Welcome to the Home of the Alamo Bowl

For those of you attending the Alamo Bowl, San Antonio has plenty to offer. Be sure to see some sights and support your Longhorns!
For those of you attending the Alamo Bowl, San Antonio has plenty to offer. Be sure to see some sights and support your Longhorns!

THE LONGHORNS will cap off the 2013 football season with a trip to San Antonio, where they’ll face the Oregon Ducks in the Alamo Bowl. Thousands of Texas fans will make the trek down I-35 — almost 80 miles from the southwest point of campus. For the fans making the trip, the game obviously will be the star attraction in San Antonio.

For a Texas team that initially had fans jumping ship like rats leaving the Titanic, to reverse course and make a run at the Big 12 title, facing Oregon in a bowl game will be an encore to this season.

The Ducks boast an electric offense and a collection of uniforms that look like someone at the Crayola factory got sick during a Ducks’ team meeting.

But for those who aren’t blowing in and out of town all in one day, there’s plenty to do in San Antonio.

• Visit the Alamo! Originally a Spanish mission in the 1700s, the Alamo stands as the most famous landmark in San Antonio and perhaps in the entire state of Texas. Now more than 250 years old, the Alamo has served numerous purposes over the years, including as a Quartermaster’s Depot by the U.S. Army.

The Alamo has been occupied by the troops of five countries: Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the U.S. Visitors have an array of available attractions, including a stop in The Alamo Shrine, which was intended to be the main church for the Alamo but was never completed.

Guests can also enjoy a variety of tours, some of which allow visitors to re-enact the 1836 battle or visit the Long Barrack Museum, which is in the oldest building on the site. For more information, visit www.thealamo.org.

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• The Alamo is only one of the two most famous images of the city — the other being the River Walk. The River Walk — a public park lined with some of the top restaurants, bars and shops in the city — draws visitors year-round.

The area is an ideal location, especially for out-of-town visitors who want to get a sense of the charm of San Antonio, either through a leisurely stroll, as a destination for dinner or drinks, or on one of the 35-minute, narrated river cruise tours. To learn more about the San Antonio River Walk, check out http://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com.

• Those who want to branch out from San Antonio, the city, can check out one of the more extraordinary natural attractions in Texas — the Natural Bridge Caverns (http://www. naturalbridgecaverns.com). The Caverns are just 10 miles northeast of the city and live up to the phrase “deep in the heart of Texas.”

First-time visitors to serious cavern enthusiasts can find plenty to do, including panning for precious stones, taking the “leap of faith” from the Canopy Challenge, enjoying a caving tour or simply enjoying the natural beauty of the caverns. The Discovery Tour is a good starting point for first-timers, who will walk through a half a mile — at 180 feet below ground — of the largest show cavern in Texas while a tour guide points out the ancient geological formations that make up the cavern system.

The more adventurous can try the Hidden Passages Tour, which includes a look at the Caverns’ most delicate geological formations. And when the lights turn off, visitors will feel a sense of darkness that can’t be matched by turning the lights off at home. Other attractions include a lantern tour, physically demanding adventure tours that require visitors to climb their way through caverns with just the lights mounted on their helmets, and the nearby Bracken Bat Flight, an evening event during which millions of free-tailed bats— the world’s largest colony — emerge to head out on their nightly hunt for insects.

Chart House Restaurant, which sits atop the 750-foot Tower of the Americas (http://www.toweroftheamericas.com) in downtown. Visitors can enjoy the panoramic view while dining, venture out to the Observation Deck or experience it all through a 4D Theater Ride. On the Observation Deck, photos on the floor point out landmarks to help visitors identify their surroundings, historical photos offer a glimpse of how the city has changed over the years, and telescopes are available to give an up-close view of the city below.

James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.