5 Fun Ways to Visit the San Antonio Missions in Texas

5 Fun Ways to Visit the San Antonio Missions in Texas

Including the Alamo, there are five Spanish colonial missions along the San Antonio Mission Trail in San Antonio, Texas. Of course, you can visit the San Antonio missions via car, but here are a few fun alternatives.

Funded by the Spanish colonial government, dozens of missions were built throughout Texas, Arizona, and California in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although each mission had a faith-based goal of converting indigenous people to Catholicism, the missions were not churches. They were self-sufficient communities of missionaries and indigenous people who united under the flag of Spain to keep French explorers at bay and fend off attacks from other native tribes in the area.

Although indigenous people have lived in North America for thousands of years, they were largely nomadic tribes with a close bond with the earth. Because they didn’t build many permanent structures, the United States doesn’t feature megalithic pagan temples, ancient fortresses, and medieval churches as are commonly found throughout Europe. But at approximately 300 years old, the Spanish missions of the American southwest are some of the oldest structures in the US. 

Because it’s located the farthest south, and because it was the first mission built in the Spanish state of Texas (earlier missions in the region were built on land claimed by Mexico), I recommend beginning your tour of the San Antonio Missions at Mission Espada. You can then make your way back to the heart of San Antonio as you stop at the other missions along this San Antonio Mission Trail tour.

Here are five ways to visit the San Antonio missions in Texas and what you can expect to pay for each transportation option.

 

Related Article:  The Missions of San Antonio, More Than the Alamo

Have You Visited the Missions of San Antonio?

Share your favorite photo with me by tagging @shutterbugsage on Instagram and using the hashtag #everydaywanderer

    

Include Mission San Jose when you tour San Antonio Missions in Texas

Approximate cost:  $10 to $20 for parking at the Alamo, plus the cost of renting the vehicle (or maintaining your own car) and gasoline

Whether you are road tripping through the Lone Star State or opt to rent a car during your Texas vacation, it’s easy to visit the San Antonio missions by car. If you’re staying in or near downtown San Antonio, simply head south to Mission Espada and then make your way back north, stopping at the other four San Antonio missions.

Sage Advice:  You can also see most of the San Antonio as well as a few other stops via this guided tour. Or visit all four missions in the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park with this guided San Antonio Missions  tour.

Driving the San Antonio Mission Trail

How to Use the San Antonio Mission Trail Map

  • Zoom in or out using the + and – keys in the bottom right corner.
  • Click the “More options” text link in the upper left corner to open this embedded map in a new browser window and take advantage of more  options including the ability to send these directions to your phone.

Parking a Car at the San Antonio Missions

The farther you travel away from downtown San Antonio (and the Alamo), the easier it is to park a personal or rented car. Parking is free at the four missions that are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, which include:

  • Mission Espada,
  • Mission San Juan,
  • Mission San Jose, and 
  • Mission Concepcion.

However, you should expect to pay $10 to $20 per day to park in one of the parking lots near the Alamo (Mission Valero).

Additional Details About Parking a Car at the San Antonio Missions

  • Mission Espada. Parking is available in a small dirt lot just north of the mission.
  • Mission San Juan. Park in the paved lot just south of Mission Road. If you need to stretch your legs, explore the Acequia Trail that winds its way through the mission grounds.
  • Mission San Jose. There is a large paved lot southeast of the San Jose Mission and Mission San Jose Church. Parking in the northern end of the lot puts you closer to the historic sanctuary and its beautiful rose window. The southern end of the lot is closest to the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park Visitor Center and allows you to enter the mission compound through an opening in the old protective wall.  Sage Advice:  If you are visiting the San Antonio Missions with an electric car, the Mission San Jose parking lot includes charging stations for electric vehicles.
  • Mission Concepcion. Parking is available in the southwest corner of the mission grounds, and a paved path leads you to the oldest unrestored stone church in America.
  • Mission Valero (the Alamo). Because it’s the most famous of the San Antonio Missions and located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, parking is most challenging at the Alamo. However, there are several street lots and covered parking garages in the blocks surrounding the Mission Valero. Expect to pay between $10 and $20 per day.

Sage Advice:   

Use Lyft or Uber to Tour San Antonio Missions
One way to tour the San Antonio Missions is by ridesharing app like Lyft or Uber. Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Visiting the San Antonio Missions Using a Ridesharing App

Approximate cost:  $30 to $50 plus tip

Whether you’re a fan of Uber or Lyft, both ridesharing companies make it easy to visit all five San Antonio Missions. The charges associated with each ridesharing app vary based on:

  • the day and time of your travel,
  • the number of people in your party (Lyft vs Lyft XL or Uber X vs Uber XL),
  • the swankiness of the car (Lyft Lux)

You can generally expect to spend these amounts to visit all five San Antonio missions by ridesharing app:

  • Downtown San Antonio to Mission Espada – $13 to $25
  • Mission Espada to Mission San Juan – $3 to $6
  • Mission San Juan to Mission San Jose – $5 to $7
  • Mission San Jose to Mission Concepcion – $4 to $6
  • Mission Concepcion to the Alamo – $5 to $7

Note:  The prices quoted above do not include a tip for the rideshare driver.

Use VIA bus to tour San Antonio MIssions
An affordable way to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park is by VIA bus. Photo courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit Facebook Page.

See the Spanish Missions via the San Antonio Mission Trail Bus

Approximate cost:  $1.35 to $2.75 per person

The most convenient San Antonio bus option is bus 40. For just a few dollars, you can purchase an all-day VIA bus pass that transports riders to all four missions in the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park without making any stops between the historic Spanish colonial landmarks.

A day pass for the San Antonio Mission Trail bus is currently $2.75 for full-fare riders. Discounted fares are offered to students (ID required), children, and active-duty military. A reduced fare day pass is currently $1.35. 

Before you go to San Antonio, download the bus 40 route map and timetable. You may also want to download and install VIA’s goMobile ticketing app.

Sage Advice:  If you want to see more than the Alamo but don’t have the time or desire to see all five San Antonio missions, another bus option is VIA bus 42. It travels between downtown San Antonio, Mission San Jose, and Mission Concepcion. However, unlike VIA bus 40, it does make stops every few blocks along the way.

How to Visit the San Antonio Missions by Bike

Approximate cost:  $13 per person per day 

Touring the San Antonio Mission Trail by bike was my favorite way to explore the San Antonio Missions! Not only was the bike rental fast and easy, exploring the San Antonio Mission Trail on two wheels was a great way to soak in the gorgeous sunny day. Plus, it’s super easy to see all five missions via the well-marked and maintained San Antonio Mission Trail.

To tour the San Antonio missions by bike, we took a Lyft from our hotel in downtown San Antonio to Mission Espada. After exploring the oldest Texas mission, we rented bicycles from the BCycle San Antonio bike sharing station just a few paces north along the San Antonio River Walk Trail. This bicycle and pedestrian trail begins at the northwestern corner of the mission grounds and hugs the San Antonio River all the way back to downtown San Antonio.

With bike rental stations all along the San Antonio River Walk Trail, it’s easy to dock your ride, see the mission, and then pick up a new two-wheeler. If you’ve bonded with your bicycle, you can also dismount and walk alongside it as you explore the mission grounds so that it’s still available to take you to the next stop along the San Antonio Mission Trail.

One thing to keep in mind is that BCycle rentals don’t come with bicycle helmets. So, you’ll want to be extra mindful of bike safety rules when you visit the San Antonio missions by bike.

Sage Advice:  There are limited services at the missions, so be sure to bring a refillable water bottle and pack snacks, especially if you plan to bike or hike between missions. Water refill stations are available at all five missions.

My favorite way to see the missions of San Antonio is by bike.
My favorite way to see the missions of San Antonio is by bike, especially when the Texas wildflowers are in bloom!

Hiking or Biking the San Antonio Mission Trail

How to Use the San Antonio Mission Trail Map

  • Zoom in or out using the + and – keys in the bottom right corner.
  • Click the “More options” text link in the upper left corner to open this embedded map in a new browser window and take advantage of more  options including the ability to send these directions to your phone.e 

Visiting the San Antonio Missions on Foot

If you want to enjoy the outdoors but don’t feel like renting a bicycle, it’s also easy (although a bit of a hike) to visit the San Antonio missions on foot. It’s about 8.5 miles along the dedicated footpath from Mission Espada back to the Alamo.

Sage Advice If you want to try more than one method of transportation, it’s easy to mix and match. For example:  Take VIA bus 40 to Mission Espada and then bike to as many missions as you like before jumping on bus 40 to return downtown. Or, you can take a Lyft or Uber to Mission Espada and then alternate between walking and biking the trail back downtown.

Outdoor activities in Kansas City

To Visit the Missions of San Antonio

Here’s all of the practical information you need to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park.

How many missions are there in San Antonio?

What connects the missions of San Antonio?

Hugging the San Antonio River for about ten miles, the Hike & Bike Trail connects all five San Antonio Missions making it easy to tour the San Antonio Missions by foot or on bicycle.

What hours can the San Antonio Missions be visited?

The Missions of San Antonio are open daily from sunrise to sunset. However, they are closed throughout the year on certain holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Where is the San Antonio Missions Visitor Center located?

Mission San Jose is home to the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park Visitor Center. It’s open on days that the park is open, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

What does it cost to visit the San Antonio Missions?

There is no cost to visit any of the five missions in San Antonio.

Have You Visited the San Antonio Missions?

Which missions did you visit? How did you travel between the missions? How did that mode of transportation work for you? Any additional tips and tricks to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Fun ways to explore all five missions in San Antonio Texas. In addition to the Alamo, there are four additional Spanish missions in San Antonio Missions National Park. Bike the San Antonio Missions Trail, hike the San Antonio Missions Trail, or explore the missions by car as a fun San Antonio things to do on your Texas vacation. #sanantonio #texas #US #USA #travel
Fun ways to explore all five missions in San Antonio Texas. In addition to the Alamo, there are four additional Spanish missions in San Antonio Missions National Park. Bike the San Antonio Missions Trail, hike the San Antonio Missions Trail, or explore the missions by car as a fun San Antonio things to do on your Texas vacation. #sanantonio #texas #US #USA #travel
Fun ways to explore all five missions in San Antonio Texas. In addition to the Alamo, there are four additional Spanish missions in San Antonio Missions National Park. Bike the San Antonio Missions Trail, hike the San Antonio Missions Trail, or explore the missions by car as a fun San Antonio things to do on your Texas vacation. #sanantonio #texas #US #USA #travel

Ready to Go? Use These Helpful Links to Book Your Trip

You Might Also Enjoy

Bicycle Safety Thumbnail

Rules of the Road. Bicycle safety tips every cyclist should follow.

Reasons to Explore via a Scavenger Hunt

Explore via an Interactive Scavenger Hunt. Seven reasons you should take a scavenger hunt today!

If you enjoyed this article, please share!

2 thoughts on “5 Fun Ways to Visit the San Antonio Missions in Texas”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top