In San Antonio's earliest days, the region was inhabited by various indigenous peoples, including the Payaya people. The Payaya people are believed to be the first Native Americans to encounter Europeans in the area during the late 1690s and early 1700s. The first Europeans to arrive in the area were Spanish explorers and missionaries, who made several expeditions to Texas, including San Antonio during this time.
Today, San Antonio is most famous for being the site of the Battle of the Alamo, a crucial point in the Texas Revolution that occurred in 1836. The Alamo, as it's often shortened to, has attained legendary status in American culture, having been romanticized across all forms of media in the almost 200 years since the battle. As a matter of fact, San Antonio has become so synonymous with the Alamo that the city's nickname is "Alamo City."
The city is also known as Spurs Nation, Mission City, Countdown City, San Antone, Military City, USA, and "River City," in honor of its second most popular tourist attraction, River Walk. No matter what you call it, San Antonio is as rich in culture, art, and new experiences as it is in history. With so much to see and do, it's no wonder that San Antonio is one of the most popular destinations in Texas.
Luggage Storage near Train Stations in San Antonio
While railways were once the main mode of transport to and from San Antonio, today, the area is primarily served by Amtrak buses and other forms of public transit. However, one station is still operating, and the stations that are no longer in-service are more than worth a visit.
San Antonio Station
Situated between the Alamodome and the former Sunset Station (see The Espee, below), San Antonio Station provides regularly scheduled Amtrak services for travelers arriving in and departing from San Antonio. First opened in 1998, the station typically sees upwards of 50,000 passengers per year.
San Antonio Station contains two sets of tracks and two platforms, one side platform, and one island platform. The commuter train, The Texas Eagle, runs daily services from the station. And, at the same time, The Sunset Limited
line provides services three times a week.
Furthermore, the station doubles as a connection point for Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoaches for routes extending to Brownsville, Harlingen, and McAllen, Texas. While at the station, be sure to check out the incredibly preserved Southern Pacific steam train that was donated to the city in 1956.
Newly anointed the Esspee, the station building is just outside San Antonio's downtown area, on East Commerce Street. The 10,000 acres (over 4046 hectares) facility, previously known as Southern Pacific Station (S.P.) and Sunset Station, is one of the city's most beautiful and iconic structures and has been since it was originally built in 1903
The Espee has undergone extensive restoration processes on its interior and exterior, including its gorgeous stained glass windows, intricate vaulted ceilings, and a grand staircase. Of particular note are the stained glass windows on the building's north and south facades that depict the emblem of Southern Pacific Lines and the seal of the State of Texas, respectively.
An authentic piece of San Antonio history, the depot that was once called "The Building of 1,000 Lights" is now living a second, revitalized life as a special event venue. In addition to holding concerts, the Espee hosts' weddings, conventions, banquets, meetings, and more for groups as intimate as 20 or as large as 20,000.
San Antonio's Historic International-Great Northern Depot
Also known as the Missouri Pacific Depot, or MoPac, San Antonio's Historic International and Great Northern Depot was once a crucial railway connection to the city. Initially opened in 1908, the former station is located at the corner of Houston Street and Medina Street at Cattlemen's Square.
The historic station is styled after traditional Spanish architecture, specifically, that of the Mission in San José. Atop its grand copper dome, the MoPac features a 15-foot tall (just over 4.5 meters) bronze statue of a Native American pointing a bow and arrow northeast. Once, during the early 1980s, the statue was stolen clean off the dome using heaving duty equipment, including a crane, before it was found damaged and defaced in a nearby field.
Later, in 1985, a local credit union purchased the station and has since fully restored it to its former glory. In addition to refurbishing the statue and returning it to its former home, the bank completely resurfaced the copper dome, restored all of the stained glass windows, and recreated the stained glass window murals.
Luggage Storage at San Antonio's Airports
Currently, San Antonio is home to one airport, the San Antonio International Airport. Nevertheless, there are several airports in the surrounding area that also serve the city.
San Antonio International Airport
The foremost airport serving the city of San Antonio, the San Antonio International Airport is located in uptown, only 8 miles (just under 13 kilometers) north of the Downtown area. Serving more than 8 million passengers annually, the airport consists of two terminals, A and B, and 25 total gates.
Since it first opened in 1942 as Alamo Field, the San Antonio International Airport has grown to accommodate more than 15 airlines providing regular service to over 50 destinations around the United States and Mexico. Some of the most popular regular routes to and from the airport include Dallas / Fort Worth, Denver, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Atlanta, and Dallas - Love flights.
The San Antonio International Airport provides passengers with a plethora of options for ground transportation upon arriving at the airport, such as rental cars, rideshares, shuttles, and taxi cabs. Additionally, the airport is home to more than 40 shops, restaurants, cafes, and gourmet food trucks, so that passengers can fuel up before heading out to explore the city.
Austin Bergstrom International Airport
Previously the Bergstrom Air Force Base site, the Austin Bergstrom International Airport is the third-busiest airport in the state. Located around 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Austin and 92 miles (almost 150 kilometers) from San Antonio, the airport is just under an hour and a half drive away from the city's Downtown area.
Austin Bergstrom International Airport consists of two terminals. However, on average, the Barbara Jordan Terminal handles more flights than the lesser utilized South Terminal. Typically, the airport sees more than 12 million domestic and international passengers per year, departing and arriving from more than 75 regularly scheduled destinations worldwide via 18 commercial airlines.
Along with permanent and rotating art exhibits, visitors at the airport are also treated to regular instrumental performances throughout the day at various gates throughout the Barbara Jordan Terminal. If you're arriving or departing via the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, be sure to stop in for a bite to eat and a bit of light shopping at the airport's AUS Retail Center.
Victoria Regional Airport
Sitting 123 miles (almost 198 kilometers) from Downtown San Antonio, Victoria Regional Airport provides all manner of aviation services to Victoria, Texas, and its surrounding areas. Primarily the site of general and military aircraft operations, the airport's only passenger destinations are George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas.
Victoria Regional Airport was first established as Foster Field in 1941 when it functioned as a training flight school for United States Army Air Forces. After years of rotating between active and inactive duty, the airport was officially given its current title in 1976.
The current facilities at Victoria Regional Airport include two runways and a helipad, and a single terminal building. Inside the airport, passengers can visit Sky Restaurant or the airport's lounge area while enjoying free parking and Wi-Fi services.
What to do in San Antonio
- Stroll down the 15-mile (a little over 24 kilometers) long River Walk, a city park and pedestrian street that winds through the city along the San Antonio River.
- Spend a night with the vaqueros (Spanish for cowboys) at Tejas Rodeo Company or the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.
- Take the whole family out for a day of thrills at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. And, don't forget to pack your bathing suits for the water park where you can ride the world's steepest water slide, the Bahama Blaster.
- Visit The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its four Spanish Colonial Missions: Concepción, Espada, San José, and San Juan.
- Check out the museums and artisan shops in La Villita Historic Arts Village, one of the city's first established neighborhoods.
- Ride the San Antonio Zoo Eagle Train Ride and the Zootennial Carousel at the San Antonio Zoo, one of the country's largest zoos and home to over 750 species of animals and insects.
- Work on your short game (or your long game) and score a hole-in-one at one of the city's more than 50 golf courses.
- Traverse a sprawling outdoor maze and explore the Natural Bridge Caverns, one of the largest known cavern systems in the United States.
San Antonio's Weather
San Antonio's climate is classified as subtropical due to its sweltering, humid summer months and cold to mild winter months. While snow in San Antonio is rare during the winter, rain falls relatively regularly. The city sees a little over 32 inches (820 millimeters) of precipitation annually.
Locals recommend aiming for March to April or October to November to avoid the summer heat when planning your trip to San Antonio. However, if heat is what you're looking for, then try to arrive sometime between June and August, as the temperature in the city averages 82.5� Farenhieght (28� Celcius), with highs of 96� Farenhieght (36� Celcius).
Fun Facts About San Antonio
- There's a heart-shaped island on the San Antonio River where more than 220 couples walk down the aisle every year; the island is known as Marriage Island.
- San Antonio's San Pedro Park is the second oldest park in America and the oldest park in Texas. It officially opened to the public in 1852.
- Since 1891, the city has held an annual 10-day festival known as Fiesta San Antonio in honor of those lost in the battles of San Jacinto and the Alamo.
- The city is home to the tallest sculpture of cowboy boots in the world. The 25 feet tall (more than 7.5 meters) boots sit outside the North Star Mall and weigh in at over 10,000 pounds (more than 4535 kilograms).
- Upwards of 1.5 million San Antonians reside in the Alamo City, making it the second-most populous city in Texas and the seventh-ost populous city in the U.S.