic oddities that the owner collected over the years, including rattlesnakes in jars, antlers and more. Today, the museum has expanded. It includes a Texas Ranger Museum, quirky rotating exhibits, a café and the original bar. It’s where Pancho Villa is said to have planned the Mexican Revolution and Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders.
Catch a show at the Majestic Theatre
The first theater in Texas to be totally air-conditioned is still the place to see most of the biggest stage shows and musical acts that make their way through San Antonio. Show up early to enjoy a glass of wine and admire the ornate architecture. Get an insider’s look at the history by touring the basement where signed murals from shows of years past cover the walls.
Take in the view at the Tower of the Americas
The tower was built in 1968 as part of the World’s Fair and remains a popular destination. Take in the view of the city from the 750-foot tower. Enjoy the family-friendly observation deck and Skies Over Texas 4-D ride or dine at the top-floor Chart House Restaurant.
Drink at the Menger Bar
Drink like a Rough Rider! The Menger Bar, across the street from the Alamo, is where Col. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt once recruited men for the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry. San Antonio’s continuously oldest pub was built on the site of Texas’ first brewery. An exact replica of London’s House of Lords pub, The feel is still decidedly 19th-century with dark wood, beveled mirrors and brass spittoons.
Visit this fabric warehouse! You’ll have a few great choices for fabrics that are harder to find at big chains or hard to pick up online. Hit up the sale tables and you might find a gem. Way better prices than a big chain. There are wide open aisles with plenty of room on the tables to look through your fabric. You’ll be sure to add to your stash here!
Explore Mesquite Bean Fabrics
Mesquite Bean Fabrics’ extensive selection of high quality fabrics ranges from traditional reproduction prints to vibrant modern designs. You’ll also find a helpful assortment of sewing notions, books, patterns, and kits to enhance your sewing or quilting experience. The San Antonio store features a welcoming, inspirational atmosphere, along with fun, interactive classes and friendly staff members.
Don’t miss Memories by the Yard
Experience a family-owned fabric store located on the northwest side of beautiful San Antonio. They have a wide variety of first class cottons and wool suitable for quilts, clothing, handbags and home décor projects. They sell notions, threads and embroidery floss. Also find upholstery fabrics and home décor trims.
Alamo Craft Company
This craft mall has 200 booths filled with unique gifts and treasures. All are created, hand crafted and collected by the finest artisans, crafters and enthusiasts in San Antonio. Even central Texas, and beyond! Discover beautiful antique home furnishings, vintage collectibles and nostalgic memorabilia. Find hundreds of unique gifts for under $10!
Plan your own shop hop to fabric shops in and around San Antonio.
Browse through some yarn shops in and around San Antonio.
Love the bling of beads? Plan your own tour of these bead shops in and around San Antonio,