Introduction to San Antonio, Texas
One of Texas' most famous cities is the City of San Antonio. Located in the south-central part of the state, San Antonio is Texas' second-largest city and serves as an economic and cultural gateway to the American Southwest. The city lies about 140 miles northwest of Corpus Christi on the Gulf of Mexico and 150 miles northeast of the city of Laredo on the Mexican border. Several major freeways service the city, including Interstates I-10, I-35, I-37, and I-410; U.S. Routes 87, 90, and 281; and Texas State Highways 16 and 151.
Named for Saint Anthony of Padua, on whose feast day (June 13) a Spanish expedition explored the area in 1691, the San Antonio River was the principal tributary which spawned the founding of its namesake village in 1718. The site, on the river's west bank, was initially a stopping place on the Texas wilderness trail leading to French trading posts in Louisiana. By 1731 the town was known as San Antonio de Béxar, which in 1773 became the capital of Spanish Texas. During the Texas Revolution, San Antonio was the site of several battles, including the battle of the Alamo in 1836, in which 189 defenders held the old Alamo mission for 13 days against some 4,000 Mexican troops. Although the defenders were ultimately killed, the memorable phrase "Remember the Alamo" became forever known as the rallying cry of the Texas Revolution against Mexico. After the Civil War, San Antonio prospered as a cattle industry hub and military center serving the border region and the Southwest. During the twentieth century, San Antonio became an important military center for the Army and Air Force through both world wars; a distinction which it has retained to this day. San Antonio is the current home of Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, and Brooks City-Base, with Camp Stanley and Camp Bullis located just outside the city limits.
Things to Do in San Antonio
Tourism thrives in San Antonio and has become one of the city's leading industries. The famed RiverWalk (Paseo Del Rio) takes visitors along 3 miles of cool shady pathways lined with unique retail shops, cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs. During the Christmas and New Year holiday period, the RiverWalk undergoes a stunning transformation, becoming an impressive festival of lights. San Antonio's most famous attraction is also Texas' top tourist draw: The Alamo. Located on beautifully landscaped grounds in the heart of the city, the attraction includes a museum containing relics and mementos from the Republic of Texas and narration chronicling the fall of the Alamo. The city has a multitude of other notable attractions as well, some of which are listed here:
- The San Antonio Botanical Gardens and Conservatory: A 33-acre horticultural facility housing exotic plants from all over the world
- Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum: Texas' first museum of modern art
- El Mercado: An old marketplace with a touch of Mexico
- Aztec On The River: A newly-restored historic 1926 movie palace complete with a Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ
- Enchanted Springs Ranch: An authentic old west 19th-century town used for western films, commercials, and special events
- The San Antonio Zoo
- SeaWorld San Antonio
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas
- Buckhorn Saloon & Museum
- Casa Navarro State Historical Park
- San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
- Japanese Tea Gardens
- Brackenridge Park
- Tower of the Americas
For sports fans, San Antonio is home to one of the National Basketball Association's most successful franchises of modern times, the San Antonio Spurs. The four-time NBA Champions, who are clearly the city's crown jewel in the sports world, have been playing in San Antonio since 1973 and reside at the city's AT&T Center. The Center is also home to the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and to the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League (AHL). Baseball fans can catch some minor-league action when the San Antonio Missions (Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres) are in town. San Antonio also hosts an NCAA college football Bowl game, the Alamo Bowl, which is held in the city every December.