The Perfect 3-Day Itinerary In San Antonio

It’s overwhelming to plan a perfect weekend trip anywhere, and when you’re hoping to visit the 2nd largest city in Texas (both by square mileage AND population), planning this quick trip can easily turn into your part time job. Enter: the perfect 3-day itinerary in San Antonio Texas. From the Alamo to the riverwalk to all the best restaurants, we have your perfect weekend mapped out right here. 

**Psst: in order to avoid analysis paralysis and decision fatigue, I’m just going to keep things simple and list the BEST things to do. Because I hate it when I’m trying to plan a trip and someone’s like, “here are 10 great options!” and I’m like, “but I only have time for ONE of those!”  So if you’re the type of person who wants more options, I’ll refer you to dozens of blog posts that will help you easily research this city to plan even more options! It’s up to you.

The Alamo

About me: I’m Kelsey, a 2X travel book author, a Texas native, and a professional blogger. I run several Texas travel sites that are read by millions of people. I spend tens of thousands of my own $$ exploring San Antonio so I can share the best things to do and places to eat with you!

The Perfect 3 Day Itinerary in San Antonio: OVERVIEW

Here are all the things we’re going to fit into this 3-day weekend in San Antonio! Get ready for: 

El Mercado (FREE!)

Japanese Tea Garden (FREE!)

San Antonio Botanical Garden

Bike the Mission Trail (FREE!)

Go RIO Boat Cruise

Breakfast Tacos

San Antonio BBQ

1 really great splurge-worthy San Antonio restaurant

Visiting a winery or a brewery

Going to the top of the Tower of the Americas

Hemisfair Park (FREE!)

San Fernando Cathedral (FREE!)

La Villita Historic Village (FREE!)

Jazz, TX show

I'll show you how to pack all of this into a 3-day weekend trip to San Antonio!

3-day itinerary in San Antonio

Day 1 (Friday): spend the morning at Natural Bridge Caverns, check into your hotel, freshen up, and go out on a GO RIO boat cruise, then head to the Pearl for a fantastic dinner and a show at Jazz, TX.  

Day 2 (Saturday): Get breakfast tacos, Missions Historic Park bike tour, BBQ for lunch, evening stroll through Hemisfair, glass of wine at urban winery, sunset views from the top of Tower of the Americas, dinner in the park. 

Day 3 (Sunday): Local coffee shop and then a morning stroll through the Japanese tea garden, San Antonio Museum of Art, and then go to Historic Market Square + eat Tex-Mex in the afternoon afternoon

Day 1

A lot of us have to arrive on Friday evening for weekend trips due to a 9-5 job. If that’s the case for you, go ahead and check into your hotel and skip this next paragraph. 

But if you’re able to arrive early in the day on Friday, I recommend going to see Natural Bridge Caverns. It’s a natural cave that was discovered in 1960 and it’s one of the largest underground caves in the state of Texas. Guests can literally walk under the surface of the earth and explore a 1⁄2 mile of rocks and formations and underground rivers. 

If you haven’t been in a cave before, you’re going to be completely wowed by the cool underground world. You’ll definitely need to drive here, so this activity is great if you have a rental car. Leave your luggage in the car while you explore, and then you’re ready to drive back to SA to check into your hotel. 

Hotel in San Antonio

Next up on Day 1, go ahead and check into your hotel. I recommend staying at one of these hotels on the riverwalk. They’re close to everything, and they offer gorgeous views of the water! Don't want to stay on the river walk? Just look for any hotel in downtown San Antonio (here are some cheap downtown SA hotels) that fits your budget. 

GO RIO boat cruise

And then go take a GO Rio river cruise (which you should 100% book ahead of time!) GO Rio is the only cruise line that operates in the San Antonio River Walk, so no need to research on the best options. This is the only one! It’s a fun way to learn about the history of San Antonio while enjoying the riverwalk from the prettiest vantage point: the water. 

Insider tip: the river walk has been called “the Venice of Texas” and it’s absolutely gorgeous! But y’all, on the weekends it gets PACKED! That’s why I recommend booking your river cruise ahead of time. You’ll be able to sit down on the boat and float through the water with a dedicated tour guide, thus avoiding all of the pedestrian congestion. A huge win! 

The Pearl

And finally, head to The Pearl to experience San Antonio’s best dining scene. Let’s kick off this trip with an AMAZING restaurant experience, shall we? The Historic Pearl is a popular shopping and dining district in San Antonio that used to be home to the original Pearl Brewery back in the late 1800s. It is so cool, and there are so many great restaurants at The Historic Pearl. I recommend booking a table at Allora (Italian), Cured (farm-to-table), or Mon Chou Chou (French.) Any one of these restaurants at The Pearl will be a winner, too! 

Jazz, TX

For a late night activity, get tickets to Jazz, TX. It’s an underground speakeasy jazz club that’s located underneath the food hall at The Pearl. You’ll get to book your own private table, complete with a dedicated server who will keep those drinks comin’ all evening. It’s so much fun! 

3-day itinerary in San Antonio

Day 2

Start your day with breakfast tacos. Trust me, you’re going to want to fuel up with a big breakfast for the next activity! Go to Garcia’s for the most amazing brisket taco, the Original Donut Shop (yep, their tacos are awesome!), or Tacos N Salsa. (Or just use this map of the best breakfast tacos in San Antonio to find one near you.)

Mission San Juan

Day 2 activity: bike all of the San Antonio Missions! Did you know that there are actually 5 Missions in San Antonio, but almost everyone just goes to The Alamo and skips the other 4? Every other guide to San Antonio out there will tell you to visit The Alamo, and I’m telling you that they’re all wrong. The Alamo is packed with tourists and honestly tiny, and the real beauty of San Antonio lies in the other 4 missions: Mission San Juan, Mission Concepción, Mission Espada, and Mission San Jose. The 5 missions make up the first and only Unesco World Heritage Site in Texas. 

The bike trails will take you through the entire San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in about 4 hours, so this would be a great activity to do from around 9 am - 1 pm on Saturday. We’ve got an in-depth guide to the San Antonio Missions right here. Psst: don’t want to bike? You can easily drive to all of the historic missions too to save time and energy! But I think the bike experience is really fun and worth it! 

San Antonio BBQ

Lunch: San Antonio BBQ. You’re in Texas so you’ve GOT to check out some of our award-winning BBQ! San Antonio has become one of the top BBQ destinations in the whole state (which is competitive!), with multiple smokehouses that have been nominated for Texas Monthly’s 50 Best list. Head to 2M Smokehouse or Reese Bros BBQ, which are continually ranked top 2 in the city. Or just use this map to find one of these excellent San Antonio bbq restaurants near you

Tower of the Americas

Evening activity: stroll through Hemisfair. This 40-acre park in the center of San Antonio was the home of the 1968 World’s Fair. I love to walk through Hemisfair, especially at dusk when the city cools down. Be sure to head up the elevator 750-feet to the top of the Tower of the Americas for some epic sunset views! It’s really cheap to get a ticket up there, and it’s the 2nd tallest observation deck in the United States (the STRAT in Vegas is the tallest.) 

Stop by Rerooted Urban Winery and enjoy a glass of wine outdoors at Hemisfair. Or if you’re more of a beer person, swing by Kunstler, a local craft brewery in San Antonio that serves their German beers at an adorable taproom in Hemisfair Park.

For dinner, you definitely need to go to Dough Pizzeria for the best Neapolitan pizza in San Antonio and some pasta. (Yep, Dough is also located at Hemisfair!)

Finish your night with a scoop at Lick Honest Ice Creams. They have this adorable little shop at Hemisfair, and their ice cream is made with local ingredients and so good! (Here are 10 fun places to eat at Hemisfair.) 

Day 3 in San Antonio

Let’s get some coffee to start the day! By day 3 of a weekend trip, I’m always ready for a lazy start to the day. So check out this map of the best local coffee shops in San Antonio and go get a latte and a muffin to start your morning. 

Japanese Tea Garden

Late morning: The Japanese Tea Garden is the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll while you sip your coffee. It was an old abandoned stone quarry from the early 1900s, and the San Antonio parks commissioner decided to turn it into a Japanese-inspired garden. The questionable labor practices are definitely worth reading about, because this place has a complicated history. 

The Japanese Tea Garden is totally free to visit (complete with free parking) and it makes a really nice Sunday morning activity. 

McNay Art Museum

After the Japanese Tea Garden, pick out a San Antonio museum to visit. I absolutely love The McNay, which is an art museum inside an historic mansion with a new modern wing added on. And the San Antonio Museum of Art is another must-visit, too. If you’re in SA on a gorgeous day, I highly recommend going to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, which are really close to the Japanese Tea Gardens. 

3-day itinerary in San Antonio

This is the point where a lot of people have to wrap up their weekend trip. If that’s the case, safe travels to you and I hope you had fun in San Antonio! If you have a bit more time on Sunday afternoon, here’s what I recommend:

Historic Market Square

Sunday afternoon: go to Historic Market Square. This is the perfect way to wrap up your weekend in San Antonio! Historic Market Square is the largest Mexican Market in the United States. It’s a 3-block outdoor plaza full of handmade clothes, home goods, jewelry, toys, and so much more.

Mi Tierra

While you’re there, you 10/10 have to go eat at Mi Tierra, which is the most iconic Tex-Mex restaurant in San Antonio. I went to visit it just to make sure it’s not a tourist trap. (Psst: Mi Tierra is Tex-Mex food, which is lots of beef, beans, and orange cheese. It's delicious and it's what SA is known for, but this is not authentic Mexican cuisine. If you want that, go to La Fonda on Main!

San Fernando Cathedral

After eating, be sure to walk by the gorgeous San Fernando Cathedral. Built in 1750 and in the National Register of Historic Places, it’s one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States. Tourists love seeing it, and they even do a free light show every evening! 

3-day itinerary in San Antonio

5 Helpful Things To Know When Planning A Trip To San Antonio

3-day itinerary in San Antonio

1. Know when to visit San Antonio. There definitely is a best time to visit! San Antonio is in south Texas, and the summers get SO hot. (I mean, San Antonio summers are brutal, but you can survive them if you have to.) June is pretty much the only bearable month in the summer. July, August, and September are too hot!

Also, in late April there’s a HUGE event in San Antonio called Fiesta. It's lots of fun, and it's a rowdy time! Do not come to San Antonio in April unless you want to go to Fiesta. The city gets crowded with 3.5 million people going to this 10-day party!

2. San Antonio is known for Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Seaworld San Antonio. Both are fun, but they're big amusement parks. If you only have a weekend in San Antonio, I wouldn't prioritize either Six Flags or Seaworld. They're definitely cool to visit if you live near San Antonio or you have kids who need a bunch of fun stuff to do in the summer, but if you only have 3 days in San Antonio, don't spend the time or money on amusement parks. 

3. The San Antonio Riverwalk can be either amazing or the most annoying thing. Again, this is where most guides will say it's a "top attraction for every San Antonio visitor," but as someone who knows SA like the back of my. hand, I'll tell you the truth: the riverwalk is SO crowded with drunk and annoying tourists on the weekends. I hate it. And...the riverwalk can be the most magical place if you visit at the right time

4. I really wanted to add visiting the King William Historic District, but there wasn't time in this 3-day itinerary. The King William District (also called Southtown) is home to the Blue Star Arts Complex (which has a really cool art gallery), historic homes with beautiful architecture, and a bunch of great places to eat. I absolutely love this area of San Antonio, and it’s honestly where San Antonio locals will most often go for a nice cocktail bar or dinner out. 

5. There are so many more museums in San Antonio than you can visit in one weekend. I mentioned a few earlier, but there are seriously a ton of them! I recommend checking out The Briscoe Western Art Museum, the Witte Museum, and the DoSeum (*if you're visiting with kids.) If you're a big museum person, you might want to prioritize going to a few more museums during your weekend here. Here’s how to get free access to certain museums.

Hope that’s helpful for you as you’re planning your 3-day weekend trip to San Antonio! If you’re just stopping by for a quick day trip, here’s the perfect 1-day itinerary in San Antonio.

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