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San Antonio has a wide selection of attractions that can satisfy a variety of interests. You could easily fill your visit hitting each one on your list, but I suggest that you set aside at least a little time for aimlessly strolling about the city's downtown. You'll come across unexpected sights such as, for instance, the Bexar (pronounced bear) County Court House, which, though not remarkable enough to merit specific listing among the city's attractions, is still quite attractive and exemplifies the city's character. Also, a couple of plazas lie almost forgotten, one of which was the scene of a battle with a Comanche raiding party.

Before you visit any of the paid attractions, stop in at the San Antonio Visitor Information Center, 317 Alamo Plaza (tel. 210/207-6748), across the street from the Alamo, and ask for their SAVE San Antonio discount book; it includes coupons for everything from the large theme parks to some city tours and museums. Many hotels also have a stash of discount coupons for their guests.

The Alamo: The Movie(s)

At least one weighty tome, Frank Thompson's Alamo Movies, has been devoted to the plethora of films featuring the events that occurred at San Antonio's most famous site. Some outtakes:

Most famous movie about the Alamo not actually shot at the Alamo: The Alamo (1959), starring John Wayne as Davy Crockett. Although it has no San Antonio presence, it was shot in Texas. Wayne considered shooting the film in Mexico, but was told it wouldn't be distributed in Texas if he did.

Latest controversy-ridden attempt to tell the story of the Alamo: A 2004 Disney version, also called The Alamo, that was originally supposed to be directed by Ron Howard but was eventually only co-produced by him. Directed by John Lee Hancock and starring Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, and Jason Patric, among others, it was not a complete success in any shape or form, but it wasn't an embarrassment, either.

Most accurate celluloid depiction of the Alamo story (and also the largest): Alamo -- The Price of Freedom, showing at the San Antonio IMAX Theater Rivercenter. According to writer and historian Stephen Harrigan in an interview on National Public Radio, it's "90% accurate."

Least controversial film featuring the Alamo: Miss Congeniality, starring Sandra Bullock and Benjamin Bratt. A beauty pageant presided over by William Shatner takes place in front of the shrine to the Texas martyrs.

Travel Tip

Hop on board a river-taxi shuttle to locations along the River Walk. "Rio taxis" run daily from 9am to 9pm. Tickets are available from boat drivers or at various hotels along the River Walk.

First Fridays

On the first Friday of every month, San Antonio closes off a section of South Alamo Street in the artsy Southtown district and holds something between an "art walk" and a street carnival, which centers around the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center and extends northward, almost to downtown. It's a popular activity that attracts a lot of people, and with the people come street vendors, sidewalk artists, and street performers. Local merchants and restaurants get involved, too. For the visitor, it can be an entertaining pastime. If you're staying in the King William District, you'll be right next to the action.

Stone Oak Park's Diamond in the Rough

One of the fastest-growing urban development areas in town is in the area called Stone Oak, which these days is known for heavy traffic jams during rush hours, quickly built "McMansions," and Starbucks-style strip centers northwest of town. But what you may not know about Stone Oak is that it's also home to a delightful park, with hiking trails, pavilions, and picnic spots. Leave the ugly urban sprawl behind -- scenery like this is why folks moved to Stone Oak in the first place.

Did You Know?

  • Elmer Doolin, the original manufacturer of Fritos corn chips, bought the original recipe from a San Antonio restaurant in 1932 for $100. He sold the first batch from the back of his Model-T Ford.
  • Wings, a silent World War I epic that won the first Academy Award for best picture in 1927, was filmed in San Antonio. The film marked the debut of Gary Cooper, who was on screen for a total of 102 seconds.
  • Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson were married in San Antonio's St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
  • Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.