San Antonio’s most famous landmark is, of course, the Alamo, the legendary 18th century Spanish Mission overrun by Mexican forces in 1836, the story of which continues to capture audiences to this day. The Alamo is the most-visited attraction in Texas, but the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park in the city’s downtown is also a noted attraction. The nearby Riverwalk is also a popular – comprising 5 miles of walkways snaking their way through shops and restaurants on 20 bridges across the San Antonio River, Riverwalk provides a unique dining and retail experience.
Unlike many southwestern towns, San Antonio has limited Spanish architecture. Once the tallest structures in town, the Tower Life Building is a Gothic Revival from 1929 that sported gargoyles, while the much-admired red brick Bexar County Courthouse is a Romanesque creation from James Riley Gordon. Even the San Fernando Cathedral, considered by many the oldest cathedral in the United States, exudes an Italianate and Gothic vibe from a makeover in the 1860s.
As befits a fast-growing town with room to spread, the real estate market in San Antonio is dominated by single family homes – 445,761 of them. Other options include 8,543 multi-family properties and 11,549 other types of residential buildings. San Antonio’s vacant lots, most often held by the city through tax foreclosures, are often put up for sale by the local government. Many of the 37,749 pieces of land are suitable for residential construction.
Business opportunities abound in this modern city with 21,919 commercial properties. Light industry, often in processed foods, is undertaken in many of the 804 properties zoned for industrial use.
The VIA Metropolitan Transit operates a fleet of buses in the downtown core, but the sprawling geography of San Antonio makes it one of the nation’s most automobile-dependent cities. Air travel is easily accessible in the city, thanks to the San Antonio Airport system, which consists of the San Antonio International airport and the Stinson Municipal Airport.
Education is decentralized in the San Antonio metropolitan area, with 19 independent school districts and a web of private and charter schools. Waiting at the end of the learning funnel are 31 higher-education institutions in the region, including heavy-weights Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Among all states in the Union, Texas has the worst performance when it comes to health care access and affordability. San Antonio, however, is home to highly-rated medical facilities such as Methodist Stone Oak Hospital, Foundation Surgical Hospital of San Antonio and Baptist Emergency Hospital.
San Antonio is a little less safe than the average Texas town, according to local law enforcement statistics. The chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in San Antonio are 1 in 171 and 1 in 243 in Texas, while the chances of suffering a property crime here are 1 in 20 versus 1 in 35 in the Lone Star State as a whole.
Entertainment in San Antonio skews towards the young and families, with theme parks such as Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld, as well as Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park curated for children with special needs. Shopping and dining excursions usually begin or end at the Riverwalk. The Tower of the Americas is a souvenir of the San Antonio’s HemisFair ’68 and now does duty as an observation tower and restaurant. Cultural attractions include the McNay Art Museum, Texas’ first exhibitor of modern art, and the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum known for founder Albert Friedrich’s Buckhorn Hall of Horns.
Cheering in San Antonio means the ultra-successful San Antonio Spurs of the NBA – only three NBA franchises have won more championships than the Spurs. The city also hosts the college football Alamo Bowl and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, a staple on the roping and wrangling circuit since 1950.
For outdoor enthusiasts San Antonio is the gateway to the Texas Hill Country, a patchwork quilt of clear streams and granite outcroppings.