Road Trip in San Antonio: 8 Reasons to Take the Road Trip


No, we won’t call you back to the Alamo.

San Antonio is kind of an underdog compared to a Texas-sized metropolis like Austin, but hey, we like it that way. As Austin continues to grow and change at a rapid rate, San Antonio has managed to develop at its own pace, while maintaining a close semblance of its rich heritage and local culture. Here are eight top reasons every road warrior should make cruising to San Antonio a priority on your next Lone Star State adventure.

With murals and public facilities on every corner, it’s enough to take a short drive, bike ride, or stroll downtown to see just how devoted San Antonio is to the arts. It seems like every day a new piece of street art finds its place among the many, and it’s easy to pass the time researching your favorites, which coincidentally makes for a great Insta photoshoot as well.

If you find yourself visiting during the Luminaria Contemporary Art Festival, make the most of the moment and immerse yourself in the citywide creative party. The festival is made up of several showcases scattered around the large city center, featuring local artists, musicians and performers presenting their work to the public. Likewise, First friday is a monthly art tour that wraps the Southtown and King Williams neighborhoods with lots of eye-catching artwork.

For museum visits, San Antonio has a lot to offer. Stop San Antonio Art Museum, a downtown labyrinth with vast rooms filled wall to wall with old and contemporary pieces or consult the McNay Art Museum, nestled in the residential Terrell Heights neighborhood and constantly raising the bar with modern art installations such as Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, and Yayoi Kusama. The grounds of the latter museum are also particularly scenic, making the museum a wedding hotspot, quincea̱era, and graduation photoshoots Рor an impromptu hang-up on the grass.

San Antonio’s Latin heritage in full swing at Market place. Its main feature, El Mercado, includes a long list of vendors and artisans from the southwest and Mexico whose products range from luchador masks and traditional pottery to handmade jewelry. In the center of the market is a stage where mariachis, groups and folk dancers often perform, filling the space with Latin music and festive spirit.

A short trip down Produce Row will easily find you at Mi Tierra Café & Bakery, a renowned Mexican restaurant with an 80-year heritage. Its piñatas-studded ceiling and colorful murals depicting historical figures from Latin history make the atmosphere just as appealing as the menu. Don’t forget to stop by the panaderia for some pan dulce and cookies for the ride home.

Everyone knows Austinites focus on their outdoor pursuits. With that in mind, San Antonio, in all its green glory, is an ideal travel destination for hiking, biking, and basking in the hot Texas sun. McAllister Park, Olmos Basin, and Phil Hardberger Park are just a few of the city’s expansive outdoor recreation areas, tailor-made for outdoor adventure. Picnickers flock to Brackenridge Park, with its panoramic river views and shaded seating areas, while the kids have fun at Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair Park, which includes climbing structures, a sandpit, and a play area for those sticky summer afternoons.
Arneson River Theater
Arneson River Theater | Bill Perry / Shutterstock

This may sound like one of the more obvious suggestions, but the Walk on the river lives up to its reputation as the number one tourist attraction in all of Texas. Aside from the plethora of Texas-centric restaurants and bars that line the San Antonio River, the River Walk itself is a bustling maze of walkways, bridges, and canals that weave just below street level. and packed with rooftop and people viewing opportunities.

Your River Walk begins at the Rivercenter, the downtown shopping center, and ends at Arneson River Theater in La Villita, where many shows at the water’s edge are scheduled throughout the year. Music fans should look for the very bridge where they filmed this iconic scene from Selena (the movie, not the Netflix series), if they can figure it out. And if you’d prefer to take a map-less approach, you can always take a ferry and let an official river guide show you around at your leisure.

the Band of Sainte-Marie has undergone a number of transformations over the decades, but it has never abdicated its throne as San Antonio’s premier nightlife destination. The eclectic variety of bars, clubs and restaurants truly offers something for everyone. If you want to dance the night away to deep Lady Gaga tracks, ThurzGayz at Brass monkey is the place. Do you prefer headbanging to doom metal while throwing in craft beers? Faust Tavern is your home base. And if you want to tune in to trap music in the presence of local celebrities, Midnight bath has you covered. However you like to walk down the Strip, the Strip has you covered.

No St. Mary’s pub crawl is complete without a bite to eat, and you can bet there’s a delicious mess of restaurants and food trucks to satisfy those inevitable late-night cravings. A popular stop is Tacos El Regio, known locally as Taco Truck, which has some of the best mini street tacos in town. If you’re in the mood for noods, Ka-tii at El Buho generous mounds of pad thai and heaps of mango sticky rice await.

Originally opened as a brewery, the pearl the development transformed a former industrial site into a luxury hotel with upscale restaurants, on-site small businesses, artisan shops and high-rise apartments. Pearls Food Hall Bottling Department has risen to the rank of unmissable culinary hub since its opening in 2017 thanks to resident gems like the Caribbean street food hawker Mi Roti and tasty ramen emporium Tenko Ramen,

Just outside the dining hall is the Park at Pearl, a large lawn where you can catch a concert, fiesta or dance party every night. The lush green space sets the stage for romantic picnics, casual outings with friends, and playtime for the kids, who tend to head to the adjacent wading pool.

Southtown’s longevity as an ever-hot neighborhood is testament to its ever-changing cultural makeup. Basic restaurants like that of Rosario and Tito’s Mexican restaurant juxtapose more recent additions like Sukeban and Little Em’s Oyster Bar. For the drinker, drinkers established as Bar America and The friendly place thrive among trendy newcomers like Alcyon and Jokes 22.

Southtown’s something old-something-new aesthetic is central to its appeal, and no outpost illustrates this phenomenon quite like Blue Star Art Complex. Home to the original Blue Star Brewing Co, this creative mecca has more than a dozen private art galleries and workshops and has long been known as a place of culture. Brick at Blue Star, an event space in the heart of the complex, is particularly notable for its countless craft markets, local shows and lively food pop-ups.

While San Antonio Day, the city’s flagship street fair, featuring oyster pastries, mariachi festivals, night markets and much more, has sadly already passed (unfortunately for you, of course, because we really enjoyed hell ), there is a whole host of public crowd strokes the rest of the San Antonio calendar of events. For a complete list of upcoming arts, food, culture, family, music and entertainment, outdoor and sporting events, keep an eye out for Visit San Antonio’s busy agenda.

And if you’re truly disappointed to miss the fun of the Fiesta this year, you’ll be relieved to learn that Battle of the Flowers Parade, a downtown procession of marching bands and flowery floats carrying Fiesta royalty, has been postponed to 2022. And with all that extra prep time, we’re expecting a blast.

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Polly Anna Rocha is a contributor to Thrillist.


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