History meets commerce at downtown's La Villita. San Antonio's first neighborhood, this 'little village' of stone and adobe houses dates back to the early 1800s and now contains a collection of touristy shops and galleries. It doesn't exactly offer a portal into the past, but it's worth a stroll, especially if you pause for a walking tour that puts the village into the right historical context. (Maps are posted around the village.)
La Villita occupies the space between Paseo de la Villita and Nueva St, and between Alamo and Presa Sts.