10 Cool Things to Do in San Antonio

San Antonio is an iconic Texas city that often gets overlooked despite the numerous unique attractions it offers. Best known for its’ rich history, the city is a cultural melting pot boasts a rich history that intertwines Spanish, Mexican, and American influences, creating a cultural tapestry of traditions and histories that captivate visitors.

From the historic missions that tell tales of the past to the vibrant arts scene that references cultural and religious traditions, San Antonio offers a multifaceted experience that appeals to travelers seeking both heritage and modernity.

Whether delving into the city’s wartorn past at The Alamo or cheering on local sports teams at major events, visitors are guaranteed a diverse range of activities that showcase the city’s dynamic spirit and charm. Let this guide be your checklist to uncovering the best of what the Alamo City has to offer, promising an unforgettable journey through history, culture, and art in the heart of Texas. Thus, here are the top 10 cool things to do in San Antonio, Texas.

10 Best Cool Things to Do in San Antonio 

  1. Japanese Tea Garden
  2. Bracken Cave
  3. World’s Largest Cowboy Boots
  4. Hot Wells Hotel and Spa
  5. Buckhorn Saloon and Museum
  6. Mission San Jose
  7. The Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle and Museum
  8. Largest Virgin Mary Mosaic in the World
  9. McNutt Sculpture Garden
  10. Explore Pearl District

1. Japanese Tea Garden

Address: 3853 N St Mary’s St, San Antonio, TX 78212

Phone: (210) 559-3148

Those that are fans of nature or zen living will be delighted to experience the city’s iconic Japanese Tea Garden. This historic garden, originally an abandoned rock quarry, was transformed into a lush paradise featuring winding, meditative pathways, vibrant floral displays, and gorgeous koi ponds. The garden features picturesque pagodas and arched bridges, inspired by traditional Japanese architecture styles. 

Beyond its natural beauty and impressive fauna, the Japanese Tea Garden offers cultural enrichment through its traditional tea ceremonies and educational programs. Guests can participate in tea tastings as well as learn about Japanese gardening techniques.

The garden’s rich history and harmonious blend of Eastern and Western influences make it a captivatingly zen destination for those seeking tranquility and Asian American culture in the heart of San Antonio.

2. Bracken Cave

Address: 7515 Bracken Cave Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266

Phone: (512)327-9721

Located just outside of San Antonio, Bracken Cave is a destination that is home to millions of Mexican free-tailed bats, thus making it the largest bat colony in the world. As dusk falls, visitors wait eagerly for the breathtaking spectacle of the emerging bats that flutter out from the cave in swirling clouds to embark on their nightly hunt for insects.

The sight and sound of countless bats taking flight against the backdrop of the Texas sunset is a mesmerizing experience that serves to educate the public on the importance of these winged mammals in maintaining ecological homeostasis.

Visitors can expect educational enrichment through guided tours that provide insights to bat behavior, highlight the importance of bat conservation, and emphasize the influential role that these bats have in the environment. Guests can expect to leave knowing a little more about free-tailed bats and the delicacy of local natural ecosystems. 

3. World’s Largest Cowboy Boots

Address: 7400 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX 78216

Phone: (210)340-6627

Standing at a whopping 35 feet, the World’s Largest Cowboy Boots sculpture in San Antonio is an iconic landmark that pays homage to Texas’ cowboy history and style. These boots, crafted with meticulous detail (including spurs, complimentary brown and cream coloring, and intricate stitching), serve as a whimsical and slightly ironic symbol of Texas culture and the state’s frontier roots.

Visitors can marvel at this larger-than-life artwork that captures the essence of cowboy folklore and utilize the sculpture as a fun backdrop for photos. Whether admired from afar or up close for a whimsical photo op, these giant boots embody the spirit of individuality that defines Texas’ cultural identity, making it a perfect stop for tourists in San Antonio looking for a fun activity. 

4. Hot Wells Hotel and Spa

Address: S Presa St, San Antonio, TX 78214

Phone: (210)912-5868

Hot Wells Hotel and Spa offers visitors a restorative retreat that is rich in both history and natural beauty. Originally established in the late 19th century as a luxurious resort centered around natural hot springs, this historic spa has been restored to its former glory while preserving its Victorian-era charm and original architecture. Guests can swim and relax in therapeutic mineral waters believed to have healing properties taking in the beauty of the lush gardens and historic architecture.

Whether finding zen in the fauna or pampering oneself with various spa treatments, Hot Wells Hotel and Spa offers a vintage escape for those yearning for serenity and antiquity in the modern city, making it one of the cool things to do in San Antonio for anyone looking to relax.

 


5. Buckhorn Saloon and Museum 

Address: 318 E Houston St, San Antonio, TX 78205

Phone: (210)247-4000

For those looking for historic immersion into Texas cowboy culture, the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum offers countless exhibits that showcase cowboy artifacts, taxidermied animals, and other antiques that tell stories of Texas in antiquity. This iconic museum preserves Texas’ frontier heritage with displays ranging from exotic wildlife trophies to vintage firearms that tell tales of rugged cowboys and outlaws.

After touring the museum’s immersive exhibits, visitors can visit the accompanying bar to enjoy a lively, traditional saloon atmosphere accompanied by authentic Texas plates and a full selection of beer and spirits. Donning rustic decor reminiscent of past eras, the saloon provides a perfect backdrop for old-west themed photos.

Thus, a stop by Buckhorn Saloon and Museum is a must for travelers looking to immerse themselves in Texas cowboy culture.

6. Mission San Jose

Address: 701 E Pyron Ave, San Antonio, TX 78214

Phone: (210) 207-2111

Mission San Jose in San Antonio is a historical monument that showcases the region’s storied past of Spanish colonialism. Visitors are met with an atmosphere of historic architecture and religious heritage, offering a glimpse into centuries-old traditions and sacred religious iconography. This site showcases intricate stone carvings, gorgeous stained glass windows, and bell towers that exemplify the mission’s breathtaking, historic architecture. 

For visitors, there are guided tours to provide insight into the life of early settlers and the indigenous communities that once thrived. Whether admiring religious iconography, paying respects to the indigenous history of the land, exploring historical artifacts, or simply soaking in the surroundings of centuries-old olive trees, Mission San Jose invites guests to embark on a profound journey through time and history in the heart of San Antonio. 

7. The Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle and Museum 

Address: 1405 E Grayson St, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234

Phone: (210)221-1886

For history buffs, explore a storied military history at The Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle and Museum in San Antonio, where the exhibits pay tribute to this historic army post’s heritage.

Visitors can explore artifacts ranging from military uniforms to vintage weaponry that showcase Fort Sam Houston’s role in shaping Texas’ defense strategies throughout various historic battles. Guided tours offer insights into daily life on base while showcasing architectural landmarks like Quadrangle buildings that reflect military precision blended with Victorian style architecture.

The museum’s immersive displays transport guests back in time through photographs capturing soldiers’ lives on base alongside memorabilia commemorating heroic acts performed by famed military personnel stationed at Fort Sam Houston.

Interactive exhibits engage visitors with hands-on experiences like trying on historical uniforms or decoding military signals used during wartime operations. Thus, The Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle Museum provides an enlightening journey into Texas’ military heritage, marking it one of the cool things to do in San Antonio for history buffs and military patriots alike.

8. Largest Virgin Mary Mosaic Display in the World 

Address: 723 N Brazos St, San Antonio, TX 78207

Phone: N/A

Art fans and those who appreciate gorgeous religious iconography should be sure to visit the world’s largest Virgin Mary Mosaic in the world, also known as La Veladora. This impressive Catholic tribute wraps around a 4-story building, topped off with an imitation flame that makes the structure appear as a giant votive candle–an iconic item within Catholicism and Mexican culture.

Stretching over 40 feet tall, this impressive art piece looms over San Antonio’s westside, providing a sense of sanctity in the city.

Visitors can admire the intricate details of the mosaic up close, appreciating the dedication and skill required to create such a monumental mosaic that stands as a testament to devotion and artistic excellence.

Thus, visiting La Veladora and marveling at the beautiful colors and craftsmanship of the mosaic is a perfect way to spend the afternoon in San Antonio.

9. McNutt Sculpture Garden

Address: 210 W. Market Street, San Antonio, TX 78205

Phone: (210)299-4499

For a more tranquil experience within the bustling city, look no further than McNutt Sculpture Garden, the outdoor section of the Brisco Western Art Museum, a place where nature and art exist in harmony. This hidden gem is located just off the iconic San Antonio Riverwalk, and features a collection of captivating sculptures crafted by various artists, each piece telling a unique story through its medium, form, and expression.

Visitors can wander through meandering paths lined with structures that are evocative, imaginative, and inspiring amidst the peaceful garden setting.

The garden’s outdoor gallery provides a sensory experience that lets visitors employ their sight, touch, and thought, allowing guests to interact with art in a natural environment. From abstract creations to figurative works, the sculptures in McNutt Sculpture Garden showcase diverse styles and themes that reflect the artists’ creativity and vision.

Thus, the McNutt Sculpture Garden makes for a perfect way to explore San Antonio’s culture through artistic and sensory ways. 

10. Explore Pearl District

Address: 303 Pearl Pkwy, San Antonio, TX 78215

Phone: N/A

If you’re looking for a place to go out, shop around, and grab a drink or bite, look no further than the historic Pearl District. This district, once the industrial area north of Downtown over a century ago, has undergone an incredible transformation into a trendy and vibrant neighborhood, bustling with renewed life and modern establishments.

This district is now a cultural hub offering a mix of nightlife, dining, entertainment, and upscale accommodations like the historic Hotel Emma. Visitors can explore top attractions such as the city’s zoo, botanical gardens, and more within the Pearl District.

The Pearl District is not just a neighborhood but a thriving community, boasting a variety of amenities including apartments, restaurants, cafes, retailers, businesses, and a bustling Farmers Market twice a week. This vibrant neighborhood invites locals and visitors alike to enjoy its main plaza, parks, and events that celebrate music, food, and culture against the picturesque backdrop of the San Antonio River.

Thus, Pearl district is a perfect place to become familiar with San Antonio’s vibrant, trendy culture, earning it a spot on the list of cool things to do in San Antonio. 

Conclusion

San Antonio, a vibrant cultural melting pot, is brimming with creativity, history, and numerous activities waiting to be explored. Visitors to this dynamic city have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the storied history of the Alamo city, all while marveling at the diverse art displays that define the region.

Moreover, San Antonio offers remarkable ways to explore nature, having an array of outdoor attractions and unique parks that call for exploration and appreciation. This guide provides a small glimpse into the many attractions of San Antonio, providing cool things to do in the dynamic Texas city.

Alana Anh

I am an aspiring journalist, researcher, and PR professional at the University of Texas at Austin. I am passionate about food, literature, culture, and music!