The Alamo Mission in San Antonio May Be Best Enjoyed Outside

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on August 25, 2022.

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The history of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio is one of the pivotal points of American history, especially in Texas. 

We all know the story. 

In early 1836 Mexican troops launched a siege on the Alamo mission in what is now modern-day San Antonio. All Texas troops were killed during the assault, but the defeat rallied the rest of the region into ultimately defeating the Mexican troops just over a month later. 

What remains of the site today is one of the most visited sites in all of Texas, with the ruins of the Alamo being quite preserved in the last 177 years. 

Of course, when I found out I was going to San Antonio, I knew that visiting this site would be at the top of my list. But after I decided to visit the Alamo, I realized that going was almost a waste of my time.

Remember.. To Visit the Alamo… Or Not

Don't Visit the Alamo in San Antonio

One of the reasons that the battle at the Alamo has endured for so long is because it is a story of complete dedication. Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect the outpost and, in their deaths, rallied an army to win the war. 

One of the great legacies from this battle was a letter written by a soldier, William Travis, stationed at the Alamo where he wrote about the horrible odds that the soldiers were facing and vowed to achieve victory or death in the process.

Since the letter was sent it had never been returned to the Alamo until February 2013 for a two-week display at the location where it was written. Conveniently enough, I also visited the Alamo during this time and got a chance to read a piece of history for myself.

With much excitement, I headed to the historic site and quickly realized that most all of Texas and the state's visitors had the same idea themselves. 

Madness ensued.

Pictures of the Alamo

Hundreds of People, One Tiny Monument

School Children at The Alamo

I should have known about the trouble I was getting myself into upon walking up to the famous landmark. Across the street was not only a Ripley's Believe it or Not, a Guinness World Records Museum, a knock-off Wax Museum; but also a Haunted House and a Hall of Mirrors. 

Most historic site in Texas, meet Americana.  Americana, meet the site that preserved your freedom to be so cheesy.

Next up was the sea of 12 year old middle schoolers on a field trip. Of course, the students were there to learn about the amazing history of the Alamo, but were not actually going inside the shrine where the Travis letter was being held. 

The Alamo Mission San Antonio, Texas

The line, naturally, was too long for the time they were allotted, and only a few risked actually waiting to get inside.

I should have known better at this point. The tiny complex, albeit beautiful, already had a number of strikes against it. 

Every few minutes another middle schooler would run into me while not paying attention and generally ruined the ambiance of such a sad monument. But in my moment of weakness I decided to get in line to see the famous Travis letter and see what the Alamo was really all about.

The hour-plus wait began.

Inside the Alamo, There Was Nothing

Remember the Alamo Gift Shop

A few minutes into waiting I knew I made a bad choice. The line moved slower than a broken roller coaster at Disney World and felt like I was not getting anywhere. Even worse was that there were only about 50 people in front of me, something that should go through a whole lot faster. 

It wasn't until I entered the Alamo that I realized why everything was so slow moving. Every single person was being forced to go through airline-style security, complete with handheld wand X-ray and pat downs, just to get inside the building. 

Of course, you don't know this until you've already waited in line, which I suspect would deter a lot of visitors from even bothering.

Although the site does not allow photos from the inside of the building, it is exactly what you would expect it to be. A barren stone building with open rooms and tall ceilings that is completely devoid of decoration. 

With the Travis letter being present a makeshift museum was set up with a few artifacts and armed security guard at every 10-20 feet.  While it was incredibly interesting to learn about the life of William Travis, it almost seemed like the rest of the history of the Alamo was lost in the shuffle. 

Sure you could go to the nearby museum, that didn't have a wait, to learn, but there was nothing else inside the Alamo except the lead up to the famous letter.

60+ minutes waiting in line, 10 minutes going through security, and about five minutes spent inside the actual shrine. Upon exiting you're back in the beautiful compound, gazing up at the stunning and iconic facade of the Alamo, wondering why you even bothered.

Truly, this monument is best appreciated from the outside.

Note: I was later told that the security at this one was not permanent and was likely temporary during my visit. From these reports a line like the one I waited in went through in about 15 minutes, which would be much more tolerable.

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About Jeremy

Jeremy from Living the Dream

About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.

6 thoughts on “The Alamo Mission in San Antonio May Be Best Enjoyed Outside”

  1. I think you are right, if the crowds were not there it would be a completely different experience. I can assure you there is nothing quiet or thought provoking about a memorial site when surrounded by hundreds of students running around screaming and spending more time waiting in line than enjoying the sight. I suppose I’ll have to give it another go the next time I go to San Antonio and there is no special exhibit.

  2. It’s not completely fair to write off a site based on an experience during which there was a special two-week exhibition. Yes, the the Ripley’s Believe It or Not is cheesy and an eye-sore. But I found the Alamo site to be quiet, contemplative and thought provoking. I guess your experience at the Alamo is based on how crowded it is.

  3. How weird that you can’t take photos of the inside? And gee not sure the line up is worth it!!
    Looks like a gorgeous building from the outside

  4. I have been there twice. Once in February where we had the whole place to ourselves and once ( this summer) close to the 4th of July ( crowded, but no TSA goons! ). Once inside, it can be beautiful and serene if there are not hordes of people ( February). I enjoyed the other parts of the Mission inside the courtyard. Lots of history explained and you can not see the crazy tacky Ripleys and souvenir shops from inside the Mission walls. Next we had a beer at the Menger Hotel where Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders and had lunch in the historic hotels fancy dining room ( haunted, we were told by the staff). Not being a fan of masses of people when on a limited time frame trip, we headed west to see the other Missions on the trail. VERY worth the drive. Had the place to ourselves ( Mission Espada) and got to crash a “Quinceanera” TexMex teen girls coming of age that was like a wedding!
    So it really all depends on when you go to “Remember the Alamo”!

  5. That sounds quite familiar to the Alamo. It is definitely frustrating to have all of the hype and then be let down by it all.

    I didn’t even mention in my post that they were giving out copies of the letter to those waiting in line, so I already knew what it looked like before I even got inside. Hah!

  6. I so know what you mean. I spent half an hour in London to get in the Museum of Natural History because they were checking all the bags. I also waited the same to get into the dinosaur section to see…T-Rex made of rubber.


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