San Antonio, Texas temps travelers of all tastes with its rich culture of historic legacies, culinary delights, thriving arts scene, and thrilling theme parks.
Walk amidst 18th-century missions; explore the River Walk with its sidewalk cafes, theaters and shops; savor flavorful cuisines that outspread the label of ethnic; and join celebrations thrown at the drop of a sombrero. San Antonio embodies the charm of an authentic American city.
Looking for an exciting place to visit in 2020? In no particular order, here are 20 top things to do in San Antonio in 2020 featuring new attractions to see, new hotels to stay, new restaurants to try, festivals to attend, tours to go on, and tips on visiting popular spots and more.[feast_advanced_jump_to]
1. Explore San Antonio’s World Heritage Sites
San Antonio’s five Spanish colonial missions represent the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America.
They were named a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2015.
In the 18th century, Spanish priests established the missions along the San Antonio River to serve as the center of an ethnically diverse society.
Among them, The Alamo, is the number one tourist attraction in Texas. In 1836, 189 defenders of Texas independence held The Alamo against some 4,000 Mexican troops for 13 days.
The four other Spanish colonial missions (Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada) form San Antonio Missions National Historical Park—a marvelous place to explore the city’s roots and Spain’s influence on the southwestern part of the United States.
Pro Tip: the visitor center at Mission San José is the perfect starting point for exploring what the missions have to offer. Drive from mission to mission or take Mission Trail, ideal for hiking and biking.
2. Check out San Antonio’s newest attractions for all ages and abilities
SEA LIFE Aquarium (opening Spring 2020)
Behind the Scenes Tours will offer you a 20-minute interactive experience where you will be shown how life support, filtration, and water quality systems work; how food is prepared for the animals; and research areas.
Early bird tickets are now available. The prices are $17 for adults and $13 for children.
Texas Singray Wooden Roller Coaster at SeaWorld San Antonio (opening Spring 2020)
SeaWorld San Antonio will debut the new Texas Stingray wooden roller coaster in Spring 2020.
The coaster will be the tallest, fastest and longest wooden roller coaster in Texas with speeds up to 55 miles an hour and 15 airtime hills.
3. Cruise along the River Walk
The flourishing San Antonio River Walk (also known as Paseo del Río or simply as The River Walk) cradles much of San Antonio’s unparalleled charm.
Here you’ll find miles of meandering cobble- and flagstone paths along the banks of the San Antonio River connecting hotels, restaurants, shops, historic landmarks and more.
The San Antonio River originally inspired the settlement of San Antonio, and it still flourishes today as the city’s center.
The River Walk winds through culture-rich downtown and has multiple personalities: quiet and park-like in some stretches, while other areas are full of activity with European-style sidewalk cafes, specialty boutiques, art galleries, nightclubs, and high-rise hotels.
Pro Tip: Embark on the GO RIO San Antonio, the river’s floating transportation system, which provides a novel method of sightseeing and people-watching in downtown San Antonio. Narrated cruises and river shuttles are available.
4. See San Antonio’s new art center and art exhibits
San Antonio has a thriving arts scene featuring an eclectic community of artists, renowned museums and diverse public art.
Enjoy contemporary art at the new Ruby City for free
Opened in 2019, Ruby City is a new contemporary art center which features new acquisitions by tby the Linda Pace Foundation from acclaimed artists from San Antonio and around the world.
Linda Pace was an artist, collector and dreamer who had a hunger for contemporary art – that is, creating it, buying it, making it and sharing it with others.
As a collector, she gathered hundreds of contemporary artworks into a personal, expressive collection which is now managed by the Linda Pace Foundation, founded in 2003.
The Foundation continues to acquire work that reflects Linda’s sensibility of a feminist perspective, engages social issues and considers aspects of spirituality and beauty.
“Sebastian in San Antonio” city-wide exhibit (until May 2020)
The city-wide exhibit, “Sebastian in San Antonio: 50+ Years / 20+ Sites / 100+ Works,” showcasing the monumental work of legendary Mexican sculptor Sebastian is on display until May 2020.
More than 100 sculptures in more than 20 locations in San Antonio are on display including pieces from his private collection.
Sebastian is known for creating the iconic permanent installation called the “Torch of Friendship” which stands at the intersection of Alamo Street and Commerce Street in San Antonio.
The retrospective solidifies the longstanding friendship between San Antonio and Mexico through art and culture.
“Fashion Nirvana: Runway to Everyday Exhibition” at the McNay Art Museum
You will find more than 50 showstopping garments by designers Christian Dior, Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta, Gianni Versace, Vera Wang, Todd Oldham, Isaac Mizrahi, and many more.
The exhibition is included in admission to the McNay Art Museum. Tickets are available online: $20 for adults, $15 for students ages 20+, $15 for seniors and $10 for teens ages 13 – 19.
San Antonio Museum of Art 2020 Lineup
The San Antonio Museum of Art’s 2020 exhibition lineup will reveal new insights about art in Texas.
Debuting February 2020 is “Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art” focuses on female artists in Texas working primarily in the mode of abstraction. There will be sixty-five works in painting, sculpture, installation, and works on paper by fifteen artists from different generations.
In October 2020, “Everett Spruce: Texas Reimagined” will showcase the work of celebrated Texas painter Everett Spruce. The exhibition brings together some fifty of Spruce’s masterworks, drawn from across his seven-decade career.
5. Indulge in some fresh San Antonio culinary concepts
While in town, check out a few new additions to the dining scene in San Antonio.
Southerleigh New Restaurants and Brewery (opening 2020)
Also opening in 2020 will be Southerleigh Bird & Biscuit will also be opening in 2020. The fine-casual restaurant concept will feature a menu based on Southern-style food including fried chicken, biscuits, and an oyster bar, paired with local Southerleigh microbrew beers.
Also in the works is a stand-alone brewery called Southerleigh Brewing Co. Stay tuned to their social media on upcoming openings.
La Gloria x El Machito (opening fall 2020)
Grupo La Gloria and celebrated San Antonio chef Johnny Hernandez are collaborating to bring their La Gloria and El Machito concepts to Brooks in fall of 2020.
The combined restaurant will feature La Gloria (a Mexican street food concept) and El Machito (a Mexican barbecue concept).
Best Quality Daughter (opening summer 2020)
Opening Summer 2020, the menu with an Asian-American twist features items such as breakfast taco steam buns, oolong tea-smoked prime rib and shumai made with smoked brisket fat. Photo: Jamie Stolarski /For Best Quality Daughter
6. Stay at a new San Antonio hotel
Canopy by Hilton San Antonio River Walk (opening Fall 2020)
The boutique-style Canopy by Hilton San Antonio River Walk will open downtown in Fall 2020.
The hotel will integrate the Civil War-era Alamo Fish Market building into its 22-story design. There will be 195 rooms and a restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking the River Walk.
Thompson San Antonio Hotel and Arts Residences (opening early 2020)
The 20-story Thompson San Antonio Hotel and Arts Residences will bring luxurious accommodations to San Antonio’s River Walk in 2020. The hotel is set to open early 2020.
Located near the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, the 162-room hotel will feature a stylish restaurant, 5,000 square-foot pool deck and an in-house spa.
7. Join the celebrations at Fiesta San Antonio! (April 16 – 20, 2020)
Celebrating the diverse history and culture of San Antonio, Fiesta San Antonio! started in 1891 as a tribute to the Alamo heroes.
Today, it has become one of the nation’s premier festivals with more than 3.5 million people attend the 11-day celebration with more than 100 events.
This year’s celebration takes place April 16 – 20, 2020 featuring parades, carnivals, balls, art fairs, concerts and more.
Many events are free, and the Battle of Flowers Parade is one of the biggest in the nation, second only to the Rose Bowl’s Tournament of Roses Parade.
The Texas Cavaliers River Parade is happening April 20, 2020 and is one of the only night parades in the nation where visitors fill the banks of the San Antonio river to watch the decorated floats.
Funds raised by official Fiesta events provide services to San Antonio citizens throughout the year.
8. Head on down (way down) to the Natural Bridge Caverns
See San Antonio from a completely different vantage point through an underground exploration.
The Natural Bridge Caverns features otherworldly formations formed by single drops of water and the slow passage of time. Visitors will also be fascinated with the 60 ft limestone bridge as well as the Emerald Lake.
There are also surface attractions including an aerial adventure ropes courses; an outdoor maze and gem & fossil mining.
9. World’s first ultra-accessible family fun park: Morgan’s Wonderland
Designed specifically for individuals with special needs, Morgan’s Wonderland is the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park.
Morgan’s Wonderland is completely wheelchair-accessible, features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an eight-acre fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-events center, 575-seat amphitheater and picnic and rest areas throughout the park.
The park also features Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the world’s first and only ultra-accessible splash park.
10. See the light show at the oldest cathedral sanctuary in America
San Fernando Cathedral has the nation’s oldest cathedral sanctuary and was founded by Canary Islanders who began its construction in 1731.
Not to be missed is the world-class video art installation, San Antonio | The Saga, created by the world-renowned French artist Xavier de Richemont.
A 24-minute, 7,000-sq. ft. projection video art installation is projected on the façade of the San Fernando Cathedral each Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through 2024. Free to the public. Check out https://www.mainplaza.org/ for showtimes.
11. Enjoy the colorful sights of El Mercado (Market Square)
Dating to 1840, El Mercado (Market Square) is the largest Mexican marketplace in America.
This vibrant three-blook outdoor plaza features 100 locally-owned shops and stalls.
El Mercado is a festive combination of Tex-Mex cuisine, music, entertainment, products ranging from pearls to piñatas, and the anchor Centro de Artes – an exhibit that tells the story of Latinos in America.
You’ll also find authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine at the Food Court; Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery; La Margarita Restaurant & Oyster Bar; Viva Villa Taqueria and more.
12. Experience the great outdoors in Texas Hill Country
Located just 90 minutes from San Antonio is a great opportunity for an outdoor escape.
Settled by Germans and Eastern Europeans, the Texas Hill Country has a culture of its own.
There you’ll find storybook farms and ranches dotting the countryside, picturesque small towns, and a variety of outdoor adventures.
You can enjoy boutique shopping down Main Street; hiking and biking through rolling, scenic terrain; wine tasting at world-class wineries and more.
Rivers in the Texas Hill Country, which forms an arc around the northern edge of San Antonio, provide venues for canoeing, tubing and white-water rafting.
13. Go big or go home with a 3-pound cinnamon roll from Lulu’s
Everything is bigger in Texas and one famous cafe in San Antonio takes this literally with their 3-pound cinnamon rolls.
Priced at $11.99 plus tax, these cinnamon rolls are available at Lulu’s Bakery Cafe. The cafe is open 24 hours which makes it easy to stop if whenever you have a cinnamon roll craving.
Lulu’s 3-pound cinnamon roll has received national attention. Check out this BuzzFeed Food video:
14. Stay awhile on a true Texas ranch for a taste of the Old West
For a taste of the Old West, head out to the country and stay awhile on a true Texas ranch. It’s a chance to get away from the city lights, enjoy open skies, evening stars and miles of rolling hills.
There are opportunities for weekend, short and long-term stays.
15. Rock Out at the River City Rockfest (September 2020)
The annual Bud Light River City Rockfest brings music icons from around the world to San Antonio for an exceptional outdoor rock experience at the AT&T Center.
In 2018, 25,000 fans were in attendance at San Antonio’s premier rock festival, with 20 top rock bands performing on three stages including Nine Inch Nails, Primus, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Chevelle, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and more.
Stay tuned as more details evolved about the return of the festival in September 2020.
16. Follow your senses through the San Antonio Botanical Garden
Follow your senses through the San Antonio Botanical Garden, where acres of beautiful, lush vegetation replicate three distinct landscapes of Texas.
Wander through formal gardens and even a sensory garden, where the emphasis is placed on the texture and scent of plants.
The Botanical Garden offers new culinary opportunities through the Culinary Garden and the Family Adventure Garden, where landscapes of South Texas and the Hill Country abound.
17. Make a roadside stop to see the world’s largest cowboy boots
North Star Mall is home to the world’s largest pair of cowboy boots.
American artist Bob Wade created these super-size cowboy boots which measure 10.74 m (35 ft 3 in) in height, towering past the surrounding buildings.
If an actual person were in scale with the boots’ foot size, that person would need to be two hundred feet tall to model them.
These cowboy boots are even visible from the freeway and during the holidays, they are decked out in twinkling holiday lights.
18. Stroll through the Pearl for a unique shopping experience
Located north of Downtown San Antonio, the Pearl offers unique riverside shopping for visitors of all tastes. As a former brewery operating from 1883 to 2001, Pearl reflects a vivid past while embracing the future.
In addition to Bakery Lorraine, La Gloria and Hotel Emma, this shopping attraction offers stores ranging from Niche Boutique to The Vintage Bouquet Bar, a local flower grower offering floral customization where customers can select their florals, greenery and arrangement style for a unique and personalized piece.
On the weekends, take in the many sights and smells the farmers market.
19. Watch San Antonio glow at Luminaria (November 2020)
Returning November 2020, Luminaria is an all-day event where the city glows with colorful and free celebrations, exhibitions and performances in honor of art in San Antonio.
The festival features experimental and experiential installations and performances from over local, national, and international artists.
Luminaria’s core events emanate from downtown and surround visitors with simultaneous and innovative programming: storefront exhibitions; art lighting; alley galleries and numerous stages with theater, dance and musical performances.
Citywide celebrations go until early morning and include studio tours, art demonstrations, museums and galleries open for the festive night.
20. Experience a Texas Honky Tonk: John T. Floore’s Country Store
As a quintessential Texas Honky Tonk, John T. Floore’s Country Store has hosted Texas and American music legends alike for 75 years.
Legendary performers which have graced the stage include Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan, to name a few.
Known by many as the musical “birthplace” of Willie Nelson, Willie immortalized John T. Floore in his hit recording “Shotgun Willie.”
In 1942, when John T. Floore opened his store, it wasn’t a store at all – it was a Texas-style dance hall and café.
Today, Floore’s continues to host live music and dances, while serving up its world-famous tamales and other great “Texas Cafe” style food, and ice-cold beer.
Travelgressing 2020 Travel Guides
Check out more 2020 travel guides that I have put together: