The Southside of San Antonio lies 15 minutes from the city centre. Still, it's a world away from the bustling tourist crowds visiting the Alamo and the festive River Walk. Southside is its own little community, with a unique vibe. It's popular with families and individuals looking for a quiet and relaxed environment. With several parks and hiking and biking trails in the vicinity, the area is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts.

There are museums and heritage sites for you to learn about the city's fascinating history. For bargain hunters, there are markets selling antiques and collectables that won't break the bank. So once you've visited the top sights in Downtown San Antonio, set aside a day to explore the non-touristy Southside. Read our guide below to find out what you can expect when you visit this neighbourhood.

Southside in San Antonio - one of the highlights of 10 Most Popular Neighbourhoods in San Antonio (Read all about San Antonio here)

photo by Jana Taylor (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

What are the highlights of Southside?

A major highlight in Southside is the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The park consists of a chain of 4 well-preserved frontier missions situated along the San Antonio River. Each site features beautiful Spanish colonial architecture. Along the western border of Southside is the Medina River Natural Area, a 511-acre nature preserve and hotspot for outdoor fun. You can go biking, fishing, hiking, camping and canoeing.

Birdwatchers don't need to travel far in Southside to spot an abundance of birds. The Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is home to ponds, wetlands, a 600-acre lake, and more than 300 bird species. Remember to pack sunscreen and bug spray. While you are in Southside, check out the informative exhibitions of aviation and military artefacts at the Texan Air Museum, part of the Stinson Municipal Airport.

photo by Jana Taylor (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

What else can you see and do in Southside?

Nature and history aren't the only things Southside has to offer. The Mission Open Air Flea Market is a massive outdoor flea market. With over 2,000 vendors, it's a bargain hunter's dream. You can find almost anything here, from antiques to jewellery to western wear. And with an onsite cafe, you can spend an entire day hunting for treasures.

Wear comfortable shoes, carry small bills and change, and a big bag to carry your purchases. The market is open Wednesdays and weekends from 6 am to 5 pm.

Pica Pica Plaza is also a great shopping destination. Inspired by the mercados (markets) of Latin America, this indoor street market offers some 100 shops, plus a food court and trampoline park. The Mission Marquee Plaza hosts festivals, free film screenings on a giant outdoor movie screen, and other arts and culture events. The plaza is near the Missions National Historical Park.

photo by Jana Taylor (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

Good to know about Southside

It's easy to reach Southside by car or bus. Buses 43 and 44 will take you from Downtown San Antonio to the Mission Open Air Flea Market, while bus 42 heads to the Missions National Historical Park. Alternatively, buy a day pass for bus 40 that offers service to all 5 missions. 

The popular 15-mile River Walk is a great way to get to Southside on foot or bike. It runs along the San Antonio River from Brackenridge Park in the north to the San Antonio Missions in the south. You can visit The Greenline, a linear park with picnic tables, food trucks, fitness stations, an outdoor game area, and public art displays. 

photo by Jana Taylor (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

Southside in San Antonio

Jacqui de Klerk | Contributing Writer