Ignore the “Don't Mess with Texas” bumper stickers—San Antonio's a great place to mess around in while seeing the sights. Indulge in a hearty Mexican breakfast (huevos rancheros, anyone?), then take in a few of the city's serene old missions or a world-class art collection housed in a Spanish Colonial mansion. A crossroads to southern Texas and Mexico, this city is Tex-Mex at its best—complete with locals wearing ten-gallon hats and mariachi songs spicing up balmy spring evenings. Plus, there's amazing countryside peppered by oak, mesquite and cacti to boot. Bienvenidos to Fiesta City!
Remember the Alamo? In this famous 1836 skirmish, Mexican soldiers tried to mess with you-know-what. Erected as a mission centuries ago, the Alamo—the cornerstone of San Antonio's proud cultural heritage—stands in the middle of town. After visiting this sacred Texan site, take a stroll along San Antonio's other must-see, the River Walk (in Spanish, Paseo del Río). Tranquil parks, hip cafés and plenty of shops line this stretch of the San Antonio River, which winds through the heart of the city.
While you're here, don't miss some of the best tacos, enchiladas and guacamole this side of the Río Grande. Some restaurants never close, so as you're winding down a night of partying on the River Walk, you can sample a tamale at 2 a.m. With so many nearby restaurants, you'll never have to wonder where to eat.
Mess with Texas, indeed. Olé!
By CarSeveral of the country's more important transcontinental highways crisscross San Antonio.
The principal north-south route is I-35, heavy with traffic to and from the Mexican border and funneling an assortment of travelers from as far north as Lake Superior, near the Canadian border. US 281, similar in length and termini, carries a lighter flow of traffic. Sharing a frequently identical path with I-35 through much of Texas is US 81.
US 87 angles on a northwest-southeast course, bringing traffic from the ranches, the Great Plains and points along the Gulf of Mexico. US 181 also channels travelers from the Gulf area, but neither this nor US 87 is any match for I-37, a fast, wide link between San Antonio and Corpus Christi.
The major east-west route, I-10, connects San Antonio with the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. US 90 parallels and frequently merges with I-10 east of the city but maintains a separate course through much of West Texas.
These routes converge in San Antonio's center, enclosing the heart of downtown, part of the river and Hemisfair, and providing easy access to major streets within the area. Farther out, I-410 is a completely circumferential highway that defines the outer limits of the city, interchanging not only with major highways but also with local streets.
Note: There are no service stations in downtown San Antonio.
Street SystemThe street system of downtown San Antonio was laid out more than 150 years ago, and in many instances follows old cattle trails. Because the system has been described as being roughly similar to a skillet of snakes, you should study a city map before starting out.
The speed limit on most streets is 30 mph or as posted. Freeway limits range from 40 to 75 mph. Rush hours generally are from 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6:30 p.m. Right turns on red are permitted unless otherwise posted.
Use the circumferential loops to reach the different parts of the city. San Antonio is surrounded by two loops—Loop 1604 surrounds the outskirts, whereas I-410 encompasses the city's midsection. Interstates 10, 35 and 37 converge in the heart of San Antonio, forming another unofficial loop.
The proximity of most downtown attractions and accommodations to the San Antonio River prompts many visitors to use the River Walk or the boat taxis instead of driving. The outskirts of San Antonio tend to conform more closely to a grid pattern.
ParkingAlthough some metered parking is available in certain downtown areas, public parking lots and garages are more plentiful throughout the city. Rates range from $1-$2 per half-hour to $5-$18 per day.
San Antonio, TX
In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.
Municipalities may impose additional rates of up to 2 percent on the statewide 6.25 percent sales tax. Sales tax in the city of San Antonio is 8.25 percent; rates vary in the suburbs. The hotel occupancy tax is 16.75 percent.
Baptist Medical Center, (210) 297-7000; Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, (210) 757-2200; Mission Trail Baptist Hospital, (210) 297-3000; Northeast Baptist Hospital, (210) 297-2000; University Hospital, (210) 358-4000.
317 Alamo Plaza San Antonio, TX 78205. Phone:(210)244-2000 or (800)447-3372
San Antonio International Airport
Hertz, (210) 841-8800 or (800) 654-3131, offers discounts to AAA members.
The Amtrak station is at 350 Hoefgen Ave.; for train schedule and ticket information phone (210) 223-3226 or (800) 872-7245.
The Greyhound Lines Inc. bus terminal is at 500 N. St. Mary's St.; phone (210) 270-5868 or (800) 231-2222.
San Antonio taxis are metered. The average fare is $2.50 when you enter the cab plus $2.60 for each mile. A $1 surcharge is added for trips between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Four passengers can ride for a single fare. The major company is Yellow Cab, (210) 222-2222. Boat taxis travel the river's downtown loop daily 9-9 (weather permitting). A one-way fare is $10, an all-day fare is $12, and a 3-day fare is $25. Phone (210) 244-5700 or (800) 417-4139.
VIA Metropolitan Transit provides public transportation consisting of buses and streetcars. Buses are routed through all sections of town; one bus even whisks shoppers from mall to mall on I-410. Express buses run daily from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. Vintage streetcars travel three main city routes daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. or later, swinging by attractions, shopping areas and other key locations about every 10 minutes.