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, lively 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.
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.