Let's start with a precursor here, if you are unaware - B of the Nomadic Newlyweds & I have set off on a month full of Girl's Getaways (4 States in 4 Weeks). I'm a huge believer in living like a local, but it's not for the reasons you'd think. It's not because I have some weird grudge about looking or acting like a "tourist". If you're curious about this Keep It Local series in general --> Click Here. Okay, that's enough links for a first paragraph on a blog about San Antonio 🙂 So let's talk.
We were going to kick off the month with snow & skiing, but went against our initial inclination and set off for San Antonio. It was a good decision. We were there for a weekend and it worked out incredibly well, we left feeling as though there were a few things we missed, but not longing to have stayed longer or sad that we didn't. This is how you know you've found a place that makes for a great weekend retreat. I debated on giving you a day-by-day, play-by-play, but I think it will better serve y'all if I just explain each area we visited.
1 | The Airport
It's kind of humorous to start out with the airport, but hell, we spent a lot of time in this area! We were going to be traveling south towards the Riverwalk, but some pre-trip research took us just north of the airport to a little boutique, Voge Boutique. Voge has an online store that we have frequented quite often. Since we were in the area, it only made sense to stop by the brick & mortar. If you're ever in the area I'd suggest you do the same - the store is such an amazing find. They have a high-end, colorful collection of clothing/accessories & you will often be greeted by their little mascot, Miss Sophie. There were multiple moments in which I thought I was going to pick up the little pup, put her in my purse, & quietly walk out of the door.... That & they have a fantastic sales rack (always my first-stop). I was actually a little blown away by the number of ladies that entered on their lunchtime & walked straight to the cashier to inquire about a piece they had seen on Instagram. The local customers are loyal, that always says a lot about a place of business. So happy to have seen the location I've stalked online, in person. It was also amazing to meet the kind & caring ladies that run the place, not to mention, realize that they are the girls who model all of the pieces on the website! Talk about a gorgeous group of fashionistas.
2 | The Riverwalk
After Voge, we trekked South towards the famous Riverwalk! I was so excited to see the location that attracts tourists from all across the globe. I was also very thrilled to be in my natural habitat - drinking wine & frolicking about. <--True Story, this is what I do in my backyard. "No Alcohol Beyond This Point" signs were nowhere to be found. No more downing my drink to go next door or run back to the hotel for my camera, which happens more than I care to admit. No more drinking water (only kidding...apparently you die without water). I was in my own little alcoholic heaven 😉
We made it to our hotel rather quickly - thanks to a fantastic Uber driver. Which is a different story in regards to the driver that took us to Voge.... I'm actually not over that, I'm going to go ahead rant a little about it. Thank you Mr. Creepy for missing every exit, comparing us to your grand children & still hitting on us. We were so glad to make it to Voge 30 minutes later than we should have. We also very much enjoyed the smell of your vehicle. After a lot of online deliberation, we booked our stay with Hotel Valencia. They did NOT disappoint. We were submerged in luxury from the moment our feet hit the ground. They got our doors, unloaded our luggage, & escorted us to the front desk. We checked-in & Mourad (our Bellman) took us to our room, where our luggage was awaiting us. He also checked on us multiple times throughout our stay, holding doors, taking us up the elevators, bringing us a fridge! It's honestly hard to find service like that these days. They're old school & I like it.
We immediately changed & decided to explore. We frolicked (yes, with wine) up & down the Riverwalk. It's 15 miles long, so we didn't exactly cover every square inch, but we made it a good hundred feet from our hotel, at least. The rich history of the area is evident in all directions. The beautiful tiled stairways and wrought iron handrails are scattered all over the walk. The Esquire, just feet from where we were staying is touted as the oldest bar on the Riverwalk!
Having arrived a little later than we'd have liked (thanks Uber man), we lost a little bit of playtime & had to call a timeout for dinner. We were beat, so we stayed at our hotel & tried out their restaurant - Citrus. If it's not on your agenda, put it on. It's the only place we went that didn't have a wait or a line. If you think that's because it's not fantastic, you're wrong. It's fantastic. We spent half the dinner wondering why & decided that it's because it's hidden within the hotel. We feasted on fish, duck & pot pie! The pot pie had morels in it & that was just icing on the cake for me. I grew up hunting morels & I know what kind of a delicacy they are. I drooled a little when I ate it. The pastry chef even brought us out his new creation to try - it was a cross between a churro and a macaroon. I also drooled a little then, too. Basically, the table under my mouth was soaked. Oh, our server had this perfect way of showing up right when we needed him - quite the talent seeing as I get pretty annoyed, pretty often at restaurants (I was a server for 2 years). Rather plump, we topped the evening off with a couple of Habanero Marg's from the hotel bar & hired a crane operator to lift us into our beds.
Awoken by the sun, we laced up our shoes & tossed on our backpacks. We were going to spend the morning exploring the rest of the Riverwalk. We found the picturesque setting we had been seeing all over Pinterest - you know, the one with the colorful umbrellas and plethora of strung lights. It was actually a restaurant called Casa Rio. We sat on the water, fed some ducks & enjoyed a nice bloody with our breakfast. Perfect start to the morning. Now it was off to remember The Alamo.
3 | The Alamo
Remembering The Alamo is apparently a bad decision for a Saturday. We meandered through the crowds to find a line that stretched down the street. We decided to make a hard pass on waiting in that line & vowed to come back early Monday morning. We failed at coming back on Monday, but we did find a secret little entrance. On the backside of the main building, is a garden (no fee). It's rather large & full of beautiful flowers & cacti. It was also not terribly packed. We walked through the gardens & got a feel for the grounds that were walked on by Texas heroes. We learned of their history & enjoyed the live historical reenactments.
Upon exiting the gardens, we caught a glimpse of a church. I'm talking the church of churches, this beautiful building that had to house a lot of history. We took off in a quick walk - comparative to Malcolm in the Middle style speed walking (if you know that reference, we can be friends). It turned out to be the Cathedral of San Fernando, built between 1738 & 1750. We just so happened to walk up while a bride & groom gave each other a smooch & trotted out the front door! How freaking cool, the church is still active today.
There are plenty of local shoppes in the area & even a mall. We made our way around to as many as we could before our feet gave up. We then slowly, walked back to our hotel to get ready for the evening. In case you're curious, the Alamo & surrounding area are right off the Riverwalk.
4 | Southtown
Thanks to many, many recommendations - we found our way to Southtown. If you can't tell already, there is a theme for this trip & it revolves around food. We decided to do a sort of bar hop, but with appetizers. We started at the far end of Southtown (Feast) & worked our way towards Rosario's. We had a small app & drink at each restaurant we encountered. Needless to say, it was a fun night. We had Shishito Peppers & I ordered a Black Butte Beer (that I charmingly mispronounced & the bartender giggly handed me my "Black Booty") at Feast. Then we had twice fried chicken wings at Hot Joy, that caused my mouth to make all sorts of savory noises. I ordered a Basil Seed drink that delightfully tasted like Basil Bubblegum.... There was a little outdoor bar, but it didn't look as though it had food, so we obviously kept walking. We wound up at Rosario's eating guacamole and sipping on Marg's. The bartender then let us know about this fun little local bar down the street, Francis Bogside. If you know to ask, they will hand you a $5 drink menu. We were lost in conversation when it was time to head home.
When we got back to Hotel Valencia, we were obviously still hungry. Normally this occurs & we are SOL because it's like 2AM, but luckily Valencia has 24 hour room service with Lobster Flautas on the menu.... We both happily passed out mid-conversation with the lights on & 2 flautas left. When we awoke, the lights were off & the flauta fairy had come & devoured the last two delicious roll-ups. With slight headaches from the plethora of drinks we tasted the night before in Southtown, we were dreading getting around for breakfast. Then came the most spectacular sound, a knock on the door from the sweetest man in the world with a push-cart full of breakfast. Re-energized, we pulled ourselves together & set off for the Pearl District.
5 | The Pearl District (Pearl Brewery)
We roll up in our Uber directly in front of Hotel Emma. We are so amazed that we leave our sunglasses in the Uber. We were literally standing in front of an old brewery that had been transformed into a hotel/restaurant/grocery/bar plaza. It was crazy! It was on another part of the Riverwalk - a little more hipster & a lot more touristy. I'll take Hotel Valencia over Hotel Emma any day due to less tourists, more privacy & the fact that J-Lo has stayed there (among many, many other famous actors/actresses/sports stars/singers). Still, Hotel Emma is open on the bottom floor to tourists seeking the bars or restaurants. So, go grab a drink & look around. Enjoy the ambiance without having to pay the ~$400/night.
We round the corner & I lay eyes on the ice cream of all ice creams - Lick. I'm inside before B can turn around. They have the most amazing ice cream with the most interesting flavor choices I've ever seen (healthy too). A friend from work has spoken about this joint before & I couldn't help but try it myself.
Walking around, ice cream in hand - frequenting the local shoppes & enjoying the sun, I notice something. Traffic is rather light for such a touristy area. Then I realize I'm surrounded by yoga-pant wearing, bicycling riding, speed walking, healthy onlookers. I'm amazed. Last time I saw such an active area, I was in Denver. It was refreshing & also painful, considering I was eating ice cream. I quickly finished my cone & decided to walk a little further than I normally would have.... We walked a little further, directly into The Granary. I continued to feel inferior to the active people outside as I enjoyed a Beer & Donut pairing. Then I felt plump & satisfied & no longer gave a sh*t because the sugar had finally made its' way to my brain.
Then we walk past One Lucky Duck (Juicery) & I realize why my stomach hurts - I'm generally incredibly healthy (but, vacation!). I look in the window & see my old friend KTonic Kombucha. KTonic is local to Austin, but they sell it throughout Texas. It's my all-time favorite Kombucha. I'm not just saying that, it really is. See, you drink Kombucha for the health benefits, for the Probiotics. So it always baffles me when companies try to sell non-organic, non-raw versions of the product with added juice & sugar. I hope there isn't a large market for that, truly. KTonic does it up right, 100% tea based with nothing added (100% Organic). I'm hoping if I send enough emails, I can get them stocked in my local Natural Grocers here in OKC. Anddddddd, I'm off topic. Sorry about that, go drink some KTonic Kombucha.
Sunday Funday right? The sun is starting to go down & we spot this great looking bar. Gosh, we sound like alcoholics (but, vacation!). I know it's a great choice as soon as we walk in because I spot our bartender from the night before, from Francis Bogside. Turns out her fiance is a bit of a drink connoisseur & master cocktail crafter - he also loves David Bowie, but that's a useless sidenote (enjoy). He's our bartender tonight & master cocktail crafter, he is! In case you're in the area & feel like embarrassing him, his names Andy! He heard I had a thing for spicy cocktails, so he made me one of his Bowie specials. Go see the man!
6 | King William District
So we roll out of bed the next day. We sadly pack up all of our belongings & call for a cart! There was still more adventuring to be had, so we leave our belongings with the very capable, Bellman. We holler for an Uber & head directly to the King William District, but wait - there is one place we forgot to stop! Right next to the King William District, in what I would call Southtown-ish, there is a little ice cream joint. In this little ice cream joint, there is booze. You heard me correct, we had found The House, Boozy Ice Cream & Brews. We got to taste all of their ever-changing flavors. Might I tell you, they were all spectacular. They even have non-boozy flavors so that you can enjoy an adult treat, while your child does not (ha). It's family owned & operator, which caters to my Keep It Local mantra rather well. Needless to say, I ate all of the ice creams.
Just outside of the ice cream haven, we hailed another handy-dandy Uber (no, we are not sponsored by Uber...we just Uber a lot). We had this Uber driver give us a tour of the King William District via his car. Little did he know, he came to work that day to show two girls around while driving ~5 mph. See, this district is composed of beautiful historical homes. If we were not running out of time, we would have taken a horse drawn carriage & toured the area. Maybe next time, maybe next time.
7 | Blue Star Complex
This was a sad good-bye to San Antonio. We Yelped our way to the Blue Star Arts Complex (via suggestion from our Uber driver) & immediately regretted not having known about it prior to our quick, 20 minute lunch. It's this great little venue full of art, food, drink & local shops. Not only that, but it's connected to the Blue Star Brewing Company. That's a double thumbs up from me, but a double thumbs down for not experiencing any of it except for lunch. It seems to be an up & coming area. Sadly, we didn't come across it in any of our research so we are going to go ahead & make sure you have the knowledge so that you don't miss it too. I'm also going to take a wild stab & say it has more locals walking around than tourists, which is a plus. Not because I hate tourists, but because I love locals. Come on, guys.
That was it, that was the end. Please now scroll back to the beginning, because all trips are just a big loop. Back to the airport we went.