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Christmas in San Antonio

by Eugenia Lazaris

Dec 10, 2019

Richard Mcmillin | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

Christmas is always a fun time of year to explore a new city. This year, head to San Antonio for Christmas with a Tex-Mex flair. This Texas city may not get snow for a white Christmas, but there are still plenty of holiday decorations and festivities to create a memorable, family-friendly experience.


While you are in town make sure to set aside plenty of time to explore San Antonio’s River Walk. Located in the heart of downtown, the River Walk follows along the shore of the San Antonio River as it winds through the city. This network of walkways lined with shops, bars, restaurants and hotels is a great way to see the city any time of year, but, during the Christmas holidays, the River Walk is adorned with twinkling lights and holiday decorations that turn it into a holiday dream.


During the holiday season the city comes alive with decorations, events and holiday festivals. One of the city’s unique events, and a testament to its reputation as a dog-friendly city, is the Santa Paws Parade and Costume Contest. This festival, free to attend ($10 to enter your dog), is going into its second year of letting the city’s finest pooches show off their Christmas costumes. Prizes are awarded for Best Ugly Christmas Sweater, Best Doggy-Owner Duo and Best in Show.


Christmas Shopping in San Antonio. Photo: Florin Seitan | Dreamstime.com


A great way to enjoy the holiday decorations along the river is with a cruise like Go Rio, that gives visitors a comfortable ride along the river accompanied by music or narration. Local vendors get in on the festivities by providing hot cocoa and snacks.


The local food scene is a big part of life in San Antonio and that doesn’t change just because the holiday season has arrived. In fact, the holidays bring even more reason to explore the Tex-Mex roots of the city. Tamales, a big part of the local fare, are a traditional holiday food for many Hispanic cultures and San Antonio celebrates them with tamale events around the city. Festivals like La Gran Tamalada at historic Market Square gives visitors an opportunity to discover all things tamale. There are tamale-making workshops, tamale vendors, kid activities and live music.


Families will love a wintertime trip to San Antonio Zoo. The zoo’s holiday event, Zoo Lights!, is available through Dec. 31. As part of a regular zoo admission ticket visitors are welcome to stay at the zoo after the sun goes down, when the grounds transform into a holiday safari party. There are lighted animals, festive holiday music, a spirited light show, hot cocoa and plenty of fun activities for kids, including a visit with Santa Claus.


Local amusement parks also get in on the fun in San Antonio during the holiday season, like Six Flags which hosts Holiday in the Park until Jan. 5. The entire park is decked out in holiday lights and decorations and the park presents fun, family-friendly shows that make the most of the holiday theme. Little ones will also love the chance to meet Santa, who hangs out at the park to greet fans.


No trip to San Antonio would be complete without a visit to the Alamo. While entrance is seldom allowed after hours, it is still worth a trip to the site after the sun goes down. No matter what time of year you visit, this historic monument is a spectacular site to see at night when the grounds are lit up. But, during the holidays, that lighting is taken up a notch with stylish Christmas decorations that add a festive mood to the already beautiful scene.


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