Come for SMART Airports, Stay for San Antonio
The destination for SMART Airports & Regions Conference & Exhibition 2020 has been selected and is none other than San Antonio, Texas! As the nation’s 7th largest city, home of the University of Texas San Antonio and San Antonio Spurs, as well as a location rich in culture, history and entertainment, it’s a great city to explore while you’re in town for the conference.
Also known as Alamo City, San Antonio is the 2nd largest city in Texas. It was originally founded in 1718 as a Spanish mission and colonial outpost, making it one of the oldest municipalities in the U.S. as well. Since it used to be a part of Mexico, San Antonio is clearly influenced by Mexican American culture, but also has influences from German, African American, Southern, and even Cowboy culture. As its namesake Alamo City implies, it is perhaps most famous for the landmark Spanish mission and fortress compound known as The Alamo Mission. Visit the Alamo and walk the historic grounds and Church for free, or book a guided tour and learn about the weapons of the Alamo or the fascinating heroes and story of the Battle of the Alamo.
After you’ve visited The Alamo, walk along Mission Trail which starts at The Alamo and runs 9 miles along the San Antonio River, passing the 4 other historical missions in San Antonio. If you’d prefer, you can also drive and park at each mission which all offer free admission for visitors. Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Mission Espada are the 4 missions that make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and are all worth visiting if you’re a history buff. Mission San Jose, founded in 1720, is known as the “Queen of the Missions” for being the largest of the missions in the area. Start your trip at the Visitor Center to watch the 23 minute film “Gente de Razon ~ People of Reason”, and then explore on your own or take a guided tour to learn more. Recently the U.S. Mint announced that their new quarter, a part of their America the Beautiful series, would feature the San Antonio Spanish colonial missions in honor of their cultural and historical significance to the world. So be sure to visit these beautiful missions while you’re here and take a step back into history.
Another great option for history lovers is the beautiful San Fernando Cathedral, built in 1731 to be the center of the city both geographically and religiously. It is the oldest religious community still operating in Texas today, and is definitely worth checking out if you’re downtown. While you’re there, head a couple miles north to get to the San Antonio Museum of Art. Its building is the historic former Lone Star Brewery, sits right on the water, and is home to Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Asian, Latin American, contemporary, and American art pieces. Admission is $20 for non-members but free for children ages 12 and under.
If you prefer something more action-packed, The River Walk will be just your speed. The San Antonio River Walk lays along a 15-mile waterway and is the largest urban ecosystem in the nation. Come spend the day shopping, dining out, exploring, and enjoying the many attractions and activities. Want to immerse yourself in an authentic Mexican market? Head to Historic Market Square, one of the largest Mexican markets outside of Mexico, where you can listen to live music, shop for Mexican handcrafted goods, and eat authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex fare. Feel like being entertained? Splashtown and LEGOLAND are great for groups with younger children, while Ripley’s Haunted Adventure/Guinness World Records Museum/Tomb Rider 3D K1 Speed, or Ripley’s Believe It or Not! are perfect for the adrenaline junkie. Animal lovers can visit the San Antonio Zoo, SeaWorld, or SEA LIFE Aquarium that’s opening in February 2020! If you prefer to relax, you can get the spa treatment at Mokara Hotel and Spa or Hyatt Regency San Antonio, both also right off of the River Walk. Whether you choose to amble down the pathway or ride one of the Go Rio Cruises, the River Walk will be sure to entertain and delight no matter what activity you prefer.
One last must-see for any group visiting the city is San Antonio | The Saga. This Grand Pinnacle Award-winning 24-minute light show by French artist Xavier De Richemont tells the story of San Antonio while amazing its viewers with colorful visuals dancing across the San Fernando Cathedral. Head to the Main Plaza Tuesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday at 9:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. to see the show. And if you’re in town on Tuesday, come back to the Plaza anytime from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Main Plaza Farmers’ Market. Meet local farmers and artists, catch a cooking demo, enjoy live mariachi, or take a stroll while shopping for artisan goods and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
For more ideas on what to see and what to do, head over to Visit San Antonio. If you come to visit, make sure to let us know! Post your photos on social media using #SMARTAirportsSanAntonio and share your experience at the conference.
Next Step? Register for SMART Airports (link here:), and prepare for your visit by reading our next article to tap into the foodie in all of us.