Tower Of The Americas: What To Know Before You Go

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Looking up from the base of the Tower of Americas in San Antonio Texas with Americas in the Foreground

When you visit downtown San Antonio, you can’t help but notice the Tower of the Americas.

My Seattle-based sister calls it the “Space Needle in the South” to irk my San Antonio-based sister.

Around every corner of the Riverwalk, it looms out at you. After a few days of walking around downtown, we decided to check out the view from the top.

About Tower of the Americas

The Tower of Americas in San Antonio is located on East Casar E. Chavez Boulevard, just off I-37. The San Antonio River Walk is about a block away, while the Alamadone is just on the other side of the interstate.

It was built in 1968 for the Hemisfair World’s Fair, which celebrated San Antonio’s 250th anniversary. Construction of the tower began in 1966 and was completed in 18 months.

The Tower of the Americas San Antonio used to be the tallest tower in the U.S. but was surpassed by the Stratosphere Tower Las Vegas in 1996.

Ticket pricing has recently changed. An adult ticket is $16.50, a child ticket is $12, and a senior ticket is $13. Children age three and under are free. A ticket includes unlimited access to the observation deck and the “Flags Over Texas” 4D theater ride.

There’s also a cost for parking. Monday-Thursday, it’s $10, but Friday-Sunday, it’s $15. This 750-foot San Antonio landmark is open Sunday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Rae and Jason outside looking down at the camera with the Tower of the Americas looming over them.

Where Do I Park At Tower of the Americas San Antonio?

We didn’t know there was parking for the Tower of the Americas that cost only $8 at the time, so we drove around for a while looking for an open parking lot. Our Ram 3500 DRW doesn’t like the tiny parking garages around downtown. 

We eventually found the South Conference Center parking lot at the tower’s base. We paid $5 an hour at the parking meter and headed towards the tower.

We purchased tickets at the box office outside, then escaped the bitter cold into the base of the tower. 

What’s the Ride Up to the Tower of the Americas Like?

After a few minutes, we boarded the elevator with a few other visitors. The elevator shot up the side of the tower, and there was a sudden burst of light. 

Unbeknownst to us, one of the sides of the elevator was a window to the outside. Everyone “oohed” and moved around for a better look as we soared up. After a few minutes, we made it safely to our first stop, the restaurant.

Things To Do At Tower Of the Americas

The Tower of the Americas isn’t just a 750-foot tower. There’s more to do than ride an elevator up to the top. You can grab a hearty meal, hang out at the bar, or enjoy a 4D thrill ride in addition to walking around the observation deck.

Chart House Restaurant and Bar 

Chart House is a steakhouse located in the tower. It offers a panoramic view of the city as it slowly rotates. We had been eating primarily plant-based during our visit, so the idea of an expensive steak wasn’t appealing to us. 

We’ve also heard mixed reviews about the food. Not that it was bad, but that it wasn’t worth the inflated tourist prices. We stayed on the elevator as it approached its next stop, the bar.

The bar is part of the Chart House restaurant but doesn’t rotate. It is located on a balcony overlooking the restaurant, so watching the people below go by is fun. We decided to come here after visiting the observation deck. It was still happy hour so we got some great tasting appetizers for around $5 each. 

A pink cocktail ordered from the bar inside the Tower of the Americas.

The Observation Deck 

The observation deck offers 360-degree views of the city. On the railing are pictures of the view you’re looking at, with landmarks and buildings labeled for ease of identification. It helps because everything seems so different from up there. 

The Alamo is barely visible through the hotels and trees surrounding it and isn’t as impressive when staring at its roof. There are periodic stairwells that allow you to go outside. The area is chained off, so there is no risk of falling, but the wind whips at you as it races by. It was biting cold, so while we did venture outside for a bit, we spent most of our time in the warmth.

Another interesting part of the observation deck is the Flags over Texas exhibit. It wraps around the inside wall of the observation deck and tells the history of the six nations that have ruled over Texas. 

There is plenty of reading material, but each exhibit also has a button for a dramatic narration. We wound our way over to the elevator once we got our fill of the sites and history. 

Jason looking out at the view from the top of the Tower of the Americas.

4D Thrill Ride

You can access a “4D adventure” theater ride on the ground floor called Flags over Texas. Rae isn’t a fan of 3D, and our parking meter was running out, so we skipped it this time. It is included in your admission, so I recommend checking it out.

Learn More: If you’re not done exploring this area, check out Memorable Things To Do In San Antonio For Couples!

How Long Does It Take The Tower Of The Americas To Turn?

It takes the Tower of the Americas about an hour to make its 360-degree turn. Amazingly, because the top house is so well-balanced, it takes just a 1-horsepower motor to rotate the structure. 

The observation levels are 8,800 square feet, capable of accommodating hundreds of people simultaneously.

A view looking down at the rotating restaurant in Tower of the Americas.

Can You Take The Stairs At The Tower Of The Americas? 

The three elevators can carry 1,950 passengers per hour. At 800 feet per minute, it takes only 43 seconds for the elevators to climb to the top. However, you can take the stairs if you prefer. 

In fact, in 2019, Sinclair Broadcasting Group San Antonio formed a team to climb the Tower of the Americas to raise money for the fight against cystic fibrosis.

How Many Steps Are In The Tower Of The Americas at San Antonio?

There are 952 steps to get to the top. 

The Tower of the Americas weighs 80 million pounds. The concrete shaft is 45 feet in diameter and is 605 feet tall, while the top house is 76 feet tall. But most people choose one of the elevators.

Rae looking out the binoculars on the observation deck of the tower of the americas.

Check Out the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio On Your Next Texas Road Trip

The Tower of the Americas San Antonio is a unique way to view the city. 

When you visit a canyon, you get such a different perspective when traveling down into the gorge rather than when you just look down from the top. At the tower, your perspective also changes as you rise above the trees and buildings of San Antonio to get a bird’s eye view.

So the next time you travel through the Lonestar State, plan to spend an hour or so at the Tower of the Americas. Have you ever visited?

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