Greetings Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, and welcome to 24 hours in San Antonio! Of course, 24 hours in San Antonio is not nearly enough time to see this wonderful place.
San Antonio is the seventh biggest city in the United States and the second biggest city in Texas. As I always say, if it’s big enough for Texas, it’s big enough for you.
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San Antonio is famous for many things. It was one of the largest settlements in the Spanish colonies. Later, it was the location of a major battle between Texas and Mexico.
Of course, in my household, San Antonio is most famous for being Pee Wee Herman’s destination when a dastard stole his bicycle and a fraudulent psychic told Pee Wee it was in the basement of the Alamo. (The Alamo doesn’t have a basement.)
However, whether or not you be a proud Texan/Spaniard/Mexican/Tim Burton fan, San Antonio is sure to have something to surprise and delight you. Join me for a jam-packed 24 hours in San Antonio, and we’ll definitely mess with Texas!
24 Hours in San Antonio
Where to Stay?
San Antonio, as I mentioned, is huge. So there’s no shortage of places to stay here. But I chose to spend my 24 hours in San Antonio at the Drury Inn and Suites.
The location was conveniently near The Alamo, and there was breakfast included every morning. Plus, they have a fun “happy hour” special where you can get free drinks and snacks, which was a delightful and relaxing treat. So I recommend it wholeheartedly!
If you’re looking for a great deal on this hotel, just click here.
And if you’d rather explore tons of other hotels in San Antonio, no matter what your budget, click here! This search engine will help you find the best places for your taste and budget so you can really enjoy your 24 hours in San Antonio.
24 Hours in San Antonio
Morning: King William Historic District
The King William Historic District is a neighborhood just south of Downtown San Antonio that contains some of the most beautiful houses in the United States. It is a perfect place to start your 24 hours in San Antonio wandering around and taking photos of gorgeous architectural features and weird cats who don’t respect property boundaries.
24 Hour Tip
I strongly recommend getting the hop on hop off bus/river cruise combination ticket to get around San Antonio. The bus will take you to both the King William District and the Museum of Art, and I found it to be the easiest and most affordable way of getting around San Antonio.
You can check rates and availability for the bus easily by going here.
Then get ready for a day of adventure!
All you have to do is get off at the King William stop. It’s just a teeny, eeny walk from the stop to our first historic home. They don’t let the hop on hop off buses on the narrow streets of the King William neighborhood.
Be kind to this cat if he chooses to welcome you to the King William Historic District. Don’t mess with Texan cats, as they say. If you’d rather have a little more direction than just a random photo of someone’s pet, I am happy to provide…
Approximately Top 5: King William Historic District
1) Anton Wulff House
You should start your morning at the Anton Wulff House because it used to be home to the San Antonio Conservation Society. So you have them to thank for all these amazingly preserved houses.
You won’t be able to pick up a map of the historic homes here anymore, but everything is online now. Just go here and you’ll see where all the most interesting homes in the King William District are.
What would King William himself make of all this modern technology?
2) photograph the gingerbread houses
The King William District was first settled by German immigrants to San Antonio in the 1860s. It was these German expats whom we have to thank for the gemutlich Victorian gingerbread homes. Apparently a lot of Germans did really well for themselves in San Antonio, and the proof is that they could afford these urban palaces.
But if the District was named by Germans, shouldn’t it be known as the Kaiser Wilhelm District then? Am I missing something here?
Oh well, if it had been called the Kaiser Wilhelm District, it just would have been renamed during WWI, I am sure. I mean if the British royal family couldn’t keep its name, I don’t think a bunch of randos in Texas would be allowed to keep theirs.
3) Steves Homestead Museum
Though the German immigrants who settled this neighborhood were very successful in the United States, they still hung on to their German heritage. For evidence of this, be sure to visit the Steves Homestead, clearly labeled on your walking tour map.
It was recently sold, so you can no longer tour the interior and learn about the lives of the residents. But the first time I went to spend 24 hours in San Antonio, the museum was still open, so I want to share my (totally legal!) photos of the interior with you.
You would have seen lots of examples of the Steves family’s German pride, like this German language napkin hook.
If there are any German-speaking readers of this blog, please email me a translation of these napkin hooks at email@example.com
4) Villa Finale
Fortunately, if you want to check out a historic house tour, we’ve still got this Italianate stunner known as the Villa Finale. The docents here are friendly and hilarious, so I say the entrance fee is worth every penny.
The Villa Finale was built back in 19th century, when this nabe was full of rich Germans. But according to my docents, the King William District got run down and shabby, and eventually this gorgeous manse was being used as a house of ill repute.
Enter a gentleman with the fabulous named of Walter Nold Mathis, who was a notorious collector. My man Mathis owned over 12,000 art objects, which are on display at various times in the Villa Finale. Don’t believe me? Just check out this photo of but one of his collections:
Mathis not only restored the Villa Finale, he helped restore many other homes in the district, encouraging other historical minded folks to move it. Thus we can thank Mathis for this beautiful neighborhood we can all enjoy today.
We can also thank him for this deranged collection of pottery:
Yeah, it never stops.
5) The Guenther House
The Guenther family was another German clan who settled in the neighborhood, and they made their money in flowers. No, that can’t be right; they made their money in flour. That makes sense, since everyone eats flour.
Today you are lucky because you can tour the Guenther House for free or enjoy tasty baked goods made with wholesome flour at the Guenther House restaurant. In fact, this is where I suggest getting lunch.
You have to experience the Guenther flour by ordering some of their fluffy biscuits with real sausage gravy. Your arteries might not thank me for this recommendation, but your tummy most certainly will.
As for other sides, I recommend getting a scrambled egg, a side of tender bacon, and some Texas-appropriate jalapeno. It’s a little sweet and a little spicy, just like I like my men.
24 Hour Treasure
I loved visiting San Antonio around Christmas time because the historical homes look so beautiful decorated for Christmas.
They even had a cute gingerbread house in the Guenther House store. It looks just like one of the houses in the King William District! But it’s better than the historic houses because you can eat it.
24 Hours in San Antonio
Afternoon: San Antonio Museum of Art
Now that we’re fed, it’s time to head back on the Hop on Hop Off Bus and scoot on over to the San Antonio Museum of Art. This is the perfect place to spend the afternoon of your 24 hours in San Antonio because it can get crazy hot in SA, and the museum is extremely air conditioned.
The San Antonio Museum of Art has a most impressive collection, appropriate for one of America’s largest cities. I can’t share every single collection with you, but I’ll be able to share at least…
Three Fun Facts: San Antonio Museum of Art
1) Is all the art from Texas or something?
Absolutely not! The San Antonio Museum of Art has an impressive collection of ancient art, and I recommend starting here. You can see these authentic canopic jars from Egypt. Apparently the organs that were contained in these jars belonged to a man named Pekh-abekh-neith.
I really wonder how Pekh-abekh-neith feels about the fact that people thousands of years into the future know his name because they’ve seen the jars where his organs used to be.
Internet Strangers, I ask you to kindly remember my name, Stella Jane. And that’s because I don’t want my only claim to fame to be that someone cut out all my organs and stuffed them in jars with animal heads on top.
My other favorite work of ancient art at the museum is this Greek jar with a dude’s face on it. Look how skeptical this man seems! I bet he was the life of every Greek party.
2) What’s the best collection at the museum?
That’s a subjective question, but my favorite was the collection of Japanese art. This cranky gentleman above is Aizen Myo-o, one of the guardian kings of Buddhist truth.
Apparently his image was considered to be so powerful that it had to be kept hidden from sight most of the time. I think that’s a shame because he’s so beautiful that everyone should be able to look at him all the time.
On the other hand, a sacred statue that is wrongfully brought to an art museum in San Antonio and starts cursing randos seems like a really good premise for a horror museum. Get on it, Hollywood! You could call it Art Attack.
The collection of Japanese folding screens is also quite lovely, especially this glimmering image of cherry blossoms. Bonus! If that statue comes to life and starts attacking you, you can hide behind this screen.
3) OK, but what about the American art?
There’s tons! My favorite American piece is this painting “Bronzeville at Night” by Archibald Motley. Bronzeville is a historically Black neighborhood in Chicago, and Motley really brings it to life here. You almost feel like you could step inside the painting to join the throng of dancers (or get away from a killer statue).
And if you’re looking for South American art, check out this 19th century Bolivian painting of San Isidro Labrador. San Isidro was a farmer, and his image is extremely popular in Spanish colonial painting. I’ve seen many images of San Isidro in New Mexico, and he always looks like a simple farmer.
That’s not the case in this painting. This San Isidro has done real nice for himself, is what it looks like. I can’t imagine he’s plowing his own fields in those fancy pants.
24 Hour Tip
Those are all the secrets of San Antonio that I can share with you today.
You’ll have to go ahead and book the bus tour by going here to find the rest!
24 Hours in San Antonio
Evening: Dinner at Biga on the Banks
Biga on the Banks is often rated one of the top fine dining restaurants in San Antonio, and it is conveniently located right on the Riverwalk. The food is New American. I suppose this means that the ingredients are mostly local and seasonal, but inspiration is taken from various world cuisines. It’s a real classy joint, so leave your Texas tuxedos at home!
My appetizer was a light and refreshing Texas watermelon and pork belly salad. I had never even heard of Texas watermelon before! It is wonderfully sweet and red, just like the blood of Davy Crockett! I wish I could find this salad more easily back home in New York.
The main course was the Hill Country venison and grilled quail. This is like a play on surf n’ turf except with quail instead of seafood. Bird n’ turf? Wing n’ hoof? Meat n’ clawed feet? I feel like I can do better than this.
The local venison was my favorite part. It was rich and flavorful without being gamey. However, I also liked the rich goat cheese tart and crispy Brussels sprouts that came on the side. It was like having a Thanksgiving feast except better because I didn’t have to deal with any of my relatives.
24 hour treat: sticky toffee pudding
The specialty of the house at Biga on the Banks is the decadent sticky toffee pudding served with a creme anglaise. I love how beautifully shaped the toffee pudding is. It looks like something you could serve to the King.
And despite the rich food I ate that day, the dessert was not too heavy for me to enjoy comfortably. Germany for lunch, England for dessert, I always say! It’s the only way to end your 24 hours in San Antonio.
24 Hours in San Antonio
Tools For Travel
- A cell charger so that you’ll be able to keep taking photos all during your 24 hours in San Antonio
- The best travel guide to San Antonio.
- The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds on our 24 hours in San Antonio
- These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take you on a journey of self-discovery.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in San Antonio!
What would you want to do with 24 hours in San Antonio? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in San Antonio? And where’s the best place to hide in an art museum if a psychotic statue is trying to kill you? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. I only have so much time…before the statue claims me.
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in San Antonio.
If you want to add 24 hours in the Texas Hill Country, click here. And if you’d like to add a couple of itineraries for nearby Austin, I’ve got you covered here.
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I’ll be happy to translate those hooks if you have a more square on pic. It’s the old German script, so it’s harder to read as the camera angles away. The first two are glass cloth and plate cloth (more likely towel).
I believe the third hook reads tassentuch? Which would be tea cup cloth, I think? And the next would be Messertuch or knife cloth. I guess they had a different cloth for each item. I love the Guenther House for breakfast!