San Antonio, Texas
I've always had an affinity for historical sites, so upon landing in San Antonio, The Alamo was the first place I wanted to visit. Everyone had told me "it's so small" - and you know what, it kind of was! The original church structure still stands, with the surrounding land now turned into a gorgeous park (peep the lovely, tangled tree. This tree was relocated to the area in the early 1900's, but was originally planted in 1850!).
All around The Alamo stood lines of gift shops and novelty destinations. My tourist-senses were flying off the charts. There was a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, a Madame Tussauds, simulator experiences, mazes, and tons of gift shops. It struck me as odd, to see something so old and significant standing unbothered amidst the bustle of strange attractions, but also wildly endearing. From just a block away, you couldn't even see The Alamo, for it waited in shadows of taller buildings offering frozen yogurt or tie-dyed t-shirts. (And oh yeah, we definitely got some gelato)
The grounds felt somber, with a lost, unsettled energy as we walked through the pathways and entered the church. I marveled at the architecture that still stood, while parents walked hand-in-hand with children through flowers on the other side of the walls.
When the sun sets, make your way to the Plaza de Las Islas Canarias for a historical work of art illuminated on an old cathedral. The video art projection, accompanied by music, tells the story of San Antonio with stunning visuals. The whole show lasts about twenty minutes, and only happens on certain nights with specific time slots. Make sure to check out the website before heading over for more info, and get there early. Seating is limited, but there is definitely room to stand - and a food truck nearby if you're lucky! https://www.mainplaza.org/
We stayed on The Riverwalk, one of the most popular spots in the city. The river winds down below street level, lined by shops and restaurants. During lunchtime, or in the evening, it was relaxing to stroll along the water to the clinking of glasses and cool breeze in shelter from the hot, Texas sun. I felt fully immersed staying along the Riverwalk, although I will mention that there were a fair amount of popular chain restaurants. And if that's your thing - then, great! You can expect a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Joe's Crab Shack, and a Hard Rock Cafe.
If you're looking for something a little more unique, then I would recommend:
Rita's on the River (Mexican)
Boudro's (a bistro offering a mix - but great soup and pasta!)
Along the river, you can also find bars to buy margaritas to go! The long waterway creates an opportunity for boat tours, which can be purchased along the Riverwalk.
San Antonio is a stunning collection of historic architecture, touristy fun, culture, and excellent food. I may or may not have eaten tacos four times in five days. I would definitely go back and take time to visit some other neighborhoods, which each have their own vibe and adventures to offer. Also, I was devastated that Jenny Lawson's Nowhere Bookshop was still under construction and not officially open yet, and 100% plan on flying back down just to see it.