How to have the best December imaginable, in three easy steps

Step 1: Buy your Valero Alamo Bowl tickets from the Oregon Ticket Office.

Step 2: Reserve your spot at the UO Alamo Bowl Tailgate Party from the UOAA.

Step 3: Learn about the city you'll soon be vacationing in, and prepare yourself for an amazing trip!

Named by Spanish explorers in 1691 and founded as a town in 1718, San Antonio—the one-time capital of Spanish Texas—has a long and colorful history.

The battle of the Alamo, while the most famous event in the city’s history, was just one of several battles fought in, and over, San Antonio, making it one of the most fought-over cities in North America. On the front line of the Texas Revolution, San Antonio's population dropped from around 2,000 to fewer than 800 between the late 1700s and the mid-1800s.

Now, 177 years after Santa Anna’s troops defeated William Travis, James Bowie, Davy Crockett, et. al., San Antonio is the seventh-most populous city in the United States, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the old frontier. If you’re heading to Texas to see the Ducks take on the Longhorns, here are 10 of the many things you can do or see in the days leading up to the game to ensure you have the ultimate Valero Alamo Bowl experience.

  1. The Alamo—This one needs no introduction, but we’ll introduce it anyway. Located in downtown San Antonio and just blocks from the UO team hotel, the San Antonio de Valero Mission and adjacent Long Barrack are must-see stops for any tourists interested in one of the most famous events in US history.
  2. River Walk—Alongside the San Antonio River in the heart of San Antonio runs the River Walk, a park lined with restaurants and businesses. Enjoy a cruise down the Rio San Antonio, shop at the RiverCenter Mall, or dine at one of the many outstanding Mexican restaurants.
  3. Natural Bridge Caverns—Formed millions of years ago, long after the warm sea that covered much of Texas dried up, water flowing through faults at the edge of what is now known as the Texas Hill Country created a series of large caverns. The Natural Bridge Caverns, now on the National Register of Historic Places, are one of the top tourist attractions in all of Texas.
  4. San Antonio Spurs—one of the many teams behind the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA’s Western Conference standings this year is the four-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. Led by future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, the Spurs take on the Sacramento Kings at 6:00 p.m. at the AT&T Center on December 29, the night before the Alamo Bowl.
  5. Mariachi Mass at Mission San Jose—completed in 1768 and designed to serve Native Americans, the limestone Mission San Jose, the largest of San Antonio’s missions, is now part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The elaborate carvings and frescoes are only a small part of the mission’s current attraction, too, as it is known for a lively Mariachi Mass held each Sunday.
  6. McNay Art Museum—with a collection that includes works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, and Georgia O’Keeffe, the McNay Art Museum is a must-see for art lovers. Current exhibits include “CUT”—a cinematic exhibit that features the original costumes worn by such actors as Johnny Depp, Daniel Craig, Kate Winslet, and Uma Thurman in movies including Pirates of the Caribbean and Sense and Sensibility—and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” with the original sets and characters from Tim Burton’s holiday film. On December 29, the museum will also have a special family program where visitors can animate their own short film.
  7. Palmer Course at La Cantera—if you’d like a more sedate sporting pursuit ahead of the high octane Alamo Bowl, the Arnold Palmer-designed course at La Cantera offers golfers breathtaking views of the Hill Country and downtown San Antonio. The course, ranked No. 2 on Conde Nast’s “Top 30 Resorts in North America,” also offers discounts to UOAA members through our partnership with Play it Forward Golf.
  8. “The Original” Rudy’s Bar-B-Q Pep Rally—University of Oregon and University of Texas coaches, student-athletes, and pep bands make their grand entrances on river barges at the Alamo Bowl’s official pep rally, held at the Arneson River Theater on the River Walk on December 28 at 6:00 p.m. A “Battle of the Bands” is also held at this free, general admission event, so arrive early to get a good seat—the venue is often full by 5:00 p.m.—and prepare to cheer louder than the Longhorns.
  9. Tower of the Americas—the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas provides visitors with a bird’s eye view of San Antonio. From the Flags over Texas Observation Deck and the Chart House restaurant, San Antonio landmarks including the Alamo and the Alamodome can be seen.
  10. Enchanted Springs Ranch—The 86-acre Enchanted Springs Ranch is more than just an active Wild West film set—it is also a working ranch, home to longhorns, buffalo, and a variety of other animals. Check out a performance by gunslinger Pistol Packin’ Paula, meet Woodrow the longhorn (an animal, not a football player), and enjoy a slice of the old west.

For more things to do in San Antonio, visit www.visitsanantonio.com. Make sure you check out their SAVE program—there are major savings available for Ducks heading to Texas for the Valero Alamo Bowl.