When you think of San Antonio, Texas, chances are your mind lands smack on the Alamo. (That’s good, you haven’t forgotten!) But there are so many more historical sites in San Antonio that are worth your time.
San Antonio is a beautiful city bursting with stories to tell and today I’ve teamed up with Hotels.com to help show you where to head after you leave the Alamo. Because, yes, you’ve still gotta see it.
Historical sites in San Antonio besides the Alamo
With a past comprised of centuries of Native American occupation, Spanish exploration and European development, battles and annexation, there are more than enough historical sites in San Antonio to fill an itinerary, no matter how long.
Historic hotels in San Antonio
But first, you’ll need a place to stay in San Antonio. And where better than some of the city’s historical sites themselves? The first few entries on our list are both worthwhile historical sites and great places to stay in San Antonio.
1. The St. Anthony
The St. Anthony is a luxury hotel as lavish as it is old. It was built in 1909 and was considered to be one of the premier hotels at this time. It featured—get this—automatic doors and electric lights! Movie stars, royalty, U.S. presidents, and other well-knowns made The St. Anthony a real hot-spot.
As you’ll see when you arrive, this place is still dripping in luxury and historical touches. You can’t beat those electric lights, ladies and gentlemen.
But besides all the fancy electricity, it’s also located in a prime spot in downtown San Antonio just minutes from the most popular sites. (And just a 7-minute walk from the Alamo.)
It boasts 2 restaurants and 3 bars/lounges, an outdoor pool and rooftop terrace, a library, free WiFi, and so much more.
2. Hotel Gibbs
Like the St. Anthony, Hotel Gibbs was also built in 1909… but as the city’s first high rise building, not a hotel. What was originally a bank office has since been transformed into another beautiful luxury hotel in downtown San Antonio, right in the heart of it all.
And with age comes wisdom tales of being haunted. They say it’s the closest you can get to the Alamo without actually staying in the Alamo, and you know some stuff went down here.
In fact, it was built on land where part of the Alamo once stood. Precisely, the northwest corner, where the final battle took place.
Now, I don’t do ghosts, so you can check out more of Hotel Gibbs’ haunted history here.
But I am a fan of walking everywhere in town, free breakfast, on site restaurants and bars, and a “Superb” guest rating.
3. Menger Hotel
In 1847, William Menger immigrated to San Antonio from Germany and continued doing what he did best, brewing beer. He opened his brewery in 1855 on the former Alamo battle grounds.
His brewery was so popular that he decided to build a hotel where his brewery guests could stay. (Can your local brewpub say that?) In 1859 he and his wife built the Menger Hotel which, to this day, has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi River.
This place is a step back in time from the moment you enter the lobby to the second you rest your head. Like many on this list, the Menger Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places.
It has its own restaurant and bar, outdoor pool and garden, free WiFi, 24-hour front desk, fitness center, and more. Including its own resident ghosts.
San Antonio historical sites
Now that you’ve booked yourself a fabulous and fairly old hotel and toured the Alamo, let’s see what other historical sites in San Antonio we can explore!
4. San Fernando Cathedral
I’m a big fan of big cathedrals, the older the better. And San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio is actually one of the oldest active cathedrals in the United States.
Officially known as the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe, this lovely lady was originally built between 1738 and 1750. It was named after Ferdinand III of Castille, a 12th-century Spanish ruler.
San Fernando Cathedral is located in the city’s main plaza and offers many interesting points of interest for visitors seeking interesting historical sites in San Antonio. (Click Read More on this page.)
5. Spanish Governor’s Palace
Just around the corner from San Fernando Cathedral is the Spanish Governor’s Palace, dubbed by the National Geographic Society as the “most beautiful building in San Antonio.”
The Spanish Governor’s Palace was built in the early 18th century and served as the residence and offices of the Spanish governors living in San Antonio.
Admission is just $5 and you can see many historical rooms like the dining room, children’s rooms, living room, kitchen, and captain’s office, as well as numerous historical artifacts all in a beautiful space. Much of the palace is original to the mid 18th-century, and others are from the restoration in the 1930s.
6. Dinosaur Footprints
Definitely the most historical of all the historical sites in San Antonio would have to be the dinosaur tracks at Government Canyon.
These footprints (pawprints?) are 110 million-years-old and are believed to be those of Acrocanthosaurus and Sauroposeidon dinosaurs. (Something like a T-Rex, and something like a Brontosaurus, if that helps.)
To see these tracks requires a 5-mile round trip hike but one that is totally worth it, if you ask me. Excellent sign posting will get you to the site easily and, once there, informational placards will help tell their story.
Historic homes in San Antonio
7. Casa Navarro State Historic Site
José Antonio Navarro was a rancher, merchant, and leading advocate for Tejano rights in the mid-19th century. The Casa Navarro State Historic Site, set inside his one-time home, celebrates his life and accomplishments.
The house is a small limestone building where you can tour the rooms and get a sense of what life was like in Texas in the 1850s.
8. Yturri-Edmonds House
Like Casa Navarro, Yturri-Edmonds is a historic house museum dating back to the mid-1800s, but this one includes a working grist mill. OoOoohh!
Get a feel for 19th-century life and work in San Antonio at these great spots that have been frozen in time. Much like touring the casita in Tampa’s historic Ybor City.
9. King William historical neighborhood
Take a walk (or drive) through the King William historic district to see incredible examples of Greek Revival, Italianate, and Victorian homes.
The King William area, once just irrigated farm land belonging to the Alamo, was slowly settled by German immigrants in the 1800s. It went through a period of decline in the 1930s and 40s, then a period of restoration beginning in the 1950s.
In 1968 it became San Antonio’s first designated historic district.
10. Maverick Carter House
Unlike the first two historic homes on this list, the Maverick Carter House is a large estate. It was built in 1893 for real estate developer William Harvey Maverick who was the son of Samuel Augustus Maverick, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
This 23-room house was constructed in a beautiful rustic style and features multiple parlors, a rounded tower, and a slate roof.
You can tour the house on Tuesdays and Saturdays but you have to reserve ahead of time. Tours are 75 minutes and include all three floors and the observatory.
11. Steves Homestead Museum
The Edward Steves Homestead Museum is another three-story mansion, this time located in the King William Historic District. It was built in 1876 for Edward Steves, lumber tycoon.
You can take a self-guided tour of the house on Saturdays and Sundays only. The property includes the mansion, the River House (containing his indoor swimming pool), The Servants Quarters, Visitor Center, and the Steve Carriage House.
12. Guenther House
The Guenther House Museum is another incredible property in the King William Historic District. Once home to another in the lumber trade (as well as farming and flour milling), this family home was built in 1860.
Come take a tour of the Geunther House and check out some fancy china and other antique mill memorabilia.
Missions in San Antonio, Texas
The missions in San Antonio are actually some of the best historical sites in San Antonio besides the Alamo. And though, technically, the Alamo was a mission, I’m going to be talking about the other four that make up San Antonio Mission National Historical Park and the UNESCO World Heritage Site (the first in Texas).
All four of the missions in San Antonio still conduct regular church services and are open to visitors of the public as part of the National Park Service.
13. Mission Espada
Mission Espada is a Roman Catholic mission that was established by Spain in 1690 but relocated to San Antonio in 1731. Like the others, its mission (har har) was to convert local Native Americans to Christianity for which it had a hell of a tough time.
Officially known as Mission San Francisco De la Espada, this historic property and its arched walkway is such a beautiful spot. Its aqueduct can still be seen today.
14. Mission Concepcion
Mission Concepcion, formally known as Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña, was established in 1716 by Franciscan Friars but moved to San Antonio in 1731.
In fact, Mission Concepcion is the oldest unrestored stone church in America and you can still enjoy Catholic mass here every Sunday. The original frescoes are long gone but you can still see their remnants.
15. Mission San Juan
Mission San Juan was founded in 1731 by Spanish Catholics and, like many, was built from mud and brush. It initially consisted of a church, a friary, and a granary, but an expansion project ended before it was completed.
16. Mission San José
Founded in 1720 but moved to its current location in 1758, Mission San José became the most well-known of the missions in San Antonio and a major social center. Its missionary activities lasted until 1824 when the buildings then served as housing for soldiers and the homeless.
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