Flashback to 2008 – a trip to Houston to visit a friend turns into a 2 day whirlwind tour of San Antonio and Austin. First stop – the San Antonio Missions! There are FOUR Missions in San Antonio and it is absolutely possible to visit them all in a single day!
It was my first EVER trip to Texas, and I remember thinking how flat everything was compared to the east coast. Now living on the west coast, I think the east coast is flat too! San Antonio is about 3+ hours from Houston and 4+ hours from Dallas.
Even in November, the weather was hot – a very welcome change from New England. We arrived from the south and made our way towards the center of the city.
Our first stop was Mission (San Francisco de la) Espada, the southernmost mission. Founded in 1690, it was the first mission in Texas. It relocated to its present location in 1731. I remember wandering among the foundations and random doorways standing by themselves, and an aqueduct behind this façade. The doors are all very short, btw.
Next up was Mission San Juan (Capistrano), founded in 1716 and moved to its present location in 1731. The façade has been restored to a whitewashed stone since my visit. The was a lot of open space at this mission, and little shade – a good tip for a hot summer day!
Next up was my favorite mission, Mission San José (y San Miguel de Aguayo), the home of the Rose Window. Founded in 1720 and completed in 1782, it was the largest mission in the San Antonio area. It has beautiful gardens and an active church.
Last but not least was Mission Concepción (Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña), founded in 1716, and moved to the current location in 1731. The church was dedicated in 1755 after 15 years of construction, and is the oldest unrestored stone church in America. There are beautiful frescos on the inside of the church.
Since my visit, the city of San Antonio has completed the Mission Riverwalk Hike & Bike trail – over 8 miles of protected trail along the river that runs from the Alamo to Mission Espada. There are water fountains along the route and signs indicating where to exit for each Mission. Check it out!
The Alamo, the most well know San Antonio Mission, is not park of the National Historic Park. It is, however, part of the San Antonio Missions UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a great trip for fall, winter or spring, when the weather is not unbearable. Have a great trip!