The lighter side of real estate

30 Things You Need To Know About San Antonio Before You Move There

If you are thinking to live in San Antonio and you must read these 31 things about the city before you move in.

Elizabeth Harper

Movoto Contributor

5 articles, 0 comments

1. A Big City without the Big City Feel

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Stuart Seeger

San Antonio is the seventh largest city in America, but it’s still a far cry from what we think of as a big city like New York or Los Angeles. Being the nation’s seventh largest city doesn’t even make it the largest city in the Lone Star State—that would be Houston—and this historical Texas city manages to feel busy without feeling crowded.

2. Start the Day off Right with Local Coffee

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Local Coffee

By local I don’t just mean you should find the nearest coffee shop—not unless that happens to be San Antonio original Local Coffee. It’s a great place to get your morning caffeine fix—and check Twitter on your smartphone while you wait for the caffeine to kick in—or pick up coffee to DIY your morning cup at home.

3. Who Could Forget the Alamo?

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Robert and Cathy

San Antonio is home to the well-known Alamo, where Republic of Texas soldiers had a last stand against Mexican troops. The soldiers defending the Alamo lost their lives in the effort, but the rallying cry of “Remember the Alamo!” eventually led Texas to victory. In the present day, the Alamo is Texas’ top tourist attraction and located in the heart of downtown San Antonio—but it isn’t wasn’t the only Spanish mission in the area. If you want more history, four more missions are nearby in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

4. Don’t Forget The Other Alamo, Either

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Alamo Drafthouse

Texans continue to remember the Alamo at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. It has a lot less history, but a lot more entertainment, with movies, food, drinks, and a no-talking policy that make it a fan-favorite of local cinephiles.

5. Pray, Light a Candle, or Just Enjoy Visiting San Fernando Cathedral

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Nan Palmero

The San Fernando Cathedral is the oldest church in the state of Texas and the oldest cathedral in the United States—and it’s still active today, with thousands attending weekly Mass. Located in downtown San Antonio within walking distance of the Alamo, this Roman Catholic cathedral is the mother church of the Archdiocese of San Antonio but it’s open to visitors of all denominations.

6. Who Needs Mardi Gras When There’s Fiesta San Antonio?

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Larry Johnson

Held every spring, Fiesta began in 1891 as a single parade honoring the heroes of the Alamo and San Jacinto. But today, it’s a citywide celebration featuring over a hundred events and three parades, one of which floats down the River Walk.

7. Take a Stroll on the River Walk

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Robert Hensley

San Antonio’s River Walk—or Paseo del Rio—is a pedestrian-only street along the San Antonio River lined with restaurants, hotels, and plenty of other distractions for an afternoon stroll. And while it’s definitely a tourist destination, there’s no reason not to enjoy the river—and the many events that happen there during the year. To lure in locals, there’s free downtown parking—and lots of deals from local businesses—on Tuesdays.

8. Borrow (and Ride) a Bike

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Heather Cowper

Bike sharing, where you rent a bicycle for short trips, isn’t big in the United States. But enthusiasts will find that San Antonio is on the front lines of this trend, with rentable B-cycle bikes throughout the city. The city’s aiming to get more commuters on bikes, so bike safety is a priority—but if you cycle just for fun, San Antonio has plenty of bike trails to enjoy, too.

9. Get a Bird’s-Eye View at Tower of the Americas

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Nan Palmero

HemisFair Park—site of the 1968 World’s Fair—is a worthwhile visit on its own, with 15 landscaped acres featuring waterfalls, historic buildings, playgrounds, and the 750-foot Tower of the Americas. Taller than the Seattle Space Needle, this is the tallest building in San Antonio and heading up to the observation deck gives you a great view of the city and the surrounding hill country.

10. Catch a Game with the San Antonio Spurs

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Katie Haugland

You won’t be able to avoid the excitement about San Antonio’s hometown NBA team, the Spurs. So why not get caught up in the excitement and catch a game at the AT&T Center?

11. See Some Gorgeous Wildflowers

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Miguel Angel Rodriguez

The Texas Hill Country goes wildflower crazy in the spring—and the beauty is easy to see along roadsides or in San Antonio’s many parks.

12. Check Out the Local Wildlife at SeaWorld

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Richard Stephenson

Inland San Antonio might not be your first thought when it comes to viewing acquatic wildlife, but the 250-acre SeaWorld San Antonio park is sure to please kids and adults alike. More than just a zoo, SeaWorld has rides, shows, and—at their Aquatica water park—you can even dive into swim with stingrays.

13. Head Underground at Natural Bridge Caverns

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Jonas Lamis

Just outside San Antonio are the Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest network of caves in Texas. It’s well worth the trip to explore a slice of nature that’s usually hidden—and the fact that the caves are 70 degrees no matter how hot it gets in the summer isn’t a bad bonus, either.

14. Get Some Shopping in at Market Square

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Mr.512

Market Square, or El Mercado, is an outdoor shopping mall with a San Antonio twist. This Mexican-style marketplace is home to shops, restaurants, festivals, and plenty of local color.

15. Get Tacos for Lunch or Dinner

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Cortney Martin

If you’re already in Market Square, why not stop at Mi Tierra for some of the city’s best Mexican food? Mi Tierra opened in 1941 with only three tables—today it’s still run by the same family, but it has a bit more seating and is open 24 hours a day. There’s no better way to get your late-night munchies on!

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16. And Tacos for Breakfast, Too

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Taco Taco Cafe

Transplants to Texas may be confused by the idea of a breakfast taco, but if you’re one of that lot you’d best get used to the idea. For the best breakfast tacos, you need to visit the aptly named Taco Taco. Your stomach will thank you.

17. See Some Modern Art at the McNay

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Sean Loyless

The first museum of modern art in Texas, the McNay Art Museum is housed in the former home of collector Marion McNay. The grounds are well worth picnicking on, but it’s the 20,000 pieces of art in the collection—including works by Monet, Picasso, Degas, and O’Keeffe—that will catch your eye.

18. See Some Less Modern Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user AndYaDontStop

If modern isn’t your thing—or even if it is—the San Antonio Museum of Art, located right on the Riverwalk, has a large and varied collection. The museum includes art ranging from ancient to contemporary and has the largest collection of Asian arts in the south.

19. Take an Up Close Look at History at the Witte Museum

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Colleen Pence

If your interests are more in history and science than art, the Witte Museum aims to make learning—for kids and adults—fun with interactive exhibits. Where else can you go to check out dinosaurs—or “vanished Texans,” as the museum calls them—and dig into the real tech behind “CSI” with the interactive CSI: The Experience? We’re pretty sure that’s a range of activities only available at the Witte.

20. Explore the Quadrangle at Fort Sam Houston

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Wikimedia Commons

San Antonio is sometimes called Military City USA because of the city’s many military bases, and while you might not think it, some of these historic bases are great places to visit. Fort Sam Houston was built in 1876 and the historic quadrangle is populated by an interesting assortment of animals, including peacocks, deer, geese, chicken, and rabbits. If you go, be sure to bring some food for the animals!

21. Skip the Trip to Napa and Visit Hill Country Wineries Instead

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Texas Hill Country Wineries

Texas may not be a place you think to go for wines, but the Hill Country has 35 wineries, many within easy driving distance of San Antonio—and all a lot closer than Napa Valley. For a nice day trip, head north for a visit to Dry Comal Creek Vineyards, Sister Creek Vineyards, Bending Branch Winery, Singing Water Vineyards, Kerrville Hills Winery, and Santa Maria Cellars. Yes, it’s a trip you can make in a day—just be sure you have a designated driver before you go.

22. Have a Drink at the Menger Bar

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Brad Holt

If you’re feeling thirsty after trekking around the Alamo, the Menger Hotel Bar may be your next stop. San Antonio’s oldest continuously operated pub, the Menger has been serving up drinks since 1859—and was where Theodore Roosevelt recruited for the Rough Rider cavalry unit. But don’t let the age fool you: this is still a great place to get a drink while soaking up some Texas history.

23. Visit the Pearl Brewery

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Katie Haugland

Despite the name, the actual brewery is long since gone—but the 22-acres along the San Antonio River that Pearl Brewery used to call home is now a marketplace featuring shops, restaurants, and plenty of events. No matter what the season, it’s a great place to kill a day or just an afternoon.

24. Catch a Show at the Majestic Theatre

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user TravelingOtter

The historic Majestic Theatre in downtown San Antonio is a great place to catch a show—and there’s something for you whether you’re interested in music performances, comedy, ballet, dance, or musicals.

25. Put on Your Cowboy Hat and See a Rodeo

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Larry Johnson

There’s nothing that says “Texas” more than a rodeo, and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo is one of the largest in the country. Taking place over three weeks every February, this rodeo is a good opportunity to dust off your boots and get a taste of some real Texas culture.

26. Stroll Under the Stars at the San Antonio Botanical Garden

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Mike Fisher

The 33-acre San Antonio Botanical Garden is beautiful in any season and offers plenty of nature to explore—though it’s only open after dark on special occasions. If flowers aren’t your thing the garden also plays hosts to plenty of events, including outdoor movies and music.

27. Explore the Japanese Tea Gardens

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Kelley Minars

The Japanese Tea Gardens were a 1918 addition to the city’s Brackenridge Park, built with a minimum of budget. The garden has clear Japanese influences, but the plants, materials, and the setting in general have a distinctly Texan flare. It’s a great—and uniquely San Antonio—place to visit.

28. Visit Brackenridge Park

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Sean Loyless

San Antonio’s largest public park, Brackenridge Park, has served the city for over a hundred years and now spans nearly 350 acres that are packed with outdoor activities. The park features trails for walking and biking, a golf course, fishing at the San Antonio River, a miniature train to ride, playgrounds, picnic areas, and the San Antonio Zoo. Whatever kind of activity you’re looking for, Brackenridge is probably the place to find it.

29. Ride a Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: Flickr user Coy!

If you’re looking for thrill rides — or just some family fun—Six Flags Fiesta Texas has you covered with dozens of attractions. Those who feel the need for speed will enjoy the Iron Rattler, Goliath, and Superman: Krypton Coaster.

30. Enjoy Some Barbecue at the Barbecue Station

30 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to San Antonio

Source: The Barbecue Station

You didn’t think we’d get to the end of this list without mentioning Texas-favorite barbecue, did you? The Barbecue Station isn’t fancy, but it has just what you want from a barbecue restaurant: good eats.

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posted on: October 25, 2013
153,128 views, 17 comments


  1. Jared

    What a great break down of San Antonio, Texas! This is a great guide for anybody who is deciding to move to San Antonio or not. Thanks!



  3. Shiree Thomas-Siloski

    Speaking of moving to San Antonio…further opinions/ideas on wedding venues either in and around SA or even if anyone has outter area knowledge…I’d be all ears. :-)

  4. CJ

    Having visited San Antonio many times during my Air Force and professional career, I can say it is an ok place to visit, but would not live here if given a choice… I decided to give it a chance though, but I am currently looking to leave as quickly as possible. I moved from the DC area and find the traffic here to be worse than the National Capital Region, due to horrible drivers and the way the roads are configured. For a large city, it is much less diverse than I expected. It is set up that you have to drive everywhere. If one has to move to Texas I would choose Austin or Houston, as both have multiple choices of neighborhoods and grocery stores. Yes, grocery stores are very limited here in San Antonio. It is mostly HEB or Wal-Mart. Property Taxes are through the roof, schools are less than impressive. For my personal history, I have lived in Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, Mississippi, Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, and Montana and of the places, San Antonio is a place I would never choose to live again. Burglary rates are well above the national average. Home invasions are on the rise and if you check, your car insurance and property insurance reflect both the crime and traffic aspects. Additionally the lack of water should be a major concern for San Antonio and Texas overall. Lack of planning for infrastructure, a corrupt Mayor, I could go on and on. On the bright side if you like 100 plus degree days, you should be happy though.

  5. anon

    I currently live in Florida and I am investigating moving to San Antonio. I never really considered Texas (moved to Florida from California), but I work in higher education and it seems like San Antonio has both an abundance of schools along with affordable housing. I am over the whole Florida thing. I don’t know if Texas is the answer, but San Antonio seems to have some pleasant things going for it and a much better job market than Florida.

  6. Majo

    CJ from someone who has lived there and who has had other experiences, I truly appreciate your opinion. Thank you for letting us know other aspects that are relevant too when thinking about a move.

  7. steve

    San Antonio is a large sprawling poor-man’s city surrounded by two loops of freeway criss-crossed by 3 major interstates and several smaller highways. The feeling just about anywhere you go here is a predominantly poverty ridden, lower middle class lifestyle, largely perpetuated by catholic religion and under-education rampant in the large hispanic and smaller white populations but there’s still plenty of pretentious big-fish, hispanic and white alike, to go around who pretend they are hip but are just pathetic big fish in a little pond snobs. The places I have worked mimic that description of the larger city to a “t”. You need a huge amount of patience and quick reflexes driving around here because every day its an encounter of traffic congestion meets road rage and constant encounters with lowlifes either begging at every storefront entrance or hanging out by freeway ramps trying their con game and, depending on where you live, they’re outside your door or down by the corner grocery. These aren’t just homeless neither but honest-to-goodness lowlifes who seem to revel in the substandard existence of the urban ninja. Its also nothing to be driving around and see ragged F 150s with an entire family in the cab hauling their life belongings in the flatbed racing along next to you and some cop in an unmarked car who gives them a ticket that they can’t read since they are from mexico but they will surely share the school classroom with your kids sans vaccines. San Antonio is the cow-town child grown up that survived the alamo and all those years that has become the middle-aged techno savvy, military base city of of the future but average-ness defines its little festivals and rodeos that make its endless suburb sprawl more tolerable. Downtown in some places is like new orleans or santa fe but still way overrated in my opinion. In other places its like going to mexico. San Antonio, like every town has its museums and parks and old buildings that used to be something else like a brewery or where a dead celebrity once stayed, so that’s nothing special. Overall, its not bad if you like endless spring, summer, fall and you don’t expect too much of a community feeling but it could be a lot better if there were better and more creative leaders and a more willing and better tax base to improve opportunities and the infrastructure. As for six flags and roller coaster rides and talking to orcas tourist stuff, I’ll leave that to the kids and the eating is like some addiction here with quantity over quality. Just look at the people, 90% overweight. Hey, but do come see San Antonio. Don’t let me discourage you!

  8. Dee

    I am thinking of relocating to Texas, between San Antonio and Austin Texas. Wondering about the laws, home taxes, and job market there. Currently in atlanta ga and the laws are not so good. The police are off the chain and everyone is for themselves. Really don’t want to jump out of the pan and into the fire!!

  9. J

    I live in San Antonio and my friend is from Atlanta. He said its cool here.

  10. RJC

    San Antonio is a bright and bustling city with many unique features and charms. The city recently expanded the greenbelts along the numerous creeks so there are hundreds of miles of walking, running, biking trails surrounded by lush greenery.
    In addition the famous River Walk has been expanded. To the North there are numerous residential lofts allowing urban living in the Downtown area, as well as art galleries, museums and office space that has attracted numerous High Tech firms. To the South, there is a trail that runs roughly 15 miles and will take you down to the three historic missions and the historic aqueduct that is both an engineering and architectural treasure. You can even go kayaking or canoeing on the Southern part of the River, just a mile or so from the heart of Downtown!
    HEB is a true Texas Treasure. Once you walk into a clean and well laid out HEB, you will wonder what the hell is wrong with your local grocery store.
    If you enjoy freezing cold weather you will not enjoy San Antonio.
    Home prices here are still one of the lowest in the Nation and being in Texas we do not have a State Income Tax.
    There are numerous well regarded public schools and prestigious private schools across San Antonio.
    Traffic really isn’t that bad, even in the worst traffic you can navigate from one end of town to the other in less than 45 minutes.
    If you’re not a Spurs fan, once you get here, you will become one.
    How can you not root for a team that lives and breathes hard work and humility.
    Our NASL Soccer Team, the Scorpions consistently play to sold out crowds and just won the league Championship.
    If you are looking for a large city urban living, San Antonio has that, not as much as other cities, but it’s growing quickly. We have great neighborhoods stretching out of the city and if you want, you can buy several acres on the outskirts of town and have a small ranch or even a large ranch depending on your preference.
    If you are looking for adventure, there are several areas within a 90 minute drive for outdoor fun: Tubing on the rivers, lakes for fishing, boating, jet skiing, Enchanted Rock – hiking, rock climbing, or Lost Maples for camping and catching the leaves change color. The Gulf Coast is less than 2 hours away and you can catch a flight to just about anywhere you need to go from the recently renovated international airport.
    If you are looking for a place to call home, San Antonio has a lot to offer.
    Take a look, I dare you!

  11. michelle martinez

    My family and I are planning to move to San Antonio to have a better life in 6 months! We want to so bad but need to know if this is the right desicion. We want to know if there are great gospitals or doctors for kids with disabilities, and have great therapy for our oldest son. And if there are plenty of employment for industrial work and hair dresser!

  12. Anonymous

    there are good therapists, but the treatment centers are not so great. I have lived in SA almost my whole life, I love it. there are great schools, wonderful neighbors and neighborhoods. I lived in Houston too, also loved that. The hospitals are good. I would honestly never live anywhere else, given a choice.

  13. Geigel Torres

    On May I’ll move in to San Antonio! !! I got my CDL class A in Houston and I wanna get a work like residential truck driver ( waste company) in San Antonio! !!! I can’t wait to get there! !!!! God bless you

  14. meghan

    i agree jerad

  15. ninjabee

    If you like Hispanic culture, its a good place to be. You almost have to speak Spanish ( or rather Tex Mex) if you have any kind of job dealing with the public. Educational level is pretty low overall, lots of poverty and high crime rates. Lots of obesity, lots of drug addicts and alcoholics, tons of teenage parents, lots of homeless people,people are generally pretty conservative and don’t accept change very well. I am a buddhist and if I tell anyone the reaction is the same as if I said I worship Satan. I have lived here all my life except for 3 yrs when I moved to another city, and I really didn’t realize how boring San Antonio is until I moved away. It is pretty inexpensive compared to the other city I lived in though. There are jobs available here too, but mostly low paying. Personally I’m planning to check out other cities with more diversity and more liberal minded folks.

  16. Deirdre

    Mentioning SeaWorld as a positive reason is quite disgusting and reprehensible.

  17. Nikki

    Looking to relocate to San Antonio is in 4 months.I have no friends or family their,just stepping out on faith.What areas should I avoid moving too? How are the schools systems.


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