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History Buffs: One Day of Culture

The Picasso Collection at the McNay Museum

Many of San Antonio's top attractions are located in either the city's compact central core or a few blocks just beyond it.


The River Walk

Start your San Antonio cultural exploration with a stroll along the downtown River Walk. Restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment follow the serpentine route of this relaxing river, and some of the city's top attractions can be accessed from it. Stop off at the Alamo, the must-see Shrine of Texas Liberty. If you find yourself intrigued by Spanish colonial mission life and architecture, there are four more to see along Mission Trail. Also along the River Walk is one of the oldest sections of town—La Villita. First it was home to Spanish soliders serving at the Alamo, and in the late 1800s, French and German immigrants settled here. Now, it's a National Historic District brimming with arts, craft shops and galleries. You can find more South-of-the-Border crafts and tasty treats at El Mercado, a market square that will make you think you're in Mexico.

Art and Architecture

Art and architecture thrive in the King William Historic District, a restored neighborhood with a variety of architectural styles -- Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian. Once farmland for the Alamo mission, it grew into a German neighborhood. The area fell into disrepair, but in the 1960s, its beauty was rediscovered and restoration began. Three homes are open to the public, the Guenther House, Steves Homestead and Villa Finale. The Guenther House was built in 1860, and includes a restaurant, store and museum. The 1870s-era Steves Homestead is now a museum of historic homes. Villa Finale was the home of preservationist Walter Mathis, who left the house and its collections to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Close to the King William Historic District is Southtown, an arts neighborhood. Its an eclectic blend of shops, galleries and restaurants, and the neighborhood hosts an art walk on the first Friday of every month. While you're there, check out the Blue Star Arts Center—a renovated warehouse that includes artist space, galleries and a brewpub.

Museums

San Antonio is also home to world-class museums. The San Antonio Museum of Art exhibits collections of Latin Ameican and Asian art, as well as folk and contemporary pieces. From Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso to manuscripts and sculpture gardens, the McNay Art Museum invites you to step into a masterpiece. The McNay opened in 1945 as the region’s first museum of modern art. And the Witte Museum combines culture, history and science, from Egyptian mummies to dinosaur bones.