Steve and I did a quick weekend getaway to San Antonio, Texas and stayed at the new Hotel Emma, which I will review separately. Neither one of us had been to or stayed in downtown San Antonio for around 10 years and while much has stayed the same (the Alamo and the Riverwalk), a lot has changed. We took a quick 45 minute flight from DFW and grabbed a cab to our hotel. The new Hotel Emma is in a fairly new district called The Pearl, which was the location of the old Pearl Beer Brewery complex. While you can walk to the main downtown area where you find the Riverwalk and the Alamo, we opted to take an Uber there instead. Below are a few ideas for things to do in San Antonio for a weekend visit.
The Riverwalk (Paseo del Rio)
The San Antonio River has always run through the city and was the main source of water for the Spanish missions and the city citizens back in the 1700’s to early 1900’s. However, it was prone to flooding so in the early 1920’s, they re-engineered the river to better control its flow and to contain it within its banks and thus The Riverwalk was born. Right in the heart of downtown, the Riverwalk makes a horseshoe bend and is lined with restaurants, bars, patios, stores and hotels. There are several stone bridges that allow you to move from bank to bank and there are also river taxis that will take you up and down and the boat guides will give you a history lesson along the way. It’s a great way to waste away at least an hour or two and there are several places where you can have lunch and a margarita while watching the people and boats glide by.
Remember The Alamo
We didn’t go into the Alamo this trip as we have both visited it several times before but it’s worth an hour or two if you have never been. The mission was originally known as the Mission de San Antonio and was built around 1724. Texas settlers from the U.S. declared their independence from Mexico in 1836 which led to a 13 day siege at The Alamo. The Texian defenders, who numbered around 100, held off a Mexican army of around 1,500 for almost two weeks before being overrun and killed by General Santa Ana. Naturally, the brutality of Santa Ana did not go unanswered and he was defeated about a month later at the Battle of San Jacinto which famously lasted for only 18 minutes before he was captured. The mission has changed a lot since that time but its famous facade remains exactly the same and you can tour the entire mission complex and museum inside.
The Mercado Area
About a 15 minute walk from the Riverwalk and the Alamo is the Mercado area which is a small 2 x 4 block area with Mexican restaurants, stores with Mexican handicrafts and vendor stalls. It’s very colorful and is worth a browse and a stop for a margarita. We had lunch here at a famous restaurant called Mi Tierra. We were later informed by Steve’s mom that it’s considered a “for tourists only” restaurant but we enjoyed our queso, margaritas and fajitas. The area makes for great photo-ops.
The Pearl District
This area is fairly new to San Antonio and is about a 30-40 minute walk from downtown. It’s the home of the Hotel Emma where we stayed and now houses many shops, restaurants and bakeries in the old brewery buildings. I’ll review Hotel Emma separately but it has a really cool bar scene and there are many open plazas for enjoying the fine weather in San Antonio while sampling some bits and bites.
We really enjoyed our weekend in San Antonio. It’s a city that some describe as “where the Mex meets the Tex” and it’s vibrant history and culture are definitely worth a visit if you ever mosey on down to Texas.