Just a few minutes northeast of San Antonio lies a geological wonder that attracts tourists from around the globe. Natural Bridge Caverns, designated both a U.S. Natural Landmark as well as a Texas Historic Site, contains some of the most phenomenal cave formations in the country. Giant stalactites resembling enormous chandeliers and stalagmites that look like fried eggs are just a few of the more than 10,000 formations contained within this living cave. Special rates are available for groups of 25 or more.
Replete with a variety of flora and fauna, the Government Canyon State Natural Area features an incredible landscape dominated by towering trees and rocky canyons. Enjoy biking, hiking, and other exciting outdoor activities at this nature reserve. This park was made for adventure, offering 12,047 acres (4875 hectares) for visitors to explore. Take in the sight of rolling hills and rare wildlife as you explore 40 miles (64 kilometers) of trails. There's something here for everyone, whether you want to take a relaxing walk surrounded by exquisite nature or go for a more strenuous hike.
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.
When you think of San Antonio, two things automatically come to mind: the Alamo and the River Walk. The River Walk was conceived in 1929. Downtown had serious flood problems, and Robert Hugman suggested that the city turn the San Antonio River into an asset rather than a hindrance. Hugman's brainchild has since become the essence of the city. The city's most popular attraction, it is often crowded and filled with children, partygoers, tourists and locals. In the heart of the River Walk is an area filled with restaurants, shops and nightclubs, punctuated by fountains and towering Cypress trees. The River Walk is particularly lively during Fiesta.
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.
A 300-year old colonial past laced with an unflinching freedom spirit pulsates through every inch of San Antonio's present-day fabric. One of the oldest European settlements in Texas, San Antonio continues to be a popular destination for tourists to the state. Originally inhabited by the Payaya tribe, the region was claimed by Spain in 1691 on St. Anthony of Padua's feast day, giving the area its name. A missionary by the name of Father Antonio de Olivares visited the site in 1709 and lobbied for a mission and settlement on the spot. After a lengthy planning process, Misión de San Antonio de Valero, more famously known as the Alamo, was finished in 1718. In 1836, American settlers clashed with the Mexican army, resulting in the famous Battle of the Alamo, which is commemorated today with an interactive museum within the old complex. San Antonio is one of Texas's most visited cities, both for this profoundly iconic building and for the lovely River Walk which takes pedestrians along the length of the San Antonio River.
Crockett Park’s origins as a public square date back to 1875. North Main Avenue divides this 5.3-acre (2.14-hectare) landscape into two halves, thus giving it a nickname of Twin Parks. It is a great recreational spot for locals and is equipped with a playground. Their gazebo can be rented out for private functions. The San Antonio Summer Art and Jazz Festival is a popular event held here. Other park features include sidewalks, jogging tracks and fountains.
Established in 1630, San Pedro Springs Park is one of the oldest parks in the country. One of the main attractions here is the huge pool, a welcome oasis for kids and adults alike during the hot summer months. Take a walk through this beautiful park, or relax with a good book in the gazebo. The park is also home to paved bicycle tracks, picnic tables, a skate park and a tennis court among other facilities. Apart from the recreational activities, it also boasts of a few significant historical landmarks on its grounds.
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.