Frommer's favorite experiences in San Antonio

Joe Wilkos, left, and his wife Margaret stroll in a quiet section of the San Antonio, Riverwalk, Thursday, June 22nd, in San Antonio.
Joe Wilkos, left, and his wife Margaret stroll in a quiet section of the San Antonio, Riverwalk, Thursday, June 22nd, in San Antonio.Toby Jorrin / AP
/ Source: Frommers.com

Recapturing Texas's Fight for Independence at the Alamo: It's hard to imagine the state's prime attraction as a battle site, surrounded as it is now by hotels and shops -- that is, until you step inside the Long Barrack, where Texas's most famous fighters prepared to fight General Santa Anna's troops. Here, you just might shut out those modern images (if not the crowds) for a moment.

Attending a Mariachi Mass at Mission San José: It's very moving to watch members of the congregation of this largest of the mission churches raise their voices in spirited musical prayer each Sunday at noon. Come early, as seats are limited and this is a popular thing to do.

Strolling Along San Antonio's River Walk: Whether you opt for the buzz of the busy South Bank portion of the River Walk, or decide to escape to one of its quieter stretches, the green, lush banks of San Antonio's river will match your mood, day or night.

Seeing a Show at the Majestic Theatre: As it happens, the restored Majestic offers top-notch shows of all kinds, but the venue itself is worth the price of admission alone. Book a seat in the front rows, or try the upstairs mezzanine so you can gaze at the star-studded ceiling.

Climbing into a Treehouse at the Witte Museum: You can recapture your youth (or enjoy your kids relishing theirs) at the Witte, where the HEB Treehouse has interactive science exhibits galore.

Lazing in the Courtyard at the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum: As fine as many of the paintings here are, when it comes to transcendent experiences, you can't beat sitting out on the lovely tree-shaded patio of the McNay.

Pretending You Live in the King William District: The opulent mansion homes built here by German merchants in the 19th century are eye-popping. You can't enter most of them (unless you're staying at one of the area's many B&Bs), but the fantasizing is free.

Ascending the Tower of the Americas: In the daytime, the tower provides a great way to get the lay of the land. At sunset, it's transformed from pragmatic to romantic as you sip a drink and watch the city lights wink on.

Buying Day of the Dead Souvenirs in Southtown: The Day of the Dead (actually 2 days, Nov 1 and 2) is commemorated throughout the largely Hispanic Southtown, but you can buy T-shirts with dancing skeletons and folk-art tableau typical of the holiday at Tienda Guadalupe year-round.

Checking out the Headgear at Paris Hatters: Even if you're not in the market for a Stetson, you should at least wander over to this San Antonio institution that has sold hats to everyone from Pope John Paul II and Queen Elizabeth to lesser lights like TV's Jimmy Smits. See how big your head is compared to those of the stars.

Grooving to Jazz at The Landing: Jim Cullum and his band play cool jazz at a cool location on the River Walk. A groove doesn't get much mellower than this.

For a complete listing of what to see and do in San Antonio, visit the online attractions index at Frommers.com.

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