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What a sight to behold - glass-walled elevators ascend more than 500 feet (152.4 meters) to the observation deck, providing panoramic views of the city. Standing a total of 750 feet (228.6 meters) tall, the tower was constructed for HemisFair, the 1968 World's Fair and symbolizes the progress made by the people of the Western Hemisphere. Soaring as if calling out to the skies, this imposing tower watches over San Antonio's dynamic cityscape. The tower greatly frames the contemporary tenor of downtown San Antonio and is crowned by an observation deck and a revolving restaurant. A stunning embodiment of architectural magnificence, the Tower of the Americas is an indelible present-day landmark of the country.
Housed in what was once the Lone Star Brewery, this museum boasts fairly comprehensive collections of both ancient and Asian art. The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art displays what is probably one of the most impressive collections of pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, and Latin American modern and folk art in the United States. On Sundays, the museum sponsors educational workshops for children, in which they can create their own pieces of art to display at home. The museum also plays host to touring exhibits such as one featuring Egyptian artifacts on loan from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
One of the city's largest parks, Brackenridge offers more family fun than one day can accommodate. Start with the musical carousel featuring 60 antique horses. Then try the Skyride, which consists of Swiss manufactured cable cars that lift visitors to enjoy the view of the park as well as the city skyline. If ground transportation is more your speed, opt for a ride on the miniature train that runs through a 3.5-mile (5.6-kilometer) stretch of the park. For water travel, cruise around the upper part of the San Antonio River in paddle boats. Other facilities include a municipal golf course, a driving range, bike trails and picnic areas.
Situated along the San Antonio River and next to Brackenridge Park, this zoo is considered one of the finest in America, housing more than 3500 animals representing more than 700 species. The recently renovated big cat exhibit draws big crowds, as does the bird collection, which is one of the largest in the United States. Allow time for wandering around and exploring everything this zoo has to offer. San Antonio Zoo offers weekly educational programs and is also available for private events.
The city's science and natural history museum has garnered remarkable popularity which has skyrocketed even more with the adjacent HEB Science Tree house: a collection of interactive exhibits and activities for visitors of all ages. Permanent exhibits include ones featuring Native American cave paintings, archaeological artifacts, an Egyptian mummy, native Texan mammals, reptiles, and much more. Past touring exhibits have included gowns and memorabilia from Fiesta's Order of the Alamo coronation pageants, Dinosaurs Alive! and Microbes.
The San Antonio Botanical Garden has 33 acres (4046 square meters) of lush foliage and colorful flowers. A wonderful attraction, the garden is an exquisite year-round, with something always in bloom. A conservatory, formal gardens, "old-fashioned" gardens and native plant areas provide a variety of interests. This is definitely a must-see for both botany experts and garden-variety folks. If you're visiting in the spring, don't forget your antihistamines. The garden center features a luncheon cafe, a gift shop, guided tours, and adults' and children's classes. It is also available for private parties.