San Antonio is best known for the picturesque Riverwalk and the historical Alamo, but this beautiful city boasts a wide array of activities, luxury hotels, fine dining, uniquely hip spots, and hole-in-the-wall local gems.
San Antonio is a lovely city that offers plenty to explore for its locals or those wanting a weekend getaway. I was in need of a few days away, and San Antonio seemed enticing. With all of the amenities available in this growing city, it was hard to choose.
Hotel Valencia welcomed me with its Argentinian inspired architecture and décor. The decorative water pools soothe the weariness of travel away as the orange scented candles whisk you mentally to the Spanish hills. Hotel Valencia is warm and beautiful with leather couches framing the large brick fireplace, cozy reading nooks in their library, gorgeous courtyard featuring tranquil fountains, plush greenery, and twinkling lights. Their patio evokes feelings of enjoying a South American estate on a crisp fall night. If your appetite beckons, their Argentinian restaurant will surely delight. From their extensive wine list to specialty menu items, Dorrego’s proudly creates their dishes from local produce and old-world recipes.
On Friday night, I embarked on a historical tour. The Barwalk Tour came highly recommended. With their tagline of ‘The Barwalk: Drink Up History”, my curiosity was peaked. This tour series, led by Emzy King, the charismatic encyclopedia of historical facts, photos, and folkloric stories was one of the best tours I have ever ventured on and should be part of the Texas Bucket List. Emzy has an enticing way of making history fascinating and fun. We met at The Alamo and learned stories that I had sadly never heard in all of my Texas History classes growing up. We then toured some of the oldest and most historically relevant spots in San Antonio along the Riverwalk and downtown, all while quenching our thirst for knowledge with craft cocktails created by the city’s premier mixologists.
From the Menger Bar and Hotel, which housed the first brewery in Texas to the area’s first luxury hotel, The St. Anthony and its ghoulish ghost stories, Emzy weaves fascinating trivia and archived photos that keep you begging the stories will not end. Ghost stories, ‘Dateline’ worthy murder mysteries, and juicy celebrity tidbits involving Johnny Cash and his first wife and even President JFK ‘s final public appearance prior to his fateful date in Dallas. This tour will appeal to the curious-minded as well as the most avid historian. Everyone can learn something new that will heighten your intrigue of this colorful gem of Texas. So, ‘Drink Up History’ as you take in a new side to San Antonio that is worth the trip alone.
Saturday found me strolling through the hip new redeveloped Pearl Brewery. The famous Pearl Brewhouse was established in 1883 and finally closed its doors in 2001. Located just north of San Antonio’s Downtown, this area found a rebirth with the esteemed Culinary Arts Institute opening a campus, spawning a plethora of restaurants offering a variety of bakeries, gastropubs, and high-end dining surely to appeal to everyone from gourmet critic to self-proclaimed foodie.
This urban dream offers plenty of retail, outdoor parks, farmers markets, small music amphitheaters, and numerous tasting rooms boasting wine flights and beer samplings to make your Saturday fun from morning brunch to late night. Among the cafes is the famous Bakery Lorraine, who’s colorful fresh baked macaroons would bring a daily line out the door. It was worth the wait. I bought a box of these delectable delights with the intent of bringing them home, however I managed to not make it out of the café with even one left. We devoured the sampling of macaroon flavors such as red velvet, caramel apple, pumpkin spice, lavender, and my favorite, the earl grey.
Lastly, I popped into the infamous Buckhorn Saloon, the oldest running saloon in all of Texas, which houses a working bar, the Texas Rangers Museum and The Buckhorn Museum. I saddled up to the bar for a cold beer and reminisced about the cowboys, ranchers, and gunslingers that sat in that very spot before me since their opening in 1881. The entire saloon and museum is housed with more antlers than an army of venison. In fact, their motto was: bring them a pair of antlers and get a free beer; bring them a taxidermied artifact and be rewarded with a shot of whiskey. This tradition has decorated every inch of space with museum worthy pieces fun to stroll through and soak up a bit of the old Wild West.
The saloon owners were also avid travelers and hunters that added to their collection from across the world. Stroll around the museum enjoying such unique sites as rattlesnake-tail art presented to President Teddy Roosevelt during his scouting trips for Texas Rangers to replicas of the infamous Bonnie & Clyde capture, traveling wild west novelty shows, the first silverback gorilla seen in the south and even the world record holding largest Longhorn. Although entertaining to adults, The Buckhorn Museum caters more to the curiosity of children. However, the Texas Rangers Museum is a well-presented piece of history that commands respect and intrigue. It is a true immersion in to the development of Texas to learn about the brave men that fought for the safety of our great state.
With the Riverwalk’s reflective waters winding through tree lined walkways, bustling downtown mingling history with the newest hotspots, and unique urban neighborhoods such as Pearl, there is not a shortage of activities to explore, eateries to try, and beautiful hotels to lounge, San Antonio has plenty to offer. As I left feeling renewed and enthralled with this quaint city, I was already looking forward to my return.
By Kristi Grosse
San Antonio Extra
By Alexandra Mora
The Range: San Antonio is a pulsating city not only known for the Alamo but for the celebrity chefs like Jason Dady. I had a culinary experience at one of the Newest American Steakhouse called Range. The Texas driven concept has resources from Cameron, Texas and the Hill Country area, its upscale ambiance includes fresh seafood selections from the Gulf Coast Region. Range is not just a fellow golfer’s playground, their exclusive menu offers items like the infamous Ribeye Tomahawk 18-ounce steak, and Grilled Texas Bobwhite Quail. Stop by and dine in the heart of the Riverwalk at Range.
Signature: Signature rests on 550 acres of Texas Hill Country in San Antonio. It is recognized as the number one restaurant by Open Table Diner Choice Awards and it lives up to its reputation. It’s savory contemporary dishes leave your palate wanting more than just a first course. The San Antonio Native Chef Andrew Weissman gives a fine dining appeal with renowned dishes like the Gold Leaf Risotto and Lamb Shank Osso Bucco. Immerse the breathtaking picturesque views. while enjoying a signature cocktail made to design for an extraordinary experience for any weekend getaway.
Rebelle: What’s a weekend getaway without brunch? You cannot go wrong with a Rebelle experience at St. Anthony Hotel. Its sleek, lavish atmosphere has an imaginative feel like no other. Sink your teeth into menu choices like The Martinique, a lemon-lime crepe with coconut pastry cream or the El Gaucho which consists of grilled sirloin steak, over easy eggs and ranchero sauce, which aims to please. Like all Sunday-Funday’s, they are incomplete without a hibiscus nectar mimosa to quench your thirst. Chef Stefan Bowers’ brunch will leave you reminiscing for days.
San Antonio Spurs have won five NBA championships and are hero’s in their city. Tickets are always a hot item, but with a little effort you can get your hands on some. The AT&T Center pulsates with energy. The Rock-N-Brews delight guests with warm hospitality and delicious food and beverages. The atmosphere is rock star quality and the live music after a Spurs victory is iconic. There is nothing like game night. It’s perfect for a date or a fantastic family experience. A Spurs game is first-class all the way leaving a lasting impression for any sports fanatic.