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.
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.
This mission, located at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, was founded in 1720 by Father Antonio Margil de Jesús. It was the largest mission and the main center for cultural and social activities. Hence it was labeled as the ‘Queen of Missions'. A large part of the church was destroyed over the years. The existing Rose Window is one of the finer pieces of architecture belonging to the Spanish colonial era. Some of the few remnants include the arches that once gave shelter to the missionaries, the Convento area and a part of the irrigation ditch, which is visible outside the compound. The church still functions and visitors are permitted to attend the Sunday mass.
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.
In 1915, the city requested a Japanese immigrant and his wife to transform an old rock quarry into a Japanese-styled garden, and a man named Mr. Kimi Eizo Jingu agreed to the task. He started with a rock house, which still stands today and is surrounded by winding pebble walkways, stone bridges, a waterfall and tranquil pools. His work transformed the old rock quarry into a garden filled with lily ponds and lush green vegetation. With the onset of World War II and the growing anti-Japanese sentiment that surrounded it, the city council changed the garden's name to "Chinese Sunken Garden." In 1983, the original name was finally restored.
This is a fascinating museum honoring the heritages of the settlers who created Texas. Twenty-seven cultural and ethnic groups are represented in detailed exhibits featuring religious artifacts, household items, clothing, tools and more. The multi-screen video presentation shouldn't be missed, as it enhances the experience. As part of the University of Texas system, the museum offers educational programs, special exhibits, entertainment and symposia.
The Spanish Governor's Palace is the "most beautiful building" in the city according to the National Geographic Society. This national historic landmark was originally the official residence of the Governor of the Spanish Province of Texas in the late 18th Century. Visiting the building is like taking a step back in time; it is replete with period furnishings, small rooms with low ceilings, and thick stucco walls. The cobblestone patio features beautiful foliage and a fountain. Most noteworthy is the original keystone over the entrance, which bears the carved, double-headed eagle from the Hapsburg coat of arms along with an inscription, in Spanish, reading "finished in 1749."
This former home of Jose Antonio Navarro is now one of the best gems of the city's history. Navarro was a prominent rancher and statesman and was one of only two native Texans of Mexican nationality to sign Texas' declaration of independence from Mexico. Built in 1848, the home was preserved by the San Antonio Conservation Society and now operates as a small museum conducting informative, interactive tours. Special activities are available for children as well.
Briscoe Western Art Museum is located on Market Street, in Downtown San Antonio. The museum, named for one of the most beloved governors of Texas, Dolph Briscoe, boasts of an interesting collection of artworks typical to the Western regions of America. A part of the Public Library, the museum is home to several contemporary and historic pieces and artifacts, including some that date back to the time of the Spanish conquest of the 1800s! The place also hosts numerous exhibitions and workshops throughout the year for the benefit of art students and enthusiasts. Open from Tuesdays through Sundays, Briscoe Western Art Museum makes for an interesting visit. Check the website for more details.
A little treasure of the Historic Arts Village is located upstairs, along with many other offices in Building No.9, at La Villita. The place is sponsored by the City of San Antonio and the La Villita Tenants Association. You'll find all you ever wanted to know about La Villita at the information center here. There are various gift items on display and if you find something attractive go ahead and purchase it. What's more, there is also a post office in the same place.
The St Joseph Catholic Church is located in the Downtown San Antonio. Built in the 19th century, the church was preceded by another site of faith. This Roman Catholic Church is an active institute of faith. The church is built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture and is a spectacle of grandeur. An erstwhile religious site for German immigrants, it currently serves a diverse community of worshipers. The regular services are conducted in English, accompanied by mariachi music and occasional singing performance by the San Antonio Liederkranz. Check the website for information on mass timings and services.