When mentioning the city of San Antonio, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is the Alamo.
However, there is much more to see and do in this historic city, which is now the eighth largest city in the United States.
Native Americans first lived along the San Antonio River, and called the area "Yanaguana," which means clear or refreshing waters.
In 1691, a band of Spanish explorers and missionaries came upon the river and named it San Antonio since it was the feast day of St. Anthony.
Today, the area where the river winds through the business district is one of San Antonio's jewels, the Paseo del Rio, better known as the "River Walk."
The River Walk, which is 20 feet below street level, is made of cobblestone and flagstone paths on either side of the river. It stretches for two and one half miles from the Municipal Auditorium and Conference Center on the north end, to the King William historic district on the south end.
Along the way you'll find specialty boutiques, nightclubs, high-rise hotels, European-style sidewalk cafes and quiet areas with park-like settings.
You can take a tour of the river aboard Rio San Antonio Cruises, or you can enjoy dinner on an open-air cruiser. There also is a river taxi that stops along the river, including a stop at Rivercenter, a three-level shopping, dining and entertainment complex.
Of course, no visit to San Antonio is complete without visiting the Alamo, located at the start of the San Antonio Mission Trail, which stretches for nine miles along the San Antonio River.
The Alamo was established as the city's first mission in 1718. All that remains of the original fort is the fašade and the Long Barracks. The Long Barracks Museum and Library contains relics and mementos from the Republic of Texas and narration on the fall of the Alamo.
Some of the other missions, all of which date back to the 1700s, look as they did when they were built. The Mission San Francisco de la Espada features the Espada Dam, which was built between 1731 and 1740 and is still in use today.
The largest mission is the Mission San Jose, founded in 1720. It features the famous "Rose Window," considered one of the finest pieces of Spanish Colonial ornamentation in the country.
San Antonio is home to two major theme parks.
Sea World San Antonio is the world's largest marine life park, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas is in itself a celebration of San Antonio and South Texas.
Six Flags features four themed areas: the German village of Spassburg, the Mexican town of Los Festivales, a 1920 cowboy town called Crackaxle Canyon and a small Texas town called Rockville set in the golden age of rock 'n' roll.
Rockville includes Fiesta Bay Boardwalk, a seaside boardwalk complete with a 90-foot Ferris wheel.
The San Antonio Children's Museum has a miniature version of the city for kids to explore. The Tower of the Americas offers breathtaking views of San Antonio from 750 feet above.
The Plaza Theatre of Wax is home to more than 225 life-like characters from Hollywood, history, horror and religion. And the San Antonio Zoo, home to more than 3,000 animals, is ranked as one of the best in the country.
San Antonio also has two wonderful art museums. The McNay Art Museum, set in a Mediterranean style mansion, has a wide range of art including modern art, medieval, post-impressionist and Native American art.
The San Antonio Museum of Art contains Mexican folk, modern, Spanish and pre-Columbian art, and the 30,000-square-foot Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Arts.
As far as dining in San Antonio, Tex-Mex food is a passion with local residents of all ethnic backgrounds.
I think we'll always remember the Alamo, but you'll have much more to remember if you visit this exciting city!
Lisa Vivirito is owner of Diamond Travel in Vero Beach. Call her at 772-567-8481 or 800-795-1986. www.diamondtravelofvero.com.