Are There Any Non Touristy Things To Do In San Antonio?
There’s gotta be more to San Antonio then the Alamo and the Riverwalk . . .
I live in Houston, TX which is roughly 2 1/2 hours away from San Antonio. And when traffic cooperates, it’s probably one of the easiest drives. You literally hop on 1-10 and head west until you run into San Antonio. You can’t miss it. And if you do, well . . .
So if San Antonio is that close and the drive as easy as I claim, then why haven’t I spent more time in San Antonio?
To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of San Antonio. I’ve seen the Alamo multiple times and I’ve walked up and down the endless Riverwalk more times than I care to admit. I’ve even been to Six Flags and Sea World. Soooo, I’m good on all of the above (for life).
And whenever I’ve asked the question, “what is there to do in San Antonio?“, the response I generally get is “The Alamo” and “The Riverwalk”. Ugh. Seriously, there had to be more to San Antonio.
So when Melanie, my friend and former co-worker, moved to San Antonio, she was sooooo excited. And in the spirit of being a good and supportive friend, I pretended to be excited too (sorry girl if you are reading this). Truthfully, I was happy for her professionally but socially I thinking “ok girl, good luck with that”.
*OMG! This all sounds so bad now as I type. (Sorry Mel).
But truthfully, that’s what I thought.
Over the years, EVERY TIME I talked to Melanie, she always had something awesome to say about San Antonio. Where her and her husband went. Where they ate. Where they grabbed a drink. And I never could understand why. I just didn’t get it. But looking back now, I probably didn’t try to get it either because my mind was made up. San Antonio was a hell no for me.
A few months ago, Melanie really started jumping into Instagram (follow her, she’s pretty adorable) and posting beautiful pictures of her around San Antonio that actually weren’t the Riverwalk or the Alamo. And I’ll admit, my interest was piqued.
So what did I do?
I gave in and let Melanie show me around the city she loved. And I’m so glad I did. Many don’t know this but I can admit I was wrong (just like Detroit too)
I (now) LOVE San Antonio and cannot wait to go back. Thanks Mel!
*For the visual Cliffnotes version of our trip, check out my InstaStory “Travel” highlights on Instagram. (make sure to turn the volume up when you watch).
Where to Eat
Steel City Pops: Uh, “yes please!” I’m sure if you can imagine it, they can create it in popsicle form. If you are feeling guilty about the calories, then you can feel good about this: Steel City Pops popsicles are made from all natural locally sourced ingredients. They also have gluten-free and vegan options. Bam! Insider Tip: Make sure to try the Peach Cobbler popsicle (when in season). It’s f’ing magical.
Luther’s Cafe: Since 1949, Luther’s Cafe was giving me all the diner, ice house patio vibes. Stop in, have a drink, grab a burger, nosh on some fries and let the good times roll. Insider Tip: Want a great photo opp? Luther’s shares a corner with the Gay Pride crosswalk. Annnnd, if you look directly across the street, another great photo opp you’ll find on the side of the bar, The Strip. Just look for the angel wings in the colors of the Pride flag are painted on the side of The Strip.
Drag Brunch at Paramour: Sunday’s just got a little bit more glamorous. Take in gorgeous views of SA while enjoying talented drag queens lip-sync for their lives (or tips). Insider Tip: Bring 1’s, to tip the ladies as they walk by. Also, Paramour stops taking reservations on Wednesday the week of. So get there when doors open to make sure you get a seat.
Other places worth checking out:
Where to Drink
The Friendly Spot: Me: Sooooo, can I sit on your bar and take a picture? Bartender: Sure! Proving that The Friendly Spot isn’t just “friendly” in name, they really are “friendly”. 2 large bars, big screen tv’s, an outdoor jungle gym (for the kids) and plenty of shade. The Friendly Spot has everything needed for a good time. Insider Tip: Make sure you try the “Friendly Punch.” This drink actually packs a ‘punch’ (pun very intended). Just think of the “Friendly Punch” as San Antonio’s version of the New Orleans Hurricane. Have fun my friends.
Steal the Look:
La Fonda on Main: In our quest for the best margarita San Antonio had to offer, I consulted the expert and my fellow blogger friend, Yadira Torres (a.k.a. shewillsay on the “Gram). A San Antonio native and a self described “Margarita Snob”, Yardira knows her
stuff margaritas. Don’t forget to try the Jalapeño Cucumber Margarita and the Spicy Peach Margarita. The syrup comes from fresh peaches from Fredericksburg, TX. Funny Story: I met Yadira this past December at a fashion show that her and I walked in. We instantly hit it off and she’s the reason behind this picture.
The Luxury: Grab a drink and bite at the Luxury. But don’t let the counter-serve kitchen style fool you. The food is high-end with a laid back feel. Insider Tip: Get there early to grab a swing. The Luxury has swings overlooking the San Antonio River made from reclaimed fire hoses.
What to Do
Mission San Jose: Rent a bike and take a ride. Go on a guided tour or just meander around the grounds like we did. Not only is it a great place to visit, but it’s also an amazing place for photos. Although the Alamo is the most famous of all the missions, Mission San Jose is easily the prettiest.
Pearl District: I guess the easiest question is “what is there not to do in the Pearl District?” This little area has a little bit of everything. From shopping to dining to outside activities to live music and the list goes on. Great for the family or a date and great for photo opps.
San Antonio Museum of Art: Soak up a little art and history with the classics. Then celebrate San Antonio’s tricentennial (yup, 300 years) by taking a picture with the 300 sign right outside the front door. You can’t miss it. It’s HUGE.
Where to Shop
Element Boutique: Easily one the cutest and trendiest boutiques in San Antonio. Element is not only a clothing store, but it also shares a space with The Oxygen Bar, a full service hair salon and spa. So sit a spell, try on some clothes in the “Photo Booth”, nosh on some Twizzlers, get your hair did and walk out a new woman. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
**Steal the Look: Bandage crop and pant set
Where to Take the Best Photos
Historic Market Square: When I think of the rich beautiful colors of San Antonio, I instantly think of Market Square. So many photo opportunities in this beautiful outdoor market. The list is limitless. Address: 514 W Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78207
*Steal the Look
Confluence Park: This park is differently beautiful. Confluence Park is the “cool kid” of parks. The theme is modern meets “environmental science and sustainability”. Insider Tip: Mission San Jose is close by (like 5 mins away.) Address: 310 W Mitchell St, San Antonio, TX 78204
Gay Pride Walk: Address: 139-101 E Evergreen St, San Antonio, TX 78212 (Basically, the intersection of N Main Street and E Evergreen Street, San Antonio, TX)
Rainbow Wings: Directly across the street from Luther’s Cafe and the Rainbow Walk you’ll find the Rainbow Wings painted on the side of The Strip. Address: The Strip 1416 to 1503 N Main Ave. San Antonio, TX 78212
Steal the Look
Hays Street Bridge: Beautiful and famous rustic landmark. Insider Tip: (from our our photographer, Jonathan Ivy) For the BEST pictures at the bridge, make sure you take pictures first thing in the morning or in the afternoon during the golden hour.
*Photo credit: Jonathan Ivy Photography
**Photo credit: Alicia Artista