Travel Guide: Finding Old World Charm in Modern San Antonio

May in the Alamo City is sizzling-hot—in more ways than one.

Photo by f11photo/Getty Images

Few American cities blend Old World charm with modern comfort quite like San Antonio. With a diverse heritage that includes Mexican, Tejano, German, and Irish influences, the southern oasis embraces its history while continuing to grow—and the month of May just might be the perfect time to visit before the city’s notoriously scorching summer temps set in.

With attractions around every bend, the famed River Walk is the ideal place to start your trip. The 15-mile promenade offers everything from chic shops and restaurants to five Spanish missions untouched by time, including the legendary Alamo, which is a block away. Or, for a different perspective, hop aboard a river-barge boat tour by Go Rio Cruises and coast by iconic landmarks such as Selena’s Bridge.

Looking to dive even deeper into Texas history and culture? Check out the nearby Witte Museum’s Heritage Center, where you can peruse hundreds of artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries. For a more avant-garde visual experience, take a spin through Hopscotch, an immersive art gallery featuring a rotating collection of enlightening installations, such as the colorful “Walls Within” exhibition—a vibrant display of murals brought to life by the San Antonio Street Art Initiative—and a glowing ball pit.

Of course, you’re really here to enjoy the region’s many natural wonders—including Natural Bridge Caverns, where you can descend 180 feet below the surface to witness awe-inspiring geological formations on the Discovery Tour. The Hidden Passages Tour offers extra immersion, venturing into another part of the underground labyrinth. For a more relaxing stroll, the San Antonio Botanical Garden includes 38 acres of picturesque trails and gardens fresh off a $40 million renovation.

Naturally, dinner in Texas is all about the steak. Those feeling incredibly bold (and hungry) can saddle up at the Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon, the only place in the area where you can enjoy a live rodeo with your rib-eye. If craft cocktails are more your speed, the bar scene in San Antonio is bursting with options—including Pastiche, a European cocktail bar set inside a 1930s cottage. In the mood for a more rollicking time? Let your hair down and throw your hands up at Luna—part speakeasy, part nightclub, and 100 percent San Antonio.

Photo by Greg Ceo

Getting There

Hop on JetBlue’s newly launched nonstop flight from Logan to San Antonio International Airport, with fares starting around $134 this month.

Staying There

The swanky yet sophisticated Thompson San Antonio, which opened last year on the city’s River Walk, features 162 guest rooms and a 5,000-square-foot full-service spa. The property also offers three dining spots, including a rooftop bar with dazzling views of the city skyline.