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San Antonio, Texas isn’t the first place that springs to mind when one starts planning a romantic weekend. At least, that’s what we thought. Renowned for its rich history, national landmarks, and colonial architecture, San Antonio is popular with United States history buffs and school field trips, but hopeless romantics haven’t sung sonnets or written poems about this western town (at least none that we knew about).
After staying in San Antonio for a couple of days, we discovered that we’d hit the jackpot when it comes to lesser-known romantic weekend getaways! There are romantic carriage rides, fascinating outdoor markets, riverboat tours, and so much more that make San Antonio fun and interesting.
Hop aboard, and we’ll show off what makes San Antonio, TX the perfect place to take your boo for your next romantic weekend holiday!
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Exploring The Heart of Downtown San Antonio
Our journey began outside the Mokara Hotel and Spa, a decadent resort right in the center of downtown San Antonio. Across the street ran the San Antonio River and its famous walkway, the San Antonio River Walk. It’s at the River Walk where you’ll find the beating heart of San Antonio: tons of restaurants, hotels, boutique stores, and quirky art galleries. The River Walk only really gets active in the early evening, so we decided to put a pin in it for now and visit other attractions first.
Well, you can’t visit San Antonio and not see the Alamo, especially when it’s less than four blocks from your hotel’s door! After a quick detour for coffee, we headed over to this mecca of Texan heritage and identity. We arrived before almost everyone else, meaning we got the chance to have the Alamo almost entirely to ourselves.
My wife and I spent a lovely hour just wandering around this historic ruin, admiring the architecture and watching the honey-colored sun filter through the trees. Amazed by this morning golden hour, we took a bunch of selfies in front of the Alamo church, which is by far the main attraction and serves as the perfect backdrop. I couldn’t recommend a better way to start off a romantic trip to San Antonio than an early morning photo session at this tranquil spot.
Visiting the Alamo is completely free, which is amazing! That said, a reservation ahead of time is required. More information about how to make a reservation is on the Alamo’s website.
The Main Plaza
Also known as the Plaza of the Canary Islands (Plaza de La Islas Canarias), this centuries-old square lies in the very heart of San Antonio. There’s always something interesting going on: live music, dancing, food vendors, light shows — you name it!
The Main Plaza is also home to a number of annual events, such as the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the famous Holiday Lights On The River Walk. We weren’t able to catch either of them this time around, but chances are we’ll be back in December for another romantic holiday.
San Fernando Cathedral
My wife and I being more used to balmy California coastal weather, it took us a little while to acclimate to the dry heat of San Antonio. At one point, we decided to seek shelter from the sun in the San Fernando Cathedral — the oldest cathedral in the United States — which sits just off the Main Plaza.
Beneath the cool arches of this three-hundred-year-old sanctuary, we passed a pleasant half-hour admiring the gorgeous stained-glass windows and Gothic Revival architecture. It’s the perfect place to come and rest aching feet, as well as admire all the photos we’d already taken!
In the evenings, the cathedral’s facade is illuminated by stunning lights shows, which make for pleasurable viewing after a hard day of exploring.
The Spanish Governor’s Palace
Emerging refreshed, we walked across the street to the Spanish Governor’s Palace: a colonial-style stucco structure built in the mid-1700s. Though small, this white-walled abode cottage was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. Brimming with peace and tranquility, I could have sat in the shaded courtyard for hours just taking photos of my wife.
Market Square (“El Mercado”)
Duty called, however, and soon my wife and I were off to the real purpose of our walk: San Antonio’s Historic Market Square, or simply “El Mercado” to the locals. Boasting over 100 locally owned businesses crammed within a three-block radius, Market Square is modeled after the endlessly intriguing open-air Mexican markets you’d expect to find in Puebla, Oaxaca, or Mexico City.
My wife is Mexican, and she felt right at home browsing the stalls and kiosks along the narrow walkways, speaking with the merchants and purchasing all sorts of Mexican candies and pastries. The food is phenomenal as well, with about every kind of Mexican delicacy you can imagine. We ate lunch at La Margarita Mexican Restaurant & Oyster Bar, a spot well-known for its delicious fajitas, seafood, mariachi performances, and patio views. I can’t imagine a cuter place for the perfect romantic lunch!
San Antonio River Walk
Having stowed our booty back at the hotel, it was time to explore perhaps the most impressive part of San Antonio, the famous River Walk. Situated in the heart of downtown San Antonio, the River Walk is a hub of restaurants, shops, and galleries. Around every corner, there’s something new and interesting to discover. As twilight sets in, this part of the city really comes alive with bustling crowds, tons of line music, and delicious food. The streets are illuminated by thousands of lights hung from trees, adding a romantic and intimate touch to this charming riverside promenade.
Take A Carriage Ride
One of the most fun and romantic ways to circumnavigate the San Antonio River Walk is by carriage. My wife and I had a blast just clippity-clopping our way through the city, watching the streets fly by, propelled by two horsepower “engines”. Evening is by far the best time to enjoy this fairy-tail mode of transit: Under the sparkling lights and with music drifting across the river, my wife and I felt like we were on our way to a romantic ball.
No need to reserve tickets in advance, you can find these old-fashioned carriages parked around Alamo Plaza. Just walk up, get cozy, and enjoy the ride.
Hop On A Boat
I can’t recommend enough how fun it is to hop on a boat tour and cruise up and down the San Antonio River. These buoyant trolleys are the Venetian gondolas of San Antonio, bringing you wherever you need to go in style and elegance rarely seen outside of Europe. What’s more, you have the option of hopping on a guided tour of the San Antonio river, taking in the sites as they glide lazily by.
A Look Back At San Antonio’s History
My wife and I decided to dedicate our last day to learn more about the history of San Antonio. We’d seen the Alamo, but now was the time to further explore the heritage and culture of this fascinating city.
There’s no better place to start than at the beginning, so naturally, our first stop was the Witte Museum. It’s here that you can learn all about Texas’s earliest history, from dinosaurs and cave drawings to textiles and wildlife. Situated just on the edge of Brackenridge Park, there are a number of other interesting destinations within a short distance. Namely, the San Antonio Zoo, Japanese Tea Garden, and (for those with kids in tow) the DoSeum — instead of “museum”.
Romantic carriage rides, fascinating outdoor markets, leisurely riverboat tours, and more make San Antonio, TX the perfect romantic getaway!
San Antonio Botanical Garden
Just a short walk away is the San Antonio Botanical Garden, a verdant treasure trove of fragrant flora. With a visitors center that looks like it’s straight out of Jurassic Park, this 38-acre living museum is the perfect place to learn about the botanical history of Texas.
It also happens to be an excellent spot for a photo session. My wife and I meandered through the various biomes, enjoying the decadent flowers, multi-colored leaves, and lush foliage, stopping every so often for the perfect insta pic. The dense leaves, with amber sunlight filtering through, add an exquisite atmosphere to any romantic couple’s photo.
San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA)
Composed of exhibits spanning five thousand years of art, history, and culture, the San Antonio Museum of Art is an absolute must-see for anyone interested in human ingenuity, creativity, and expression. With artifacts from such diverse civilizations as the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese, it’s no surprise that the SAMA is considered to possess one of the most comprehensive collections of art in the southern United States.
But don’t run away with the idea that the SAMA is only dedicated to works from ancient times, the museum’s sizeable contemporary galleries are filled with contributions from world-renowned artists and local Texans alike.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
After a couple of hours in the SAMA, my wife and I both knew it was time for some outdoor exploration. From our visit to the Alamo the other day, we’d learned that San Antonio had a number of Spanish colonial missions just to the south of its downtown that were connected by a walking path, the Mission Trail. Four of these colonial missions are within a short distance of one another and have been integrated into the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
It was a blast to walk among the rows of crumbling pillars, imagining what life must have been like for the nuns and monks who called these missions home. As always, the architecture of these sites served as the perfect backdrop for our photos. Seriously, I doubt I’ve ever been to a city with such photogenic buildings as San Antonio.
Tower of the Americas
In celebration of a successful romantic weekend retreat, my wife and I headed over to the Tower of the Americas. Atop this 750-foot landmark is a revolving restaurant, the Chart House, from whose floor-to-ceiling windows you can see all of downtown San Antonio laid out before you like a marvelous quilt. We arrived just as the sun was setting and were treated to a spectacular golden hour from the highest eatery in San Antonio.
Take it from me, this is the perfect way to end a romantic holiday in San Antonio: high up over the city, with the River Walk now just a sparkling, multi-colored snake, enjoying a glass of wine and listening to live music.
When You Go
Serving as the connecting hub for flights in and around southern Texas, the San Antonio Airport makes it easy to get to and from the city. My wife and I were able to find great deals from LAX to SAI with Delta.
We like to start our research on CheapO’Air. We’ve often found the best deals through their website. So, check them out as you begin to plan your trip!
Where To Stay
The Omni Mokara Hotel & Spa is one of the most deluxe resorts in San Antonio. This four-star luxury hotel (the only one in SA) is situated right alongside the world-famous San Antonio River, placing you in the heart of the River Walk. Each of its guest rooms boasts a comfy bed, high ceilings, marble finishes, and luxurious bathrooms. With first-class amenities, exceptional service, a rooftop outdoor pool, hot tubs, and mouth-watering dining options, this relaxing oasis really does think of everything.
You can forget about Napa! When you stay at La Cantera Resort, you’re within arm’s reach of the over 50 wineries that dot the Texan countryside. If that weren’t exciting enough, just a short drive away is Six Flags Fiesta Texas, one of San Antonio’s most popular attractions. Hold your boo tight as you plummet down one of the park’s heart-pounding roller coasters, then relax afterward as you get a spa treatment at one of San Antonio’s premier resorts. From each of its 496 rooms, you’re guaranteed an incredible view of 550 acres of beautiful Texas Hill Country.
Quaint and quirky, Hotel Havana is a boutique hotel at its best. Named after Cuba’s capital, this elegant colonial resort seamlessly blends Caribbean allure with Texan vibrancy. With two onsite bars, you’ll never be at a loss to find good food and excellent drinks. Really, what could be better than sipping a cold drink on a balcony with your special someone as you both watch the sun sink below the horizon?
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