San Antonio, Texas

Best Places to Retire in Texas


San Antonio (population approximately 1.15 million) is located in south central Texas, approximately 140 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and 150 miles northeast of Laredo, which is on the Mexican border. It is the county seat of Bexar County (pronounced “bear”).

San Antonio’s history dates to the Native Americans who called the area “Yanaguana,” meaning “refreshing waters.” Spanish explorers and missionaries came in 1691, naming the river “San Antonio” for the feast of St. Anthony. The city was founded in 1718 when Mission San Antonio de Valero was established. That same Mission is now well known as “The Alamo.”

The Battle of the Alamo in 1836, pitted Crockett, Bowie, Travis, and a small army of Texians (as they were known at that time), against the mighty Mexican army (estimated at 4,000 men) commanded by Santa Anna. Mexico won decisively, killing an estimated 150 of the defenders of the Republic, but not without losing an estimated 521 of its soldiers. The Alamo became the rallying cry of Texan’s, leading to the defeat and capture of Santa Anna soon thereafter at the battle of San Jacinto. Santa Anna signed a peace treaty, which called for Mexico to retreat south of the Rio Grande. The Alamo, located in the heart of downtown, is a shrine and museum.

San Antonio, now ranked as the 9th largest city in the U.S., has a blend of cultures including Native American, Old Mexico, German, African-American, the Wild West, and even the Deep South. It has preserved much of its very long and interesting history and traditions. It hosts world-class entertainers, supports professional sports teams, and the performing and visual arts thrive in this city. There are outstanding recreational opportunities, including hundreds of park facilities, theme parks, Sea World, and more. Dining options run the gamut from fine French restaurants, to Texas-sized steaks, Soul food, and Cajun. Tex-Mex is a local favorite. You can shop or browse Market Square, the largest Mexican Marketplace outside of Mexico, which offers interesting shops, great food and fun. There are excellent healthcare options and educational opportunities. If you want nightlife, it has that in abundance too!

San Antonio’s magnificent River Walk is its most popular tourist attraction. Born out of a disastrous flood in 1921 and developed over a period spanning more than seven decades, it tells a great deal about the character of the city.

The river development project, which broke ground in 1939, consists of gardens, landscaped areas, 7,000 feet of walkways, stairways up to the street level, footbridges, rock walls lining the banks of the river, over 17,000 trees, including palms, over 1,500 banana trees, shrubs, vines, and ground cover. More than eight hotels, a major shopping complex, and Arneson River Theatre are located along the river. There are at least 50 dining establishments along the River Walk. The River Walk itself is considered a city park and is maintained by the San Antonio Parks & Recreation Department. There are also boat rides and tours available from a private company for a fee.

San Antonio may not “have it all,” but it is undeniable that this city, which attracts about 18 million visitors annually, has great civic pride and has a great deal to offer.

Arts & Culture

San Antonio is considered among the top 25 Arts cities in the U.S. The following Web site offers a partial listing of its many galleries and museums.

The Alamo is the site of one of the most remembered military battles between the Texians (as they were then called) and the Mexican army under Santa Anna. It is a 4.1-acre complex composed of the original structures, support facilities and gardens.

The Majestic Theatre, built in 1929, is one of the most ornate theaters ever built in this country. Today this fully-restored 2,311-seat is home to the San Antonio Symphony, as well as a venue for Broadway touring attractions, performing arts events and concerts.

Historic Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, used for vaudeville, silent and talking pictures, concerts and live theatre, was heavily damaged by the 1921 flood and was only partially restored. After a slow decline, it closed in the late 1970s. The city acquired the building in the late 1980s and restored its original beauty, with its gold leafing, plasterwork and mahogany. It reopened in 1998 and today hosts a wide array of artists and productions.

San Antonio Art League Museum has as its mission collecting, preserving and exhibiting local and regional art. It promotes its works through exhibitions, lectures and other related activities.

The San Antonio Symphony’s season includes over 100 concerts a year.

The San Pedro Playhouse, located at the beautiful Greek Revival-style playhouse in San Pedro Park, has been operating for about three-quarters of a century. It is the longest running and most successful live theater in San Antonio, and offers musicals, comedies, and dramas.

The Steven Stoli Playhouse and the Backyard Theatre for Kids.

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center is a venue for Hispanic arts.

San Antonio Museum of Art –

The Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum –

The Witte Museum features history, science, natural science and anthropology exhibits.

San Antonio Missions Park is a national historical park that preserves four Spanish frontier missions from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

San Antonio Botanical Garden –

Alamo Metro Chorus of Sweet Adelines International –

Heart of Texas Chorus is a men’s barbershop chorus that sings four-part harmony. (210) 493-7383

Alamo City Men’s Chorale is a chorus of gay and gay-friendly singers.

ARTS San Antonio’s season begins in the fall and features combinations of dance, classical and contemporary music, ethnic performances and theatre.

The Children’s Chorus of San Antonio, formed in the early 1980s, brings high quality choral music education and performance opportunities to the children and youth the area.

San Antonio Dance Umbrella aims to promote dance and raise community awareness of dance treasures in the city.

The Urban 15 Group is committed to international dance and drumming expressions. San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet provides performance experiences for young, pre-professional dancers. (210) 590-0210

Carver Community Cultural Center celebrates diverse cultures with emphasis on African-American heritage. It offers artistic presentations, outreach and educational programs.

Centro Cultural Aztlan is an arts organization and exhibition forum for Chicano/Latino artists. (210) 432-1896.

UNAM/UNIVERSIDAD Nacional Autonoma de Mexico is an extension of the University of Mexico. It offers lectures, films and exhibits about Mexico.

Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center is a nonprofit, multidisciplinary organization for Chicano, Latino, and Indigenous peoples. It features art exhibits and theatrical shows. It hosts the Tejano Conjunto Music Festival and CineFestival Film Festival.

University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures –


The city’s Parks and Recreation Department manages nearly 200 locations with facilities ranging from recreation centers, pools, playgrounds, athletic fields and tennis, to six municipal golf courses, a ranch, a canyon park, and lakes that offer canoeing.

Brackenridge Park (343 acres) includes the Witte Museum, San Antonio Zoo, Japanese Tea Gardens, athletic fields, a sky ride, stable and bridle trails, and a golf driving range.

The city owns and operates six municipal golf courses and driving ranges, offering very reasonable rates.

San Antonio River Cruise on the man-made waterways of the downtown area.

The San Antonio Spurs, the NBA team, is the city’s best known sports team.

The Alamodome is a fully enclosed state-of-the-art entertainment complex that was completed in 1993 at a cost of $186,000,000. It hosts every imaginable large-scale event, including boat shows, monster truck and motocross events, home and garden shows, basketball, football, and hockey games, tournaments and bowl games, trade shows, concerts, and more.

The AT&T Center, one of the premier venues in the city, is home to the NBA Spurs, the WNBA Silver Stars and the AHL (American Hockey League) Rampage. It also hosts the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, concerts and family shows.


University of Texas at San Antonio has about 25,000 students and offers over 100 programs of study.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio –

Alamo Community College District includes Northwest Vista College, Palo Alto College, St. Philip’s College and San Antonio College. (Individual web sites for three of these are below)

Palo Alto College –

San Antonio College –

St. Philip’s College is historically a black college but is now serving Hispanics.

UNAM in San Antonio (campus of University of Mexico) has existed for over 60 years.

Trinity University is a liberal arts school offering academic programs leading to degrees in 34 areas.

St. Mary’s University is an independent Catholic institution with an enrollment of just over 4,000 students.

Our Lady of the Lake University is an independent, Catholic institution sponsored by the Congregation of Divine Providence. It offers 58 undergraduate programs, 48 graduate degree programs and two doctoral degree programs in the arts and sciences, business, education and clinical studies, and social work.

The Southwest School of Art & Craft is a community based art school serving both established artists and those who are acquiring the skills. Established in 1969, it now enrolls over 2,400 adults and 1,600 children in its classes.

Senior Programs

The Parks and Recreation Department offers a wide range of activities for adults and seniors. The programs are dedicated to improving and maintaining the quality of life for participants. Activities range from Bunco to Travel Club excursions. Seniors can learn to paint, take guitar lessons, or learn ballroom dancing. Offerings include topics such as Mexican folkloric dance, oil painting, pottery, percussion, photography, Flamenco and Latin social dancing, tap, jazz and hip hop. There are travelogue programs, ceramics, bridge, exercise classes, crafts and more. Facilities include the Commander’s House and the Lion’s Field Adult and Senior Citizen’s Center.


The medical services industry is well represented in San Antonio. The majority of facilities are located in the South Texas Medical Center area. Its main facilities include the University of Texas Health Science Center, as well as nine major hospitals (one of which is a Veteran’s hospital), two psychiatric rehabilitation hospitals, and two physical rehabilitation centers. The entire South Texas Medical Center area has 23,800 employees and 3,876 licensed beds. The following are links to local medical services: University of Texas Health Science Center –

Baptist Health System with four hospitals and a medical center.

Cancer Therapy & Research Center –

Methodist Healthcare operates four hospitals and over 20 healthcare facilities in San Antonio and the surrounding counties.

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health Care is a faith-based not-for-profit health system offering a full range of medical services.


San Antonio International Airport is located in the north central section, approximately eight miles (15 minutes) from the downtown district.

Stinson Municipal Airport is the second oldest airport in continuous operation in the U.S. Its primary role is a traffic reliever for general aviation and to serve light aircraft and private aviation companies.


Average temperatures range from 50 degrees in January to the mid-90s in July and August. However, extremely high temperatures (100 degrees or more) are rare. Relative humidity is 80 percent or above in the early morning hours most of the year, dropping to near 50 percent in the late afternoon.


Express-News –

Property Taxes

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

State Aging Agency


Austin – 79 miles
Del Rio – 153 miles
Corpus Christi – 143 miles
Loredo – 145 miles
Abelene – 145 miles
Dallas – 274 miles

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