5 Best Photo Opportunites in San Antonio
Lee Van Grack
1. The Romantic Photo: Selena's Bridge on the Riverwalk
Nothing defines modern San Antonio like the Riverwalk. Most visitors are aware of the shops, restaurants and clubs that line the banks of the San Antonio River, but few realize there's a quiet side to the Riverwalk as well. Nestled below street level and lined with century-old cypress trees, the Riverwalk is a natural sanctuary in the heart of the city.
If you're in love, there's no better place for a picture than Selena's Bridge. The bridge was the backdrop for a romantic scene in the movie "Selena." The film is a biographical look at the life of Texas-born singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who was tragically slain by her business manager shortly before her 24th birthday.
There's never a bad time to visit the Riverwalk, but early summer mornings just after sunrise are especially beautiful and offer the best photo ops. San Antonio's Christmas decorations also make for scenic shots, especially just after sunset when the Riverwalk is decorated in festive holiday colors and twinkling lights.
Selena's bridge is located directly in front of La Mansion del Rio hotel, between Navarro and St. Mary's streets. Park at any downtown lot and follow the signs to the Riverwalk. The best shots can be had from the north bank, just west of the Navarro Street Bridge.
One of the best photo ops in San Antonio is in front of Gruene Hall, Texas's oldest dance hall in the San Antonio suburb of New Braunfels. Willie Nelson has had his picture taken here, and so have Albert Collins, Robert Cray, Steve Earle, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Dennis Quaid, George Strait, John Travolta, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jerry Jeff Walker, Townes Van Zandt and a whole host of other famous entertainers. You should have your picture taken here as well.
You could take a snap out front or from across the street. But for the best photo, why not wait until between sets and have your picture taken with the band? Buy them a round of their favorite drink and they'll probably even smile for the camera.
A visit to Gruene Hall is like taking a trip on a time machine. It's a friendly place that could only be found in southern Texas. Gruene Hall is seriously rustic, from the inconspicuous screen door to the creaking floorboards and rickety walls made of barn wood. The entertainers are not sequestered behind rows of security on a distant stage; they're right there in front of you and close enough to hear what you think of them. There's a pool table, a beer garden, and most likely three generations of Texans with something in common: a love of great music.
There's almost always music at Gruene Hall, starting early in the day and going until well after sundown. Most shows are free with no cover charge; you only pay for what you drink. Kids are welcome as long as they're respectful and under control.
Gruene Hall, 1281 Gruene Road, New Braunfels, 830-606-1281. To get to Gruene Hall from San Antonio, take IH-35 north towards Austin. Exit at FM-306, head towards Canyon Lake and follow the signs. Avoid July and August unless you don't mind being out in the sultry Texas summer (there's no air conditioning at Gruene Hall).
3. The Fun Family Photo: Poltergeist at Six Flags Fiesta Texas
The Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park has grown over the years and offers unlimited family photo opportunities: San Antonio's favorite theme park now boasts a collection of thrill rides and roller coasters second to none.
But for the best photo ops of your family, dare to ride on the Poltergeist, which resembles a bowl of spaghetti. Unlike traditional coasters, riders on Poltergeist don't climb a big hill to start the ride. Instead, the ride uses a linear motor to propel riders from a standing start. It's like being shot out of a cannon. Poltergeist has the smallest footprint of any roller coaster at Fiesta Texas. Instead of long straight hills, the track folds back on itself repeatedly, making it a great spot for your best action photo ops.
The prime spot from which to shoot this coaster is directly to the right of Scream, the 17-story tower ride visible throughout the park.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas is located at Loop 1604 and IH-10 in northwest San Antonio. Take IH-10 west from downtown to get to the park. Hours vary, so call 210-697-5050 or visit the website when planning your trip.
4. The Scenic Photo: Overlook Park at Canyon Lake
Many visitors to San Antonio are surprised to discover that the city sits at the edge of the Texas Hill Country, a scenic area of green hills and lazy turquoise rivers that tumble over rocks on their way to the sea. Just north of town, Canyon Lake on the Guadalupe River offers an abundance of water sports from fishing to skiing and tubing. It also offers amateurs in travel photography an opportunity to snap a side of scenic Texas that many folks simply don't know exists.
Overlook Park at Canyon Lake is the best place to shoot San Antonio sunsets. It's located at the south end of the Canyon Dam. Entry is from the South Access Road. Arrive about 30 minutes before sundown because Overlook Park closes promptly just after sunset. You can combine this trip with a visit to Gruene Hall as both are in the vicinity.
5. The Classic Photo: The Alamo
You can't visit San Antonio without going to the Alamo. Mission San Antonio de Valero, more commonly known as the Alamo, is the symbol of San Antonio. Recognizable around the world, it was the site of one of the most famous battles in American history. The battle took place in 1836 when approximately 180 Americans died defending the fort from over 2,000 Mexican soldiers under the direction of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
Known as one of the best places for San Antonio travel photography, The Alamo is the undisputed top tourist draw in Texas. More Texans have their picture taken here than anywhere else in the Lone Star state. You should, too. The best location for a classic shot is directly in front of the large oak entry doors. Be sure to show up early in the morning for the best photo ops, before the crowds begin to assemble. Once the shrine opens, there will be a steady line of tourists all day long blocking the front of the building.
Once the photos are out of the way, you should tour the building. Be sure to remove all hats before entering; you're on sacred ground. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9AM-5:30PM and Sunday 10AM-5:30PM.
The Alamo is located at 300 Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio, directly across from the Riverwalk and just blocks from Selena's bridge. Call 210-225-1391 for information. Combine the trips for a memorable day and the best photo opportunities San Antonio has to offer!
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