10 of San Antonio’s weirdest museums and attractions

For those embarking on a trip to San Antonio, the unbeaten path might be the best option. You may soon be in hot pursuit of weird and unconventional museums and attractions — the kind you find tucked away at an odd corner of town, and the unique haunts only known to locals and veteran visitors.

Maybe you’re a local who is trying to look at the city with a newfound exploratory spirit, and a fresh set of eyes. In an underdog metropolis like San Antonio, there is magic to be found if you devote your time to finding it. Sometimes it manifests in a volunteer-run outpost devoted to the American railroad system or an old manor lined with relics commemorating Napoleon Bonaparte.

Arguably, weird and unconventional museums in San Antonio are just as vital to a city’s infrastructure as the ERCOT grid or CPS Energy. Of course, this isn’t exactly true, but these unique places do help in keeping something alive.

Keep reading for 10 of San Antonio’s weirdest museums and attractions.

A 1945 GE blue 45-Ton comes to the aid of a broken steam engine at The Texas Transportation Museum.

A 1945 GE blue 45-Ton comes to the aid of a broken steam engine at The Texas Transportation Museum.

Source: Camille Sauers

The Texas Transportation Museum


The Texas Transportation Museum is one of the best unconventional outposts in town for families, locomotive heads and adventurers. Located not far from the airport, guests can enjoy train rides and explore retro train carts, model trains, old cars and more. Pack a picnic and enjoy the museum’s outdoor setting near the mesquite trees and be sure to chat with one of the many expert volunteers. The museum also hosts various special events throughout the year — especially around Christmas — and serves as a venue for birthday parties. The museum is open on weekends from 9 am-4 pm Regular admission is $10 for adults, $8 for kids and under 4 are free.

find itAddress: 11731 Wetmore Road, San Antonio, TX, 78247

San Antonio's Snake Farm Animal World and Zoo.

San Antonio’s Snake Farm Animal World and Zoo.

Camille Sauers/MySA

Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo

Locals have no doubt seen the venom-red Snake Farm sign visible off the highway as you head into New Braunfels. The Animal Word & Snake Farm is not the sort of place for the faint of heart. I’ve been there twice, and both times were with my grandpa, a retired Air Force Colonel, who isn’t afraid of anything. Within the Snake Farm, guests will find an assortment of the world’s most deadly snakes, a petting zoo with typical farm animals and a variety of exotic animals. The fauna is also fascinating, and a little unnerving. Pro-tip: the gift shop sells excellent T-shirts. The Snake Farms is open daily from 10 am-6 pm Admission is $19.99 for adults and $15.99 for kids.

find it: 5640 I-35 S., New Braunfels, TX, 78132

The King William neighborhood estate and house museum known as Villa Finale.

The King William neighborhood estate and house museum known as Villa Finale.

Kin Man Hui, San Antonio Express-News / Staff photographer

Villa Finale Museum & Gardens

If you love old architecture and curiosities from throughout antiquity, then Villa Finale might be for you. Located in San Antonio’s historic King William neighborhood, off the San Antonio River, the Villa Finale was built in 1876 as an old manor that was converted into a museum. The home was the last of local preservationist, Walter Nold Mathis. His vast collection of oddities includes an excess of 19th- and early 20th-century Napoleon Bonaparte artifacts — 843 to be exact — including a bronze death mask. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 2 pm Tours are $10 a person, however the grounds are free and open to the public.

Find it: 401 King William, San Antonio, TX, 78204

A Dia De Los Muertos display in San Antonio, Texas.

A Dia De Los Muertos display in San Antonio, Texas.

Dennis S. via Yelp

Day of the Dead Museum

This San Antonio museum is devoted to the annual Mexican cultural holiday. Open year-round, visitors can learn about the rich tradition present in San Antonio that pays homage to the city’s ancestors. What makes this small museum especially unique is its location. You can find it on the second story of the Fiesta store across from North Star Mall. The museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9:45 am-5 pm and 12:15-2:30 pm on Sunday. Admission is $5.

find it: 102 W. Rector St, San Antonio, TX, 78216 (on the building’s second floor)

The observatory atop the Maverick Carter House at 119 Taylor St. was a highlight of the Helotes Historical Society's tour of the home on Nov. 14, 2011.

The observatory atop the Maverick Carter House at 119 Taylor St. was a highlight of the Helotes Historical Society’s tour of the home on Nov. 14, 2011.

Marvin Pfeiffer/San Antonio Express-News

The Maverick Carter House

This historic building offers hour-long, guided tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays (except on holidays and special events). Attractions include a collection of antiques and a refurbished observatory that San Antonio-born writer and alien abductee, Whitley Streiber often visited as a boy. The three-story limestone home was originally built in 1893 for real estate developer William Harvey Maverick, son of Texas Declaration of Independence Signer Samuel Augustus Maverick. Eventually, it was occupied by Poet Laureate of Texas and socialite Aline B. Carter. Admission is $15 for adults and children under 12 are free.

find itAddress: 119 Taylor Street, San Antonio, TX, 78205

A fire engine on display at the San Antonio Fire Museum

A fire engine on display at the San Antonio Fire Museum

Timothy A. via Yelp

San Antonio Fire Museum

The San Antonio Fire Museum is one of downtown’s most unique museums. The volunteer-run facility dedicated to San Antonio’s storied fire history is owned and operated by the San Antonio Fire Museum Society. Here, visitors can discover artifacts and photos dating back to the 1800s. A 1953 International fire truck, built by the Simms Fire Equipment Company, is also available for kids to climb on while wearing authentic replica uniforms. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for kids.

find itAddress: 801 E. Houston Street, San Antonio, Texas, 78205

The Amazing Mirror Maze in San Antonio.

The Amazing Mirror Maze in San Antonio.

Marc D. via Yelp

The Amazing Mirror Maze

If you’re looking for something flashy to drop into with the kids post Alamo visit, try The Amazing Mirror Maze. Located in Alamo Plaza, the labyrinth-like attraction is a modern fun house with three floors of interactive fun. With nearby venues like Tomb Rider 3D, Guinness World Records Museum, and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure — closing by September 1 to make room for the Alamo Museum — the Amazing Mirror Maze will soon be one of the remaining non-historical attractions in the area. Tickets are $25.99; 3 and under free.

find it: 217 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX, 78205

Artist Mark Maggiori was inspired to create “Once Upon a Time” in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and because “nobody else did.”  On view at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in 2020.

Artist Mark Maggiori was inspired to create “Once Upon a Time” in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and because “nobody else did.” On view at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in 2020.

Mark Maggiori

Briscoe Western Art Museum

While the Briscoe is more of a mainstream museum, it is unique to San Antonio. The collections are a must-see for visiting cowboys and history and Western art buffs. Located on the bank of the San Antonio River Walk, the museum is home to permanent exhibits, the outdoor McNutt Sculpture Garden and a collection of ever-evolving exhibits. The museum is open Thursday-Monday from 10 am-5 pm Admission is $12 for adults, with senior, student and military discounts available.

find itAddress: 210 W. Market Street, San Antonio, TX, 78205

Buffalo heads and countless other animal trophies decorate the walls and bar area of ​​the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum.
Buffalo heads and countless other animal trophies decorate the walls and bar area of ​​the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum.Al Rendon / Courtesy of Buckhorn Saloon & Museum

The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum and The Texas Ranger Museum

If you appreciate taxidermy and find yourself downtown seeking a beer and a bite to eat, then The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum is worth the trip. Grab a snack and then head to the back to enjoy a massive collection of taxidermy animals and proud Texas narratives about the Texas Rangers. Admission is $22.99 for adults and $16.99 for kids.

find itAddress: 318 E. Houston Street, San Antonio, TX, 78205

Victoria's Black Swan Inn in San Antonio.

Victoria’s Black Swan Inn in San Antonio.

Mario G. via Yelp

Victoria’s Black Swan Inn

While not quite a museum, Victoria’s Black Swan Inn is situated on the original grounds of the historic Battle of Salado Creek. The old Victorian-style mansion is the home of Jo Rivera and doubles as an extremely haunted event space. Historically-minded ghost tours are offered on the grounds, including spooky overnight stays and haunted cocktail hours. Pricing varies, with walking tours starting at $30.

find itAddress: 1006 Holbrook Road, San Antonio, TX, 78218