All things come in big sizes in Texas, and the city of San Antonio is no exception. Encompassing an area measuring 412.1 square miles or 1,067.3 square kilometers occupied by more than 1.3 million residents, San Antonio ranks as the seventh largest city in the United States. At the same time, it is the second largest city in the State of Texas. The Greater San Antonio area has more than 2.2 million residents. This makes it the 24th largest metropolitan region in the country. It also ranks as the third largest metropolitan area in Texas.
San Antonio is located in the great state of Texas in the south central region, encompassing the counties of Bexar, Medina and Comal. It is the county seat of Bexar County. The city of San Antonio sits on an elevation of 650 feet or 198 meters above sea level. The land area of the city measures 407.6 square miles or 1,055.7 square kilometers, while water makes up just 4.5 square miles or 11.7 square kilometers of the city’s total size.
Unlike other American cities, Hispanics are the majority of the population, with over sixty percent of the city’s residents of Hispanic or Latino descent. This means that although English is the primary language spoken in the city, a growing majority of the residents are Spanish-speaking. Almost 47% of the city’s residents speak a language other than English at home. This is why the services of a professional language translation service provider may be needed by residents, students and those doing business in the city of San Antonio. Speaking Spanish is certainly an advantage in this city.
Given the city’s diversity, it’s not surprising that this is a place where different flavors and cultures come together. Tex-Mex cuisine is easily found here, so visitors are able to enjoy spicy chili and freshly made tamales. German food choices are also available in San Antonio because of the German immigrants in the city. San Antonio also has a variety of world-class restaurants serving a variety of cuisines.
San Antonio is named after San Antonio de Padua because it was on his feast day that the Spaniards first arrived here. Since the Spaniards came and started building missions in the area in 1691, San Antonio has grown to become one of the largest cities in the country and one of the most historically significant in American history. The military bases in the city have also cemented its importance in the United States, since San Antonio is home to Fort Sam Houston, Brooks City-Base, Randolph Air Force Base, and Lackland Air Force Base.
More than 26 million tourists come to San Antonio each year to enjoy the city’s many attractions or to participate in the varied festivals and events. There are 15 airports in the San Antonio region. The main airport is the San Antonio International Airport, which boasts of three runways, and many international flights, including those to Mexico. There are also 23 heliports in the city. Amtrak also serves the people of San Antonio.
San Antonio has a crime index that is slightly higher than the nation’s average. It is at 485.5 versus the national crime index average of 319.1. Thefts make up the majority of unlawful acts reported in the city. Burglaries and auto thefts are a distant second and third. Fortunately, there are 2,948 full time law enforcement employees in the city, which translates to about 1.65 officers per 1,000 residents. However, this is slightly less than the state average of 2.2 officers per 1,000 residents. Visitors would still have peace of mind when touring the many sights of the city as long as they remain vigilant of their surroundings.
Visitors to San Antonio should exercise common sense and follow basic safety procedures, just like when visiting other major cities in the country. It’s important to leave valuables at home and to keep a low profile by refraining from wearing flashy and expensive jewelry and watches. Stay only in reputable hotels and get directions from the hotel concierge before heading out so you don’t get lost. Keep your belongings with you at all times. Knowing some basic Spanish words and phrases would also help travelers navigate their way around the city and to bargain for the best deals at the flea markets.
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Fatal car accidents in San Antonio are higher than the state average, so visitors should be careful when behind the wheel. Avoid sending messages and using your cellular phone while driving. Also, while it may be fun to try out the number of breweries in the city, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated. Designate a driver in case you want to drink, or take a cab going home instead. While driving around, keep your eyes on the road and don’t get distracted by the rustic splendor of the scenery. Using a GPS system would also help to help you navigate your way in the city.
The year-round sunny climate of San Antonio is one of the city’s top draws. In fact, it has often been said that San Antonio is where the sunshine spends the winter season and is ranked as the fourth hottest city in the country. Located in the south central Texas and 140 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico, San Antonio’s landscape is dotted with rolling hills and wide-open spaces, which is bathed in 111 days of temperatures exceeding 90 °F or slightly over 32 °C. With more than a 50% chance of sunshine even during the winter season and over a 70% chance of sunshine in the summer, travelers could expect pleasant climates just about any day of the year, providing visitors a number of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
San Antonio enjoys a humid subtropical climate, where the summers are hot and dry, while the winter season varies from warm to cool temperature. The average annual temperature is pegged at 20.3 °C or 68.6 °F. The hottest months of the year fall in the summer months of July and August, where the temperatures can average to a blistering 95 °F or 35 °C. Fortunately, the temperatures drop during the evening hours to more comfortable levels. On the other hand, January is recorded as the coolest month of the year, wherein the average temperature is at 9.6 °C or just over 49 °F. During the winter season, about 20 days when temperatures would be below freezing levels. The springtime month of May and the fall month of October are warm and rainy. The wettest months are May and June, when the city receives over four inches or over 100 millimeters of rain. Snow is very rare, with only 31 recorded instances of snowfall in the city in over a century. The average annual precipitation in San Antonio is at 29 inches a year, or about 738 millimeters. However, San Antonio is prone to flooding.
For travelers, this means that it’s best to pack lightweight clothing when visiting San Antonio in the summer and spring. Those going during the winter season should wear heavy coats or dress in warm layers. For those who want to rough it up, wearing blue jeans is a must. Hats, especially cowboy hats not only serve to protect against the elements, but also add a fashion statement. Before going out, it’s best to check the specific weather forecast to be able to dress appropriately and to plan the activities accordingly. With the sun shining most of the time, do be careful and always apply sunscreen lotion before going out and moisturize your face. Drink plenty of water, too to remain hydrated.
Learning a bit about San Antonio would help travelers make the best travel itinerary to ensure a memorable and enjoyable time in Alamo City. Whether you want to be a vaquero, see an authentic rodeo or want to enjoy Tex-Mex cuisine, San Antonio is sure to be a favorite travel destination of families.
The area of San Antonio used to be occupied by the Native American Coahuiltecans and was formerly called Yanaguana. In the 17th century, the Spanish crown sent missionaries to colonize the natives. The Spaniards arrived in the San Pedro Springs area and named it after the feast day of St. Anthony de Padua, which coincided with the day they arrived, June 13.
The first mission led by the Franciscan Friar Antonio de San Buenaventura Olivares established Mission San Antonio de Valero in 1718.The primary objective of the mission was to convert the native settlers into Christianity. In less than two decades, more missions were established along the river. Aiming to populate the settlement, the King of Spain approved the plan to send some families from Havana or the Canary Islands. Although the approval was later rescinded, some 10 families from the Canary Islands were able to march on, led by Juan Leal Goraz. During the interval before they reached the settlement in San Antonio, the families have increased to 15 and consisted of 56 people. They reached the mission in 1731 and settled at the Presidio San Antonio de Béjar (Bexar). These first immigrants would form the villa of San Fernando de Béxar, which would be known as the first organized civil government in the state of Texas. San Antonio grew and became the largest Spanish settlement in the state and became the capital of the province of Tejas.
The original mission did not have strong military support and the continued raids led by the Comanche as well as the Apache Indians finally led to the weakening of the mission and they began to withdraw by 1794. Mission San Antonio de Valero was secularized and turned into a military fort when the Spanish military arrived and renamed it Mission del Alamo del Parras in 1803. Mexico fought for its independence from Spain and after ten years was able to win, and San Antonio fell under Mexican rule, and the province of Tejas became a Mexican province.
By the turn of the 19th century, many pioneers felt that many parts of the United States were becoming an expensive place to live. People started moving to the Mexican- controlled Texas, which was a more affordable option. However, in less than a decade and a half, there were more Americans than Mexicans in the region. This threatened the Mexican rule in the area. By 1835, Texas wanted its independence from Mexican control and a series of battles occurred, culminating in the ill- fated Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Here, 189 volunteer Texans under the joint command of James Bowie and William Barrett Travis valiantly fought more than 4,000 soldiers of Mexican leader Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna for 13 days late February to early March before they were annihilated. This display of bravery came to symbolize the strength and fortitude of the people of San Antonio and the origin of the famous battle cry – “Remember the Alamo.” However, it was the short-lived Battle of San Jacinto on April 1836, led by General Sam Houston when Texas was able to gain its independence from Mexico. The battle only lasted for 18 minutes with great casualty count to the Mexican forces and the capture of the Mexican President. Texas was annexed to the Union to become the 28th state on December 29, 1845.The Mexican-American War ensued soon after, which was won by the Americans.
The series of wars and battles that San Antonio suffered severely affected the city as its population was greatly reduced. However, the cattle industry eventually revived the city’s economy after the Civil War. The Chisholm Trail, a cattle route between Texas and Kansas starts from San Antonio, which also made the city an important cattle center. German immigrants also helped populate the city, settling in the King William area, further increasing the city’s population. By 1877, the railroad had reach San Antonio, effectively linking it to the rest of America. By the early 1900s, San Antonio’s population has reached 50,000 and was the largest city in the state of Texas.
During the early part of the 20th century, streets were widened and filled with streetcars, ushering in the industrial age. San Antonio became the location of four military installations and the downtown area became home to a number of leading businesses and corporations. The population had swelled to more than a million people by the 21st century, making it into one of the largest cities in America.
Today, San Antonio is home to five of the Fortune 500 companies and has over 1.3 million residents. It is also here that the South Texas Medical Center is located, a major medical care facility in the city. With its many attractions, strong economy, rich history, friendly people, strong diversity yet strong ethnic roots, San Antonio is poised to maintain its hold as one of the most exciting cities in the South.
San Antonio residents number 1,327,407 as of 2010. This translates to a city density of about 3,257 people per square mile, or 1,257 individuals per square kilometer. The metropolitan population of San Antonio is at 2,194,927 people, making it the 24th most densely populated metropolitan area in the country. Since the year 2000, the city’s population has grown by 16%.
The median age in the city is 32.7 years old, which is lower than the state average of 40.8 years old. Over 28% of the residents are minors, while seniors are only at 10% of the population. The rest falls between the productive ages of 18 to 64 years of age. There are more females than males in San Antonio, at 51.2% versus 48.8%. Half of the city’s residents are married. Three-fourths of the city’s residents have obtained a high school diploma, while less than 22% have a Bachelor’s degree. Those with a Graduate or professional degree are only less than eight percent of the population. At the same time, over 65% of the residents are affiliated with a religion, which is higher than the nation’s average of 50.2%. The large majority of the city’s residents belong to the Catholic Church, while the rest go to the Southern Baptist Convention and other Christian churches.
Diversity is a key element in the demographics of the city. Hispanics dominate the city, and make up over 63% of the city’s residents. Whites comprise over 26% of the city’s residents, coming from German, Irish, English, American, Italian and French ancestries. Blacks account for over six percent of the city’s population. Asians make up over two percent of the citizenry. Those that come from two or more races represent just about 1.2% of the city’s residents, while other races and native Hawaiians account for less than a percent of the total population.
Close to 12% or over 133,000 residents in San Antonio were born on foreign soil. Of these, 9.3% come from Latin America, while those born in Asia account for 1.4%. This gives San Antonio a foreign born population that is significantly higher than the state’s average. Given the large number of Hispanics in San Antonio, learning to speak Spanish is a skill that has become necessary. Those who wish to tap into the Hispanic market would do well to utilize the services of a professional language translation service provider, especially since the Hispanic population in the city is significantly higher than the average in Texas.
More and more Mexicans are moving to San Antonio due to the rising drug wars in Mexico, this has been called Mexodus, making San Antonio a city with one of the largest Mexican communities in the country. It is estimated that about 10% of homeowners in the city are Mexicans.
There are about 524,246 households in the city as of 2010, and over half of these are owner-owned. The average household in San Antonio has 2.7 people. Almost a fifth of the city’s population lives in poverty as of 2009, with Blacks making up over a quarter of the city’s poor, followed by the Hispanics.
San Antonio is home to five of the Fortune 500 companies in the world: Tesoro Petroleum Corporation, NuStar Energy, Valero Energy Corporation, Clear Channel Communications and USAA (United Services Automobile Association). Some of the important companies found here are H-E-B (H-E-B Grocery Company, LP), one of the largest private companies in the United States and Southwest Research Institute. Frost National Bank, Kinetic Concepts, Harte-Hanks, Carenet Healthcare Services, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q Enterprises, Eye Care Centers of America, Rackspace and Taco Cabana are some of the companies based in San Antonio, International corporations like Philips, Toyota, Sysco, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Caterpillar, Inc. have likewise chosen San Antonio as one of their headquarters.
There are four main sectors that make up the city’s economic profile: financial services; government; health care and tourism.
In health care, the only provider of research medical and care facilities in South Texas is the Southwest Research Institute. There is also a strong military presence in the city, with four military bases in San Antonio. These military bases employ more than 89,000 people in the city and contributes about $5.25 billion to the local economy. Tourism brings in more than 26 million people annually, and generates over 94,000 jobs in the city and more than $10.7 billion in revenues.
In 2007, San Antonio listed over 100,000 firms operating in the city. Of these, almost 40% are Hispanic-owned, while Asians and Blacks each account for about 3.5% of the city’s businesses. Given the number of business owners in the city and an even larger Hispanic market, more and more people may need professional language translation services in San Antonio.
In March 2012, the cost of living index in San Antonio is at 88.2, which is less than the nation’s average of 100. As of 2009, the estimated median household income in San Antonio is at $42,513, while the estimated per capita income in the city is at $21,053. The average median home value in the city is at $114,400, almost double the levels in 2000. At the same time, the average rent of a San Antonian is $754. This makes San Antonio an attractive place to reside, contributing to the ever-growing increase on the number of immigrants who choose to live in the city.
The most common industries in the city are concentrated in construction, accommodation and food services, professional/scientific and technical services, administrative work, public administration, health care, and finance and insurance. As of March 2012, the city’s unemployment rate is at 6.6%.
San Antonio is a feast for the senses. The bright colors, delicious flavors, rustic beauty and the unique architecture of the city are a reflection of the city’s diversity and rich history. The city’s many attractions draw in over 26 million visitors each year.
The Paseo del Rio or River Walk is the second most visited locale in the city. Travelers would find a number of shops, restaurants, bars and the Arneson River Theater and the themed movie theater Aztec on the River. The River Walk is also the venue for a number of annual cultural events and celebrations. With the large Spanish-speaking population in San Antonio, you are like to hear flamenco music and watch Spanish folk dances being performed at the Arneson River Theater during the summer.
Many travelers start with a walking tour of the Main Plaza to get a glimpse of the city’s heritage and various architectural influences. Here, travelers get to see the San Fernando Cathedral, which was built between 1738 and 1750, making it the oldest cathedral in the state of Texas and in the country. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the seat of the archbishop and the Archdiocese of San Antonio’s mother church. Visitors to this Catholic Church would find the 1920 stained glass windows quite magnificent and the carved Stations of the Cross very moving. The carved stone stations were done in 1874. The church is also called the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe.
The Bexar Country Courthouse was built in 1892 in the tradition of Romanesque Revival style of architecture. It was completed in 1896. The magnificent building was constructed using red sandstone and the intervening years mellowed the color of the stone to a beautiful old rose color. It is now Bexar County’s county seat. Another landmark in the city is the Spanish Governor’s Palace, built in 1749 and is now a period museum even if it was not technically used as the home of the Spanish governor. It was actually built to protect the Mission de San Antonio de Valero and became the work office and residence of the local presidio captain. It is the most beautiful building in San Antonio, according to National Geographic.
For a bit of history, a must-see is the Museo Alameda, which is located at Market Square. This is the first museum affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and at the same time serves as the official State Latino Museum. It is the largest Latino museum in the country and showcases the Latino experience through culture, history and art.
The Casa Navarro State Historical Park is where travelers could see the 1850s home of Tejano rancher and patriot Jose Antonio Navarro. The structure, which is made of adobe and limestone, is an example of caliche-block architecture. At the same time, it is one of the last remnants of Laredito, the Mexican West Side of the San Antonio and is one of the oldest adobe structures in the city.
Another interesting neighborhood in San Antonio is the King William Historic District. This area covers 25 blocks and was considered the most elegant neighborhood in its prime. This is where the city’s German immigrants settled in the 1840s and built the many beautiful Victorian homes that could still be seen today, such as the Ike West House built around 1887, Anton Wulff House and Sartor House that was built in 1881 for German immigrant, Alexander Sartor, Jr. This is the first historic district declared in the state of Texas and was once called the Sauerkraut Bend. Also notable are Pioneer Flour Mills, the Hertzberg Clock, and the Yturri-Edmunds House and Museum.
Alamo Plaza Historic District is one of the most famous areas in the city and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Alamo itself is a National Historic Landmark and the chapel is one of the most iconic façades in the world. The Alamo is also the most visited attraction in the state of Texas. It was here where 189 Texan soldiers met their fate against the Mexican General Santa Anna’s army on March 6, 1836. The Alamo or the Mission San Antonio de Valero was the first mission in the city and was built in 1718.
The San Antonio Museum of Art is on the converted property of the Lone Star Brewery and first opened its doors to the public in 1981. The museum has a collection of folk art from the pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial and Latin American periods. There is also a collection of European pieces spanning three centuries. The museum’s Chinese collection is regarded as the largest Asian Art Museum in the southern U.S. San Antonio is also home to the first museum of modern art in Texas, the McNay Art Museum.
San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium or the San Antonio Zoo is the third largest zoo in the country. It is a top-rated zoo in America, and where more than a million travelers could meet Tumbo, the hippo. There are over 3,5000 animals from 750 different species, such as Addra gazelles from Africa, black rhinos, leopards, golden lion tamarins, Attwater’s Prairie chickens (highly-endangered), black footed ferret, and a Komodo dragon, which are housed on 35 acres of land. The zoo also boasts of having the second largest aviary anywhere in the world. The Richard Friedrich Aquarium is also here so children would be able to learn about both land and marine creatures in one visit.
For a look at the city’s cowboy heritage, visitors should visit the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte Museum. The center features a large collection of authentic American cowboy and Vaquero paraphernalia such as saddles, spurs, branding irons, baskets and clothes. There are interactive exhibits and live performances. Visitors would definitely feel like real cowboys are viewing the exhibits.
San Antonio has a total of eight theme parks for the whole family to enjoy. The newest is Green Acres Golf and Games Inc., where visitors could play in an 18-hole mini-golf course, ride on go karts, play paintball, jump on a trampoline and ride bumper boats. Kiddie Park is one of the oldest, having first opened its doors in 1925. There’s a carousel from 1918 as well as a number of nostalgic amusement park rides. Those who want to go laser tag should go to Laser Legend. Morgan’s Wonderland is billed as the world’s “first ultra-accessible family fun park,” where even visitors with disabilities or very young children could have an enjoyable time. There’s a fishing lake, amphitheater, picnic area, playgrounds and a number of rides.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas is a 200-acre park that offers a number of thrilling roller coaster rides, entertaining shows and many other attractions for all ages. Kids could meet Looney Tunes Characters and in the summer, there is a free waterpark. This is one of the most visited attractions in San Antonio.
SeaWorld San Antonio is a marine-themed amusement park for the whole family to enjoy and is a sister park to the ones found in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida. Fun rides include Shamu Express, Great White and Journey to Atlantis, while top shows featuring sea creatures and birds are One Ocean, Sea Lions Tonight, Shamu Rocks, and Cannery Row Caper. Exhibits that are sure to delight both young and old are Dolphin Cove, Alligator Alley, Penguin Encounter and Sharks and Coral Reef. There are special tours visitors could take such as an Up Close Tour of Sea Lions and Sting Rays or learn more about park operations with a Behind the Scenes Tour. The newest park attraction is Aquatica, an exciting waterpark within the SeaWorld complex. SeaWorld San Antonio is the largest marine life park in the world and is the third most visited attraction in the city.
Splashtown San Antonio is where people could get away from the Texan heat. There are a number of crystal clear pools spread on 20 acres to offer travelers a number of enjoyable and refreshing options. A popular attraction is the Siesta del Rio, a ride on the lazy river. The park also has a wave pool, tube rides, water slides, activity pool with balance logs and lily pads as well as areas for basketball, beach and water volleyball.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort is regarded as the top waterpark in the world. Located just 20 minutes away from San Antonio, it’s a quick getaway for those who want to go on tube rides, water slides, get on water coasters and other attractions.
Those looking for adventure would like the Natural Bridge Caverns. This is billed as “Texas’s largest underground adventure,” where travelers can go on a Discovery Tour that goes down 211 feet or 64.3 meters down into the ground; explore the cavern with the Hidden Passages Tour; take a Lantern Tour, or experience the Bracken Bat Flight, where visitors could watch the world’s largest colony of bats go on their nightly hunt for insects. Visitors could also rappel down the Watchtower or act like prospectors panning for gold at the Mining Company and Rock Shop. The caverns were discovered by students of St. Mary’s University in 1960 under the property owned by Mrs. Clara Wuest, whose family continues to own and operate the attraction.
Those who want to go shopping should start at the River Walk Museum Reach. The best local boutique by SA Current, the Adelante Boutique is located here. Those who want an artisan selection of eco-friendly items might want to go to North Central, while those looking for some Mexican items could get them at Fiesta on Main in downtown. For a wider selection of items, some outdoor malls in San Antonio are the Alamo Quarry Market, Huebner Oaks, The Rim and The Forum at Olympia Parkway. Other shopping options are found at Ingram Park Mall, Crossroads of San Antonio and Rivercenter Mall. One of North Star Mall’s attractions is the 40-foot tall giant cowboy boots. These shopping areas are also destinations for dining and entertainment. Those who prefer to find great deals at flea markets should try the Eisenhauer Road Flea Market, Flea Mart and Mission Open. Traders Village is considered one of the largest weekend markets in the country. There are also three outlet malls near San Antonio: Round Rock Premium Outlets; San Marcos Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets if you are looking for high-quality designer brands.
Throughout the city’s evolution and as the city continues to grow, San Antonio has never lost its diversity. In fact, it has often been compared to New Orleans. San Antonio has maintained its distinct foreign culture owing to its strong Hispanic heritage in spite of its growth and development, and even as the city’s history is closely intertwined within the greater American framework.
San Antonio’s history and culture are deeply rooted in the Old West, so for those who wish to live like a cowboy, this is the place to do it. In San Antonio, you could visit a working cattle ranch, find a dude ranch, purchase an authentic cowboy hat and matching boots or go country-western dancing at an authentic honky-tonk place when you go to Cowboys Dancehall. Bandera is the Cowboy Capital of the World, and this is where travelers should go for a truly cowboy-life experience where you could have campfires, hay rides, go horseback riding or go on a nature hike.
There is no end to the dining choices available in San Antonio, from Greek, French German, to authentic Tex-Mex, southwest and tender steaks and melt-off-the-bone barbeques. After all, there are over a thousand full-service restaurants in the city. A unique celebration to the city is the Poteet Strawberry Festival in April. This is considered to be one of the oldest events in Texas and is the largest agricultural festival in the state. Here, visitors are treated to concerts, gunslingers, rodeo performances and everything made of delicious strawberries.
In May, travelers get a taste of the best restaurants of the Alamo with Culinaria, a wine and culinary arts festival. Chefs from Miami, New York and even Mexico come to whip up delicious treats featuring Mexican and Latin American flavors. Another tasty celebration is the Annual Soul Food Festival and Gospel on the Plaza held in the spring. In August, foodies would love Restaurant Week, where the top restaurants of the city offer tasty deals for travelers. Aside from the traditional turkey and ham, tamales take the center stage during the holiday season with Tamales! at Pearl Brewery. Here, tamales are featured in everything from appetizers to desserts.
Various music genres are celebrated in the city. There is the San Antonio Summer Art and Jazz Festival. There is also the Balcones Heights Jazz Festival, where free concerts are held every Friday night during the summer season at the Wonderland of the Americas amphitheater, as well as Jazz’SAlive, which is held at Travis Park in September. The International Accordion Festival is held in the fall, and features all music genres that use the instrument. Sports and music come together in the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, wherein more than 70 bands play for the participants of the race. Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan music is the highlight in the Mariachi Vargas held in December.
San Antonio residents love sports and have a part in their lives. The Alamodome is the biggest stadium in the city, with a seating capacity for 65,000 people. On the other hand, the AT&T Center is the home of the NBA team San Antonio Spurs, as well as the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars.
January kicks off with the San Antonio Spurs season, as well as the U.S. Army All American Bowl, where top high school football players come together. In April, the 72-hole Valero Texas Open is held. San Antonio has been the host of this prestigious golf tournament since 1922 and is regarded as one of the three most charitable PGA tournaments. The AT&T Championship is another star-studded golf tournament in the city. The city’s WNBA team, the San Antonio Silver Stars kicks off their season in May. In August, the Texas Football classic is held, featuring the top high school football teams in Texas. Another fun activity in San Antonio is the Ford Canoe Challenge, wherein 90 teams compete at the River Walk. This event is star-studded and includes teams from various companies in the city, as well as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. To end the year, the Annual Valero Alamo bowl is held, featuring collegiate football players.
San Antonio is bursting with more than 500 cultural, visual and performing arts organizations. About a fifth of these focuses on promoting the multicultural and minority arts in the city. In March, there is the Contemporary Art Month, with more than 400 exhibits in 50 venues. The month of May is declared as Dance Month by the San Antonio Dance Umbrella, wherein a number of dance performances are held to showcase different styles from around the world. In May, Luminaria is held, which is the city’s annual celebration of the city’s art and gifted artists. Art, poetry, performances, music and even light shows are all celebrated in this event. Photography enthusiasts get their turn in September with the Fotoseptiembre USA, an international photography festival. Local artists end the year with Hecho a Mano, a fine art exhibit which showcases hand made fine art pieces and other crafts.
The city of San Antonio is home to a number of different ancestries, and the city’s celebrations reflect this. To celebrate the city’s diversity, there is the annual Texas Folklife Festival, where more than 40 different ethnic groups in the state come together. Held in June, it’s a great place to taste the food, see the costumes and crafts and listen to the music and stories of each culture. However, the largest celebration of the city is undoubtedly Fiesta San Antonio held every April, which has been a tradition since 1891. There are more than 100 events that celebrate the diversity in the city as well as the city’s rich traditions and history.
Asians have their turn at the Asian Festival at the institute of Texan Cultures every January, where Chinese, Filipino, Pakistani and Polynesian food items are offered. At the same time, martial arts and other native dance demonstrations are done. German heritage is also honored in the city. San Antonio has its own take on Oktoberfest at the Beethoven Halle and Garten. In November, Wurstfest is a ten-day celebration of all things German, including a variety of tasty sausages and German treats, a polka contest and other games and activities. Those of Indian heritage celebrate in November, with the Diwali San Antonio: Festival of Lights. This is a celebration featuring Indian flavors, music and dance and culminates with the lighting of 1,000 tea lights on the HemisFair Park fountains.
Given the city’s large Hispanic population, it’s no wonder that there are many Latin themed celebrations in the city. The Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio in May is a fun look at some of the best musical talents performing the Tex-Mex Conjunto and Tejano music. In the summer, the 7-act Fiesta Noche Del Rio features the music and dance of Latin American countries such as Spain, Argentina, Mexico and Texas, which are performed at the Arneson River Theater. In September, there is People en Espanol Festival, a festival celebrating Latin culture with concerts, celebrity sightings, workshops and many other activities. The festival used to be held in New York, but San Antonio is now the proud host of this annual Latin fest. Mexico’s independence from the Spanish crown is commemorated with Diez y Seis Events. This celebration features a float parade, marching bands, dances and other activities at Market Square. In November, the El Dia de los Muertos, or the Mexican Day of the Dead is a more solemn holiday to honor the departed loved ones. Many participants dress up as skeletons in calavera processions.
San Antonio is a busy city any time of the year and the various celebrations held in the city reflect the people’s love for a good life. The Martin Luther King Jr. March and Rally in San Antonio is considered the largest in the country. The St. Patrick’s Day celebration of the city is held at the River Walk each year. In May, the Here’s to Our Heroes Parade is a military parade that honors the members of the country’s military with a floating parade on the River Walk. The city’s Cinco de Mayo celebration is held at Market Square and is a great way for visitors to have a taste of its Hispanic culture. The city’s Fourth of July celebration is a lively affair, culminating with a Freedom Fest at Market Square and a fireworks extravaganza.
No visit to Texas is complete without witnessing a rodeo, and one of the best is the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo held in February. It’s a fusion of rock and roll, country and some of the best Latin performers in the city, set against a carnival atmosphere and livestock show. The city’s history is also celebrated in March, with Dawn at the Alamo, a commemorative ceremony to mark the Battle of the Alamo. Juneteenth is another citywide celebration in the summer to honor the emancipation of Texas slaves on June 19, 1865. To celebrate the historic event, there are picnics, festivals and fairs throughout the city.
To usher in the holidays, a uniquely San Antonio tradition is the Light the Way at the University of the Incarnate Word. For more than two decades, locals illuminate the area and enjoy the nighttime scenery best enjoyed by either going on foot or driving. After Thanksgiving, one of the only nighttime river parades in the country is held in San Antonio, the Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony. Over a million lights illuminate the River Walk, where locals and visitors could enjoy a view of the decorated floats. In December, the Ford Fiesta de las Luminarias once again light up the banks of the San Antonio River for the holiday season, to light the way for the Holy Family. To end the year, Celebrate San Antonio is the annual fireworks spectacular held in various areas in the city.
Thanks to its rich history and diverse culture, San Antonio has evolved into an important and interesting city with much to offer travelers and locals alike. Here are some things you may not know about San Antonio.
- San Antonio has many nicknames such as River City, San Antone, San Anto, SA Town, America’s City, San An, Military City USA and Countdown City. Its most famous nickname is probably Alamo City.
- The chili is supposed to be a creation of San Antonio. The world got its first taste of the fiery stew in the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, when it was served by the San Antonio Chili Stand. The city is also the birthplace of the Frito, Cheeto and David Pace’s Pace Picante Sauce.
- San Antonio takes pride in its size. It is the 7th largest city in the country. It is the city with the 19th largest land area for a city. In the last decade, it made its way into the Top 100 fastest growing cities from 2000 to 2008.
- Health care is a major concern in the city. It is number 20 among the top 101 counties in the country with the most number of children without health insurance coverage. It is 46th of 101 counties of people without health insurance coverage in 2000.
- The University of Texas at San Antonio is the biggest university in the city, with a full time enrollment of over 30,000 students as of fall 2011. The city has five major colleges and universities. There are also over 12 higher learning institutions, including Trinity, Our Lady of the Lake and St. Mary’s. The combined total of all the educational facilities in San Antonio gives the city more than 100,000 students.
- San Antonio’s ritzy Fairmount Hotel is the second oldest hotel in the city. Built in 1906, it was moved intact from its original location to just three blocks south of the Alamo at a cost of $650,000 in four days. This earned it a world record for being one of the heaviest buildings that was moved while intact.
- There are 162 grocery stores in San Antonio, as well as 19 supercenters and club stores, 668 convenience stores, and 1,073 full-service restaurants.
- San Antonio is the birthplace of a number of famous people. These include: Joan Crawford; comedienne Carol Burnett; athletes Anthony Alabi, Kliff Kingsbury, Koy Detmer, Will Witherspoon, Erik Flowers and astronauts David Scott and Edward Higgins White II. Other people who have called San Antonio home at one time or another are: “True Blood” actor Kevin Alejandro, “Desperate Housewives” actor Ricardo Antonio Chavira, Tommy Lee Jones; actress Lara Flynn Boyle, Michelle Rodriguez, Eva Longoria and Olivia de Havilland; athletes Shaquille O’Neal and Jeff Foster; cartoonist Mitch Clem; Gatorade inventor Robert Cade; country singer George Strait; Dixie Chicks member Emily Robison; inspirational speaker and author Esther Hicks; and novelist of the Percy Jackson books, Rick Riordan. The city’s billionaires include H-E-B supermarket chain owner Charles Clarence Butt and Clear Channel Communications founders Lowry Mays and B.J. (Red) McCombs.
- The most common first names among deceased individuals in the city are Mary, John, Maria, William and Robert. The most common last names in the city are Martinez, Rodriguez, Garcia, Hernandez and Smith.
- San Antonio residents get to participate in a bike sharing service in the city. The San Antonio Bike Share handles more than 140 bikes in 14 locations all over the city and has been in effect since March 2011.
- San Antonio ranked as the 40th most walkable city in the country, out of the 50 largest cities in America. This is according to a 2011 Walk Score study.
- San Antonio has eight sister cities all over the world. These are the cities of Monterey and Guadalajara in Mexico; Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain; Kwangju in South Korea; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Kumamoto in Japan and Chennai in India. San Antonio is also a Friendship city of Wuxi and Suzhou in Jiangsu, China. It has an alliance agreement with Dresden, in Saxony, Germany and has made an economic pact with Tel Aviv in Israel.