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Where to Stay in San Antonio: 9 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

Where to Stay in San Antonio: 9 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

Planning a vacation to San Antonio? Heck yeah! This Texas town absolutely rocks, with a ton of great things to do in the city.

If you’re headed to San Antonio, also known as the Alamo City, you might wonder where the best hotels and neighborhoods are. So, we’ve done the hard work for you and created a list of the best areas, vacation rentals, and hotels in San Antonio so you can plan accordingly.

Located in the Texas hill country, San Antonio is the perfect destination for anyone. It can be a romantic getaway, a family vacation, a girls’ weekend, or a fun solo trip.

San Antonio is known for many things, including delicious Tex-Mex food, the San Antonio Spurs, the beautiful downtown Riverwalk, the Alamo, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. There are accommodations across all price points, from budget hotels to luxury hotels and vacation rentals.

If you’re having a girl’s weekend, you may want to stay on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio, while families may prefer to stay in northwest San Antonio near Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld. Whether you’re visiting San Antonio to catch a Spurs game, explore the city’s hiking and biking trails, or discover some of the most delicious food, our guide can help you figure out where to stay in San Antonio.

San Antonio Full Day Historic City Tour
1. San Antonio Full-Day Historic City Tour Top Recommendation

If you're looking for a great introduction to the historic city of San Antonio, look no further than the San Antonio Full-Day Historic City Tour. This tour covers all the major highlights of the city, from Mission Concepcion to downtown markets, parks, squares, and eateries. With a knowledgeable guide at the helm, you can be sure you won't miss any of the key details that make San Antonio such a special place.

San Antonio Austin Scenic Night Tour River Walk Cruise
2. San Antonio/Austin: Scenic Night Tour & River Walk Cruise

Looking for a unique and electric way to spend your night in San Antonio? Then look no further than this scenic night tour and River Walk cruise! You'll start your evening with a 45-minute narrated drive around the city, getting a feel for its rich history and culture. Then, you'll head to the Tower of the Americas for some breathtaking views of the city skyline. Finally, you'll relax on a nighttime cruise down the River Walk, taking in the sights and sounds of this incredible city.

San Antonio River Walk Cruise
3. San Antonio River Walk Cruise and Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Looking for a comprehensive way to see all the best that San Antonio has to offer? Look no further than the San Antonio River Walk Cruise and Hop-On Hop-Off Tour! This great tour package combines a relaxing river cruise with a scenic hop-on hop-off bus tour, so you can see all the city's most popular sights at your own pace. On the river cruise, you'll enjoy live narration as you float down the San Antonio River, past popular sites like the Alamo and Pearl Brewery. And on tour, you can explore world-renowned museums like the San Antonio Museum of Art, or shop and dine in historic Market Square.

 TLDR;

Where to Stay in San Antonio, Texas

1. The San Antonio Riverwalk

San Antonio Riverwalk Aerial View

If you’re visiting for the first time and don’t know where to stay in San Antonio, the River Walk is your best choice! Located in downtown San Antonio, the 15-mile pedestrian-friendly river walk follows along the San Antonio River and is the #1 destination for tourists. Home to the very best of San Antonian culture, food, nightlife, and San Antonio hotels, you really haven’t been to San Antonio if you haven’t experienced the Riverwalk.

Things to do at the Riverwalk

  • The San Antonio Riverwalk itself is the prime attraction. You should definitely walk the 2.5-mile stretch of the Riverwalk known as the Downtown Reach, where most of the restaurants and nightlife are located. I highly recommend you take a Riverwalk boat cruise while you’re at it.
  • Go on your own San Antonio art crawl. The Riverwalk is home to a bunch of arty endeavors from street art to fantastic galleries. Discover the contributions at the River Walk Public Art Garden. Definitely visit the San Antonio Museum of Art in the Museum Reach section of the Riverwalk. See a replica of an old mail Stagecoach at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Whatever you do, be sure to contribute to the arty vibe by taking pictures from the various bridges crossing the river, with the beautiful view of the San Antonio River behind you.
  • Head to the adjacent River Center Mall for indoor activities like bungee jumping, a ropes course, and Legoland Discovery Center San Antonio. That’s right! There’s only a flipping LEGOLAND here, festooned with exhibits, rides, and millions of teeny-tiny bricks!
  • Tired? Thirsty? Go to Tex’s Riverwalk Sports bar and grab a bev and a bite while you catch the game. If you’re looking for something a little more touristy in your vacation watering hole, have a drink at the oldest bar on the river walk, Esquire Tavern, which opened right after Prohibition – considering it’s still open, it must have been pretty popular once booze was made legal again.
  • And if we’re talking touristy, make sure you look at the merchandise and souvenirs that local vendors are selling along the San Antonio River. Listen to mariachi music as you peruse and purchase, enjoying the beauty and the lights of this utterly magical part of town.

Where to Stay at the Riverwalk

See Related: San Antonio Go City Review: Is Go City Worth It?

2. Northeast San Antonio

Northeast San Antonio Night Lights

Northeast San Antonio is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodations that are still accessible to all that San Antonio has to offer. Just a few miles north of downtown on Highway 281, Northeast San Antonio has a lot to offer visitors. This area is the best if you’re wondering where to stay in San Antonio for budget-friendly accommodations close to Morgan’s Wonderland.

Things to do in Northeast San Antonio

  • Not feeling Texan enough? If you want to adorn your feet with kickin’ cowboy boots, head to Cavender’s Boot City to try on a pair (or three). There’s nothing like cowboy boots to make you feel like a true Texan! And that’s not all; they also sell a wide range of cowboy hats and accessories to complete your authentic Texan image. Yeehaws all around!
  • Then wear your new cowboy kicks to the Texas Transportation Museum, a hit for budding train conductors (and their families) with the most extensive outdoor “G” gauge railroad in the state of Texas. If model trains aren’t your thing, worry not, as there are plenty of bigger locomotives and trains to ride and admire. They also host a number of fun, themed events throughout the year!
  • No doubt after all those trains and gratuitous yeehawing, you’ll be famished. Stop at Baysea’s Seafood if you’re craving some delicious fried catfish. While they’re famous for their fried catfish, they have plenty of other seafood options, including a Soul Food Sunday menu.
  • If you’re traveling with kids (and somehow they weren’t satisfied by the Texas Transport Museum – philistines), you can’t miss Morgan’s Wonderland, a 25-acre fully accessible park for all kids of all abilities, the first of its kind in the world. It’s chock-full of terrific rides and the best part is that admission is free for anyone with special needs! And that’s not all; during the summer, you can visit its adjacent water park, the recently opened Morgan’s Inspiration Island for a splashing good time!
  • San Antonio is a city best enjoyed outdoors. For outdoor fun, head to Comanche Lookout Park, a 96-acre park with walking trails and picnic tables. It’s also the fourth-highest point in San Antonio at 1,340 feet. Not enough? If you’re visiting San Antonio with kids or dogs, they will enjoy McAllister Park, a Northeast San Antonio favorite. You could spend all day here with over 1,000 acres to roam, picnic tables, a dog park, and 15 miles of trails to wander to your heart’s content.

Where to Stay in Northeast San Antonio

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3. Downtown San Antonio

Downtown San Antonio Scenery

While the San Antonio Riverwalk is downtown’s most popular attraction, there’s much more to see and explore in the downtown area! Downtown San Antonio is pedestrian-friendly, but you’ll also see many people tooling around on bikes or scooters, riding in a horse-drawn carriage, or just catching the city bus – which I totally recommend for its price and ease of use. If you’re visiting San Antonio and are looking for a place to rest your head that’s close to theaters, museums, markets, and shops, the downtown area is for you!

Things to do in Downtown San Antonio

  • Texas’ Spanish and Mexican heritage is deeply ingrained and one of the most fascinating and charming aspects of this great city. If this sort of thing is your bag, I suggest you visit one of the city’s five Spanish missions, the most famous one to be precise; the Alamo. This ostensibly run-down and nondescript old building is one of the most hallowed landmarks in Texas and the U.S. as a whole, being made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015 (along with the other four missions that make up San Antonio Missions National Historical Park).
    Centrally located in downtown San Antonio, this mission, turned fortress is a must-see for history buffs, with old bullet holes still visible from the horrific battle that was waged here during the Texas Revolution. Along with the Riverwalk, this is an essential stop for anyone vacationing in San Antonio.
  • Not gonna lie, the Alamo and remembering the Alamo (don’t worry Sam Houston, I got you fam) while important, is pretty heavy. For something a little more lighthearted, you should head to the Amazing Mirror Maze, just a couple minutes walk from the Alamo. You try your luck at various escape rooms and mirror mazes, one is even in the dark! They even have a cool laser vault experience and an in-house candy store to reward your puzzle-solving efforts!
  • Still hungry after all that candy? Well, man cannot live on sweetmeats alone. So dine at the famous Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia (or Mi Tierra in short) for a unique dining experience in downtown San Antonio. This incredible, unique 24-hour bakery and restaurant is one of the best places in town to sample a range of top Tex-Mex cuisine. Plus it’s conveniently located near the El Mercado shopping center.
  • Speaking of which! If you’re a shopaholic or you’re on the hunt for some souvenirs, don’t miss out on a shopping binge at El Mercado (The Market) for gifts and local goods, and have your caricature done while you’re there!
  • Looking for some peace and quiet? Perhaps you’re interested in some of the city’s most interesting events? Wanna see the city from a unique angle? Kids and adults alike will enjoy a trip to Hemisfair. This fantastic park, hosting charming sculptures, water features, and a kids’ playground is also where you’ll find the Institute of Texan Cultures, where you can learn about the state’s multicultural history.

    If you aren’t afraid of heights, you can head to the Observation Deck of the 750ft tall Tower of the Americas and snap some pics. Check out their calendar, as Hemisfair hosts a number of great regular and one-off events including workouts, story times, and even a night market!

Where to Stay in Downtown San Antonio

4. Alamo Heights

Alamo Heights, located just a few miles north of downtown off Highway 281, has a much slower pace and is much less touristy than the Riverwalk and downtown San Antonio. The area is centrally located and includes museums, upscale restaurants, and entertainment for all ages.

If we’re getting all technical, Alamo Heights is actually its own city that San Antonio has gradually swallowed up over the years. It’s not so much Mortal Engines, as it is the same sort of thing in Los Angeles County, where people often lump cities like Santa Monica in with the City of Los Angeles when they say “LA”. That said, being surrounded by San Antonio proper, and being home to a number of great attractions, it’s well worth paying a visit and staying a while if you’re considering a trip to San Antonio.

Things to do in Alamo Heights

  • Still looking for gifts, souvenirs, or some great deals? Head to the Alamo Quarry Market for an afternoon of shopping. Built on the former site of an abandoned cement factory, you can’t miss it with its four tall smokestacks left over from the area’s original factory days. You can find several popular brands here, as well as a few well-known eateries if you need to fuel up.
  • A trip to Alamo Heights isn’t complete without visiting the McNay Art Museum, which provides 25 acres of wonder, beauty, and inspiration. Founded in 1954, the McNay Art Museum was the first modern art museum to be established in Texas. It has since been expanded to include galleries featuring sculptures, medieval and Renaissance works as well as more examples of 20th Century American and European modern art. Today, its collection exceeds 20,000 pieces.
  • If you get hungry while you’re out and about, head to 410 Diner. Remember in the 80s when the 1950s had something of a revival? Maybe you’re not that old – but I am. Anyway, this awesome diner, established in the early 1980s, was one of the first 50s-themed restaurants to spring up in Texas. Comfort food is the specialty at 410 Diner, with menu items like Chicken Fried Steak, Shrimp Poboy, and a banging BLT that will make you cry it’s so good.
  • If you’ve got kids in tow, or you’re just something of a museum bug, a trip to the Witte Museum is highly necessary! The museum offers a unique interactive experience that teaches visitors about science, art, culture, and history. They also host a great number of educational programs and fun events, such as the famous Witte Game Dinner fundraiser, which sells out every year!
  • After all that good stuff, you’ll probably be wanting to get outside for some fresh air and to stretch your legs. If this is the case, Olmos Park is perfect for hiking, biking, playground climbing, or getting those wiggles out of your system.

Where to Stay in Alamo Heights

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Dallas, Texas

5. Northwest San Antonio

Sea World San Antonio
Mark Taylor Cunningham / Shutterstock.com
  • Okay, so we covered the San Antonio Riverwalk (love that) and the Alamo (a sobering and absolutely essential attraction), can you think of anything else San Antonio is famous for? No? Anyone? Six Flags, my noble traveler!
    If you’re looking for adventure, get your keister over to Six Flags Fiesta Texas where you can ride on the world’s steepest dive coaster, the Diabolical’s Cliffhanger. Don’t worry, there are other ideas and attractions for vertigo sufferers. Like me.
  • As well as Six Flags, San Antonio is also famously home to its own SeaWorld. Covering around 250 acres of ocean-y goodness, you can learn all about fish and marine mammals, or sit in the Splash Zone at a SeaWorld San Antonio show, where you’ll get drenched by an orca.
  • The fish frenzy doesn’t end at SeaWorld, oh no! If getting drenched by orcas wasn’t enough to satiate your marine biology needs, you can feed a shark at the San Antonio Aquarium! At various other interactive enclosures in the aquarium, you can also hand-feed sting rays, octopuses, and much more!
  • Now you’ve fed the entire captive marine population of San Antonio, it’s time to feed yourself! Stop in for extra moist brisket, sausage, and ribs at Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q if you’re looking for delicious smoked meats. Then, if you still have room, satisfy your sweet tooth with some of their famous banana pudding. Again, so good I nearly cried.
  • If you’d like to experience the outdoors, Government Canyon State Natural Area should be on your list. It’s perfect for outdoorsy adults who want to hike, bike, geocache, or birdwatch, but kids will especially love the 110-million-year-old dinosaur tracks and playscape.

Where to Stay in Northwest San Antonio

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6. Eastside San Antonio

Game at AT&T Center
image by volcanogirl/TripAdvisor

If you’re deciding where to stay in San Antonio, the Eastside is known for its diversity, with restaurants and landmarks that showcase the city’s Black culture. Ellis Alley was one of San Antonio’s first African American settlements, from which the city’s east side was based.

Eastside San Antonio includes St. Paul Square and Dignowity Hill. There is a ton to be learned about the history of this community here. Eastside San Antonio is also a great place to catch sporting events, as well as live theatre, music, and dance performances.

If there’s another thing I love about Eastside San Antonio, it’s the food scene. There are a ton of great eateries in town (a few of which I will mention), making this part of the city an excellent choice if you want to taste the best of San Antonio.

Things to do in Eastside

  • If you’re a fan of basketball, know that you’re in Spurs country! Head on over to the AT&T Center to catch a San Antonio Spurs Game. But that’s not all – the AT&T Center also plays host to some of the biggest acts visiting San Antonio, so be sure to check their events calendar.
  • You might also be able to catch another San Antonio Spurs game at the Alamodome, the former home of the Spurs. The team moved out to the AT&T Center a few years back, but they still show up for the odd game. Other than that, the Alamodome also hosts various concerts, as well as football games and soccer matches throughout the year.
  • Want to get some fresh air? Need a place for some quiet contemplation? Looking to play some ball yourself? Visit Martin Luther King Park. This recently refurbished park has sculptures and water features to soothe the soul, as well as picnic areas to hang with the fam and sporting facilities to help you build up a sweat.
  • If you want to catch a show or learn more about the city’s rich African American history see what’s going on at the Carver Community Cultural Center. They have a stacked calendar of performances and they also host educational camps and classes.
  • As I mentioned, this neck of the woods is great for foodies. Need to protein load? Head to Dignowity Meats for a Texas-sized smoked meat sandwich you’ll dream about forever. Craving Italian? Order a giant pizza at Big Lou’s and watch them bring the 62″ pie to your table! If you’re hungry for paella, head to Toro Kitchen & Bar for delicious Spanish cuisine, tapas, and specialty cocktails. And to wash it all down, enjoy a flight of beer at the Alamo Beer Company!

Where to Stay in Eastside

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

7. Monte Vista/Alta Vista/Olmos Park

Monte Vista Scenery
Darrylpearson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The area of Monte Vista is one of the largest historic districts in the United States. Olmos Park, adjacent to Monte Vista, is known for its unique architecture, while Alta Vista features locally-owned bars and eateries off the beaten bath. There’s a lot of ground to cover here! If you’re deciding where to stay in San Antonio that’s a little less touristy without lacking in substance, this historic district is great for appreciating some of the best hidden gems the city offers.

Things to do in Monte Vista/Alta Vista/Olmos Park

  • Something of a stargazer? Learn about black holes, stars, and planets at the Scobee Planetarium with their Friday night presentations. Then, head to the Scalan Observatory for real-life viewing for the best stargazing experience in town!
  • If you’re looking for a park for a decent stroll, or you’re interested in San Antonio’s history, take a trip to San Pedro Springs Park. The site of one of the earliest settlements in the San Antonio area, it’s also one of the oldest public parks in the country. Hit up one of the park’s nature trails or admire the lake. Alternatively, pay a visit to the San Pedro Library, and see what’s playing at the San Pedro Playhouse.
  • If you’re looking for something a little more unique (or want to thank your car rental company) get your car washed at the Cove, or just enjoy their delicious SOL food (that’s Sustainable Organic Local” – not “Sh*t Out of Luck”) and extensive collection local beers.
  • If SOL food just won’t cut it, grab the best burger in San Antonio at Chris Madrid’s. And yes, according to the locals, it is twice-over the best burger in the city. The Cheddar Cheezy is the way to go for most folks, but I couldn’t;t get enough of their Flaming Jalapeno Cheddar burger.
  • The San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden is one of my favorite quiet spots in town to take a tour. Built on the site of an old quarry (the stones from which having been used in many early and historic San Antonio buildings,) this garden is known for its lush landscaping, stunning flowers, and beautiful koi ponds.

Where to Stay in Monte Vista/Alta Vista/Olmos Park

8. La Cantera

Street in La Cantera San Antonio

La Cantera is located in north central San Antonio and includes high-end shopping, entertainment, and family-friendly dining. The area has several shopping centers, numerous attractions, and a couple of fantastic resorts. Consequently, this place can get a bit touristy – but I suppose that’s San Antonio in a nutshell anyway!

Things to do in La Cantera

  • If you like shopping, you’ll enjoy the Shops at La Cantera, an open-air mall with Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, H&M, Apple stores, and a number of other big brands for all your shopping needs.
  • I highly suggest that you stop by the Holocaust Memorial Museum for a self-guided tour. It provides a fascinating look at one of the darkest chapters of human history, featuring poignant exhibits and lessons about the importance of respect for our fellow man. It’s also free (with donations being most welcome), so you really have no excuse to not go.
  • Have you always wanted to know what free flying is like? Interested in skydiving but deathly afraid of heights (like me)? Head to iFly and find out for yourself! This incredible indoor skydiving experience allows you to feel the sensation of a freefall parachute drop, without being stupid enough to jump out of a plane. No Roman Candles here – only good times!
  • For an afternoon or evening of rip-roaring adventure, head to Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, where they have a multi-level indoor race track. If four-wheeled thrills just aren’t enough to satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie, try your hand at the zipline, and the other rides, before winding down in the arcade.
  • There are also great dining options in this part of San Antonio. After heading to the Rim for an afternoon of shopping, stop at Marco’s Pizza for lunch and then Lick Honest Ice Cream for a sweet treat. Alternatively, cool down with a frosty beverage at Hills & Dales Ice House. Only good vibes are allowed!

Where to Stay in La Cantera

See Related: Best Breweries in Austin, Texas

9. Pearl/Broadway Cultural Corridor

San Antonio Pearl District

You may not know about Pearl if you haven’t been to San Antonio. Pearl is part of the Riverwalk’s Museum Reach and is a top dining and entertainment destination.

The Historic Peal was originally the Pearl Brewery but is now a culinary and shopping destination for locals and tourists alike. The original brewery is now home to the gorgeous Hotel Emma, featuring over 100 modern rooms and being within easy striking distance of numerous culinary delights.

Things to do in the Pearl/Broadway Cultural Corridor Area

  • The Historic Pearl is the first (and potentially the only) you should explore in this part of town. You can buy a handcrafted Guayabera at Dos Carolinas, search for a new book at The Twig Book Shop, and top it off by enjoying a hand-crafted cocktail from Blue Box Bar while you sit outside and people-watch.
  • Need some serious red meat? Wanna sample some of the best brews Texas has to offer Have a burger and a cold beer at Tycoon Flats on St. Mary’s. This chilled neighborhood bar is a great place to stop by for hearty Tex-Mex food, craft beer, cocktails, and good times in the beer garden. It’s a great place to start a night out, as St. Mary’s Strip is also home to some of the best clubs in town.
  • Let’s say that you really want something really special to remember your trip to San Antonio, or maybe the airline lost your bags and you need some sharp clothes, stat! Either way, stop by Limatus Bespoke, a custom tailor, where you can commission skirts, shirts, suits, and more like a bigshot.
  • One of the best things to do with kids in San Antonio is to head to the San Antonio Zoo to see the afternoon giraffe feedings! This is an incredibly popular zoo that sees around 1 million visitors per year. Here you can learn about the 750 animal species that call this place home, spread across 13 awesome exhibits. There is also a model railway which will delight the wee ones!
  • If the kids are still in tow, a trip to The DoSeum, a simply superb children’s museum, is a perfect addition to your itinerary. This cool, compact, interactive museum is the ideal place to help kids learn about the world through play.

Where to Stay in the Pearl/Broadway Cultural Corridor Area

FAQs

Where is a good place to stay in San Antonio near the Alamo?

I have nothing but good things to say about the Menger Hotel. It’s a great sensibly-priced option.

What is the best area to stay in San Antonio?

It’s entirely subjective, but I really like Downtown San Antonio and the San Antonio River Walk. They’re close the most of the action and some of the best sights in the city.

What are the best neighborhoods to stay in San Antonio?

Again, entirely subjective. Alamo Heights is a good place if you want somewhere more peaceful to call home base. Eastside is great for the food. Downtown San Antonio and the River Walk are expensive, but very safe and fun parts of town.

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