We recently went camping at Jellystone Park near San Marcos, TX and took a day trip to San Antonio. There are so many things to see and do in San Antonio that we could have spent several days exploring. Museums, shops, restaurants, and historical sites galore! We visited the Alamo, San Fernando Cathedral, The Spanish Governor’s Palace and the famous River Walk. The Alamo is definitely the star of San Antonio and a must see! Read about our Alamo experience.
San Fernando De Bexar Cathedral
San Fernando Cathedral is the oldest church in San Antonio and one of the oldest in the United States. The church was completed in 1755 and has been a place of worship for over 250 years. The Cathedral has had several restorations and is still in use today. If the walls of this old Cathedral could talk they would have stories to tell. They’ve seen a lot of action throughout history. Santa Anna used San Fernando Cathedral to host the no quarter flag during the Texas Revolution. As you walk into the narthex of the church there is a large stone coffin and a plaque that reads, “Here lies the remains of Travis, Crockett, Bowie and other Alamo Heros.” There is some controversy as to whether the remains found buried in the church are really those of the Defenders. You can read more about that here. Jim Bowie married his wife in San Fernando in 1831. Pope John Paul II visited San Fernando on the only Pope visit ever to Texas.
Although we are not Roman Catholic we attended a worship service at San Fernando while we were visiting. The service reflects the culture of the members of the congregation. Hymns were sung along with the music of a Mariachi band. Some of the readings and prayers were said in Spanish. If you visit after dark you can enjoy a historical light show, The Saga by French artist Xavier de Richemont. The show plays on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 9:30, 10:00, and 10:30. For a taste of San Antonio’s history, art and culture, San Fernando’s is worth the stop.
The Spanish Governor’s Palace
The Spanish Governor’s Palace is one of the many presidios, military forts, built in the 1700’s to keep the French from gaining ground on Spanish territory. In 1930 the historic building underwent a restoration. Rooms were added and furnished with period replicas. There are plaques in each room telling of how the room may have been used. The entrance fee for a self guided tour of the building and garden is $5 for adults and $3 for children, military, and seniors. Children 6 and under are free. You can tour the building and gardens in under 30 minutes. While the fee is small, it only cost my family $16, I don’t recommend a stop here. Only part of the Palace is the original building and the articles inside are not authentic. We’ve explored many historical sites during our travels and this one just didn’t have anything that really made it stand out as extraordinary.
The Famous River Walk in San Antonio
If you read anything about visiting San Antonio you’ll see the number one *must do* in San Antonio is the River Walk. After leaving the Alamo we headed that way. We were hungry and hoping for a meal at an authentic Mexican restaurant. After our meal we envisioned browsing the booths of local San Antonio artists. Boy, were we wrong… We should have known that the River Walk was a tourist trap. There were people everywhere walking on crowded sidewalks near a dirty smelly river. The restaurants were over priced, many of them chains. The stores along the sidewalk were filled with the typical over priced gift shop knick knacks. There were lots of shady looking people as well. Walking in front of us was a group of guys that looked thuggish and one was bleeding as if he had recently been in a fight. The further down the River Walk you go there are people begging for money. When we were walking to San Fernando from the River Walk there was a man walking unusually close behind my husband. We both kept turning around and looking at him because it was quite uncomfortable. At some point he just disappeared. While the River Walk is probably the most famous attraction in San Antonio I would never recommend it or ever go back, especially with children.
San Antonio is a city filled with history, art and culture. Have you been to San Antonio? What are your favorite San Antonio attractions?