Summer Family Fun in San Antonio: History, Honor and Happenings

by Marika Flatt and Kinsley Fisher on June 29, 2018 in Travels, San Antonio,
San Antonio Skyline

Three hundred years ago, the city of San Antonio was founded as San Antonio de Valero. Since the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, San Antonio has become the second most populous city in Texas and grown into a place for opportunity, community and adventure.

In the heart of downtown San Antonio, The Hilton Palacio del Rio boasts rich history. Built in 1968 especially for the World’s Fair, just across from Hemisphere Park, this grand 500-room hotel was built in just 202 days! At the time, the hotel was a milestone for the modular construction industry. The hotel’s room modules were fully decorated, including a TV, beds, carpeting and even a coffee maker before arriving to the construction site!

The Hilton Palacio del Rio was built in 1968 especially for the World’s Fair. Photo courtesy Hilton Palacio del Rio

Located on the famous San Antonio Riverwalk, guests staying at the hotel will find themselves surrounded by action and just steps away from various restaurant and shopping options., the hotel is just a short walk away from La Villita Historic Arts Village where guests can explore local art galleries that showcase the city’s culture, history, and creativity.

Just a few blocks away, guests will find The Battle for Texas Experience tucked into the bottom floor of Rivercenter Mall. This sensory adventure is filled with over 250 historic artifacts together for the first time, honoring the 184 defenders who died at the 13 day siege of The Alamo. The museum, which opened two years ago, offers multimedia re-enactments featuring artifacts used in a pivotal moment of history.

The Battle for Texas Experience features an exhibit where guests can attempt to pull the weight of a real cannon. Photo courtesy The Battle for Texas Experience

Including a unique event called Night at the Museum where the museum’s security guard leads guests on a lantern-lit tour, as mannequins come to life to tell the stories of the Alamo and the history of San Antonio, . Guests even have a chance to get caught up in a recreation of the Battle of the Alamo in an exhibit called The Gauntlet Experience. The gunfire sounds real, and you might just narrowly escape! During the summer, Night at the Museum is offered every night and lasts just under an hour.

Another unique opportunity at The Battle for Texas Experience is the character breakfast held at Republic of Texas Restaurant. At this hearty breakfast of homestyle biscuits and gravy, you’ll listen to tall tales from characters like Davy Crockett and his sidekick Raider the Raccoon.

At La Villita Historic Arts Village guests can explore local art galleries that showcase the city’s culture, history and creativity.

You can purchase the Hopper Pass that includes admission to the Battle for Texas , Night at the Museum and the character breakfast, all for $40 for adults and $30 for kids. That’s a great price since it also includes a full meal!

And just down the block from all this activity, you can catch a ride on the City Bus Tour, a double-decker bus that will show you the downtown sites with a big dose of culture and history to boot! Learn about the first brewery in Texas at the Menger Hotel that was built in 1859 and said to be haunted. Learn about how Fiesta, the town’s big annual celebration, began in 1891 to honor the defenders of the Alamo. Party-goers enjoy over 100 events throughout Fiesta. On the tour you will discover that the Riverwalk is actually 15 miles long and the Aztec Theater possesses the largest chandelier in Texas, built in 1925 at the cost of $1.75 million. You’ll also pass by The Esquire, the oldest bar on the Riverwalk, which opened in 1933. And, do you know what is the largest privately owned company in Texas is? That’s HEB— the grocery chain!

Take a City Bus Tour to see all that San Antonio has to offer. Photo courtesy Visit San Antonio

While you’re in San Antonio, stop by Two Brothers BBQ. This barbecue joint, started by famed San Antonio chef Jason Dady and his brother, provides a cozy feeling to all customers who enter. USA Today voted it “San Antonio’s Best Barbecue” in 2017, and we agree. The restaurant and its crew are dedicated to providing classic Texas BBQ with a “down-home” twist. They offer all the typical meats and sides (but try their twist on pinto beans with peaches mixed in!). Oh, and do not leave without treating yourself to their banana pudding, too. Plus, Two Brother’s BBQ has a beautiful grove of trees just out the door, perfect for a cold beer and good ‘ole Texas BBQ.

Two Brother’s BBQ is filled with good food and good times. Photo courtesy Chef Dady

San Antonio is a city full of history and pride—300 years in the making. With a weekend of Mexican-American culture, historical museums, great food and even better people, the experience is nothing short of exceptional.

Never forget what Davy Crockett said to the Tennessee legislature in 1835, “Y’all go to hell. I’m going to Texas.”

Marika Flatt is Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine and hosts “Weekend Trip Tips” on Texas Standard, a statewide NPR show.