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San Antonio Itinerary

One Day Stay

It goes without saying you can modify this to your personal taste.  I've just tried to cram as much into a one day trip as I think possible.  And to do it in some order so you won't have to be backtracking.

Morning:

(a)  This morning take a leisurely and quite pretty stroll along the River Walk to breakfast.  You must do this.  I will not be held responsible for the enjoyment of your trip if you do not.  After this morning's meandering you will ask yourself why you aren't living here, it is so delightful.  Leave your hotel and find your way to the River Walk area.  The entire stroll is very pretty however if you've slept too late you might want to shorten the stroll by starting on the south side of the River Walk "bend" as the stroll is roughly 20+ minutes once on the River Walk, obviously depending upon where you first start your walk. 

Stroll along the River Walk heading south to Guenther St.  It doesn't really matter on which bank you are on.  Just keep heading south.  As you walk you will see towering over the trees ahead of you a tall building with "Pioneer Flour Mill" written on the top.  This is where you are heading.  Ultimately, if you are on the left bank, you'll have to cross over to the right bank just before you get to end of your walk, as the left bank ends before you get to Guenther St.  The side walk along the right bank of the river ends at Guenther St. so there come up to the street level and make your way about 80 yards to the left along Guenther St. to the Guenther House Restaurant for breakfast.  Guenther House is on the grounds of the Pioneer Flour Mill (map of location)If you get to the Guenther House much after 9am you may have a wait.  At 10am the other day it was a 45 min. wait.  While waiting take time and look at this historic home.  Be sure to go upstairs and look at the furnishings and enjoy the ambiance.  If you don't feel like waiting, if the wait is too long, ask where the Mad Hatter Restaurant is.  It's only a block away on South Alamo St. heading back towards town.  It's not as good as the Guenther House but it's an acceptable alternative.

Don't be afraid of missing or passing by the Guenther House.  It's impossible.  The River Walk ends right below the Guenther House.

One more thing.  When departing, if you are into real, real contemporary art, you might want to stop by the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center since you are so close.  It's across South Alamo St. from the Guenther House, but you have to exit the Restaurant on the back side.  The opposite side that you entered.  Just ask someone.

(b)  After breakfast find your way to King William St., quite literally just a few paces away, and stop at 509 King William St. at the Steves Homestead.  This home is an historic home which has guided tours every 1 1/2 hours or so.  But what I want you to do here is walk to the visitor's center at the rear of the property.  Near this visitor's center, at the entrance which comes off from the side street, is a dispenser, hopefully, stocked with a free walking tour brochure of homes in this King William area of town.  Grab one.  Now meander up King William St. back towards town looking at some of the beautiful homes built here, most all of them in the late 1800s.  (If you're smarter than me you will notice on the cover of this free guide that it has a picture on it that refers to the descriptive architectural terms used to described the homes in the tour.  Only took me several times to make the connection.)  When you get to 130 King William St. stop in (Tues-Sat 10am-2pm) at the San Antonio Art League museum.  It's free.  Only take you 5 minutes to make the scan of hanging art.

(c)  At the end of King William St. find your way up So. St. Mary's Street to Durango.  Go over one block to South Presa St. and head north along this street until you get to La Villita area.  Take the rest of the morning and meander through the shops around here paying particular attention at some of the historical markers and also at some of the building's construction styles.  This is the oldest neighborhood still extant in town.  And yes, these small homes were nestled on top of each other, something almost out of a Dicken's novel.  Unfortunately only a few remain.

(d)  When through here, find your way to Arneson River Theater (it's at La Villita) and walk down to the River's edge.  Head to the right and towards the primary River Walk area.  When you get towards the Hyatt Hotel you can walk through the hotel following the water stream and out it comes in front of the Alamo.  Don't visit the Alamo yet.  It should be lunch time about now, so pick a spot; back along the River Walk or perhaps at Schilo's a block away on Commerce St.

Afternoon:

After lunch go visit the Alamo.  You will most likely want to meander around here for a while.  In what is called the "Long Barracks" of the Alamo they have a free short film every 15 to 20 min. which will put the history of the battle into some sort of perspective for you.

This is so self-serving, but I'll say it anyway.  You should buy my walking guide and spend the rest of the afternoon taking the walk.  Should only take you two to three hours to do it.  This is the fastest way to see all the highlights that are downtown and at the same time get a real feel for the city.  You will have all afternoon to walk across town which is plenty of time.  Anytime you start you will nevertheless finish at Market Square at an hour just right for a margarita at either La Margarita or Mi Tierra restaurants (they're both owned by the same fellow-check out the mexican bakery items at Mi Tierra restaurant).  When through here you may take the streetcar trolley from Commerce St. back towards The Alamo (red line takes you right in front of The Alamo, yellow line will get you close [For Professional Tourists see below for remainder of day schedule]- the streetcars reportedly run every 10 min.)  If there's any remaining time left in the day you may spend it either back at the Alamo touring it, walking along the River Walk taking in the ambiance or shopping at Rivercenter Mall, or even back at La Villita which you will have previously passed through both this morning and on your walking tour.  

For Professional Tourists Only:
If you are an amateur tourist please skip this section, this is only for professionals.  Haven't had enough?  Legs not tired?  Want to maximize your experience here and every nanosecond.  Then suggest you take the yellow streetcar from Market Square and ride it to the Institute of Texan Cultures (any day but Monday) and tour this museum.  If you're going to tour any museum this is the one to do so.  It is open till 6pm from Tuesday to Saturday (5pm on Sunday-closed Monday).  After making a quick lap through the Institute walk about 100 yards to the Tower of the Americas and take a ride up, at this writing it's $5/adult to the observation deck.  But if you skip the Observation Deck and go to the Lounge the ride up is free! You won't get to walk around and get a 360 degree look but you also got in free.  Go to the bar area and have a Coke and relax while looking out upon the city.  Depending upon the season it should be around dusk at this time.  From here you can take the purple streetcar trolley back towards the Alamo and make your way to your hotel prior to dinner.  You've had a long day!

Afternoon option 2, 

For those not taking my guided tour.  O.K., you're not into walking tours.  I can deal with that.  Here's an alternative afternoon that does some of the same spots.  

After lunch do the Alamo thing.  After this, there's not really too much that you can do for the remainder of the day without running all over the place.  While around the Alamo you can stroll through Rivercenter Mall or go to the Buckhorn Saloon.  If neither of those excite you, you might find it beneficial to jump on a yellow line streetcar trolley and go down to Main Plaza or Military Plaza.  From there you can stroll towards Market Square and take in the junk for sale there.  Unfortunately there are very few historical markers in Main or Military Plaza to tell you what you are looking at.  But at least you will see something.  The Governor's Palace is at Military Plaza and San Fernando Cathedral is at Main Plaza.

If you don't mind museums, a really good option for the afternoon, particularly that "don't know what to do with myself" hour of 5 to 6pm, is on Tuesdays to visit either the San Antonio Museum of Art or the Witte Museum which stay open till 8pm.  Both museums are even free after 4pm on Tuesdays!  If, however, you find yourself here on a Thursday to Saturday evening, then the Institute of Texan Cultures stays open till 8pm.

 

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