When planning meetings and events in San Antonio, planners are immediately struck by this festively decked-out destination, whose old-world charm captures more than 26 million visitors each year. With numerous convention venues, a vibrant business district and a host of cultural, historic, and entertainment attractions, it is no wonder that San Antonio's CVB has been the proud recipient of the Gold Service Award from Meetings & Conventions magazine for 24 consecutive years; and for 18 consecutive years has won the Pinnacle Award from Successful Meetings magazine.
A major benefit of hosting a convention in San Antonio is the ease of getting from one place to the next, either on street level or via the River Walk. Hotels, restaurants and attractions are accessible by walkway, a short taxi ride by car or boat, or a hop on the downtown trolley. Most of the city's popular downtown attractions are within walking distance, such as the famed River Walk – a stretch of shops, restaurants, and clubs lining the picturesque San Antonio River – and the Alamo, one of Texas' most treasured historic structures.
Numerous San Antonio event venues are located within the culture-rich downtown, which places them within walking distance to thousands of hotel rooms. Overall, the city boasts more than 43,000 hotel rooms - 13,500 of those downtown. From boutique hotels to national and international chains to budget-friendly accommodations, there's a place for everybody.
Chief among San Antonio convention venues is Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, which offers more than 630,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as more than 440,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space. In 2011, the convention center underwent a $40 million renovation that included green upgrades such as solar film and energy efficient lighting; and event venues such as the Lonesome Dove room and Plaza Acequia, a 20,000 square foot outdoor event space. Inside, renovations to the 2,319-seat Lila Cockrell Theatre resulted in an ideal venue for corporate presentations, lectures and general assemblies in addition to traditional performing arts events. The center has 45 loading docks including 24 covered docks. The San Antonio River extends through the center with river taxi stops, event patios, native landscaping and meandering limestone walkways.
Other convention venues in San Antonio include the signature Alamodome, which features ultra-modern technology and a layout perfect for major conventions, general assemblies, sporting events, and entertainment events. With a capacity for 65,000 in the domed area, it also features flexible column-free space with a curtain wall system allowing for multiple room configurations. The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, coming in 2013 , will be a full-scale renovation of the former Municipal Auditorium. This San Antonio treasure will retain its historical charm and grandeur while featuring exceptional sound, acoustics and seating arrangements. Plus, its location on the Museum Reach extension of the San Antonio River Walk will make it a gateway to the cultural heart of San Antonio.
Speaking of the River Walk, the city is nearing completion of a $358.3 million project to lengthen the famed waterway from three to 15 miles with the addition of two extensions: the 1.3 mile urban Museum Reach that opened in 2009, connecting downtown with museums, cultural districts, and the historic Pearl Brewery district to the north; and the 8-mile natural environment of the Mission Reach, which opened its first three miles in 2012. In 2013, the Mission Reach – the largest ecosystem restoration in an urban area – will connect the original River Walk to four of the city's Spanish Colonial missions to the south. (Sections are being opened as they are completed.) To see the River Walk in its ultimate party attire with beautifully crafted floats, groups should be sure to schedule trips during the spring season, when the city hosts its annual Fiesta San Antonio. Another glorious season occurs during the holidays, from Thanksgiving weekend to New Year's Day, when downtown comes alive in full holiday regalia and spectacular lighting effects. Other downtown attractions include the Arneson River Theatre, La Villita, the Majestic Theatre and the iconic Tower of the Americas at HemisFair Park.
Beyond downtown, there is a wealth of exciting and affordable team-building venues such as parks, theaters, museums, ranches, golf resorts, theme parks and more. More than 100 rides at Six Flags Fiesta Texas range from the family friendly to the hair-raising, including the debut of the highly-anticipated Iron Rattler hybrid coaster in spring of 2013 Interact with the good-natured bottlenose dolphins at Sea World, the world's largest marine-life adventure park featuring its new Aquatica waterpark designed as a South Seas oasis. Golfers will love testing their skills at one of San Antonio's 40 public and private courses.
San Antonio's strong economy caters to a wide variety of industries including financial services, health care, national defense and tourism. Major corporations calling San Antonio home include USAA, Rackspace, Advantage Rent-a-Car, Clear Channel Communications, Valero Energy Corporation, Toyota Motor manufacturing plant, and more. San Antonio is often referred to as "Military City USA," as it is home to Fort Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, Randolph AFB and Brooks City-Base, giving it one of the largest concentrations of military in the nation.
San Antonio is a proud member of the Convene Green Alliance, a grassroots initiative that seeks to lessen the impact organizations and their events have on the environment.
San Antonio is often referred to as the Alamo City, home of the revered Alamo, the shrine of Texas Liberty and the number one tourist attraction in Texas (source: State of Texas Economic Development and Tourism Division). Dating back to 1724, the Alamo has served as home to missionaries, the Spanish military, revolutionaries and royalists.
The city was founded in 1691 by Spanish Franciscan monks as part of Spanish colonization and a desire to spread Catholicism among the native peoples. Made up of a rich history that is interwoven with many cultures, San Antonio's street signs were once written in Spanish, English and German. Visitors are greeted with the sights and sounds of history at every turn: Walk the streets of the King William neighborhood, one of the oldest historical districts in Texas, to enjoy the magnificent Victorian homes along with an eclectic mix of art galleries and restaurants. Visit El Mercado, the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico. Stroll the grounds of HemisFair Park, an art-filled park next to the convention center that is slated for a massive renovation and re-imagining.
San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the U.S. and the second-most populous city in Texas. Today, Hispanic influences are seen in the city's numerous, Latin-themed shops, restaurants serving authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, and other attractions conveying a distinct South of the border flair.
Affordable, with a booming economy and a diverse population, pleasurable climate, and high standard of living, San Antonio holds endless appeal as a welcoming tourist destination and an ideal place to live.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
As one of the southernmost large cities in the continental United States, San Antonio enjoys a pleasurable humid subtropical climate. The city enjoys a warm average high temperature of 80°F and average low of 58°F. July and August are the warmest months, with temperatures reaching the mid-90s, and January is the coldest month with temperatures dropping to an average of 39°F.
Sunshine blankets the city an average of 300 days out of the year, and average precipitation is a mere 29.6 inches. The best time to visit San Antonio is during late winter through spring, as temperatures are still moderate and rainfall is at a minimum.
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
A true masterpiece, the stunning Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center unveiled $40 million in renovations throughout 2011, taking the center to a whole new level of unparalleled excellence.
From the $26-million refurbishment of the 2,300-seat Lila Cockrell Theatre to the new 20,000 square foot Plaza Acequia, to the rustic Western elegance of the Lonesome Dove room, the unique new event spaces are already attracting well-deserved attention. A new official Visitor Information Center within the walls of the convention center provides the ultimate in convenience for attendees.
The convention center offers more than 630,000 total square feet of meeting space, including 440,000 contiguous square feet of exhibit space. Three ballrooms, including a 40,000-square-foot grand ballroom, and meeting space that can be configured into up to 67 breakout rooms, high-speed Internet access in all spaces, fully digital sound systems and an on-site UPS store make the convention center perfect for meetings and events of any size. Catering and concession services are provided by the highly sought after RK Group, including customizing events from start to finish with floral, decor and entertainment.
Eco-friendly improvements include the addition of solar film, energy efficient lighting, and digital wayfinding signs to reduce paper waste. A new, technologically advanced electronic door access system allows meeting professionals to use a single card key to open all their assigned rooms, and an exterior door magnetic lock system controlled from one central location represents the most comprehensive electronic door access system in any U.S. convention center.
In the heart of downtown, the convention center is close to more than 13,500 hotel rooms along with restaurants, shops, and historical attractions, many within walking distance.
Alamodome San Antonio
Conveniently located in downtown San Antonio and near the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, the Alamodome boasts more than 160,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space and 30,000 square feet of conference space. The unique domed center comfortably seats up to 65,000 for conventions, major sporting events, general assemblies, and special events. Smaller events benefit from an innovative curtain wall system that easily transforms larger meeting facilities into more modest private rooms. High-tech amenities include a fully integrated voice data, audio and video system with voice transfer via fiber optics, video production capabilities and television broadcast support. The Skyline Lounge and Top of the Dome restaurants also offer 5,000 square feet of space and one of the best panoramic views of downtown and the surrounding area.
San Antonio Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and the Lila Cockrell Theatre
100 Auditorium CircleSan Antonio, TXTotal Meeting Space Sq Ft - 35,000
San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
Approximate taxi fare: $27-30 USD
A mere eight miles from downtown, the 2,600-acre San Antonio International Airport became even more convenient with the opening of an eight-gate terminal in 2010. The $108-million state-of-the-art Terminal B replaced the older of the airport's two terminals, creating the look and feel of one building, allowing a seamless flow between terminals. Free Wi-Fi is available in both terminals.
The project was the culmination of years of airport renovations including a $45-million, five story long-term parking garage in 2008 that brought the total number of parking spaces for short and long term to more than 7,000. A $44-million, bi-level roadway system, consolidated baggage handling system and new central utility plant were additional improvements. In 2012, the city began a $35 million renovation of Terminal A, to be completed in phases through spring of 2014. The nearly 30-year-old terminal will get new flooring, furnishings, lighting, renovation of 12 public restrooms, improved traffic flow at security checkpoints, and in general, a fresh contemporary look more in line with Terminal B.
Home to United/Continental and American Airlines, Terminal B also has dining options from local chefs, newsstands, charming shops, and a masterful integration of architecture and public art. Friendly airport ambassadors are on hand to make sure everybody experiences the charm of San Antonio. Today, the airport is home to more than 12 branded carriers providing service to 30 markets, including several destinations throughout Mexico, with about 260 daily domestic and international operations. More than 8 million passengers pass through 24 jet-bridge gates and three ground-loading gates each year.
Airline carriers serving San Antonio International Airport
Amtrak's Texas Eagle serves the city of San Antonio on the historic Sunset Station site. Located in the St. Paul Square historical district near downtown, it is the 7th busiest stop for the Texas Eagle, traveling daily between Chicago and San Antonio. The route includes major cities such as Austin, Dallas and St. Louis. Connecting service between San Antonio and Los Angeles is available three times a week via the Sunset Limited.
The VIA Metropolitan Transit System has served San Antonio for more than 30 years. Covering 1,226 square miles – 98 percent of Bexar County – the transit system includes 7,210 bus stop along 91 bus lines. Bus lines are divided into five service categories – frequent, metro, express, skip, and streetcar – providing efficient travel options for the 45 million passengers who rode the system in 2010-11. VIA buses run daily from 4 to 1 a.m. Regular bus fares are $1.10 and express bus fares are $2.50. One-day passes are $4.
Rental car services are widely available in San Antonio. Major rental companies operating out of San Antonio International Airport include Hertz, Advantage, Alamo, Enterprise, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty and National. Passenger pick-up for car rentals is located at the west end of baggage claim in Terminal A and curbside of baggage claim in Terminal B.
Numerous taxicab companies operate in the city of San Antonio, providing quick and convenient transportation throughout the area. The largest fleet is operated by Yellow Cab. For most of the city's hotspots including the airport, River Walk and downtown, cabs can be hailed curbside. In less popular areas, travelers must call cabs to request pick-up. Many offer a “four ride for the price of one” fare, which saves attendees even more.
Approximate Taxi Fares from San Antonio International Airport
For a unique and convenient way to see and travel the River Walk, Rio Taxi gives visitors a chance to relax on their way to restaurants, clubs, shops, hotels and other attractions along the famed waterway. Operating daily from 9 AM to 9 PM. Rio Taxi stops at more than 39 stops along the River Walk, with a Downtown route up to Lexington Street, and Museum route up to the Museum of Art and the Pearl District. Tickets are available on the boat or at several ticket/boarding locations for downtown, the Museum Reach, or a combination ticket. Tickets begin at $5 for one route/one way; $10 for one route/24-hour pass; $25 for one route/three-day pass; and $15 for both routes/24-hour pass. Pass tickets allow for unlimited rides during the allowed time period.
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