San Antonio

15 Best San Antonio Museums to Explore this Year

San Antonio is the top destination in Texas, and visitors love its River Walk, lined with restaurants and shopping with river barges floating by. The Alamo is a top attraction within San Antonio, known worldwide for its historic battle in 1836. Of course, Tex-Mex food and margaritas seem to be on everyone’s to-do list. Though San Antonio offers many top museums, of which the Alamo is one, and visitors will also find top natural history museums and art museums. Here are the 15 of the best San Antonio Museums to visit.

Best San Antonio Museums to Visit

  • The Alamo
  • The San Antonio Missions
  • Briscoe Western Art Museum
  • Witte Museum
  • McNay Art Museum
  • San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA)
  • The DoSeum
  • UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures
  • Spanish Governors Palace
  • Ruby City 
  • The Contemporary at Blue Star
  • Texas Transportation Museum
  • Texas Air Museum
  • San Antonio Fire Museum
  • Ville Finale
National Parks of Texas. Alamo
Visit the Alamo along with the other San Antonio Missions. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Alamo

Long before 1836 and the battle that made the Alamo famous, it was called the Mission San Antonio de Valero. It offered protection and sustenance for people starting in 1718.

Secularized in 1793, the original residents continued living and farming in this area. As the Texas Revolution escalated, the Alamo became the center of the conflict. On March 6, 1836, after a nearly two-week-long siege, the battle broke out between William B. Travis, commander of the Alamo and General Santa Anna and the Mexican troops.

Though the defenders of the Alamo were lost in the battle, the history lives on, and now the Alamo reminds people of heroic struggles against overwhelming odds. In 2015, the Alamo and the four other San Antonio missions were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Ralston Family Collections Center

As a new facility that opened in 2023, it houses the Phil Collins Collection. The legendary singer and Texas Historian has been collecting Texas artifacts for years. In 2014, he donated his collection to the General Land Office and the people of Texas. To enter the new collection, a separate ticket is required. Adults enter for $14 and kids (12 and younger) enter for $10.

Located at 300 Alamo Plaza. Adult admission to the Alamo is free, though requires a timed-entry ticket. Guided tours and self-guided tours are available. Open daily from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Note: there is construction in the area. 

The Best 3 Day Itinerary for San Antonio
Mission San Juan is the only mission to have a white stucco exterior.

The San Antonio Missions

The UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historical Park protects the four other compounds built by Spanish Franciscan friars in the 1700s. Each of the four missions is two to three miles from each other along the San Antonio River.

After visiting the Alamo in Downtown San Antonio, visitors can discover Mission Concepión, Mission San José, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada. Mission San José features the NPS Visitor Center and guided tours, so if time is limited, it is the best one to visit.

Mission Reach Hike and Bike trail is 16 miles roundtrip. This might be a little too far for a young family, though lots of adults and older kids enjoy the scenic ride along the San Antonio River.

The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is open every day, and hours vary from mission to mission. All are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The missions are closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1. All the missions are free to enter.

Top Things to do at the San Antonio Missions
The Briscoe Western Art Museum is packed full, like this stagecoach. credit: Catherine Parker

Briscoe Western Art Museum

The Briscoe offers more than Western landscapes, and my boys loved the museum. Inside, visitors will find a life-sized stagecoach and a working windmill. The miniature Alamo diorama was a hit with my kids. 

The antique guns and military uniforms are also top things to see at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. I enjoyed the Western landscapes and the cowboy sculptures.

Located at 210 W Market St. along the River Walk, Open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $14 for adults and kids 12 and younger are free.

Top Things to do in San Antonio 
The Witte Museum offers several dinosaur exhibits. Credit: Catherine Parker

Witte Museum

With its expansive interpretive areas, the Witte Museum offers displays covering Texas History, the dinosaur gallery, the Wildlife of Texas Gallery and the kids’ favorite, the outdoor treehouse sculpture.

This is the ideal facility to explore with dino kids. With an eye towards Texas dinosaurs, visitors learn about the plant and meat eaters of the area. 

Located at 3801 Broadway. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on Tuesday) and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $15, students (13 to 18) are $14 and kids (4 to 12) are $10 with those under 3 entering for free. Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. are free to enter. 

You can use a CityPASS for this attraction. For more information, visit  San Antonio CityPASS.

LOVE by Robert Indiana at the McNay Art Museum. credit: Catherine Parker

McNay Art Museum

Named after the benefactor and founder Marion McNay, the McNay Art Museum’s collections include 19th and 20th-century European and American art. It features a sculpture garden on the grounds of McNay’s Spanish Colonial home.

Highlights include a work by El Greco, Haymakers Resting by Pissarro, a self-portrait by Paul Gauguin, along with a Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne and Chagall. Outside, visitors will find a sculpture by Rodin and a Love sculpture by Robert Indiana, among others. 

Located at 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave. Open from Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. free to enter, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.. Adult admission is $20, students (13 to 19) are $10 and kids (12 and younger) are free.

The San Antonio Museum of Art features a glass skybirdge connecting the towers. Credit: Catherine Parker

San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA)

The San Antonio Museum of Art is located in the old Lone Star Brewery building and houses art from 5,000 years of human history. Its collections are housed in two wings, joined by the Sky Bridge on the fourth floor. The East Wing focuses on Art from the Americas, European, along with a Texas Art Gallery. The West Wing offers the Asian Art wing with Greek and Roman, with Japanese and Chinese Art from the ancient world to contemporary pieces. 

Located at 200 W. Jones Ave, on the the Museum Reach of the River Walk. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  (7 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday). Adult admission is $20, students (13 to 18) are $10 and free for kids 12 and younger.

You can use a CityPASS for this attraction. For more information, visit San Antonio CityPASS .

The DoSeum had my kids running, doing and tinkering across this interactive space. San Antonio,
The DoSeum had my kids running, doing and tinkering across this interactive space.

The DoSeum 

As San Antonio’s Museum for Kids, my boys loved the DoSeum with exhibits like spy training and a crazy tree house. The DoSeum had my boys touching, doing and tinkering from one room to the next. Little kids have their own spaces, like Little Town. The outdoor play space is also fun for everyone. 

Located at 2800 Broadway Open Monday, Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesday). General admission is $16 for everyone over 1-year-old. Babies are free.

You can use a CityPASS for this attraction. For more information, visit San Antonio CityPASS .

UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures 

The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures is a cultural heritage museum dedicated to the 26 cultures that settled in Texas. Each culture or country has an area filled with artifacts, costumes and antiques.

Located at 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. Open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This museum is free to enter though it accepts donations.

Spanish Governors Palace 

As a historic adobe, it is part of the 18th-century colonial Presidio San Antonio de Béxar. It was used as a residence during the 18th century and restored in the 1930s. Now is a National Historic Landmark and offers tours. 

Located at 105 Plaza de Armas. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $5, kids (7 to 13) enter for $3. 

Ruby City 

Founded by Founded by Linda Pace, it houses her collection of contemporary art and opened in 2019. Its collection focuses on the last few decades. Across the street, visitors can stroll Chris Park, a green space with art installations. 

Located at 150 Camp St. Open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Monday through Wednesday). It is free to enter. 

The Contemporary at Blue Star

Showcasing contemporary art in San Antonio for 13 years, the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum is part of a complex with coffee shops, restaurants and shops.

Located at 116 Blue Star along the San Antonio River Walk’s Museum Reach. Open from Wednesday to Sunday with varying times. Free to enter.

Texas Transportation Museum 

The Texas Transportation Museum is dedicated to land transportation so visitors will find several model railroads, antique cars and locomotives. There is even a train ride that departs from its Southern Pacific Depot and takes a 15-minute ride on its private track. 

Located at 11731 Wetmore Rd. Open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. only. Adult admission is $10, kids are $8 and each admission includes a train ride.

Texas Air Museum

Discover the aircraft located on historic Stinson Field, one of the oldest airfields in the U.S. The Texas Air Museum showcases the development of military air power in San Antonio and Texas. 

Its aircraft collection focuses on WWII with an eye towards Texas military aircraft. It also features the aircraft of Katherine Stinson Bleriot

Located at 1234 99th St. on the Stinson-Mission Municipal Airport. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

San Antonio Fire Museum 

Inside the original Central Fire Headquarters, it is located next to the Alamo. This museum is one of the top fire museums in the U.S. and features antique fire trucks, like the 1953 International Fire Truck. Visitors will also find fire-fighting equipment dating back to the mid-1800s.

Located at 801 E Houston St. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Adult admission is $5 and kids (3 to 12) are $2. 

Ville Finale 

In 1876, Russel C. Norton built the house along the San Antonio River. It was a desired neighborhood for wealthy families at the time. 

In 1967, Walter Nold Mathis bought the home and started a meticulous restoration. After he restored his home, he went on and restored 14 other properties in the King William neighborhood. 

The home, called Ville Finale is open for a self-guided home tour. The historic King William neighborhood features Victorian homes. 

Located at 401 King William Street. Open Tuesday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. General admission is $10 per person. 

Where to Stay in San Antonio

Disclosure: Consideration for brands mentioned and some attractions were hosted.

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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