San Antonio

The Texan city known for the Alamo, Tex-Mex cuisine – and being the fastest-growing city in the US – has a few surprises up its sleeve.

The Texan city of San Antonio is a great place to go to bust all those clichés of the Lone Star State. Lying in South Texas, on the San Antonio River, it is surrounded by lush woodland, famed for its nearby springs and lauded for its fine gardens and museums. Founded in the 1690s as a string of Spanish missions, it grew into the largest Spanish town in Texas, before becoming the epicentre of the fight for Texan independence. The Battle of the Alamo – the most famous 'last stand' on American soil – happened here, and its ruins are still San Antonio's top tourist draw.

The countryside surrounding San Antonio is the first surprise. Rather than dusty plains, you'll be greeted by wooded canyons and streams in places like Friedrich Wilderness Park. The nearby springs of Landa Park give you the opportunity to have fun getting wet, 'tubing' on its gentle rapids. And a real scene switch can be had when you visit the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, home to an authentic African Savannah experience in the heart of Texas.

San Antonio is a city proud of its Hispanic roots – the San Antonio Missions National Park is home to its earliest Spanish settlements. It’s also known as the birthplace of chilli con carne, genuine Tex-Mex food, and for its distinctly Texan take on the vibrant dance and music of folklorico. But there are many other cultures in the mix, including Native American, German, Polish and Japanese. You can find out more about them at the Institute Of Texan Cultures. A genuine Japanese experience can be had in the Japanese Tea Gardens Sunken Gardens, in Brackenbridge Park.

This park also includes many other highlights perfect for family trips out, like the San Antonio Zoo And Aquarium, the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, and especially the 'dinosaurs, heritage and science' mash-up of the Witte Museum. For a fine shopping experience (and even finer culture), head to the city-centre River Walk, running alongside the San Antonio River. This is where you'll find the best shops and restaurants in town – and the amazing collections of the San Antonio Art Museum. Just another of the adventures to be had in Alamo City.

Guide to Exploring San Antonio

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