When you think of places to visit in Texas, San Angelo may not always be the first destination that comes to mind.
Located in West Texas, San Angelo is a fairly small city located on the Concho River. Known for being the site of Fort Concho, the 1860s US army base, San Angelo packs a huge historical punch.
Between the military history and some of the best art displays in Texas, this quirky small city is worthy of a visit.
Things to Do in San Angelo, Texas
What are the best things to do in San Angelo, Texas? We’ve come up with a list for you.
San Angelo State Park
Established in 1995, the San Angelo State Park encompasses more than 7500 acres of land.
If you’re looking for a fairly cheap outdoor activity, this is your best bet. In the state park, you can enjoy 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, camping, ranger-led educational programs, and more.
There’s also a lake within the park if you feel like swimming or boating during your trip. Plus, there’s a wildlife observation area where you can watch the bison herds and other native Texas wildlife.
Fort Concho National Historic Landmark
Fort Concho was originally constructed as an army base to protect Texas’s earliest settlers, including those who were heading west to California.
Now one of the best-preserved forts in the state, Fort Concho once housed 500 people, including the Buffalo Soldiers.
The fort was also used to map and patrol the entire West Texas region, ensuring the safety of pioneers throughout the area.
Today, you can take a self-guided tour of 23 of the 40 buildings, or take a free tour offered Monday through Saturday. On the tour, you’ll see artifacts such as weapons, tools, clothing, soldiers’ personal objects, and more.
This is a vital piece of American history you won’t want to miss during your visit to San Angelo.
Concho River Walk
The Concho River Walk stretches for 4 miles along the Concho River. Not only is it a great place to enjoy the view, but many of San Angelo’s best attractions can be found along it.
Take advantage of the walking and biking path, have a picnic, go golfing, rent a paddleboat, or play hopscotch. There’s also an amphitheater that hosts public concerts and community events. Stroll through the garden and have a relaxing day in nature.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants along the river walk too in case you get peckish.
Best of all, most of the attractions and activities along the river walk are also free, so be sure to take advantage!
International Water Lily Collection
Located at Civic League Park, this collection of water lilies is among the best in the world. Also one of the best free things to do in San Angelo, you’ll want to bring your camera along for this.
Feast your eyes on some of the world’s rarest water lilies, with over 400 hybrids and 90% of all water lily species in existence. In fact, some of these water lilies are extinct or almost extinct in the rest of the world.
If you want to see the water lily collection in full bloom, it’s best to visit between the months of April and October.
Tour the Historic Murals of San Angelo
Located downtown, the Historic Murals of San Angelo is an outdoor art gallery depicting the most important people and events in the city’s history. Now consisting of 14 murals, each one has its own unique story.
You can find murals paying homage to Elmer Kelton, the Santa Fe Depot, the Overland Stagecoach, and, perhaps the most impressive, West Texas Ranching. The West Texas Ranching mural was painted by Stylle Reed and spans 20ft x 107ft.
If you’d like to learn more, you can take a self-guided tour of the murals. Since this is an ever-changing outdoor gallery, this is also one of the best free activities in San Angelo, Texas.
The Cactus Hotel
The tallest building in San Angelo, The Cactus Hotel, has been a landmark of the city for 90 years.
Established by Conrad Hilton, the hotel no longer operates for the purpose of overnight accommodation, but is an ode to the architecture and style of the 1920s.
Today, this beautiful building operates largely as a wedding, meeting, and special event venue. Even if you’re not there for an event, stop by and browse through the shops and galleries on site.
The rooms are richly decorated and anyone remotely interested in design and architecture of the old will appreciate this elegant hotel.
San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts
Established in 1981, this museum is home to both local and international pieces of art. It also hosts both temporary and permanent exhibitions, so be sure to check the program for what’s on while you’re in town.
The museum boasts over 300 pieces of contemporary ceramics, masterpieces from the Spanish Colonial period, Mexican religious pieces, and more. As a result, you can spend hours here and still not see all there is to see.
There are pieces covering the ancient Greek era up until the present day, so you’ll be able to find anything your heart desires.
This award-winning museum also has a rooftop area boasting an incredible panoramic view of San Angelo.
Visit One of the Many Breweries
San Angelo has a surprisingly big craft beer scene for such a small city. One of the most popular breweries is Zero One Ale House.
Opened in 2015, this brewery is famous for its outstanding classics, seasonals, and experimental beers. You can also take a tour of the brewing facility.
If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, check out the microbrewery at SoCo Taphouse. SoCo offers 5 of its own beers at any given time, with an additional 20 from across the state of Texas and the country.
Many of the wine bars and hotels also operate as taprooms, so be sure to explore as many as you can while you’re in town.
Chicken Farm Art Center
The Chicken Farm Art Center is one of the most unique things to see in this quirky town. Established in 1951, the art center displays the work of 15 independent artists.
You’ll be able to find works of art ranging from paintings, detailed glasswork, metal sculptures, textiles, woodwork, fiber art, and more.
If you’re looking for a more interactive experience, Chicken Farm also regularly hosts workshops and classes.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on the first Saturday of the month, you’re in for a treat. You’ll find food, live music, vendor booths, activities for kids, demonstrations, and more during these first Saturday festivals.
Located at Angelo State University, the planetarium is a must-see while you’re in town.
This newly-renovated state-of-the-art facility is home to countless exhibits about the universe. The highlight, however, is the titled dome theater featuring a high-tech HD projector system. The projector is capable of projecting over half a billion stars.
You can enjoy programs about topics ranging from the solar system and the night sky to 3D astronomy shows. Often used as a school field trip destination and for ASU classes, this planetarium is certainly worth a visit. Check the event calendar for what’s showing here while you’re in town.
Pop Art Museum
Admission is free, but donations to the nonprofit organization are always appreciated.
The art itself depicts images from pop-culture such as comics, soup cans, and more. If you have a smartphone, you can also take a self-guided tour of the museum. All you have to do is scan the QR code next to each piece. Once you do that, you’ll receive information about that piece and the artist who made it right to your phone.
Another of the galleries put on by Art in Uncommon Places, Paintbrush Alley has taken an ordinary alley and turned it into something extraordinary.
Featuring the works of over 50 local artists, Paintbrush Alley is a vibrant and colorful string of pieces that flow together seamlessly.
And there aren’t just murals on the walls of the alley. There are also dumpsters that have been transformed, and truck beds that provide seating in front of the murals.
Paintbrush Alley is also centrally located, covering the area on Concho Avenue between the Texas Theatre and Firestone.
Be sure to bring your camera to this bright and colorful (and also free) exhibition.
Shop in Historic Downtown San Angelo
If you’re searching for unique Texas treasures to take home, historic downtown San Angelo is the place to shop.
With boutique clothing stores, jewelry stores carrying Concho pearls, and a historic general store, the shops downtown are a gold mine for quirky pieces. You can also pick up some ingredients for good old Texas cooking, including West Texas condiments, candies, fudge, and more.
Even if you’re just window shopping, exploring the stores downtown is a great way to spend an afternoon getting to know the city. And of course, once you’ve shopped til you dropped, visit one of the many restaurants nearby for some fuel and refreshments.
Miss Hattie’s Bordello Museum
Miss Hattie’s Bordello Museum is located inside what was once one of the most popular brothels in West Texas, constructed in 1896.
This unique museum once had a saloon, a brothel, and several other businesses operating out of this building. The bordello itself, located upstairs, was opened in 1902 by a woman wanting to create a booming business right above her ex-husband’s saloon.
Today, you can tour the museum and see mannequins modeling clothing from the 1900s, furniture from the brothel, and tons of artifacts and other artwork. Each room tells the story of the women who lived and worked there.
Closed down by the Texas Rangers in 1952, you can still see the rooms exactly as they were when they closed.
Things to Do in San Angelo TX – Final Thoughts
San Angelo may be small, but there are tons of unique things to see and do there.
Start by checking out the history at Fort Concho, explore the extensive street art scene, and see some of the most unique museums in the country.
A visit to San Angelo is an immersion in West Texas culture, and you won’t want to miss out, so start exploring!