5 Best Photo Opportunities in San Antonio
Lee Van Grack
1. The Panorama: Tower of the Americas Observation Deck
Constructed in 1968 in celebration of the San Antonio World's Fair, the Tower of the Americas building held the "tallest building in the U.S." title until the late 1990s. Today, most San Antonians agree, the absolute best view of the city is from the top of the tower. It's the only place where you can get a full 360-degree view of America's seventh largest city. It's big, and it reminds you that the state of Texas is huge. At night, the city lights give scenic San Antonio a glitzy, metropolitan feel: if you're dining in the restaurant, you may temporarily forget you're not in Chicago or New York.
"Skies Over Texas" is a 4-D theater experience that explores the state from a new vantage point. This is included in the ticket price.
Tower of the Americas
600 HemisFair Park
San Antonio, TX 78205
Sun-Thu 10AM-10PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-11PM
Adult $10.95, Senior/Military $9.95, Children $8.95
2. The Floral: San Antonio Botanical Garden
The San Antonio Botanical Garden is divided into several sections, highlighting certain types of plants or ecosystems. The Native Texas Trail gives a glimpse of the Hill Country, East Texas Piney Woods and South Texas ecosystems, while the conservatories house palms, cacti, orchids, bromeliads and other specialized plants. Stroll through the Japanese Garden or inspect heirloom plants in the Old-Fashioned Garden. If you're visiting in early spring, you'll catch the wisteria arbor in bloom, one of many visitors' favorite photo opportunities.
San Antonio Botanical Garden
San Antonio, TX 78209
Adult $8, Senior/Military/Student $6, Child (ages 3-13) $5
3. The Hustle and Bustle: River Walk
River Walk is an extensive series of paths and parks lining the river as it weaves its way through downtown. A major attraction for tourists and locals, River Walk is flanked by restaurants, bars, shops and museums. As trite as it sounds, the energy and excitement are almost palpable here, morning, noon and night. The crowds are diverse, in true San Antonio fashion, and live music and festivals are frequent. The best approach to getting some good photos is to wear comfortable shoes, and see what happens. Scenic San Antonio is out there, it's up to you to find it!
The river resembles a canal (the city actually drains it every January to repair walls and whatnot) with sidewalk restaurants, overhanging trees and plants, and stone foot bridges. For a new perspective, try shooting some photos from a tour boat.
San Antonio, TX
4. The Historic: The Alamo
The site of a heroic but ill-fated battle during the Texas Revolution in 1836, The Alamo is sacred ground in San Antonio. Photo opportunities are a bit limited, due to the comparatively small size of the site, but you'll want to position yourself in front of the building to get a clear shot of the exterior. True, it's the classic view, but keep moving through the grounds for more. Photography is not permitted inside the building, but there are a number of informative displays and artifacts that give you a solid understanding of the battle and its importance in Texas history.
The grounds to the rear of the building are dominated by a magnificent live oak tree (one of the most photogenic plants!), and several cannons used during the battle. Many people don't realize that beyond the courtyard, over a footbridge, is a lovely little memorial garden. It's not the Botanical Gardens, but it does have its charm.
300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, Texas 78205
Mon-Sat 9AM-5:30PM, Sun 10AM-5:30PM
5. The Quirky: Giant Justins
Several U.S. cities have giant lumberjacks or outsized chairs. Louisville, KY is home to a 120-foot tall baseball bat. Gaffney, SC has a peach shaped water tower, Collinsville, IL styled theirs after a catsup bottle, and Stanton, IA made one look like a Swedish coffee pot. There's a big artichoke in Castroville, CA. Tulsa has a giant roustabout. The Jolly Green Giant hangs out in Blue Earth, MN. In Paris, TX you can see a replica of the Eiffel Tower, topped with an extra large cowboy hat.
So it should come as no surprise that in San Antonio, right outside the North Star Mall, you'll find a pair of jumbo-sized, 40-foot tall cowboy boots. That's a San Antonio photo opportunity of major proportions.
North Star Mall
7400 San Pedro Ave
San Antonio, TX
- Overview: San Antonio Travel Guide
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