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RJames Aug 25th, 2012 12:51 PM

Is San Antonio a must see?
In Texas I have only been to Dallas and Houston. I have an upcoming trip and I can take a stopover in Dallas on my airline ticket. I am thinking of purchasing a ticket from Dallas to San Antonio. From what I've read the sights I can see in San Antonio are virtually the same as what I've seen in Central and South America, specifically the missions and the churches. Fodorites know how travelers can get fed up of seeing the same sights again and again. The Riverwalk looks like fun, albeit it is probably tourist central. I would spend one and a half days in San Antonio if I go. I am not interested in Museums.

Could fodorites who have travelled to San Antonio and seen sights in Central and South America please share your opinions. Are San Antonio's sights truly unique? Is the city a must see travel destination?


tomfuller Aug 25th, 2012 01:34 PM

How long is the layover? You can drive from DFW to the center of San Antonio in 5 hours. I don't know if it is worth it to fly to SAT.
My wife and I went to San Antonio when our daughter graduated from US Air Force boot camp. We drove all the way from Pennsylvania.
We saw the Alamo and walked and took a boat on the Riverwalk.
We had some good Mexican food at a table along the Riverwalk.
There are quite a few things to see besides missions and churches. Have you seen all you want to see of Dallas?

jd_dallas Aug 25th, 2012 02:33 PM

If you have time to relax a little and take in the atmosphere, San Antonio is definitely worth a visit, in my opinion. It does have very touristy elements, but there is interesting history at the Alamo (and the missions). The Riverwalk is very pleasant in early morning and at night, less so when the crowds are there.

San Antonio is very little like other Texas cities and among the most unusual cities in the US.

The weather can be hot well into October, if that is a consideration.

Seamus Aug 25th, 2012 05:24 PM

Driving from Dallas to San Antonio is nigh on to insane these days, and five hours is no way realistic. Traffic on IH-35 is a mess and it can easily take almost two hours just to get from Austin to SA.

SA is not like any Central or South American city I have visited and certainly nothing at all like either Houston or Dallas. It is a unique blend of cultures, predominantly Spanish/Mexican, German and "yankee" with liberal sprinklings of Irish and Czech. The Riverwalk is indeed tourist central, having been transformed in the last ten or so years into chain restaurant hell. Not as bad as Orlando, but disappointing to those of us who enjoyed it when it was lined with unique locally owned establishments. There are still some decent places to have a meal - e.g., Budro's - but way too many franchise places of the Dick's Last Resort variety. Not horrid food, just nothing special and overall rather tacky. The Riverwalk itself is quite a neat feat, just that all those tourist traps that detract from it.
Just south of downtown is the King William area which was built by the German merchant class in the late 1800's; makes for a pleasant stroll. It is also next to the emerging Southtown arts area with its funky artist venues.
The Alamo is, of course, the most famous venue and the typical response upon first seeing it is "Where's the rest of it?" as most folks are unaware that it is in the middle of downtown. Too far to walk but an easy drive are other missions on the Mission Train south of town. The Institute of Texan Cultures, on HemisFair (1968 World's Fair) grounds, is different from most museums and provides a pleasant diversion.
Full disclosure - I am a fan, moved here years ago, left twice and returned both times.

RJames Aug 26th, 2012 06:45 AM

Thanks for the replies. I would never consider driving from Dallas to San Antonio. If I do visit San Antonio, I would fly from Dallas and I'd spend 2 days in the city.

What I'm trying to understand is if the Missions and the Alamo are truly unique or very similar to similar sights in Central and South America. This is the reason why I started the thread.

Seamus' "chain restaurant hell" comment has put me off the Riverwalk.

My purpose for travelling is to experience something truly unique, not just visit another city and see the same old, same old.

I can skip San Antonio and connect in Dallas for an flight home, or take a stopover in Dallas and buy airline tickets from Dallas to San Antonio. I will be travelling in late October.

Daniel_Williams Aug 26th, 2012 07:01 AM

Is San Antonio a must-see? Perhaps yes, perhaps no, but I will say that the city felt like nowhere else in the US that I've been and I believe having visited it has enhanced my understanding of America. The Mexican and Mexican-American influence but yet with an almost unTexas-seeming walkable central core gives it a unique feel. The easy ubiquitous flip-flop between Spanish and English might make you think that the city is Miami-like. Yet I found the two cities to be quite different, as the Floridian urban center has an utterly different racial mix with its large Caribbean Latin American influx, while the San Antonio Latin population is more tejano/chicano or Mexican. I also felt San Antonio was incredibly different from its sprawling Texan neighbours, Houston and Dallas. People have different opinions but mine is that SA I might want to go back to some day, while Houston and Dallas left me cold with no desire to return (except to visit a cousin in Houston).

My experience in Latin America is in Monterrey and Mexico City only but I can tell you San Antonio is a different animal altogether. San Antonio has something, which the only words I can think to describe it are "a USA energy", that is quite unlike those Latin American metropolises.

Good luck deciding! Daniel

Ackislander Aug 27th, 2012 03:09 AM

The Alamo was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had as a traveler, once I got over its location. What I had never understood was that the struggle for independence in Texas attracted people from all over the country and even from Europe. When you see the origins of those who died there, you realize that there was something about this effort that was more than an attempt to grab land from the Mexicans.

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