San Antonio, Texas, USA

 

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San Antonio

The Alamo is an historic building located in downtown San Antonio. It was walking distance from the River walk and admission is free. Its hours are 9:30 to 5:30pm. It used to be a mission and contains Spanish, Mexican and American history. The fortifying walls served many functions, from apartments to hospital to priest residence to soldier barracks over its almost 300 year history. According to the information boards in the Alamo, when Texas was part of Mexico, the Mexican government was fearful that Texas would become more American than Mexican, due to large volumes of American immigrants from neighboring Louisiana.

 The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

 

In addition to the Alamo, San Antonio has four Missions part of the U.S. National Parks. Admission in November 2015 was free. The Missions were more than just churches; they are examples of 18th century Spanish-led communities in Texas.  Mission San Jose is the largest and most elaborate. It was interesting to see the apartments in the mission walls that American Indians lived in while they were new converts. The church at San Juan Mission was actually part of the wall that protected the mission and its courtyard, so it was quite narrow. Most of the churches in the mission are still used as churches today. In times of peace, the center courtyards of the missions were bustling places where trade and social activities occurred.  Guided tours are available through the National Parks Service.  More information available here.   

 Mission Concepcion, San Antonio, Texas

Mission Concepcion, San Antonio, Texas

 Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas

Mission San Jose - the Queen of Missions- San Antonio, Texas

 Mission San Juan, San Antonio, Texas

Mission San Juan, San Antonio, Texas

The Missions are bike-able. From one mission to another, distances vary, check map for guidance. There are rental bike stations at most missions. $10 for a one day membership, unlimited 30min rides, then $2 for nxt 1/2 hour. It is about 10 miles one way from first mission to the last. We drove from one mission to next, not sure if our youngest one could make it walking, and not having children's bikes to choose from. We walked the portion from San Jose Mission to San Juan Mission, about 3miles one way. The riverwalk pathway in this section is paved with concrete, so it was hard on the feet. Along the way we saw the Espada Dam, part of the water control system that the missions used to supply water for irrigation and other uses. Acequia Park was an attraction to see along the way as well. Acequia are ditches and trenches dug into the soil with removeable wooden slabs at its entrances to control how much water flowed through the each trench. The amount of water was controlled based on the needs of the Mission. It was a nice experience to walk from one mission to another in the relative calm of the river walk. If you miss Acequia Park, like we did, Espada Mission displays an acequia a short walk from the mission walls. Noteworthy is the Espada Aquaduct at the end of the mission trail about a mile after Mission Espada. It is the oldest remaining Spanish Aquaduct in the United States. We spotted locals harvesting pecans from the big trees in the parking lot of Espada Aquaduct. There was food near San Jose Mission, that we saw, about a street away. Espada Mission sold some empanadas and coffee in their gift shop, which was a welcome surprise. Its a good idea to bring snacks and water to keep fueled.

 Mission Espada, San Antonio, Texas 

Mission Espada, San Antonio, Texas

Espada Aquaduct-oldest remaining aquaduct in U.S.A. - San Antonio, Texas

Mission Espada Aquaduct - oldest remaining aquaduct in U.S.A., San Antonio, Texas 

 Birds on a Dam, Mission Trail Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas

Birds sitting on the Dam Wall along the Mission Trail portion of the Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas

 The San Antonio Riverwalk is an over 15-linear-mile pedestrian walk along the San Antonio River. There are parts of it that are busy and full of shops and parts that are quiet with beautiful green plants, both landscaped and natural. In the downtown area, the riverwalk in located below street level, so it was a nice way to escape the hustle and bustle of cars and traffic above.  It was a magical place, what I thought Venice would be, with tall arching pedestrian bridges, beautiful lights and a sort of mellow atmosphere. I think it gets even more beautiful after Thanksgiving, we saw lights hanging vertically from trees above reaching toward the river. I'm sure it would be a more magical place closer to Christmas.  We walked about 3 to 4 miles per day for two days, some at the Mission Trail, some in the Downtown area.

Shops along the San Antonio Riverwalk, downtown San Antonio, Texas

Along the San Antonio Riverwalk, Downtown San Antonio, Texas

 Mural along the San Antonio Riverwalk

Mural along the San Antonio Riverwalk, near Downtown San Antonio, Texas

 Downtown area of San Antonio Riverwalk at Night, San Antonio, Texas

Downtown Area Riverwalk by Night, San Antonio, Texas

Hold on to your kids, there were no safety rails by the water; if there were railings, they weren't kid safety minded. There was a water taxi that floated up and down the river, if you prefer a view from the water.

Christmas Tree at end of Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas

Christmas Tree at the end of the Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas

 If you are looking for an economical meal while enjoying the view of the Riverwalk, Riverwalk Center has a food court overlooking the river walk. Restaurants like Taco Bell, Dairy Queen and food court Chinese food are what is on the menu. We got our meal for $6 per plate. A floor above the food court was an indoor play area, with windows overlooking the river, for parents who want to catch a quiet moment while the kids expended some energy. There was a Christmas tree near the Riverwalk Center for photo opportunities, and of course many restaurant choices along the way. Souvenir stores here cost double what they cost on street level at the corner of Alamo and Market streets.

 

Practical Information (as of November 2015):

San Antonio Missions website

Alamo Website

Riverwalk Website

Bike Rentals

 

Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.

 

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