If you’re planning a visit to San Antonio, you should make sure you make time to tour the historically famous Texas landmark; The Alamo. Hence, why this historic icon coins San Antonio as Alamo City, it’s the prime reason why you should put it on the top of your bucket list. Visiting the Alamo will help visitors understand why Texans are so deeply enriched in their culture and Texas pride.
Can you, without Googling, tell what happened at the Alamo that makes it such an important historical site and why we impress upon why you should visit the Alamo?
Let’s dive right in to make this your first stop in San Antonio!
Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting The Alamo
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History of the Alamo
The Alamo is where Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis, frontiersman James Bowie and Davy Crockett led about 200 Texans; banding together to defend the Alamo and fight for Texas liberty against General Antonio López de Santa Anna and hundreds of Mexican troops in the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.
Their sacrifice helped birth Texas and put it on the map and this important historical revolution in the history books.
While the seige lasted 13 days, there’s tons more in history to learn about the 13 days of siege of the Alamo.
On March 6th, 1836, only 90 minutes into battle on the 13th day of the siege, the fighting ceased. All the Texian and Tejano (Texans of Mexican descent) defenders had fallen, Davy Crockett included. And though the Mexican Army suffered more casualties, Alamo was reclaimed by the Mexican army.
The significant loss of Alamo and the defenders from several different countries, including native-born Mexicans, was felt throughout Texas. Their call for aid and refusal to surrender in the face of overwhelming odds astounded not only America but also, the rest of the world.
And this is why the Battle of the Alamo has proven to be of great historical importance to our Country, as well as cultures of San Antonio and Texas. Hence, explaining their forever motto is ‘Remember the Alamo’.
Why is it called The Alamo?
According to San Antonio World Heritage “the name Alamo came into use after Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821. The soldiers from Mexico stationed at Mission San Antonio de Valero were of the Alamo Company, named for their hometown, Alamo de Parras. Alamo means cottonwood in Spanish.”
The Alamo today
While the Alamo sits in its’ original location at 100 Alamo Plaza in the heart of downtown San Antonio, most of the fort and battlefield were lost in the 1836 battle. Adding insult to injury, just a couple of months after the siege of the Alamo, the Mexican Army returned to tear down the outer walls. Thus leaving just the Long Barrack and Alamo Church.
But, the spirit of Alamo remained (and still does) in the hearts of Texans and ancestors of those who fought with extreme bravery and made the ultimate sacrifice in the brutal battle. Since then, the walls and other structures have been rebuilt to commemorate, honor and remind us all of those lost in the siege.
Now, the Alamo belongs to the people of Texas. In 2011, the Texas Legislature and Governor Rick Perry designated the Texas General Land Office (GLO) the custodian of the Alamo on behalf of the people of Texas.
Today, nestled amongst towering modern buildings, eclectic shops, foodie restaurants and San Antonio’s Riverwalk, the Alamo reigns with importance forever. The Alamo is the crown jewel of Texas heritage and a historic destination for you and your family to visit. You can discover the place that has captured the nation’s and the world’s attention for generations. In fact, it comes as no surprise that the Alamo is Texas’ most visited historic landmark and for good reason.
Is The Alamo part of the National Park Service?
The Alamo is not a National Park or National Monument. However, this historic park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The Alamo is featured in the National Park Service South and West Texas Travel Itinerary and American Latino Heritage Travel Itinerary. The Alamo has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Best time to visit the Alamo
Located at 100 Alamo Plaza in San Antonio, The Alamo is open everyday and even holidays. However, they are closed Christmas Day.
Times The Alamo is open:
A small note though, no matter what time of year, the morning hours are best. Otherwise, weekdays in the Spring or Fall, you’ll face school groups and field trips. And on the weekends, tourists are everywhere.
Having visited the Alamo several times myself, September to May are awesome times to visit because the weather is beautiful and the gardens are in bloom.
And, there are several events in February, March and April that you may want to combine with your visit such as St. Patrick’s Day, Fiesta San Antonio, and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. Of course, there’s other events going on in Alamo City throughout the year so, in my opinion there really is no bad time to visit the Alamo. Just some will be more crowded than other times.
How much does it cost to visit the Alamo?
Admission to the Alamo Church is free and always will be. But to provide a convenient experience, preserve the Alamo’s precious historic building, and reduce crowds, timed reservations are required. That said, if you wish to take a specialized tour (below), get your credit card out.
Are there tours of the Alamo?
You can create memories that will last a lifetime with unforgettable, expert-led tours, and authentic history experiences for the entire family.
FREE ADMISSION EVENTS and TALKS
SPECIALIZED TOURS (FEES)
Tourist information to know before visiting the Alamo
You’ll most definitely want to scope out how you’re going to get to the Alamo and where to park (below). We recommend bringing a credit card and cash to buy souvenirs, tour fees and food at nearby restaurants.
Also, The Alamo is a place to honor and render respect. Therefore, there are a few rules to follow before walking through the gates.
- Put your phone on silence. You also cannot take photos with your phone. Better yet, enjoy the experience by turning it off and putting it into your pocket or bag.
- Do not wear a hat in the Church at The Alamo. So, please remove your ball cap, visor, cowboy hat, or anything other than religious headwear.
- Obscene or offensive verbal language spoken or on clothing will not be tolerated.
- Pets or Emotional Support Animals are not permitted. Only Service Animals are allowed in accordance with the ADA.
- While you may bring food and drinks onsite, you’re not allowed to have open containers or eat inside the Alamo buildings or exhibits. Food and drinks is available for purchase in the Gift Shops and at the vending machines in the concession area.
- No alcohol, smoking, vaping, or other use of tobacco products is permitted anywhere on the grounds or in buildings.
- No professional photography or videography. Also, no drones are permitted on the grounds or in the buildings.
- No unathorized firearms (concealed and open carry allowed with permit only).
- No soliciting, disruptive, or disrespectful behavior.
- Jogging, running, bicycles, skateboards, hoverboards are not permitted on the grounds or in the buildings.
For more detailed information, check out the Alamo’s full Site Rules and Policies.
Is the Alamo handicap accessible?
The Alamo is committed to making its historic site accessible, whatever your disability access needs (mobility, hearing and sight impaired).
Restrooms are Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. They can be found outside the Alamo Gift Shop exit.
Are pets allowed at the Alamo?
No pets are permitted in the Alamo historic grounds and buildings including Emotional Support Animals. However, trained Service Animals, as defined under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), are welcome at the Alamo and are permitted to enter the Alamo grounds, Church, and other historic buildings with their handlers.
What kind of weather to expect when visiting the Alamo?
Most of The Alamo historic site is outdoors. So, you need to check the San Antonio weather forecast before arriving. You may want to make sure you take your sightseeing bag along with water, comfortable shoes, and a hat and/or umbrella for inclement weather. If it’s cooler, you will want to either wear or bring a jacket or sweatshirt.
Parking near the Alamo
There is no parking at the Alamo. So, you’ll need to park in one of the public parking in downtown San Antonio.
TripSavy states in their article Getting Around San Antonio: Guide to Public Transportation, “San Antonio’s public transit options aren’t great, even compared to other Texas cities. Cars are, by far, the most popular means of transportation, and the city isn’t exactly built for bikers and pedestrians—although there are certainly some walkable areas, and downtown is fairly bike-friendly.”
If you are driving a motorhome or pulling a camper, we recommend parking at one of the RV parks or campgrounds and either driving your toad or tow vehicle, taking an Uber or Lyft or take public transportation.
Since we are retired military, we were able to park our RV and stay at Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base. We also stayed at Alsation Golf and RV Resort in nearby Castroville, Texas and drove in to park.
Once you arrive to visit the Alamo
If you have registered for any tours listed above, you’ll want to be on the grounds about 10-15 minutes before your tour begins so you don’t miss it.
You’re going to notice how surprisingly small the Alamo really is, after all it is only 5 acres. While the silver screen and travel photos depict much grandeur and greatness, the Alamo building itself and the interior fort area is quite modest.
While relishing its beautiful architecture, the 300-year old former Spanish mission-turned-fortress is a great historic exhibit open year-round.
You and your sightseeing companions will experience first hand the history and walk the very small battlefield and hallowed grounds. Spend as much time as you can to absorb the greatness and understand why this historic landmark is so amazing.
Our own experience at The Alamo
We attended the 13 days of interactive living history events to commemorate the 181st anniversary of the 1836 siege and Battle of The Alamo while our son was in town visiting.
All three of us went on the 1-hour guided tour by Alamo History Interpreters exploring the story that made Texas famous. It was interesting to learn about the events and heroes that endured hardship, while acting gallantly with valor. While the guided tour cost us a bit of cash ($30 each – 2017), it was well worth the money.
The Alamo Guided Tour took us along the original footprint of the Spanish mission and ended inside the Alamo Church. Also, the exhibits were very well done with artifacts and chronological historical lineage on placards.
Your takeaway of why you should visit The Alamo
The Siege of the Alamo and all that remains has a special place in our Nation’s history books. This iconic landmark proves the grit and tenacity of those who stood for better ideas and the fight for Texas Liberty.
More great destinations to check out while visiting the Alamo
While you’re planning your trip to see the Alamo, don’t forget to read up on other great places to visit in the San Antonio area:
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