San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Overview

The legacy and history of San Antonio and this region began with a simple ceremony when in 1718 Franciscans and Spanish representatives established the first mission. Within 13 years, five were located along the San Antonio River. The missions' purpose was to acculturate and Christianize the native population and make them Spanish citizens. Today, visitors can retrace the footsteps of the mission Indians and friars. And, possibly, meet descendants of those first inhabitants. Four Spanish frontier missions, part of a colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries, are preserved here. They include Missions San Jose, San Juan, Espada, and Concepcion. The park, containing many cultural sites along with some natural areas, was established in 1978. The park covers about 819 acres. The park Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00AM to 5:00PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. The Visitor Center features a film, museum, and bookstore.

Map

Seasonality / Weather

From April through October be prepared for hot, humid weather. Wear a hat, use sun screen liberally and often, and drink plenty of water. In November through March, weather is more temperate, and sometimes chilly.

Directions

Driving: 

From downtown and the Alamo area:

Travel south on South St. Mary's Street. Approximately one mile south of downtown, after passing beneath railroad tracks, South St. Mary's becomes Roosevelt Ave. Continue on Roosevelt 4 miles, to a drive-in theater on your left, followed by a large stone structure: Mission San José. At the first stop light past the mission turn left onto New Napier Ave. Follow the signs into the parking lot or bus lanes, as appropriate.

From north San Antonio and the airport area:

Take Hwy 281 S past downtown San Antonio, where Hwy 281 becomes I-37. Continue on I-37 S to exit 135 west, SE Military Drive, and turn right onto Military Dr. Drive approximately 2 miles to Mission Road, the second street past the river, and turn right. At the end of Mission Road, follow the signs into the parking lot or bus lanes, as appropriate.

From northeast San Antonio or the Austin area:

Take I-35 S to just north of downtown San Antonio. Exit 158B onto I-37 S (same as US 281 S). Continue on I-37 S to exit 135 west, SE Military Drive, and turn right onto Military Dr. Drive approximately 2 miles to Mission Road, the second street past the river, and turn right. At the end of Mission Road, follow the signs into the parking lot or bus lanes, as appropriate.

From northwest San Antonio and the Fiesta Texas area:

Take I-10 E toward Houston. When you reach the downtown area make sure you stay on I-10 E; you will take a ramp to remain on I-10. Stay to the right and exit I-37 S toward Corpus Christi. Continue on I-37 S to exit 135 west, SE Military Drive, and turn right onto Military Dr. Drive approximately 2 miles to Mission Road, the second street past the river, and turn right. At the end of Mission Road, follow the signs into the parking lot or bus lanes, as appropriate.

From west San Antonio and the Sea World area:

Take Hwy 90 E. Stay to the right and exit I-37 S toward Corpus Christi. Continue on I-37 S to exit 135 west, SE Military Drive, and turn right onto Military Dr. Drive approximately 2 miles to Mission Road, the second street past the river, and turn right. At the end of Mission Road, follow the signs into the parking lot or bus lanes, as appropriate.

From southeast San Antonio and the Corpus Christi area:

Approach San Antonio on I-37 N. Exit 135 (SE Military Drive) and turn left onto Military Dr. Drive approximately 2 miles to Mission Road, the second street past the river, and turn right. At the end of Mission Road, follow the signs into the parking lot or bus lanes, as appropriate.

From southwest San Antonio and the Laredo area:

Approach San Antonio on I-35 N and take exit 150 onto SW Military east. Drive approximately 4 miles to Roosevelt Ave and turn left. At the first stop light, turn right onto New Napier and follow the signs into the parking lot or bus lanes, as appropriate.

Public Transport: 

The public transportation system in San Antonio is VIA. Bus 42 from downtown will bring you to Mission San José and within two blocks of Mission Concepción. There are no buses to Missions San Juan and Espada.

Taxis are available for trips to all four missions. From downtown to the farthest mission, Espada, is approximately 11 miles.