San Antonio Texas: Snapshot of a Unique City

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San Antonio TX: Facts about the city

Where is San Antonio Texas?

San Antonio, TX is a major city in the US state of Texas.  It is located is in the transition zone between Central and South Texas, lying at the edges of the Texas Hill country and the South Texas plains.

San Antonio Texas is in what county?

San Antonio is the county seat of Bexar County (which is pronounced like the animal, “BEAR”).

Where is San Antonio Texas on the map?

San Antonio map

  • The distance from San Antonio to Austin, the state capital, is 74 miles (118 km) northeast “as the crow flies,” or 79 miles (128 km) by car (1 hour 14 minutes).
  • The distance from San Antonio to Houston, the largest Texas city, is 189 miles (305 km) east, or 195 miles (314 km) by car (2 hours 52 minutes).
  • From San Antonio to Dallas there is a distance of 253 miles (407 km) by plane or 274 miles (441 km) by car (4 hours 10 minutes), heading northeast.
  • Got the ocean on your mind and wondering about San Antonio beach distance? Well, speaking strictly in terms of proximity to the sea, the nearest beach to San Antonio by car includes those in Corpus Christi, Texas– like McGee Beach, which is 145 miles (233 km) by car  (2 hrs and 2 minutes).  But there are nicer beaches within a half hour’s drive further along the Gulf coast from there!
  • How far is San Antonio from the Mexican border? Well, it is 158 miles (254 km) by car (2 hours 30 minutes) from San Antonio to the border with Mexico at Laredo/Nuevo Laredo.

What is San Antonio known for?

Founding of San Antonio

San Antonio is an historic and beloved city.  It recently celebrated its tricentennial year, having begun more than 300 years ago in 1718.  It was founded as Presidio San Antonio de Béjar (Béxar), when the region was an outpost of imperial Spain.  San Antonio later played important roles as a part of Mexico, the independent Republic of Texas, and now the United States of America.

Old stone facade of Mission Espada
Mission Espada, an old San Antonio mission. Copyright © 2020 Triptora.com All Rights Reserved

Quotes about San Antonio

After his travels to the city, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, who later went on to design Central Park in New York City, gushed: “We have no city, except, perhaps, New Orleans, that can vie, in point of the picturesque interest that attaches to odd and antiquated foreignness, with San Antonio.”

Romantic view of a boat passing under an arched bridge on the San Antonio River Walk surrounded by palm trees
Tourists enjoying a river cruise on the San Antonio River Walk in the fall. Copyright © 2020 Triptora.com All Rights Reserved

The famed poet Sidney Lanier wrote in his historical sketch: “If peculiarities were quills, San Antonio de Bexar would be a rare porcupine.  Over all the round of aspects in which a thoughtful mind may view a city, it bristles with striking idiosyncrasies and bizarre contrasts.  Its history, population, climate, location, architecture, soil, water, customs, costumes, horses, cattle, all attract the stranger’s attention, either by force of intrinsic singularity or of odd juxtapositions.”

San Antonio population

San Antonio is a rapidly growing city. According to the US Census bureau, the population estimate for the city in 2018 was 1,532,233 inhabitants.  This makes San Antonio the seventh-most populous city in the United States.

San Antonio is also the second-most populous city in the southern United States.  Moreover, it is the second-most populous city in the state of Texas.

A tall red metal abstract sculpture in downtown San Antonio called The Torch of Friendship by Mexican artist Sebastian
The Torch of Friendship by Mexican artist Sebastian, a 50-ton sculpture commissioned by the Association of Mexican Entrepreneurs of San Antonio, given as a gift to the city. The Tower of the Americas is in the background to the right. Copyright © 2020 Triptora.com All Rights Reserved

San Antonio demographics

The population of San Antonio is predominantly Hispanic, at approximately 64% of the population.  Other populous groups include non-Hispanic whites, who make up about 25 percent of the population, African-Americans, who make up about 7%, Asians/Pacific Islanders, at about 3% of the population, and American Indians/Native Americans, who make up about 1%.  All these groups have made significant contributions to the history and culture of the region, a fact celebrated at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures.

Mexican dancers performing the jarabe tapatio mexican dance in front of the alamo in san antonio
Folklorico dancers performing the jarabe tapatio Mexican dance in front of the Alamo in San Antonio.

Nicknames for San Antonio

San Antonio nicknames are common.  Some of these include “Alamo City” and “River City,” the two most popular among city residents.  These names respectively refer to the city’s role as the home of the historic Alamo Mission and Battle of the Alamo, as well as the source of the vital San Antonio River.

It is also very common to hear San Antonio shortened to “San Antone.”  This is a jovial and informal nickname of long standing.  It dates back to the years of the Mexican Republic before the battle of the Alamo.  Although residents of San Antonio no longer use it themselves (ever!), you can commonly hear this jocular nickname in other parts of the US, and in American film, literature, and song.

Further, other less frequent San Antonio nicknames include Mission City (a nod to the city’s five historic Spanish missions), Military City USA (in reference to its significant military base and facility presence), and “the 210” (referring to the regional telephone area code).

Giant San Antonio boot sculpture
San Antonio looms larger than life– just like the world’s largest cowboy boots (35 feet tall). This sculpture by Bob “Daddy-O” Wade is a San Antonio icon in front of North Star mall.

San Antonio Economy

San Antonio tourism

Tourism makes a major contribution to the economy of San Antonio.  Tourism and hospitality have an overall annual impact of more than $15 billion dollars on the San Antonio economy.

San Antonio attractions

The two top tourist destinations in the state of Texas are the San Antonio River Walk and the Alamo.  These two attractions are both located in downtown San Antonio TX.

A view of the San Antonio River Walk with colorful umbrellas
The San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio amusement parks

San Antonio is also home to a number of amusement parks.  Some of these include:

A roller coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Roller coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

San Antonio events and festivals

San Antonio hosts numerous beloved annual events and festivals that have become a hallmark of the city.  Some of the most noteworthy and popular include:

  • Fiesta® San Antonio which started in 1891 and takes place in mid April
  • Holiday River Parade and Lighting ceremony (the day after Thanksgiving)
  • San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo; Western Heritage Parade and Cattle Drive (February)
  • Oktoberfest (early October)
  • Dia de los Muertos (end of October to beginning of November)
  • MLK March (January)
  • Texas Folklife Festival (June)
  • Luminaria (early November)

Other Things to do in San Antonio

Moreover, San Antonio stands out for its excellent museums, a top-notch zoo, botanical gardens,  and the San Antonio Missions UNESCO World Heritage site.  Further, San Antonio is home to the five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs basketball team.

View of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens
Scene from the San Antonio Botanical Garden

San Antonio Convention Center

The Henry B. González Convention Center is the City of San Antonio’s convention center.  It hosts more than 300 events and welcomes more than 750,000 convention delegates a year. The Convention Center is downtown, right along the banks of the scenic River Walk.

Other sectors of the San Antonio economy

Besides tourism and related retail and food services sectors, San Antonio’s diverse economy comprises a wide range of other industries.

Some of these include: healthcare and biomedical research, education, military, government, business/financial services, the energy sector, manufacturing, and cybersecurity.

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San Antonio consulates

Several foreign countries have diplomatic representations in San Antonio.  The Consulate General of Mexico (Consulado General de México) is located downtown in the historical Federal Reserve Bank building at Navarro and Villita Streets (127 Navarro St).  Other consular offices in San Antonio recorded by the Texas Secretary of State include honorary consular representations of the nations of Belgium, Belize, Chile, France, Mongolia, Namibia, and the United Kingdom.

View from the tree-covered hills overlooking San Antonio with the city skyline in the distance
View from the tree-covered hills overlooking San Antonio with the city skyline in the distance. Copyright © 2020 Triptora.com All Rights Reserved

San Antonio Climate

San Antonio’s climate is transitional.  The city’s location is where the humid subtropical climate of the Gulf coastal plains meets the semi-arid climate further west.

During the winter, the San Antonio weather changes depending on whether continental influences (winds blowing from the north and west) or maritime influences (with south and southeast winds from the Gulf of Mexico) prevail. Winter in San Antonio is generally quite mild.  However, cold fronts occasionally punctuate the winter weather, and on rare occasion can even bring snow.

San Antonio summers are usually long and hot, with conditions similar to the tropics.  Daily high temperatures during the summertime exceed 90 degrees F (32.2 C) most of the time. Some years these soaring temperatures can last well into September or October.

Two cowgirls on horses holding Texas flags in San Antonio
Cowgirls proudly carrying the Texas flag in the San Antonio Western Heritage Parade, San Antonio’s rodeo parade.

San Antonio Location: Desert or No?

Before visiting, some travelers envision San Antonio as a city in the midst of a flat Texas desert.  However, many are surprised to find instead that it is a city of gently rolling hills, oak and cedar woodlands, and meadows dotted with oaks.

The area is watered by the San Antonio River and many creeks, although, like much of the state of Texas, the region is subject to periodic droughts. Many areas and neighborhoods of the city, especially in times of good rainfall, merit the designation as “lush.”

Lush Green Palm Trees and Banana trees surrounding a green lake at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio TX
Lush palm trees and banana trees surrounding the lake at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio TX. Copyright © 2020 Triptora.com All Rights Reserved

Conclusion

San Antonio is a vibrant city, rooted in a historic and colorful past, and rapidly expanding into a dynamic future.  Come explore this fascinating metropolis!

Reserve your San Antonio, TX hotels here.

Mexican sombrero hat with gold embroidery in san antonio
Graceful sombrero of a chivalrous San Antonio charro cowboy.