Map of San Antonio Texas Area | What is San Antonio Known for?
There is a saying in Texas – live in Austin, go to school at Rice and visit San Antonio over the weekend – for a happy and healthy life. San Antonio is a prime tourist destination for sure.
Where is San Antonio Located?
San Antonio is part of Bexar Country in South Central Texas – 75 miles south of Austin along I-35 and 189 miles west of Houston along I-10. It is situated along the Balcones Escarpment at the headwaters of the San Antonio River.
San Antonio International Airport serves the city.
Texas gained independence from Mexico in 1836, after the decisive Battle of San Jacinto. One of the principal battles of the Texan War of Independence was fought at the Alamo in San Antonio – it became a rallying cry for the Texan army.
San Antonio had existed as a city long before the Texan War of Independence. In 1718, a Spanish expedition from Mexico established the Mission San Antonio de Valero. This mission, later called the Alamo (which translates to “Cottontail” in English), was one of five established in the Presidio (military garrison) San Antonio de Béxar established nearby.
The town of San Fernando de Béxar had been planned as a civilian community near the presidio and mission all the way back in 1731 by settlers from the Canary Islands. The mission(s) were secularized in 1793, serving a military purpose instead. In the meanwhile, San Fernando de Bexar, which had served as a provincial capital between 1773 and 1824, was renamed as San Antonio, a county sear under the newly formed Republic of Texas post-1837.
San Antonio Size and Population
San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the nation and the second-largest city in Texas, with a population of 1,532,233.
The city is spread over a 505 square mile area, which happens to be larger than all Texas cities except Houston.
Is San Antonio a Good Place to Live?
San Antonio is considered to be a good place to live and raise a family for a number of reasons.
Median Income vs. Income Required to Live Comfortably
An analysis of major US cities prepared by gobankrates.com lists median incomes against the amount it costs to live comfortably (using the rule that 50% of income is spent on necessities, 30% on extra spends, and 20% is saved).
Residents of San Antonio have a median income of $49,711, while the income needed to live comfortably varies between $71,943 (for homeowners) and $77,871 (for renters).
The shortfall of $22,000+ is modest in comparison to the six-figure shortfalls in cities like New York and San Francisco and even the $30,000+ shortfall for residents of Houston, TX.
Also, Texas does not have a state income tax, which helps.
A Multicultural Population
San Antonio has a strong multicultural, though predominantly Hispanic, bent in its culture, which is intermixed with German influence in Bexar County.
Best Places to Live in San Antonio
The following neighborhoods stand out within San Antonio:
- Downtown –situated close to the River Walk and the Alamo downtown San Antonio combines city living with proximity to many of the city’s attractions.
- Terrell Hills– pricey compared to the rest of San Antonio, Terrell Hills combines great schools with safety and access to all that San Antonio has to offer.
- Alamo Heights – an affluent neighborhood with great schools within 5 miles of the city proper.
- New Braunfels – About 30 miles out of San Antonio proper, New Braunfels is situated on the Guadalupe and Comal River. Tubing on the Guadalupe, or visits to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark are highlights for families and visitors.
- Boerne – a Texas Hill Country community around 30 miles from San Antonio, it’s a popular stop for visitors to the area.
- Converse – community on the east side, with historic districts galore.
- Northeast Inner Loop – this area, northeast of Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills, is known for its historic architecture and good schools.
- Helotes – similar to Converse, Helotes is an historic community on the far Northwest of San Antonio.
- Hollywood Park – an upscale suburb in Northern San Antonio
- Shavano Park – a more rustic area west of Hollywood Park
- Fair Oaks Ranch – this community of custom-built homes is the gateway to the Texas Hill Country.
- Stone Oak – a growing community with a younger population growing to the north of Fair Oaks Ranch
What is San Antonio Known For?
Some of San Antonio’s signature attributes are mentioned below. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which includes the Alamo, four missions in the Mission Trail and the Rancho de las Cabras in Fleurville form Texas’ only UNESCO World Heritage site.
No visitor to San Antonio can ignore The Alamo – the former mission where less than 260 Texans under William Travis, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett held off an 1,800 strong Mexican Army over 13 days (Feb 23 through March 6) in 1836. Though the defenders lost and were slaughtered, their bravery allowed Sam Houston’s Texas Army to regroup and prepare themselves for final victory. This site inspired the famous battle cry “Remember the Alamo!”
The River Walk
San Antonio’s River Walk is a 15-mile stretch that winds through downtown and the central city, one level down from street level. With elaborate landscaping, restaurants, pubs, shops and music venues, it is a must see for one and all.
The Mission Trail and Other Historical Sites
This trail begins at the Alamo and winds to the Southeast for 9 miles, with four well-preserved missions – Nuestra Señora de la Concepción de Acuña, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, San Juan Capistrano and San Francisco de la Espada – illustrating the rich history of the area. Other historical sites, such as the 250+ years old Spanish Governor’s Palace, are worth visiting.
Sea World, Six Flags, Zoo and River Rafting along the Guadalupe River
San Antonio has many attractions for families with children, be it the SeaWorld or Zoo – two of the largest collections around the country, the rides and amusement options at Six Flags Fiesta Texas or tubing/rafting along the Guadalupe River.
Texas Hill Country
The undulating stretch of the Texas Hill Country along the highway between San Antonio and Austin is a pleasant drive out of town for a picnic, or a stopover to shop or eat in downtown Boerne’s Hill Country Mile. This is the home of the Texas German dialect.
The San Antonio Spurs are a premier NBA franchise – with 5 NBA championships over the past 21 years. Attending a Spurs’ game is an experience in itself.
Best Times to Visit and How to Get Around
The weather is mildest November through March, though visitors flock to San Antonio year around to visit the Alamo, take in the River Walk and have a good time.