by Courtney Smith | staff writer
If you ever have a free day between your family, vacations, summer job, and friends, look no further for fun than your own city! Take a look at the top 10 things to do downtown, and explore San Antonio.
Rain or shine on Saturday’s and Sunday’s, the farmer’s market at The Pearl is a great place for anyone looking for a unique, downtown environment and a place to buy anything from fresh produce to gourmet candies. The market hosts over 40 vendors that all come from a 150 mile radius of San Antonio. Not only is this a free, fun idea, but The Pearl is dog friendly, too! So, take your furry friend and go enjoy the local goods the market offers.
So if you’ve lived in San Antonio for really any amount of time, it’s pretty much a sure thing that you’ve been to the tower. However, if you have a free day to spend downtown, why not play tourist for a day? The tower offers stunning views, a nice breeze (which is great in this Texas heat), and even a somewhat cheesy, but still charming, 4-D show that’s included with every ticket purchase. Tickets are $12.
Although La Cantera, North Star, and Rolling Oaks are all great, a change of scenery is never a bad thing. The Rivercenter mall offers both the usual shops, such as American Eagle, and other not-so mainstream options like Papaya and local specialty shops. The mall also offers easy pedestrian access to the River Walk, too.
Walk a little ways down the river from the mall and you’ll stumble upon one of the many ticket booths for the river cruise. The tours are 35 minutes and give some insight and information about San Antonio’s arguably most famous attraction. The trip down the river also gives you a chance to scope out good places to eat or shop. The tour is $8 for Bexar County residents and $10 for other residents, and runs from 9 am-9 pm, but often stays open a little later than usual because of its high demand.
Depending on your budget, the Tobin Center can also be a fun summer treat. From YouTube sensation Todrick Hall to classical quartets, the Tobin Center has something for everyone. Also, on the River Walk Plaza behind the Tobin Center, about twice a month a “Fitness on the Plaza” yoga class is offered for free. So whether you’re wanting to wind down or rock out, the Tobin Center has what you’re looking for.
Looking for a wild time? Head over to the zoo to see monkeys, giraffes, and elephants, oh my! The zoo’s beautiful grounds are home to 750 different species and offer its visitors a handful of cafes, a butterfly house, giraffe feeding, and a train you can take a ride on. This is good not only for a family trip, but also a great place to take a group of friends. (Note that some activities may cost a little extra).
The San Antonio Botanical Garden offers great scenery to walk around in and take your time enjoying a variety of different plants. The grounds have different trails, such as the Texas Native Trail, featuring Anacacho Orchid Trees and Engelmann Daisies, and the Formal Gardens, which feature a colorful array of roses and the Firecracker plant. A trip to the gardens often includes a trip to the Carriage House Bistro, open for lunch Tuesday through Friday and open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. A ticket into the vibrant gardens will only set you back $10, or $8 for military families/personnel.
If you’re an art connoisseur with a taste for local and unique art, head to South Alamo street the first Friday of the month. South Alamo street is filled with live music, crafts, food, and of course, the art. Studios included in the event are both in the King William Historic District and at the contemporary art museum. Plus, it’s free to attend.
Immerse yourself in art, culture, and new knowledge at the Witte. Current exhibits include Splendor on the Range, South Texas Heritage Adventure, H-E-B Body Adventure, and the Maya exhibit. The Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed exhibit runs from May 14-September 5 and is the largest traveling Mayan exhibit to ever come to the United States. Both authentic artifacts and interactive media are used to bring the ancient culture to life. The base price is $10, but on Tuesday admission is free from 3-8pm! Certain exhibits such as the Maya and Splendor on the Range cost extra, but can be easily added onto your ticket purchases.
Whether you’re an aspiring architect or a huge HGTV fan (like myself) and find historical houses interesting, consider taking a tour of the unique homes located right here in San Antonio. Self-guided walking tours and group tours are also available, but it depends on the house(s) you would like to tour, and the day you choose to go. Space for guided tours is limited, so be sure to call ahead. One example of a house that is available to tour is the Villa Finale, located at 401 King William Street. To tour the first floor, self guided, it only costs $5 for students, military, and seniors. For general admission, it is $7.50. The Villa Finale also offers a combo ticket with the Steves Homestead – another beautiful home. Whether you’re looking at one home or 20, historical home tours are a picture perfect way to spend a day in downtown SA.