Anyone who has been to San Antonio, Texas has almost certainly been to two places: The San Antonio Riverwalk and The Alamo. And anyone who has been to San Antonio and failed to stop at one of these places should know that they missed out on a great experience. This is particularly true of The Alamo which holds an important place in the cultural history of Texas. People who visit the museum that is located inside of this former mission and military fort will find that they emerge with a better understanding of what the state of Texas is all about. And since it’s located right near The Riverwalk, you can effectively move from one attraction to the other to get the full San Antonio experience.
An overview of The Alamo. Many people know that The Alamo exists but don’t really know what it is. This San Antonio landmark was originally a Mission which was established by the Spanish conquistadores who took over the area before it belonged to American. The mission was used to “educate” the Native American population, stripping them of their native religions and teaching them about Christianity. However, if that’s all there was to this location, it probably wouldn’t stand as the monument that it is today. It went on to be used as a military fort which was the site of many important battles including the famous Battle of the Alamo. Ultimately, it played a key role in transitioning Texas from the hands of Mexico to its current position as a U.S. state. Today, this history is honored at the site with a museum that draws visitors from around the nation.
Why visit The Alamo. As you can see then, this museum honors many different aspects of San Antonio history. One of the most important things to realize is that a trip to The Alamo is not just a trip to understand history but also a trip which commemorates and values the diversity that makes up this area. It is a recognition of the influence that the Spanish and American people had on the Native American way of life in Texas. It is a commemoration of the Mexican culture that continues to influence the Texas life today. And it is a place where the whole history of the area can be better understood so that an appreciation of Texas as a state in this country can be gained. People visit here because they want to see a famous attraction but they come away with a better understanding of the San Antonio culture.
Getting to The Alamo. It’s not hard to visit The Alamo once you’re in San Antonio since it’s located right in the downtown area of the city. Most people who visit San Antonio will rent a car and drive so you’ll be happy to know that there’s ample parking in the area (although you will likely have to pay a fee to park there). The worst part is trying to navigate from the freeway through the downtown area but any skilled driver with a good map should find that it’s not that difficult. The Alamo is a well-known attraction so there are signs located everywhere in the area pointing you in the right direction in case you get lost.
When to visit The Alamo. You can visit The Alamo at almost any time of year. Christmas Eve and Day are the only two days throughout the entire year that The Alamo is closed so you won’t have to worry about it not being open when you are there. However, you should be aware that over two and a half million people visit this place annually. If you don’t want to experience the crowds, you’ll want to try to go on a weekday in the off season. Just before and just after the winter holidays are good times to avoid crowds at The Alamo and since Texas weather is warm during this time, it’s also a great time for a trip to San Antonio.
What to expect at The Alamo. You’ll find that there are multiple buildings which make up The Alamo complex and that it’s spread across more than four acres of land. You’ll want to book a decent amount of time for the expedition so that you can explore the whole complex. The old church is the most visited of the buildings on the grounds. The architecture of the church is impressive and the history that is learned here provides the most interesting education about The Alamo. However, there are also military barracks on the grounds that get a lot of foot traffic from people who want to know about the military history of the site.
In addition to the buildings that make up The Alamo, you should plan to spend some time in the surrounding area. The Alamo Plaza itself is the site of many historic activities and provides visitors with a more well-rounded look at what this place is all about. Additionally, there are gardens here which are worth taking the time to explore. They don’t give you the history of the area but will help you to further appreciate the beautiful nature that surrounds the area in modern times.
A bonus. By the way, you would probably expect to pay admission to experience something like this. It’s a museum devoted to cultural history and it’s an important attraction in San Antonio. However, it’s recognized that it’s so important that everyone should be able to check it out. Because of that, it’s free. You can donate money if you like what you see but you should feel comfortable spending the day at The Alamo even if you can’t afford to make a donation.
The surrounding area. Since you’re not going to have to spend money on your trip to The Alamo, you might want to do some shopping and dining in the area once you’ve finished your visit. You’ll find that there are plenty of places to do that since you’re located fairly close to the San Antonio Riverwalk. This area has stores and restaurants galore and offers riverside walking and seating to make the experience more pleasurable. However, there are places in between The Alamo and The Riverwalk that are worth checking out if you’re going to be spending more than one day in downtown San Antonio. Restaurants within walking distance of The Alamo include Zuni Grill and Little Rhein Steakhouse. The Rivercenter Mall is just down the street so there is also food there and it’s a place where you can do plenty of shopping.
All vacations should open our eyes to a new way of seeing the world around us. They should teach us about the different cultures and histories that make up the world. And they should expose us to an opportunity to learn something about the people who live and who once lived in the place that we are visiting. A vacation in San Antonio can do that in many ways but it’s a trip to The Alamo that will really give you that experience of Texas. Make sure to take the time to enjoy the surrounding area, especially the experience of The Riverwalk. Combined together, The Alamo and The Riverwalk really make up the most important area attractions for a visitor to experience during a stay in San Antonio.
Photo credit: johnkoetsier