First of all, the whole entire city of San Antonio, Texas, is a giant waste of space. Full of ugly architecture that's jam-packed into hundreds of square miles of bleak urban sprawl, this city is about as "Texas" as the slums of Baltimore or L.A. Plus, the natives are mean-spirited, rude, short-tempered and mostly chronic alcoholics. If you want a true Texas experience, I'd recommend just about any small town in the Hill Country (especially one of the towns settled by Germans or Alsatians; they have good food, clean streets, little crime and friendly citizens...all of whom speak English as their first language). Meanwhile, despite the magnetism of the Alamo, America's most overrated tourist spot, it's best to steer clear of San Antonio altogether. After all, the Alamo was militarily unimportant during the Texas Revolution, and San Antonio itself is a mafia-ridden smuggling center with little to recommend it to anyone who's not involved in crime. Everything within the city limits is a tourist trap.
Unique Suggestions: IF you must go to San Antonio, or if you find yourself there through force of circumstance (on a business trip or for a convention), the only thing I'd recommend is paying a visit to the Mission San Juan. Granted, it's located in a barrio, and you might want to make sure you're at minimum carrying mace and a stun gun if you venture into the southtown district. But, the Mission itself is way more "historical" than the disappointing Alamo. The buildings are well-preserved and you get a true sense of the past; you can especially see how ruthless and nasty the Spanish and their stepchildren the Mexicans were about subjugating the Indians (Spanish Catholics were a pretty grim bunch of genocidal maniacs, after all). And, unlike the Alamo, there isn't a stupid Ripley's Believe It Or Not place across the street. Plus, the National Park Service guides speak English, a rare treat in San Antonio.
Fun Alternatives: There isn't an alternative. The Riverwalk is a sewer (I once spotted a dead rat floating past my table at the Casa Rio restaurant). The Rivercenter Mall is totally indistiguishable from any other mall in America, except for the relative lack of American citizens shopping inside. The Hemisphere Tower is an overpriced elevator ride to an observation deck where you can enjoy the beautiful view of various dilapidated rooftops. The Mercado is a sadder version of the crappy trinket shops you see in Tijuana or Laredo. The Villita is a handful of old houses that contain bumper sticker and fridge magnet shops. The various restaurants in the downtown area are all half-star at best, with mediocre food sold to gullible tourists at New York prices. The San Antonio Museum of Art isn't a museum and contains precious little "art". And your main interaction with "local culture" will be fending off illegal immigrants who pester tourists like they invented panhandling. In fact, the only good thing San Antonio ever had was the Hertzberg Circus Museum, a fun and interesting place to while away a hotter-than-Hades afternoon. But, the City Council in its infinite wisdom closed it forever after 60+ years of operation. I hear they're going to stick an Applebee's in its place. Like the world needs yet more Applebees. Although...I guess that's better than a Taqueria. San Antonio already has 900 million of these greasy little ptomaine palaces (they hold the world record for how many taco shacks can fit in a city block).
the riverwalk is a giant trap. it's stores filled with junk follwing overpriced restaurants, followed by the same...
Unique Suggestions: try walking on the streets above the riverwalk, and watch all the people below.
Fun Alternatives: a lost of the restaurants have sister sites, or better alternatives.
they're just malls. nothing more. and the stores are just average.
Unique Suggestions: park at macy's 3rd floor in the parking garage... there's almost always parking there, walk down the stairs to the bridge, and you have your choice to enter through macy's or the food court.
Fun Alternatives: try the antique stores on hildebrand, just off of san pedro... or maybe a few of the stores on broadway. maybe the quarry.
Places to see are The Tower, The Alamo, The Missions and of course The Ghost Tracks. The legend is that a bus of school children crashed. The streets were then named after the students. I have been there a couple of times. It's very crowded on Halloween. I don't know if the legend is true. One author says it's not but when you go there if you stop your car in front of the tracks your car will be pushed over. They say if you put flour on the back of your car you will find the imprint of the hands of the ghost children who push your car across the tracks so you don't get hurt. It doesn't matter if the legend is true or not, it's still spooky to go down there.
Just last month my Mom and I met some tourists who were looking for the Alamo. They were confused because in San Antonio we have an Alamo Street but the Alamo isn't on it. When visiting the Alamo, if you want you can park at Rivercenter mall and get your ticket stamped at one of the stores in the mall.
The weather in San Antonio is rather warm...however condusive to outside activities. Unlike most places, something being rained out happens less frequentently.
The other positive thing about this area is its location. You are near the hill country which offers much diversity in the scenario plus cities like Corpus, Austin, Brownsville, Laredo...to name a few are fun to visit.
Unique Suggestions: If you are enjoying a mini road trip with your Harley...be sure to always keep it in sight. There are troubles with less than savory people putting a 2x4 thru the front and back wheel and then 4 men on each side lifting up your bike, loading it on a truck and taking it away.
Losing your Harley to these knuckleheads would make a vey sad day.
Fun Alternatives: If you are concerned about your Harley being stolen...bring this NRA card carrying member along.
Hey, that IMAX film on the Alamo was pretty boring. No disrespect intended but its just cool to have a few looks at THE ALAMO from the outside and then get on with life ...... I wouldnt spend to go inside
The city itself :). It's a kewl city, but nothing more. Personally I wouldn't visit it, just not my travel style. Again, I wouldn't visit Orlando, LA, etc etc etc if you get my drift :). I just like visiting third world countries for now, leaving this huge western cities for later in life.
The Alamo Guided Tour. Yes, everyone must visit the Alamo when they go to San Antonio, but stear clear of the guided tour. It was far and away the most boring tour that I have ever been on. If you have seen Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and remember the tour of the Alamo, it was NOT an exaguration....
This favourite US touristic attraction has absolutely no historical interest. Once you visit the spanish governor's house, you will know who brought civilization in Texas. It is not Davy Crocket...
There is a sort of grotto in the hill side at Breckenridge Park. It was advertised to be a Japanese Garden. It is not a true Japanese style garden. That is why I listed this as tourist trap. It is a nice garden. Go there without expectation and enjoy it for what it is. This place is in the park not far from the zoo.
Whatever thing a town has, is also a tourist trap. Whether it be little Eiffel Towers in Paris or little Alamos in San Antonio.