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Visiting The Alamo: Your Guide to San Antonio’s Famous Mission

November 21, 2023
The Alamo San Antonio

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Remember the Alamo” and know it’s somehow important in American history, but you may struggle to remember exactly why. For most kids growing up in the United States, the battle of the Alamo in 1836 was just a short paragraph in an otherwise thick history textbook. However, this battle was pivotal to Texas seceding from Mexico and later joining the U.S. as the 28th state. 

Nothing brings history to life like visiting historic sites and learning the stories of struggle, survival, and persistence. All of this is played out at The Alamo, a National Historic Landmark, in San Antonio, Texas. With the recent addition of 24,000 square feet of exhibition space dedicated to the preservation of Alamo artifacts, the stories are even more vibrant and engaging.

If you’re planning a trip to San Antonio, you definitely don’t want to miss the Alamo, so here’s everything you need to know before your visit. 

Getting to the Alamo

The Alamo San Antonio

Located in the heart of the city, the Alamo is within easy walking distance of many hotels located downtown and or along the Riverwalk. San Antonio is a fairly flat city, making walking an easy mode of transportation during your visit.

If you’re coming from further away, consider using the VIA Metropolitan Transit, the city’s bus system. If you’re driving, be aware that the Alamo doesn’t offer parking. However, there are a number of public lots nearby.

Best times to visit

The Alamo, San Antonio

San Antonio can be very hot for several months of the year, with triple digits common during the warmest months. During the summer, mornings are an ideal time to visit. Or consider booking your trip during the cooler season of November to April.

What to do at the Alamo

For most people, the Alamo brings to mind the iconic church with its flat, limestone exterior. And while the church is an important part of any visit, there are other things to do that will round out your understanding of this historic site.

The Alamo Church

The Alamo San Antonio

Officially known as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, the first church here was built in 1744, and was central to the lives of those in the surrounding area. After the original structure collapsed, construction began on the building we see today in 1758, although it was never completed as planned. As a result, the church is rather small and should take less than an hour to explore. Entry is free, but timed tickets must be reserved online in advance.

While exploring the church, take time to see the new Sacristy Exhibit. After several years of excavation and research, guests can use modern technology to witness what the original frescoes in the sacristy looked like.

Ralston Family Collections Center

For years the Alamo has protected thousands of artifacts related to its 300-year history, including weapons, uniforms, correspondence, and artwork. More recently, singer/songwriter, Phil Collins has been collecting Alamo artifacts at this home in the U.K. All of these were kept from the public due to lack of space to properly display them. 

When Phil Collins decided to donate his personal collection, efforts to properly house the artifacts began. In 2023, the Ralston Family Collections Center opened and now hundreds of artifacts are on display to the public alongside interpretive exhibits that round out each guest’s visit to the Alamo.

There is a fee to view the collections center and tickets can be purchased on site or reserved in advance online.

18-pounder Losoya house

The battle of the Alamo began on February 23, 1836, when Colonel William B. Travis ordered his men to fire the 18-pounder cannon from the southwest corner of the fortress. While the original cannon has been lost, a carefully crafted replica now stands on the site where it was fired. 

This interpretive exhibit helps visitors understand the events that led up to the battle. It also tells the story behind Jose Toribio Losoyo, the fighter whose home was located on this spot. 

Alamo Palisade

The Alamo was protected by a fence made of wooden spikes, also known as a palisade. A new exhibit on the property brings the battle to life through a recreation of a portion of the palisade along with interpretive signage detailing the battlefield.

Tour the Alamo

The Alamo San Antonio

A guided tour is a great way to get a thorough understanding of the battle of the Alamo as well as the events leading to it. Led by a history interpreter, the Remember The Alamo Tour is a 45-minute experience that includes entrance to both the church and the collections center. 
Tours are offered several times a day and can be reserved in advance online.

Why the Alamo is a must for your San Antonio visit

The Alamo is an important part of Texas history. To learn even more about the early years of this state, head out to one or more of the San Antonio missions. Including the Alamo, there are a total of five missions comprising the UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s even a hiking and biking trail that connects them all.

No trip to San Antonio is complete without a visit to the Alamo. This historic site is continually improving its efforts to help guests understand not only the history of Texas but the entire American Southwest.