I’d never heard of the San Antonio Tower of the Americas before I arrived to this Texan city. Yet with it’s location within HemisFair Park it proved a worthy addition to my visit list of must sees on my recent visit to this touristy and historic city.
Standing at over 700 foot tall (229m) the Tower of Americas San Antonio shares domination of the skyline with the older Tower Life Building. The tower is also higher than the famous Seattle Space Needle.
The Tower was just a few minutes walk from my downtown hotel.
As part of my attractions package for sightseeing San Antonio I’d acquired a ticket to visit the tower and also experience a 4D cinema experience.
Whilst the Tower of the Americas is easy to spot from any angle of the city centre, I made my way through the main entrance of HemisFair Park which is across the road from La Villita.
At first I wasn’t sure of what to make of the park. It seemed to have some old, derelict houses. It turns out some have been placed here for posterity as they have historical significance.
There was certainly lots of greenery around which made the walk a pleasant venture.
HemisFair park had been created by transforming some run down land in the build up to hosting the 1968 HemisFair. This may also be known as the World’s Fair or International Exposition.
San Antonio had the honour of hosting the fair on the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city. Sadly, the opening on 6th April 1968 was 2 days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Security was tightened during the opening since death threats were circulating about some of the visiting dignitaries.
As of today the park has undergone some changes since the Hemisfair yet retains many of the original buildings. These were created to celebrate academia, commerce and world affairs.
Included on the grounds are the Mexico Cultural Institute and Institute of Texan Cultures. Of course the Towers of America San Antonio shadows over all of these.
What I particularly liked about the HemisFair Park were the sculptures and the delightful water feature. Signs advised people to keep out of the water but there was no stopping numerous children and some adults on this scorching hot October day.
A bit like the park, the Tower of San Antonio has undergone some changes from it’s original structure in 1968. The tower is now leased to Landry’s Restaurants Inc who’ve added a gift shop and some other features to the site.
As you first enter the base of the tower there is no getting away from the rotund shape.
The gift shop on the left is quite large in size whilst opposite there was the ever present feature of modern day attractions, the photographer wanting to sell a picture of you. Don’t people just take selfies now?
I quickly proceeded round the corner and found the elevator up to the viewing deck, restaurant and lounge. There is an attendant at the lift so they will check that you’ve got a wrist band on. You collect the wristband from the outside ticket office.
The lift has one side which is made of glass so you have a great view of the outside as you ascend up to 600 feet in a matter of seconds.
When I arrived at the San Antonio Tower viewing deck the revolving restaurant (Chart House Restaurant) appeared to be closed. The small shop and bar were open for those planning to settle for a while.
At first I felt the viewing panes were a little bit far away. As it turns out there are two viewing areas, an indoor observation deck and an outdoor one. It’s not truly outdoor but is on the outer circumference of the top of the tower.
The outdoor observation deck of the Tower of the Americas is around 170m high and provides a full 360 degree viewing experience of the greater San Antonio area.
Various pictures on the walls helped you identify the various buildings outside. This certainly made it easier to find places such as The Alamo.
In no time at all it seemed as though I’d walked the full circumference and was back to where I started.
I returned to the lift and made it in time to the next big attraction of the Tower of Americas, the 4D Theatre!
What is a 4D Theatre?
No doubt you’ve experienced cinema in 3D, where you have to wear special glasses so the image appears right in front of you, as though it is touchable. Well 4D takes it to the next level. Not only do you receive visual quality which feels real, you also have motion!
As we watched the short film labelled “Skies over Texas” our seats moved, water was dropped on us in well timed effect. We even had air blown against our leg to resemble a rattle snack brushing between us.
Whilst I sense the timing of the motion was maybe not perfect nor in sync with the film, it was a very memorable and enjoyable film experience. It comes with your entrance ticket so it is not one to be missed.
It was a great way to round off a visit to the Tower of Americas and the Hemisfair park.
As I left the site it was a very pleasant walk through the gardens and past some of the relatively new buildings. There was easy access back to another of the main attractions of San Antonio, the riverwalk.
Have you visited the San Antonio Tower of the Americas?
Have you been to San Antonio? Did you make it to Hemisfair Park and go up the San Antonio Tower? Let me know what you thought in the comments section below?