We were going to use our last full day in Austin to relax and soak in the cooling waters of Jacob’s Well and Hamilton Pool preserve. It was to our dismay to discover that we needed reservations to visit both swimming holes. SAY WHAT?! Reservations have been put in place in 2015 for Jacob’s Well and in 2016 for Hamilton Pool Preserve as a way to curb large crowds and to preserve the areas. Since we visited during 4th of July week, reservations were completely booked for both places *insert lots of crying in fetal position* After much deliberation, we decided to make the most of our last stay and venture to San Antonio and explore what the city has to offer. We packed up day bags and headed out on an early start to San Antonio.
San Antonio is only one hour and 30 minutes away from Austin. I don’t remember much of the ride since I KTFO during the journey, hehe. I can’t help that long car rides put me to sleep. Talk about my cure to insomnia!
When I awoke, we were arriving in downtown San Antonio. Our first stop: the famous 15-mile long riverwalk (approximately 5 miles of it runs through downtown San Antonio).
For the 7th most populous city, San Antonio was pretty empty during our visit. Maybe because everyone went out of town to celebrate 4th of July? Anywho, we found nearby street parking and hopped down to the Riverwalk. Due to the lack of people, strolling down the riverwalk was serene and peaceful. The shade from the trees gracefully covered us from the scorching Texas summer sun.
You can take a boat through the riverwalk if you’d like but we opted to explore with our own two feet. Along the riverwalk you will find many restaurants, souvenir shops, and more. Next to the riverwalk you will also find an indoor mall with your typical retail shops.
After meandering through the multiple twists and turns of the Riverwalk, we wandered through the rest of downtown and stumbled upon the Alamo Mission. And admission fee? Free! However, if you’d like a guided tour, there is a cost. We eagerly hopped into the line to get into the mission. The first part consists of a memorial commemorating those who fought and lost their lives during the battle at the Alamo. Due to the commemoration and out of respect, photography is not allowed inside the museum.
Once you exit the museum, we were greeted with a large outdoor area with multiple exhibitions, each dedicated to providing you with history and reenactments of the Alamo. We spent a good hour or so exploring the nooks and crannies of the Alamo site.
Next up on our list: San Fernando Cathedral. Located in downtown San Antonio, the San Fernando Cathedral is the oldest standing church in Texas dating back to 1738. You can go inside the church should you desire but be aware of potential mass holdings during your visit.
Not far from San Fernando Cathedral is the Historic Market Square. Enjoy the sights and flavors of old Mexico at the Historic Market Square, a three-block outdoor and indoor plaza lined with shops, restaurants, and street vendors. You can also enjoy the show on stage. The market is opened daily from 10am to 6pm.
By now it was almost hitting noon and our stomachs began to rumble. You know that means. Lunch time! Since our car was parked in downtown, we headed back in that direction to wander and browse menus at a variety of restaurants along the way. We walked by Shilo’s Deli and noticed a line outside the store front. This must be a good indication of tasty food, right? We quickly pulled up Yelp and noticed the high rating, so we decided to give it a shot. Despite the growing lunch crowd, we were sat at a table fairly quick (~15 minutes). Shilo’s Deli has been serving German-Texan fare since 1917 and is the oldest restaurant in San Antonio, TX! We ordered the beef and gravy and the pastrami sandwich. It was satisfying but, honestly, it was not the best meal we’ve had. This is probably primarily due to the fact that we don’t find German food to be our cup of tea but the food was definitely not horrible.
After gobbling down our meal, we decided to explore the missions around San Antonio and headed south to the farthest mission from downtown – Mission San Francisco de la Espada. This was the first mission in Texas, founded in 1690 as San Francisco de los Tejas near present-day Weches, Texas. In 1731, the mission was transferred to the San Antonio River area and renamed Mission San Francisco de la Espada.
After Mission San Francisco, we worked our way back up north to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Originally founded in 1716 in eastern Texas, Mission San Juan was transferred in 1731 to its present location. In 1756, the stone church, a friary, and a granary were completed. A larger church was begun, but was abandoned when half complete, the result of population decline.
Our last and final stop was the Mission San Jose. Founded in 1720, this Spanish frontier mission is the largest of the five San Antonio missions and is best known for its rose window.
- Japanese Tea Garden
- San Antonio Botanical Garden
- Natural Bridge Caverns
- San Antonio Museum of Art
- Pearl District