Ranked as the seventh largest city in the United States, San Antonio has some top museums, neighborhoods and historic sites to explore. In 2015 the Alamo and four other Spanish missions were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city was recently named a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Make sure to include the following on your list.
San Antonio Museum of Art: This is a large museum on the edge of downtown at 200 W. Jones. It is located on the original site of the Lone Star Brewery which opened in 1884. Here you will find a large complex with extensive collections in European and American art, contemporary art and Spanish Colonial art. My favorite concentration was the Latin American Folk Art, with many pieces from the Nelson A. Rockefeller collection, that are housed in the Latin American Art Center added in 1998. They also have an Asian Art Wing that opened in 2005. They also feature temporary exhibitions, so make sure to check the website for the current calendar. They also have Sketch pop-up restaurant with views along the river.
The Alamo: High on your list should be visiting The Alamo. Located at 300 Alamo Plaza, this former mission church was originally named the Mision San Antonio de Valero. Construction began in 1724. In 1793 it was no longer a mission. In the early 1800’s the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit there and it was renamed the Alamo.
In December 1835, the fortress played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. Texians and Tejano volunteers were victorious in forcing General Martin Perfecto de Cos to surrender. On February 23, 1836 the Alamo was attacked by General Santa Anna. More volunteers were called, but they were unable to defend the Alamo. Their heroism is remembered to this day. Make sure to visit the church, the Covento Courtyard and the Long Barrack with several historic displays.
McNay Art Museum: At 6000 N. New Bruanfels Rd, this was one of the highlights of my trip to San Antonio. The museum was built by artist and educator, Marion McNay in the 1920’s and is in her Spanish Colonial revival-style house. It was the first museum of modern art in Texas when it opened in 1954. With an emphasis on 19th and 20th century European and American art, here you can see works by Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. There is also a new wing from 2008 featuring temporary exhibitions plus a sculpture gallery and garden. Make sure to check out the website if you are interested in attending one of their conversations, gallery talks, lectures, performances, workshops and family programs.
Blue Star Arts Complex: This is a fun mixed-use project south of downtown in the King William Historic district that opened in 1986. Here you can find the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, Blue Star Provisions, Stella Public House, plus other retail stores, galleries, restaurants, a bike shop and Blue Star Brewing Company. I enjoyed Halcyon Coffee Bar and Lounge which features coffee drinks, tea, hot chocolate, shakes and smoothies plus breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, snacks and desserts. 1414 S. Alamo. Villa Rica by Chef Johnny Hernandez, a Veracruz-style seafood restaurant is getting great reviews.
If you have time you might drive through the King William Historic district with its lovely homes.
Las Misiones/The Old Spanish MIssions: Make sure to visit the chain of five colonial mission churches located in a line from the center of downtown to the southern edge of the city. They were built in the 18th century as an outreach of the Spanish Government and the Catholic Church. Four of the Five are still operating as parish churches. The fifth, San Antonio de Valero is known as the Alamo and owned by the State of Texas. They were recently named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in October, 2015 and are operated by the National Park Service as the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in collaboration with the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
Paramour Bar: At 102 9th St., this a hip rooftop bar, San Antonio’s first, overlooking the city. Here you can find cocktails by night and coffee bar by day.