Things to Do & See (and eat and drink)

Art Materials World San Antonio  •  February 24 - 26, 2019

Even if you only have time to see one or a few things in San Antonio, it's good to know what the city you are visiting has to offer, and a little bit about the culture you are surrounded by when you're there.

The River Walk

Explore the San Antonio River Walk where you can walk, shop, dine and enjoy the hospitality of the world renowned urban waterway. The River Walk is 15-miles long, and flows through approximately 5-miles of downtown San Antonio. Hop aboard a river taxi and discover for yourself why millions visit San Antonio every year.

River Walk Map

Public Art

La Antorcha de la Amistad - "The Torch of Friendship"

A monumental abstract sculpture stands in Downtown San Antonio in the middle of a traffic rotary (the intersection of Losoya, Commerce, Market, and Alamo Streets), near the River Walk and the Alamo.

The sculpture stands at nearly 65 feet and weighs more than 45 tons. The medium is enameled iron. The artist of the sculpture is world-renowned Mexican sculptor, Sebastián, and was commissioned by a group of Mexican businessmen living in the United States and friends of Mexico. The sculpture was presented as a gift from the Mexican government to the City of San Antonio in 2002.

The artist himself describes the concepts of the sculpture a torch rising from the ground, and as a symbolization of two different actors—the United States of America and Mexico—running together. He said the sculpture has many points of view from many angles, which is how he sees the two nations' relationship. "Sometimes it is complex. Sometimes it is harmonious," he said. "But the two countries are always close and always with a complex friendship. That's what I am trying to express with this combination of forms."

Visit the Past

One of San Antonio's first neighborhoods, La Villita Historic Arts Village is an art community with galleries and shops found in one city block offer art by local and regional artists featuring oil paintings, sculptures, watercolors, metal art, rock art, textiles, copperwares, pottery, jewelry, stained glass, and regional folk art.

La Villita connects to the San Antonio River Walk and its outdoor venue, the Arneson River Theatre. It is close to the Alamo, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Rivercenter Mall, and HemisFair Park. It is within walking distance of most downtown hotels.

La Villita Map

The Missions of San Antonio

A chain of five missions established along the San Antonio River in the 18th century became the largest concentration of Catholic missions in North America. Built primarily to expand Spanish New World influence northward from Mexico, the missions also served to introduce native inhabitants into Spanish society.

The Alamo - The first and most widely known is San Antonio de Valero, commonly called the Alamo. It was established in 1718 as a way station between missions already existing in East Texas and other base missions in Mexico. It was well over 100 years old when it became the focal point for the Battle of the Alamo, fought March 6, 1836.

Mission San Jose - Soon after the building of the Alamo, a second mission was founded in 1720 about five miles downstream. Named San Jose, this new mission was established by Fray Antonio Margil de Jesus, who had previously left a failed mission in East Texas. A model among the Texas missions, San Jose gained a reputation as a major social and cultural center.

Mission San Juan
- First established in East Texas, mission San Juan Capistrano made its permanent home on the banks of the San Antonio River in 1731 and became a regional supplier of agricultural and other products including iron, wood, cloth, and leather goods produced by Native Americans in its workshops.

Mission Concepcion
- One of the most attractive of the San Antonio missions, the church at Concepcion looks essentially as it did more than 200 years ago, when it stood at the center of local religious activity and was known for its religious celebrations. Inside there are original paintings of religious symbols and architectural designs.

Mission Espada - Mission San Francisco de la Espada, like its sister missions San Jose, San Juan, and Concepcion, had its beginnings in East Texas. It is the southernmost of the chain of missions located on the San Antonio River and features a very attractive chapel, along with an unusual door and stone entrance archway.

The Alamo, a Texas shrine since the war for Texas independence, is today a visitor's center and museum of early Texas artifacts. It has been under the care of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas since 1905. Missions San Jose, San Juan, Concepcion, and Espada continue to operate as active parishes of the Catholic church and all are open to the public. Through a cooperative agreement with the Archdiocese of San Antonio, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park of the National Park Service administers and maintains these missions today. for more information.

Mission Trail Map


The art and artifacts are just the start of reasons to visit San Antonio’s major museums.

Learn about dinos and Texas history at the Witte Museum, tour Marion Koogler McNay’s former home-turned-modern-art-museum, view the Wild West through the lens of artists at the Briscoe Western Art Museum and get lost in four floors of Asian, American, European and Mediterranean collections at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Along with standard tours, each also offers dozens of special events, from movie nights and toddler time to cocktail parties and hands-on art classes.

San Fernando Cathedral - The Saga at Main Plaza

Famous as the burial site of the heroes of the Alamo, the Roman Catholic San Fernando Cathedral (Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe) is one of the oldest cathedrals in the US and is listed on the National register of Historic Places.

The walls of the original church, completed in 1750 and built by settlers from the Canary Islands (hence the painting of the Virgin of Candelaria), now form the cathedral's sanctuary.

The cathedral is on Main Plaza, and in the evening, it becomes the stage for one of San Antonio's most visually compelling attractions, known as The Saga. Offered free of charge every evening, this video art installation, created by Xavier de Richemont, is a 24-minute video, with choreographed music and narration, projected after dark onto the side of San Fernando Cathedral. A 7,000-square-foot projection highlights the history and progression of San Antonio through an amazing display of colorful images and Surround Sound.
  • About a 20 minute walk from the Convention Center.
  • 115 Main Plaza

Tower of the Americas

A Breathtaking View awaits you in downtown San Antonio at the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas. Enjoy the gorgeous panorama from the Tower's revolving Chart House Restaurant, take in the scenery from the Observation Deck or experience the thrilling 4D Theater Ride.

Or xay ‘Cheers’ from 750 Feet Up! You’ll have to wade through tourists to make it to the Tower of the America’s revolving Chart House Restaurant in time for happy hour—4:30 to 7 pm, Mondays through Fridays—but it’s worth the hassle. With mojitos, margaritas, ahi nachos and lettuce wraps, you can enjoy the gorgeous panoramic view.
  • 739 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd
  • Right next to the Convention Center

And more . . .

Alamo IMAX Theatre
849 E Commerce St In the Rivercenter Mall, San Antonio, TX 78205-3939
0.2 miles from Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

Shops at Rivercenter
849 Commerce Street, San Antonio, TX
0.2 miles from Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

Battle For Texas: The Experience
Blum Street at Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205
0.3 miles from Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

Cottonwood Wine Tours
124 Losoya St, San Antonio, TX 78205-2608
0.5 miles from Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

See more from Trip Advisor

Taverns and Restaurants

Restaurant Guide and Map


The Esquire Tavern

The oldest Riverwalk bar, the Esquire Tavern opened in 1933 to celebrate the end of Prohibition and has been a beloved San Antonio watering hole ever since, with a short hiatus from 2006 to 2011. The Esquire cameback as the quintessential downtown bar: dark, cool, redolent with history, and serving cold, cold beer, swanky cocktails, and excellent food. The Esquire boasts the longest wooden bar top in Texas - over 100 feet of beer-soaked wood, rubbed smooth by the elbows of a zillion tipplers.

  • Sun-Wed: 11:30am to 12am - Kitchen closes at 10pm
  • Thurs-Sat: 11:30am to 2am - Kitchen closes at 1am
  • 155 East Commerce Street
  • Approximately a 10 minute walk from Hilton Palacio Del Rio and the Convention Center.

Durty Nelly's Irish Pub

Durty Nelly’s is a replica of the original Durty Nelly’s in Ireland. The original tavern dates back to 1620 as part of the Bunratty Castle in Limerick, Clare Country. It is one of the oldest continually operating restaurants in the world and has been open over 390 years! The concept of the San Antonio location came from Bill Hunter, the general manager of the Hilton Palacio del Rio in the 1970’s. After visiting the bar in Ireland, he returned to the Alamo City to convince Mr. Bartell Zachry to build the identical pub on what was then a seldom used corner of the hotel under the Market Street Bridge. The pub is designed in the tradition of the European style with two fireplaces, slate floors and stone walls. Since Durty Nelly’s doors first opened, this corner has become a hot spot on the Paseo del Rio.

The Rules
The rules at Durty Nelly’s are: “only two to a stool, no talk of religion or politics, and those drinking rum may stand by themselves, preferably near the window.” And no wee ones under 21 allowed after 7pm.
  • 210.224.3343
  • Located in the Hilton Palacio Del Rio (NAMTA's Host Hotel), across the street from the Convention Center.

Have a Root Beer at Schilo’s

Schilo's started as a saloon in the 1900s in Beeville, TX. "Papa" Fritz Schilo moved the saloon and his family to San Antonio, TX in 1914, and Mama Schilo started serving some of her classic German recipes a few years later in 1917. While the rest of the country’s establishments shut their doors for prohibition in the 1920s, at Mrs. Shilo converted the beer kegs into root beer kegs and the Schilo's family prevailed! 

Menu includes bratwurst, wienerschnitzel, braunschweiger, bacon and eggs, hamburgers,  beef stew, split pea soup, Reuben sandwiches, and, of course, homemade root beer.
  • In San Antonio now - 424 E Commerce Street
  • 210.223.6692
  • Sun-Thurs, 7:30 am-2:30 pm  •   Fri- Sat, 7:30 am-7:30 pm
  • 10-15 minute walk from Convention Center

Biga on the Banks

Fine dining overlooking the San Antonio Riverwalk

Chef/Owner Bruce Auden and Perny Shea, Director of Special Events, create a relaxed, come-as-you-are ambience, offering world-class New American cuisine, expert service, and a full bar. Their wine cellar offers a deep and varied selection of wines to pair brilliantly with the cuisine. Chef Auden’s menus change daily, and prix fixe Seasonal Menus are always available.

  • Reservations are encouraged - 210.225.0722
  • 203 S. St. Mary’s Street
  • Approximately a 10-15 minute walk from Hilton Palacio Del Rio and the Convention Center.

Big Lou's Pizza

  • 210.337.0707
  • Popular Pizza Place with a full menu
  • You can get a 42-inch pizza!
  • Located at 2048 S WW White Rd., about a 15 minute car ride from Hilton Palacio Del Rio and the Convention Center.

Watch this Video of a Special Order Big Lou's 62"

Mi Tierra

Fine Tex-Mex restaurant, Mexican bakery, and source for live Mariachi entertainment.

In 1941, Pete and Cruz Cortez opened a little three-table cafe for early-rising farmers and workers at San Antonio’s Mercado. 75 years later Mi Tierra is a world-famous landmark.

The Cortez's children and grandchildren continue the family tradition of good food and big-hearted hospitality at Mi Tierra, which now seats over 500 and is still located in historic Market Square, El Mercado.

  • Open 24 hours
  • 218 Produce Row 
  • About 2 miles from Convention Center
  • 210-225-1262

Mi Tierra's American Dream Mural
Some of the most prominent Latinos in San Antonio, the United States, and the world have taken their place on Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia‘s iconic “American Dream” mural, a work of art that has become synonymous with honor y respeto throughout the city.
The sprawling art piece (pictured above) in the restaurant’s large back dining room was implemented about 25 years ago by Mexican artist Jesus Diaz Garza. It began as an homage to the Mexican laborers and farmers who sold their goods at El Mercado, or Market Square, the historic commerce hub where Mi Tierra is still located today. Over the years, the painting evolved to include the likenesses of the Cortez’s matriarch and patriarch, Cruz and Pedro Cortez, their children, and some of the family’s third generation as well. It now features more than 100 influential Latinos who have left their marks on the community, whether through politics, the arts, or community service.