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History Buffs: Four Days of Culture

San Antonio is a cultural mecca. Here's how to spend a few days taking it all in.

Day One

Start with the Alamo—it’s legendary! Then plunge down onto the River Walk where everywhere you turn there’s something new to experience. In one direction there’s Rivercenter Mall at the foot of the two Marriott hotels, the new Grand Hyatt Hotel and the grotto providing a passage up into Hemisfair Park. In another, there’s a way up through the Arneson River Theatre into historic La Villita with restaurants (Fig Tree and Little Rhein) and shops offering handcrafted pottery, art and more. And all along the route are unique dining opportunities such as Boudro’s and Las Canarias.

Day Two

Guided bus, trolley and carriage tours are available in many areas, but when heading north a car is best. Take Broadway to the Pearl Brewery Complex, then continue to Brackenridge Park, where you'll find the San Antonio Zoo and renovated Japanese Tea Garden. The Witte Museum is nearby. Make your way to the San Antonio Botanical Garden, then venture to North New Braunfels Avenue for art immersion at the McNay Art Museum – or continue up Broadway and take a left on Basse Road for The Alamo Quarry Market and serious shopping at Lucchese Boots.

Day Three

Ride a bicycle to Southtown for restaurants (Azuca, La Frite, Rosario’s and El Mirador) or galleries (Garcia Art Glass, Blue Star Arts Complex and El Sol Studios). Then swing south along South St. Mary’s Street to the Mission Trail. Follow it to as many missions as you have time for—there are four on the trail. And consider returning via the hike and bike trail that hugs the San Antonio River’s west bank. Wrap up the night at La Tuna Grill, a favorite local hangout that was also recently named one of the 100 best bars in the country by Esquire magazine.

Day Four

On the east side of town, check out St. Paul Square and the beautiful vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows of the restored 1902 Sunset Station railroad depot. For lunch, stop at Aldaco’s or go to Tommy Moore’s Café and Deli for Southern-style food and African-American heritage. Then head to the historic Market Square for classic pan dulce at Mi Tierra and shopping at the Mexican market. Take a peek at nearby Casa Navarro, the 19th century adobe home of Tejano patriot Jose Antonio Navarro. Without him, San Antonio might still be the “northernmost city in Mexico.”