From the colorful attractions lining the River Walk to the quiet majesty of its historic 18th-century missions, San Antonio truly is a city with a little bit of everything. Of course, when you’re the second largest city in Texas, there’s plenty of room to accommodate a variety of interests. That includes art (from traditional Southwesternflavored crafts found at La Villita to the masterpieces hanging on the walls of the McNay); professional sports (this is the home of the Spurs, after all); historical landmarks (the legendary Alamo and its sister missions paint a fascinating picture of Spanish influence); and a vibrant Tejano culture that weaves itself through everything from the lip-smacking Tex-Mex cuisine to Mexican dance performances and south-of-the-border-style shopping. Family-friendly attractions like SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas add to this city’s tempting offerings. Whether you’re strolling down the River Walk in hot pursuit of the city’s best margarita, admiring the serene beauty of the Japanese Tea Gardens, getting a history lesson at one of the Spanish missions, or touring a historic home in the German-influenced King William District, there’s plenty here to hold your interest. If small town living strikes your fancy, the charming towns surrounding San Antonio demand some daytripping. Get a first-hand taste of cowboy culture— and perhaps some lessons on the Texas two-step—in Bandera; go tubing or feast on authentic German cuisine in New Braunfels; or stock up on one-of-a-kind antiques in scenic Fredericksburg. San Antonio has so much to do and so much to see—you just might have to start planning that return visit now! Sightseeing here encompass es the abundant cultural and historic attractions that have made San Antonio one of the most-visited cities in the nation. San Antonio also sits at the edge of the Texas Hill Country, where quaint towns let visitors glimpse the slower-paced lifestyle of an earlier era. Attractions THE ALAMO, 300 Alamo Plaza, 210-225- 1391. You haven’t been to San Antonio if you haven’t been to the Alamo. This revered fortress, the center of the city’s busiest plaza, is the target of thousands of cameras that focus on its graceful façade. During the Texas Revolution, more than 180 defenders held out against the forces of Mexican General Santa Anna for a full 13 days before being captured on March 6, 1836. Among the Alamo’s defenders were Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. Every man died defending Texas’ right of independence from Mexico, and their massacre gave birth to the legendary cry “Remember the Alamo!” Today, you can relive history through the exhibits inside this historic building. ARNESON RIVER THEATRE, La Villita on the River Walk, 210-207-8610. It’s hard not to love this unique theater, which hosts Mexican folkloric dances, concerts and festivals in a Mexican village setting. The audience sits across the river from the actual outdoor stage, as river taxis ply the waters in between. Day and evening shows occur throughout the year. BUCKHORN SALOON & MUSEUm, 318 E. Houston St., 210-247-4000. Both the grittiness and glamour of the Wild West come to life in the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum. Moved from its original location, the handsomely carved bar is where cowboys and Texas Rangers hung out, in part because they could get a beer or a shot of whiskey for bringing in horned hunting trophies, which soon filled the walls. The odd and intriguing collection on display includes a two-headed calf, a lamb with eight legs, a chair made from buffalo horns for Teddy Roosevelt, and pictures made from rattlesnake rattles. KING WILLIAM HISTORIC DISTRICT, 1032 S. Alamo St., 210-227-8786. This 25-block area near downtown on the east bank of the San Antonio River is a must for history buffs. Wealthy German merchants settled in town during the 1800s, building beautiful Victorian, Italianate and Greek Revival homes that are still in use today. Their striking architecture is quite a contrast to the adobe structures of the prevailing Mexican dwellings. Bring your camera. LA VILLITA, S. Alamo Street at Nueva Street, 210-207-8610. Once a village in its own right, La Villita is now a collection of adobes (some original) set around charming courtyards that lead to restaurants and shops selling the unique pieces of its resident arts-and-crafts community. MCNAY ART MUSEUM, 6000 N. New Braunfels, 210-824-5368. This former home of artist and collector Marion Koogler McNay recently unveiled its new Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions. A magnificent Spanish Colonial Revival-style mansion on beautifully manicured grounds, the museum showcases McNay’s ample collection of works by 19th- and 20th-century artists such as Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Jackson Pollock. MUSEO ALAMEDA, Market Square, 101 S. Santa Rosa, 210-299-4300. Opened April 2007, this Smithsonian-partnered museum explores the Latino experience in America through multiple art forms intended to foster contemplation, deliberation and understanding of America’s cultural fabric. SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, Visitor Center at 6701 San José Drive, 210-932-1001. The Spaniards conquered the Americas under the flag of Catholicism, and the results of their efforts can still be admired at this park. Five 18th-century missions were built along the San Antonio River, each about three miles from the next. The most famous is, of course, the Alamo, which is actually run by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The National Historical Park itself encompasses missions Concepción, San Juan, San José and Espada. You can drive the tour on your own; just stop by the visitor center for a map and a peek at early mission life. A sevenmile path that leads to three of the missions is great for bikes or hikes. SAN ANTONIO MUSEUM OF ART, 200 W. Jones Ave., 210-978-8100. The former Lone Star Brewery building has been transformed into this fine arts museum, with an impressive collection of Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, Asian masterpieces, and contemporary art. You can also peruse one of the largest collections of Latin American art in the United States, contained in the Nelson A. Rockefeller wing. The Lenora and Walter F. Brown Asian Art wing houses the region’s finest collection of Asian art, from ceramics to silks. SEAWORLD san Antonio, 10500 SeaWorld Drive, across from Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, 800-700-7786. Shamu performs daily with his bevy of sea creature friends in the biggest marine park in the world. Other denizens include fish, aquatic mammals, birds and, the scariest of them all, the Steel Eel roller coaster. There’s also a water park on-site, as well as live entertainment. Open from early March through late December, but call ahead to confirm schedules. SIX FLAGS FIESTA TEXAS, 15 minutes from downtown on Interstate 10 West and Loop 1604, 210-697-5050. No one does hair-raising rides like Six Flags. Take a few breathless dips on the all-wood Rattler roller coaster, or dare to fly on the Superman: Krypton® Coaster—all steel, no floor. And there’s much, much more. This enormous park was built within an old limestone quarry, giving it a few unusual twists, such as the fireworks with laser projection show right on the quarry walls. There’s a water park, rides for the little ones, shows, bigname concerts and tempting Texas grub. Open daily late May through late August; call for spring and fall hours. UTSA’S INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES, 801 S. Bowie St., 210-458-2330. Texas is a true melting pot of cultures, all of which are represented in this sleek building filled with hands-on displays. American Indian, German, Swedish, Chinese and Danish are just a few of the ethnicities that are present in the interactive and multimedia displays, artwork, artifacts, photos and tools. Don’t forget to go out back and check out the one-room schoolhouse, the fort and the log cabin. WITTE MUSEUM, 3801 Broadway, 210- 357-1900. One visit to the Witte Museum will answer many of your questions about the Lone Star State. Its many history, anthropology and natural science exhibits provide a window into the state’s intriguing past and present. Kids will love the H-E-B Science Treehouse just outside the museum, with its live demonstrations, Internet surfing room, and hands-on exhibits. HILL COUNTRY TOWNS. In contrast to the fun-in-the-sun escapades of amusement parks, or the allure of the River Walk, the Hill Country serves up more sedate attractions that will appeal to adults. Relaxation and escape here is low-key and lovely, combining winery tours, quaint towns and remarkable landscapes. From the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, touring the Hill Country is easy. Gruene, close to nearby New Braunfels, is a small town featuring Gruene Hall, where Texas music is king. Willie Nelson, Joe Ely, and Two Tons of Steel are some of the region’s notables who have graced the stage here. The town lies along the banks of the Guadalupe River, where “tubing” is the warm-weather afternoon activity of choice: Put on a swimsuit, hop in an inner tube, and float under the leaves of the cypress trees that tower above. If you have satisfied that urge at the resort, stroll the quaint streets of Gruene and keep a sharp eye out for a bargain—with gift shops, candle shops, woodcrafts and more, the smalltown merchants will surely entice you. A drive north along Interstate 10 leads to more Hill Country towns, each of which offers something different, from antique shops to wineries and roadside attractions. In the spring, the drive itself is the attraction, as the hillsides bloom with millions of colorful native flowers, including the state flower, the bluebonnet. Head north toward Kerrville, where music festivals beguile throughout the year, or stay closer and walk the streets of historic Boerne. A few miles beyond Boerne lies Sisterdale, the start of the Hill Country’s winery area. Visit a winery or head to the Sisterdale Roadhouse, which hosts live music on the weekends and a Wednesday night Texas Hold ‘Em tournament. Bandera bills itself as the “cowboy capital of the world,” and, along with boot-scootin’ at genuine country music dance halls, Bandera features surprisingly fine dining, cowboy-centric shopping, and a slice of authentic small-town life. The cowboy culture is alive and well in Bandera’s shops and social life. Big hats and big belt buckles are the proper fashion statement, helping the town live up to its cowboy billing. Sport Activities Sports are big here, from the basketball championship-winning Spurs to Missions baseball and the annual Alamo Bowl during the holidays. The mild climate and bountiful sunshine let visitors enjoy outdoor sports year-round, from tennis and golf to biking. Biking. A notable path connects downtown with the various missions of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Nearby, the Hill Country is prime terrain for biking, playing host to road races throughout the year. Golf. San Antonio is one of the fastest growing golf destinations in the United States. Several courses serve the area, with a challenging range of landscapes. Tee-off at one of the best in the area: the course at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. Spectator Sports BasketbalL. One AT&T Center at E. Houston Street and Coliseum Road, 210- 444-5000. The San Antonio Spurs basketball team takes the court at the AT&T Center throughout the season. Home games offer a chance to see the Spurs in action with all the stars. Fans of women’s basketball should note that the AT&T Center is also home to one of only 13 WNBA teams, the Silver Stars. Baseball. Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium, Highway 90 W and Callaghan Road, 210-675-7275. Class-AA minor league baseball is offered up by the San Antonio Missions, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Hot dogs, cold drinks and the team’s famous “Henry the Puffy Taco” mascot make the outing a memorable family event. Fotball. Alamodome, 100 Montana St., 800-884-3663 and 210-207-3663; Valero Alamo Bowl, 210-226-2695. San Antonio may boast national champions in basketball, but everybody knows that the national sport of Texas is football. College teams compete in the Valero Alamo Bowl between Christmas and New Year’s. Lovers of the sport who visit the city before the NFL calendar starts can catch pre-season action from the Dallas Cowboys, who make San Antonio’s Alamodome their home during training. The Alamodome also hosts the U. S. Army All-American Bowl, featuring the country’s top high school players. Hockey. One AT&T Center at E. Houston Street and Coliseum Road, 210-444-5554. Join the San Antonio Rampage for hockey season home games at the AT&T Center. Shopping Tempting bargains, compelling crafts by local and Latino artists, and up-to-theminute fashions make San Antonio a shopper’s dream. Galleries and museum shops provide happy hunting grounds for unique jewelry, folk art, wearable art, weavings, photographs, pottery and paintings. And don’t forget to stock up on salsa to take home to friends. For original, regional shopping, start in San Antonio’s downtown, with a walking tour that includes La Villita, the River Walk and the Southtown/King William shops. Finish up at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center for some artistic eye candy, then head north to the shops of Artisans Alley, where more local merchants ply unique items. Keep an eye out for locally crafted goods like jewelry, woodwork and ceramics. San Antonio has a flourishing arts community, making everything from furniture to fine art. The Southwest School of Art and Craft, located in an old convent downtown, trains talented artisans in jewelry making, paper craft, bookmaking, textiles, pottery and more. If you are lucky enough to be in town on the first Friday of the month, you will be struck with shopping fever, as South Alamo Street explodes with street vendors, music and resident artists for First Friday. Handmade goods, imports and one-ofa- kind treasures dangle from beckoning spaces in a dizzying stroll that is a shopaholic’s fantasy, and fun to boot. Speaking of boots, don’t neglect your cowboy style: Western wear comes with the territory. Score a classic Stetson and have it properly fitted, indulge in a rodeo-sized belt buckle that could double as a dessert plate, or learn how to wear a bolo tie. In San Antonio and the Hill Country, you will find tempting Western fashion notes that won’t blow your cosmopolitan cool. Jackets with fringe, hand-tooled leather belts and bags, and, most of all, great boots define the Western look. Classic boot makers ply their trade in San Antonio, turning out stylish, comfortable footwear from an astonishing range of hides, including snakeskin, crocodile, buffalo, kangaroo and the ever-popular ostrich. Antique malls dominate entire buildings in the downtown area, and the Hill Country And trendy Southtown are littered with them. While other cities offer European imports, like Queen Anne or Louis XIV, San Antonio’s antique scene reflects the process of settlement in the region. Mexican arts and objects, American rustic and pioneers’ household goods brought here by buckboard (including a few of those European treasures) can all be found. The entire 20th century is readily available: Classic kitchenware, like early cabinets and baking centers, enormous white enamel stoves, and pie safes can be found in abundance, as well as period armoires and a huge range of handcrafted furniture left from an era when everybody in the West had to build his own bed or table. Oak and pine are the woods most common to this early furniture. If you scour the area shops, you’ll also find old china, period toys, quilts and just about any other thing imaginable. If our antiques reflect a close relationship with historic Mexico, contemporary shopping should do no less: Check out El Mercado at Market Square for an exhaustive array of quality goods from Mexico, including clothes, crafts, serapes, glass, pottery and silverwork. Dining Sample some cabrito, become a salsa expert, or enjoy a tres leches, the rich “three milks” cake of Mexico. San Antonio’s main cuisine is decidedly Tex-Mex. Some of the area’s many taquerías and family restaurants specialize in more authentic and regional cuisines from Mexico; still others provide a chef-driven vision of new cuisines based on the flavors and preparations of Mexico. Whatever your preference, you don’t come to San Antonio and avoid the local fare. If the salsa is too spicy, cool off with an endless assortment of margaritas, as the region is famous for them. The region is also known for delicious barbecue. That’s fitting for a part of the world where the pavement now spreads over historic ranches. Good Texas beef (and pork, chicken and sausages) can be found with homemade sauces to suit every palate. In nearby New Braunfels or Fredericksburg, visitors can sample the German-influenced cuisines, including smoked meats and sausages. The small historic town of Castroville, a short drive from the resort, was settled by Alsatians, and here the food combines French provincial influences with German. If it’s time to dress up and dine fine, San Antonio is up to the occasion. In the past decade, the city has developed an extensive offering of cosmopolitan fare, and the River Walk and downtown are dense with dining spots, from casual to sophisticated. A confluence of good chefs has recently begun to cement a true “San Antonio” character in fine dining, resulting from an unusual marriage of styles that Utilize Asian and European approaches, combined with Southwest ingredients and regional favorites. In the Springhouse Café and Antlers Lodge at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, chefs blend the influences of San Antonio and the Hill Country in combinations that make the most of the diversity. The restaurants deliver the energetic merging of flavors that defines the food as well as the people. Nightlife Whether you’re looking for cool jazz or hot salsa bands, San Antonio offers a toetapping array of nightspots with live music to suit your mood. Believe it or not, there’s more to life in San Antonio than the River Walk. But it’s a good start: Our most famous piece of real estate—after the Alamo, of course— winds several miles through downtown San Antonio and is constantly expanding. The River Walk contains every imaginable variation of nightspot. Jim Cullum’s Landing, known for its “Riverwalk Jazz” series on public radio, is located downtown. Other clubs along the river offer every kind of music, including the kind you sing yourself at the top of your lungs. Posh and sophisticated, or down home and a little wild, San Antonio’s River Walk and the nearby street-level enticements offer it all. The city also has active venues for theater and other performing arts, including dinner theater and children’s theater. At Jump-Start in Southtown, you will find local performers presenting experimental and locally written works, as well as monthly dance performances and rotating gallery exhibits. The Magik Theatre downtown features live shows for families, ranging from Seussical the Musical to Phantom of the Alamo. For the ultimate guide to San Antonio’s nightlife in all its diversity, pick up a copy of the San Antonio Current alternative newsweekly, free at more than 850 locations around town, or check the Weekender, published on Fridays in the San Antonio Express- News. The Hyatt concierge desk can tell you where to find the papers or direct you to websites to help you plan activities from the comfort of your own room. Tours Ghost Tours. Ghost tours of San Antonio spin out nightly, filled with mysterious tales about the ghosts that still haunt downtown, including the mysterious woman at a local hotel, and some rather famous spooks that still wander the halls near the Alamo. Fredericksburg Tours. Tour operators offer guided bus tours to outlying towns like Fredericksburg, where gingerbread- trimmed houses, small-town charms, Antiquing and local shopping await. The German influence is everywhere in Fredericksburg, providing a counterpoint to the Mexican character of San Antonio. King William District Home Tours. From Alamo Plaza, you can pick up a tour to King William, where you can stroll through shops after touring a historic home, maintained in mint condition by the San Antonio Conservation Society; the Society also provides maps and brochures for self-guided tours at their headquarters on King William Street. Visitors can also tour private homes on the first Saturday of December. Mission Tours. From the pictureperfect San José to the still-unrestored Concepción, San Antonio’s five Spanish missions reflect an era when there was neither Mexico nor Texas, but indigenous Indians, being schooled and subjugated by New Spain. Although all but the Alamo are administered as National Parks, most are still in use by the Catholic Church, offering regular mass. Park rangers and docents offer free tours of each mission. Winery Tours. The soils of Texas are good for wine, and Hill Country winery tours will surprise you. The region produces award-winning vintages, with grapes grown from original stock brought from Spain many years ago. Long noted for reds, the Hill Country is now beginning to develop whites, as well. From tiny, postage stamp-sized wineries to huge Texas-sized undertakings; many delightful discoveries can be found nearby. Contact Texas Hill Country Wineries (866-621-9463, texaswinetrail. Com) for more information. Erin Donnelly is a freelance writer who specializes in travel and style. A native of Texas, she has written and edited guidebooks for destinations all around the world. She also regularly contributes to Lemondrop.com, Refinery29.com, and SingleMindedWomen.com.
Published by HCP Media. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://destinationhyatt.customtravelmags.com/article/A+Fiesta+Awaits/227860/22657/article.html.