Pros: Inexpensive, conveniently located, impressive.
As you fly into San Antonio, Tower of the Americas stands as the prominent feature of the city skyline. The tower was built as part of the 1968 World's Fair hosted in San Antonio. Tower of the Americas is located in Hemisfair Park which was created in conjunction with the tower to host the festivities. During the World's Fair, the park featured exhibits from the many cultures that contributed to the foundation of San Antonio.
Tower of the Americas was built eight years after the Seattle Space Needle, which was created for the 1960 World's Fair. The Seattle Space needle stood 605 feet tall, making Tower of the Americas the tallest free standing tower in the United States (at 750 feet) when the tower was erected in 1968. Tower of the Americas held the record as the tallest free standing tower until the Stratosphere was built in Las Vegas (which stands 1149 feet tall). The observation tower at Tower of the Americas was listed as the tallest in the United States until 1996 when the Stratosphere opened.
Tower of the Americas hosts several attractions for San Antonio Visitors. Among the features within the tower are a 4-D theater, a restaurant, coffee shop, photography booth, gift shop and observation tower. Tickets can be purchased from a ticket booth at the base of the tower. The base of the tower also features extraordinary landscaping, with waterfalls and fountains incorporated into the park-like atmosphere.
The restaurant was at one time called Eyes Over Texas. It is now a Chart House Seafood Restaurant. The menu is moderately to high priced, with entrees running into the twenty to thirty dollar range. The restaurant is serviced by its own elevator, so a ticket purchase is not necessary for restaurant patrons. The restaurant revolves, allowing visitors to view the entire city during their meal. The hostess station is located on the ground floor at the entrance opposite the ticket booth. The restaurant hours are from 11 AM until 10 PM on Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the restaurant is open from 11 AM until 11 PM.
The 4-D Theater Ride is located on the ground floor of the tower. The 4-D ride, which is called Skies Over Texas, was inoperable during my visit. The elevator to the observation tower (Flags Over Texas) is located on the exterior of the tower structure, but the inside wall of the ground floor. The elevator allows for observation on your trip up. The observation deck offers an indoor and outdoor observation area with 360 degree views of the city. The hours of operation for both attractions for Sunday through Thursday is 10 AM until 10 PM. On Friday and Saturday, both attractions are open from 10 AM until 11 PM.
The base of the tower also includes a gift shop, photography booth, ticket counter and cafe. The cafe is located in it's own section of the ground floor and serves Starbucks coffee. The Ticket Booth faces Hemisfair Park. Tickets are purchased on the outside of the building at ticket windows that are clearly marked. There are two entrances into the ground floor of the tower, with one located directly behind the ticket booth. If you enter through these doors, the photography booth will be located on your right, followed immediately by the elevator. The gift shop is located on the left, after passing the back side of the ticket booth. Skies Over Texas is located beyond the gift shop.
Ticket prices for the tower are all inclusive. The tickets cost $10.95 for adults, $9.95 for Military and Senior Citizens and $8.95 for children. If you are staying at an area hotel, check the Concierge Desk or Attraction Guides for discount tickets. There are coupons for one or two dollars off per person in many of the guides. The ticket price includes admission to the 4-D theater ride (if it is operational) as well as the observation deck and Flags Over Texas. Taxes are not included in the price. The pricing for Tower of the Americas make the attraction affordable. Admission to the many Ripley's exhibits near the Alamo will run as much.
Parking is available at the tower, with pricing running between six and eleven dollars. However, the tower is located in Hemisfair Park, which is just off the Riverwalk extension beneath the Hyatt Hotel. If you are staying at an area hotel, the park and tower are within walking distance.
Tower of the Americas provides an interesting cornerstone for the San Antonio skyline. For three decades, this tower held the record as the tallest observation tower in the United States. The impressive structure began life as the central icon of the 1968 World's Fair and retains its luster hovering over Hemisfair Park. The tower is centrally located in downtown San Antonio, within walking distance of most hotels. However, parking is available for a fee. The landmark offers an excellent vacation destination that is certain to delight the kids. I would give Tower of the Americas five stars out of a possible five.