8Great: San Antonio
by Fern Decena
San Antonio is not just about the Alamo. It’s one of America’s best little cities to shop, explore and eat some of the best restaurants from Tex-Mex to artisan foods. We sent writer Fern Decena to uncover some of the best San Antonio has to offer. Here’s her faves!
1. The Do Seum
The San Antonio Children’s Museum (soon to be the Do Seum) is an amazing new, 65,000 square foot space, spread over 5.5 acres, due to open this June. Over 300,000 visitors are expected to visit the facility, annually, and certain to captivate children and adults, alike. The Do Seum is “hands-on” and designed to encourage children “to do” and to use skills in critical thinking and problem-solving through the many interactive exhibits. The Sensations Studio, which explores physics with light and sound. Imagine It! engages kids in story-making skills and language development. The museum’s Big Outdoors will provide an opportunity for children to experience nature, as well—over 39,000 square feet of it! And, be sure to check out the Do Seum’s musical staircase!
2. The Pearl
The Pearl is a shiny find—where old meets new. Once the home of the Historic Pearl Brewery, this mix-use space now houses retail shops, restaurants, beautiful outdoor seating areas and an amphitheater along the San Antonio River while keeping some elements from the old brewery. Shop for traditional Guayaberas to wear from Dos Carolinas and savor the best of hand-crafted cured foods at Cured restaurant or enjoy a walk and take in the scenery of the Pearl, a San Antonio treat!
3. The Alamo
The Alamo is San Antonio’s most famous Spanish mission and fortress originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero and a historical landmark memorializing the Battle of the Alamo that was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. For those interested in learning state history, the Alamo is a great place to start. Set in the Alamo Plaza Historic District of downtown San Antonio, book a guided tour with one of the Alamo Museum knowledgeable docents. History abounds as volunteers take guests through the early days of the Spanish mission and its significance in the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.
4. River Walk
Take a walk along one of San Antonio’s major tourist draws, the famous River Walk. Explore the 2.5-mile long network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River. A great place to stop and enjoy a bite to eat at a variety of restaurants from al fresco dining to fine dining, or grab a happy hour cocktail from a nearby bar, or shop. The River Walk also offers water taxi tours for a leisurely float on the river, a great way to learn the history of the River Walk.
5. Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farmstead
The Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farmstead, located inside Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, in Fredericksburg. A short distance from San Antonio, the working farm recreates what rural farm life was like in the 1900s. Interpreters wear actual period clothing and perform daily household activities on the farm. It is a unique and delightful way to experience how these families lived and made their living. You can experience “chores” such as canning foods, milking cows, and more. Visit during the holidays and sample traditional homemade cookies too!
6. National Museum of the Pacific War
The National Museum of the Pacific War is the only place in the US dedicated exclusively to Pacific Theater battles of World War II –located in Fredericksburg (a short distance from San Antonio). It’s the hometown of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who served as the Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific fleet during World War II. This museum provides an organized, dynamic story-telling experience for visitors–you will feel like you were there.
7. The McNay Art Museum
Named after its founder, heiress Marion Koogler McNay, this is Texas’ first modern art museum. The museum houses much of the heiress’ amazing art collection and special exhibits in the mansion that she once inhabited. This museum is a hidden gem and features Southwestern, Renaissance, European and American art by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe and much more. A must see for the art lover.
8. Annual Tamales!
Annual Tamales! Holiday Festival is a festive and popular holiday event in San Antonio. The outdoor area, where the festivities take place at the Pearl boasts a bevy of local restaurants and their chefs cooking up their versions of a favorite holiday dish—the Mexican tamale. From savory to sweet tamales, plain to fancy, dress them to taste, and eat! The festival also features live music, dancing, family activities and a fun time for all!
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