This week I’m once again working with Marriott International and my good friend Brendan Van Son, but this time instead of Route 66 we’re exploring more of the great state of Texas. Although I’ve visited a couple of times in the past, I’ve never really experience very much of the state which is why I was so excited for this new adventure. One feature I especially love about this new trip is how different each city is from the other, and that was certainly the case in beautiful San Antonio.
The last time I was in San Antonio was when I was 6 months old and Ford was still President, so this was essentially my first time in the city. As soon as we entered the downtown core, I could tell that everything about the city was different from anything else I’d experienced before. It’s hard to say if it was the art deco buildings and vintage neon signs, or the shady trees and parks, but I instantly felt at ease and comfortable. Those feelings were accentuated by the incredible hotel that served as my home base in the city – The St. Anthony. Part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, this historic hotel is fully updated and has every amenity I look for in any truly exceptional property in addition to enjoying a perfect location in San Antonio itself. Just about everything is an easy walk from the hotel, including my first stop, San Antonio’s famous River Walk.
River Walk is probably one of the best urban planning concepts in the world, creating a city waterway that is almost perfect. Situated a story below the city streets, this shady and flowery escape is flanked by restaurants, shops and anything else you’d need to enjoy the scenery and cooler temps. Since it’s 15-miles long, I took a boat cruise along the River Walk to see the highlights. Even after the cruise I found myself returning again and again, drawn to the easy comfort of the area.
There’s a lot more to San Antonio though than River Walk, including the city’s other major attraction, the Alamo. Arguably Texas’ most famous and important historic site, most tourists are surprised to learn that it’s just one of several Spanish missions located in the area. All are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and while the Alamo is indeed fun to visit, so are the other missions. A half-day or more could be spent exploring all of them, which I strongly recommend.
As I’ve learned, visiting Texas is also all about the food, and San Antonio is no exception. Whether it’s BBQ along the River Walk or an elevated meal at Cured in the Pearl District, you can’t go wrong, but my favorite is also a city institution – Mi Tierra. This massive restaurant has been serving up classic Tex-Mex for years, and eating there truly is an experience no one will soon forget.
San Antonio is also well located to other fun destinations, including Texas Hill Country. Traditionally known for honky-tonks, peaches and a more laid back style of living, today it’s even more famous for its wines, breweries and distilleries. Located not too far from Fredericksburg, Narrow Path Winery may be new, but they’re already creating tasty wines from dry whites to full-bodied reds. I’m a history buff though, so a visit to the LBJ Ranch was something I couldn’t miss. Otherwise known as the Texas White House, Johnson’s ranch wasn’t just a place where he relaxed, some of the most important decisions during his time in office were made here, making this an important historic site in its own right.
San Antonio charmed me in a way I never expected. I knew it would be nice, but I didn’t expect to love it as thoroughly as I did. Unlike many other cities I visit, I know this won’t be my last time in this fun and colorful city.