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Texas isn't just the biggest, and second most populous, state in the mainland US. It's also one of the most culturally diverse, with a many-storied – and a many-flagged – history. 'Six Flags over Texas' is the slogan Texans use to describe that rich history, which has seen the flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Confederacy, the USA – and of course the Texan Republic – fly over this proud state. The Institute of Texan Cultures, in San Antonio, is where that ethnic and racial diversity is put on show, and celebrated.
The Lone State's surprisingly star-spangled cultural banner starts with the native Indian tribes, and expands to include the first French and Spanish settlers, the Tejanos (from its time as part of Mexico), and the many black and European settlers that came here in the early 1830s (when Texas was briefly an independent state). San Antonio itself is home to many Poles, Germans and Czechs, who settled in the woods of the Texas Hill Country. Many Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos have arrived here in more recent decades.
The idea for the Institute started with a 1968 Fair to exhibit Texan history and to promote its cultural diversity. The current building now has around 16,900-square-metres of exhibit space, and covers the twenty seven cultures that have settled in Texas, through the ages. It does this through displays of historical objects and documents, presentations of audio and visual material, and especially through lively community events, organised throughout the year.
These include festivities – like the Asian Festival and the Mexican Day of the Dead – and living history activities such as 'Spring Break on the Back 40' and 'Texas Trails and Tales'. The Institute itself hosts living history displays all-year around. You can get a real feel for the varied life of 19th century Texans, with a settler's log house and barn, an army fort barracks, a tiny one-room schoolhouse, and an Indian adobe house – all populated by peoples from that time.
Perhaps the best time to catch Texas culture in its full spectrum of vivid colour is at the Texas Folklife Festival. Held over three days in summer, the festivities include Lebanese folk-dancers, Ballet Folklorico from local Tejanos, Chinese Dragons and troupes of Polish dancers.
This 14-story, Mediterranean-inspired hotel is on the Riverwalk, two blocks from the convention center, La Villita Historic Arts Village, and the Rivercenter Mall, and five blocks from the Alamo.
Red Roof Inn PLUS+ San Antonio Downtown - Riverwalk is a 15-minute walk from both the Alamodome and the eastern end of the San Antonio River Walk, which is lined with restaurants and shops. Guests can learn about the history and myths of the Alamo at the old fort itself, about a half-mile away.
Located in Downtown San Antonio, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Artpace and Alamo. Shops at Rivercenter and Tower of the Americas are also within 1 mi (2 km). San Antonio Station is 28 minutes by foot.
This 6-story hotel is located in the historic district, an approximate 1-block walk to the River Walk, and 4 blocks from the Alamo, Rivercenter Mall, and San Antonio Convention Center.
This 14-story hotel is nestled on a bend of the city's famed River Walk. It is within blocks from The Alamo, the Convention Center, the Majestic Theater, and La Villita.
This all-suite hotel is within 2 blocks of the Riverwalk, The Alamo, Alamodome, and the San Antonio Convention Center; the airport is 8 miles away.
This 12-story hotel occupies a spot in the Riverwalk's historic district and is located along the San Antonio Riverwalk. The Alamo, El Mercado, and Majestic Theatre are nearby.
Located in Downtown San Antonio, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Travis Park, River Walk, and Alamo. Shops at Rivercenter and Tower of the Americas are also within 1 mi (2 km). San Antonio Station is 22 minutes by foot.