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Unique Things to Do in San Antonio

Writing about San Antonio Texas as part of my Texas Travel Series was something I felt pretty excited to tackle because I was born and lived in San Antonio for 18 years. I used to complain that there was nothing interesting in San Antonio. That’s always what happens when you live in a city, right? However, when creating this article, I decided to put a spin on most of the touristy spots and came up with what I believe is a pretty great list of unique things to do in San Antonio! You may know about a lot of the places I write about, but in the article, I will share a unique way to experience most of the typical tourist attractions. If you happen to plan a trip in Spring don’t forget to check out Fiesta!

Unique Things to Do in San Antonio: Day 1

A 3-Pound Cinnamon Roll

Well, they did say everything in Texas is bigger! Lulu’s Cafe & Bakery is famous for the giant cinnamon rolls and not only is it big, but it’s also actually super good! We had this to eat for a few days after!

Check into Mokara Hotel & Spa

This itinerary is going to be filled with fun filled and adventurous days and most of the best things to do in San Antonio are around the Riverwalk. For this reason, I chose to stay at Mokara Hotel & Spa. The hotel is right along the Riverwalk, so we were able to walk most places and Lyft was fairly inexpensive. I also loved that Mokara was a retreat in the high energy of Downtown San Antonio! All guests have complimentary access to the spa which includes a luxurious hot tub, a steam room, a dry sauna, and relaxation rooms. After an exhausting bike ride (which I will share more about below), it was nice to rest my aching muscles in the tub. Book your stay here.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

The room was spacious and light and came with a huge tub! As if the spa wasn’t enough, I spent extra time relaxing with bath salts in the Jacuzzi tub! Walking into Mokara was like receiving a reward for all of the energy spent running around Downtown San Antonio and offered the ultimate getaway in the heart of the city. You can read all about my stay at Mokara Hotel & Spa here and book your stay here.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

A Truly Unique Way to See the Missions

The San Antonio Missions are one of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are stunning to see. Most people opt to see the most popular which is the Alamo, but I find the others to be much more beautiful. Rather than drive to the sites, we decided to get active and take the 11-mile trail from the Alamo all the way to Mission Espada. We rented the B-Bikes for $12 a day.

You download the app and as long as you dock the bike every hour and recheck it out, you won’t be charged anymore. If I did this again I would rent a bike from a local company as I felt the bikes were not as easy to ride and our phones died (which you need to be able to check out the bikes). Using the b-bikes meant we definitely got more of a workout!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

Biking the Missions Trail meant we got to see more of San Antonio from less populated areas of the River Walk to the Blue Star Complex (a great place to stop for art and beer!). I’m not much for boring workouts and it was a great way to burn off all of that cinnamon roll we ate! If you have a third day in San Antonio, you could make this into an entire day by stopping along different areas. We decided to take the bus back to save time.

Biking to all 5 missions can take between 3-5 hours. If you want to make an entire round trip with lots of stops and breaks it’s easily a full day affair! I would have opted for this if we had more time.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio
The Final Stop: Mission Espada

Visit El Mercado

El Mercado is a shopping area with vendors lined along the streets and shops around. I love the vibrancy of this area filled with Mexican and San Antonio culture!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

Whenever I visit a city my favorite souvenir is local artwork and I loved to see all of the artists out there painting live! You might also see some dancing!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio
Unique Things to do in San Antonio
Unique Things to do in San Antonio

There were also plenty of shops selling all sorts of colorful goodies.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

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Eat at Mi Tierra

Being from San Antonio I usually reject touristy restaurants, but I’m so glad we walked into Mi TierraI was drawn in by all of the flashy decorations and colorful murals, but in the end fell in love with food! We ordered the Sonora Special which was baked beef ribs and finished off with some Tres Leches Cheesecake!

Mi Tierra is also famously known for their breakfast and their pastries so don’t be afraid to go at an earlier time.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio
Unique Things to do in San Antonio

Visit the Riverwalk & Hemisfair Park

From Mokara Hotel & Spa you can walk along the River Walk towards Hemisfair Park. I loved being able to walk around the city and see vendors & the river cruises. On the way to Hemisfair Park you can also stop by La Villita, a cute shopping district.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

One of my favorite places to visit at Hemisfair park is Instituo Cultural de Mexico which is a free rotating art installation. Last time we were here they had unique hanging installations that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. It’s a fairly small art museum but worth stopping in for the art (and to escape the Texas sun in Summer!).

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

Now you might laugh at me for saying that you need to stop at the Hemisfair Park Play Ground, but this modern playground is actually pretty unique. I might be biased because I have fond memories of this place when it was an all wooden playground, but this place always brings out the inner kid in me with the modern take of a merry-go-round and colorful play area!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

Throughout the trail there will be areas lined with historic art and historic houses that are fun to check out and at the end of the park trail you will reach the Tower of the Americas which is a 750-foot structure with an observation deck. I love hanging out near the waterfall sections and seeing what special events they have going on. Last time we were here there was a vintage car show going on!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

After finishing up at Hemisfair Park we made our way back to the River Walk. The River Walk is pretty much a giant loop so we continued down the loop to see the rest of the park. Certain parts of the River Walk are extremely packed, but the further down you go the less packed it gets.

If you are in San Antonio for the Summer and want to see Folklorico dancing, a mariachi band, and other fun dance and musical performances check out Fiesta Noche Del Rio. These Summer performances are exciting and you may just be pulled on stage to do some Salsa. I have been before when I lived in San Antonio and truly enjoyed it. This time we opted to watch the show from the outside while enjoying a romantic dinner at Fig Tree Restaurant.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

We enjoyed dishes like a goat cheese spread, artichokes, and a caesar salad with a view of the performers from our table. Fig Tree was a fresh cuisine treat without a crowd. This intimate setting meant not being elbow to elbow with other tables and the unique and bold flavors of everything we had was an experience of its own. The Fig Tree really loves it olives so be prepared for strong flavors. After dinner head to the Esquire Tavern for a secret surprise.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

A Spanish Speakeasy on the River

Now of course there are plenty of places to get margaritas on the River Walk, but that’s just so boring! Head into the Esquire Tavern for a unique experience. When you walk into the Esquire you will be greeted by someone who will offer to seat you, but instead turn left and look for a door that says Downstairs. Downstairs is a Spanish based speakeasy right along the River Walk that you wouldn’t know about unless someone told you (in true speakeasy style!). It’s so secretive I can’t even take pictures! Just kidding, it was just really dark 😉

Their menu rotates regularly and includes drinks like Batman of Mexico. The bartenders are wonderful and even offered to whip up something based on what I liked. I’m a tequila girl and they created unique drink with bitters and other secret ingredients that was amazing!

After a long day it’s definitely worth heading to Mokara and taking a refreshing bath before another exciting day!

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Unique Things to Do in San Antonio: Day 2

Go on a River Cruise

Whenever someone visits the River Walk it’s common to go on a riverboat. However, rather than be packed with a bunch of people doing the typical touristy thing, why not experience the cruise in a unique way? We decided to wake up early for yoga on the Riverwalk with Go Rio San Antonio River Cruises. I have to say this was one of the most unique ways to experience yoga. We always had a different view and because it was early the river was serene. Your balance is definitely tested when your focus point changes constantly!

For people who still want to experience the river in a unique way but are not as active, you can check out the Go Rio Unique San Antonio Cruises.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

Pearl Farmer’s Market

After an early yoga workout, I had worked up quite an appetite. Luckily the yoga cruise starts and ends at the Historic Pearl District which has a farmer’s market every Saturday and Sunday. Travelling around Texas means I have seen quite a few farmer’s markets and the farmer’s market in San Antonio has been the biggest I have seen in Texas so far!

They had everything from fruits and veggies, fresh bread, breakfast tacos, roasted corn, soaps, wine tastings, fresh flowers, and plenty of food to eat! We ended up snacking on items throughout the farmer’s market with breads, a lavender French toast, and brisket tacos!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio
Unique Things to do in San Antonio
Unique Things to do in San Antonio

Coffee Time

As a coffee lover, I always look for fun coffee flavors and ended up going to Larder for a Dulce De Leche Latte!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

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Exploring the Historic Pearl

If it’s been some time since you’ve been to San Antonio, you probably haven’t heard much about the Historic Pearl. When I lived in San Antonio it was just a farmer’s market and was just beginning to be up and coming. When we went I was shocked at how much it changed. The Historic Pearl had some of the cutest shopping areas and delicious restaurants, plus live music!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

If you visit nowhere else in Pearl District, you have to visit Ten Thousand Villages. This shop has locations throughout the US, but this is the only one in Texas. Ten Thousand Villages is a fair-trade store with crafted items made from locals across the world. They guarantee a fair price for the people who create the goods. They had a huge selection of items ranging from coffee to home goods to jewelry and more. If you don’t get the chance to visit, I still recommend checking their shop online. I bought a necklace and bracelet, and it says what country it comes from and often comes with a story.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

Another cute shop is the Vintage Bouquet Bar where you can make your own bouquets or jewelry pieces with a live succulent!

Unique Things to do in San Antonio

For great boutique finds and Texas goods make sure to check out Adelante Boutique. This boutique was the absolute cutest with its bright colors and the cutest clothes.

Unique Things to do in San Antonio