When it comes to Texas, Austin gets a lot of love. It truly is a wonderful city, but Texas is a big state and there’s a lot more to explore than the party scene on 6th. Just an hour’s drive away, you’ll find San Antonio—one of the largest growing cities in the nation. Even though nearly 1.5 million people call River City home, it gets less press than its sister to the north. Here’s why you should put San Antonio on your radar.
Where to stay:
If there’s a Bunkhouse property in a city, you can bet I want to stay there! This boutique hotelier’s San Antonio oasis is Hotel Havana, a housed in a 1914 Mediterranean Revival building on the San Antonio River Walk. Each room boasts a unique design with bohemian features, like Mexican tile, vintage Moroccan rugs, and SMEG refrigerators packed with locally made minibar items. Breakfast (as well as lunch and dinner) is easy and delicious at Ocho, located adjacent to the hotel lobby. The cozy basement cocktail lounge, the Havana Bar, serves up great drinks and sexy ambiance—perfect for a nightcap.
Where to Eat:
When it comes to the local restaurant scene, keep an eye out for Jason Dady. This nationally renowned chef operates six concepts and counting, including TRE Trattoria, Range (a modern steakhouse), Alamo BBQ, and Chispas (tacos and margaritas!). Any of these spots are a good bet—figure out what you’re in the mood for and this guy makes it!
I love a good food hall, and you’ll find an impressive one in San Antonio. The Pearl Brewery opened the Bottling House Food Hall in 2017, featuring Japanese bites from Tenko Ramen, doughnuts by Maybelle’s, vegetarian food at the Good Kind, and more.
Where to drink:
Go for kitsch infused cocktails at The Modernist– a 1960’s themed cocktail bar within walking distance from the Pearl Brewery. Everything from the design, menu, and even a 60’s airstream outdoor bar is a tribute to this midcentury era. I can already taste that gin fizz!
Live Music, Famous Tamales
Is there anything more Texas than a honky tonk? No way! Opened in 1942 by Mr. John T. Floore, the John T. Floore Country Store isn’t a store, but a dance hall and cafe. Go for the world famous tamales and homemade bread, stay for the ice cold beer and live music. A few of the people who’ve preformed here? Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Robert Earl Keen and more. They often host family dance nights, where the place is open to all ages for some good old fashioned fun.
New Shops, Old ‘Hood
Step back in time in La Villita, the oldest neighborhood in the city. Meander down cobble stoned streets, popping into galleries, shops and restaurants from some of the most talented creatives in town. I love the handmade housewares from the Bird and Pear, especially their can cosies made from Mexican dresses (way cuter than you can even imagine!). Another lovely stop? Huipil Market, featuring colorful art, handbags, jewelry and more from around the globe.
Visit the Witte Museum
Nature, science and culture collide at The Witte Museum. Explore the Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery, featuring a deep ocean exhibit that explore the ancient seas that covered much of Texas 90 million years ago, as well as a full-size Tyrannosaurus rex from the river valleys of West Texas! The McLean Family Texas Wild Gallery features dioramas of the state’s flora and fauna, with everything from an impressive bison to the gentle tortoise. Fun fact: Did you know Texas the home of more wildlife species than any other state?
Explore the River Walk
If you visit San Antonio and skip the River Walk, did you really even experience the city? This world-renowned 15-mile urban waterway is the largest urban ecosystem in the nation. Tucked quietly below street level, you can explore the city by walking path, on a bike or aboard a tour on a river barge. It’s a lovely way to get around San Antonio, and easy to eat, drink, shop and learn all the while.
On a Mission
You’ve certainly heard of the Alamo (another San Antonio must!), but are you familiar with Missions National Historical Park? Declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park includes the city’s four southernmost 18th Century Spanish colonial missions – Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada. I’ll save you the Googling—traditionally, a mission is a compound that encompasses a church and housing for priests and local Native Americans. The ones in San Antonio represent the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America.
Visiting the missions is free, and each still contains active catholic parishes. It’s easiest to drive between each mission—they’re about 2.5 miles from one another and provide ample parking. That said, you can walk or drive! The missions are connected by 10 miles of trails along the San Antonio River. You can rent a B-Cycle, the local bike share program, for $12 per 24-hours. I say grab your bike, explore and stop for food and drinks along the way. That’s a mission I can certainly get behind!
What are your favorite spots in San Antonio? Share in the comments!
Like this post? Save it on Pinterest.