The Alamo

Top choice historic building in San Antonio

Image by Dean Fikar Getty Images

Find out why the story of the Alamo can rouse a Texan’s sense of state pride like few other things. For many, it’s not so much a tourist attraction as a pilgrimage – you might notice some visitors getting downright dewy-eyed at the description of how a few hundred revolutionaries died defending the fort against thousands of Mexican troops.

The main chapel building is now known as the Shrine. From here you can set off for a free history talk in the Cavalry Courtyard, hearing one of many perspectives on the actual events – which are somewhat in dispute – or browse the museum in the Long Barrack, which served as a residence for the Spanish priests and later as a hospital for Mexican and Texan troops. There's also a 17-minute film, which not only gives you another perspective on the battle, but is an excellent place to escape the heat.

If you're interested in walking the front perimeter of the old fort, which extends beyond the chapel, and learning more details about the battle and its participants, join the one-hour guided Battlefield Tour ($15 per person). A 33-stop audio tour ($7) is self-guided and takes about 45 minutes. (Visitors taking the guided tour are also given the audio tour, since the Battlefield Tour does not cover all 33 stops.)