The Perfect Week in San Antonio

A week in San Antonio provides plenty of time to explore the city’s many historic landmarks, wander the River Walk, taste your way through the Pearly Brewery, and head out to Hill Country on a day trip or, perhaps, an overnight.

300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
You haven’t truly experienced Texas until you’ve visited the hallowed grounds of the Alamo. Established in 1718 as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, the building is best known as the site of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, a 13-day siege under Mexican president General Antonio López de Santa Anna that ultimately killed nearly all of the Texan defenders. To stroll past the limestone facade and envision the battle that played out here is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For a real treat, book an after-hours tour and get the Texas landmark all to yourself as you walk in the footsteps of the fallen soldiers.
Hotels
1015 Navarro St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
The roots of this Mediterranean Revival-style boutique hotel go back to 1914, when a local grocer created the tropically inspired property to house his visiting vendors. Nearly a century later in 2010, hotelier and style guru Liz Lambert added the place to her mini-empire, reviving the grounds that still feature magnolia, palm, and cypress trees planted by the original owner. Set on a quiet section of the River Walk near the museum corridor, the restored building (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) houses 27 guest rooms decorated in a designer-meets-flea market aesthetic, with bright pops of color and plenty of personality. All are pet-friendly, and feature stocked SMEG fridges, Red Flower bath amenities, custom serape bathrobes, and complimentary coffee and Wi-Fi; suites have sitting areas, terraces, or other perks. Room service comes from the in-house Ocho restaurant, but it’s better to head down and eat there in person to take in the cheery setting, river views, pan-Latin menus, and cocktails that highlight rum (as a nod to Havana) and tequila (an homage to San Antonio’s Mexican roots). A regular calendar of happy hours, musical performances, and cultural events round out life at this vibrant hotel.
Hotels
300 E Travis St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
From its perch on Travis Park, just three blocks from the Alamo, The St. Anthony hotel has witnessed a lot of San Antonio history. First opened in 1909, the hotel was technologically-advanced for its day (think private bathrooms and automatic doors and lighting), and soon became known as one of the most luxurious hotels in the country, hosting everyone from the local elite to visiting royalty, presidents, and movie stars. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the 10-story landmark emerged from a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2015, when it was e-launched as part of the Starwood Luxury Collection. The history is celebrated in details like 12-foot ceilings, antique piano, and gold leaf-topped columns found in the emerald-hued Peacock Alley lobby space, and the marble and bronze figures of the Sculpture Garden, while a contemporary style and jewel toned colors are featured in the 277 guest rooms and suites, many of which have park views. (If you’re interested in learning more about the hotel’s past—and hearing some legendary stories—schedule a tour with a staffer.) The light-fill Loggia restaurant is an elegant spot for breakfast and lunch, while the dramatic Rebelle features Texas farm-fresh produce and coastal seafood in its shareable dinner menus. Drinks and light bites are served at the seasonal Pool Bar, set around the outdoor swimming pool and featuring views of downtown; and at Haunt, a sleek indoor space playfully named for the rumored resident spirts. Once a private club for the city’s movers and shakers, The St. Anthony Club now welcomes all with signature drinks like the Triple S.
16641 La Cantera Pkwy, San Antonio, TX 78256, USA
Following a multi-million-dollar overhaul in 2015, this ranch-style Hill Country resort—which is part of the Destination Hotels collection and less than 20 minutes from the airport—has emerged as a spot where both families and the adults-only crowd feel at home. For the former, there are plenty of places for fun on the 550-acre property, including five pools (one is just for kids, with two water slides and a toddler splash area), an arcade (for ages 13 and up), tennis courts, and miles of scenic trails. The hotel even has a partnership with high-end baby gear label Babiege, which grants guests discounts on crib, stroller, and accessory rentals they might need to enjoy a day out. Meanwhile, grown-ups will appreciate amenities like two championship golf courses, Texas-inspired treatments at the Loma de Vida Spa & Wellness (set on one of the highest points in San Antonio, with views to match), an adults-only pool, and private poolside cabanas (available for a fee), which come stocked with fridges, HDTVs, local snacks, and a personal attendant.

The 496 guestrooms also cater to a variety of needs. The main rooms and suites feature great views, NEST products, rain showerheads and plush furnishings, while the villas set on the golf course offer plenty of space for families, plus a separate reception, complimentary golf carts, oversized tubs, and their own pool bar, cafe, and market. For those seeking some privacy, there’s SEVEN, a 21-and-over floor with a dedicated concierge, lounge, upgraded bath products, private check-in, and more. As you might expect, the selection of eight restaurants and bars is equally varied, ranging from a grab-and-go market, poolside grill, and casual cantina, to the fine-dining Signature, with menus by James Beard Award-winning chef and San Antonio native Andrew Weismann.
926 S Presa St, San Antonio, TX 78210, USA
The name says it all: To dine at Bliss is pure euphoria. In an intimate space with just 52 seats, this Southtown restaurant offers a dining experience you won’t soon forget. Mixing hearty classics with Southwest-inspired cuisine, the menu ranges from braised beef short ribs with buttery mashed potatoes to vegetarian enchiladas stuffed with roasted butternut squash, cremini mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, and cheese. Appetizers are equally enticing, especially the Japanese hamachi sashimi tostadas and the oyster sliders, served with candied bacon on buttermilk chive biscuits.
830 W Hollywood Ave, San Antonio, TX 78212, USA
In 1977, University of Texas marketing major Chris Madrid opened a small burger and taco joint with help from his family and friends. Today, his eponymous restaurant is one of San Antonio’s best spots to grab a quick bite. Burgers are the way to go here. Choose from menu favorites such as the Cheddar Cheezy (melted cheddar cheese, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and pickles), the Tostada (refried beans, chips, onions, and cheddar cheese), and the Porky’s Delight (bacon and melted cheddar cheese), and be sure to get a side of nachos or chalupas.
136 E Grayson St, Suite 120, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA
Run by well-known chef Jeff Balfour, Southerleigh brings cross-cultural cuisine to the bustling Pearl Brewery complex. Here, the seasonal menu ranges from crispy fried half-chicken with coffee-crusted bacon and thyme red-eye gravy to Gulf red snapper with charred tomato sauce piquant and pickled fennel salad. Housed in a historic building that was once Pearl’s Brewhouse, Southerleigh also references its past with an on-site brewery and nearly two dozen beers on tap.
10333 Huebner Rd, San Antonio, TX 78240, USA
One of San Antonio’s best breakfast spots, Magnolia Pancake Haus is the kind of place where flapjacks and waffles are the order of the day. Featured on the Food Network, the restaurant usually has a line but it’s worth waiting for the delicious pancakes, which are made from scratch with only the freshest ingredients. Don’t miss the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cakes, or the incredible corned beef hash. If you’re in the mood for lunch, you can also choose from a variety of sandwiches, including a Reuben with house-cured brisket and grilled pumpernickel bread.
849 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
While many cities have rivers, few take advantage of their waterways quite like San Antonio does. One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the River Walk runs along the San Antonio River and features both quiet stretches for jogging and livelier areas lined with colorful bars, restaurants, and shops. For an immersive experience, take a boat tour and learn more about San Antonio’s history and architecture.
303 Pearl Pkwy, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA
Pearl was founded in 1881 as a traditional brewery. These days, however, the bustling complex is less about beer than its 15 restaurants, dozen-plus retailers, and numerous family-friendly events, including a twice-weekly farmers’ market. Start with lunch at La Gloria, chef Johnny Hernandez’s nod to interior Mexico, followed by dessert at Bakery Lorraine, where you’ll find an enticing rainbow of Parisian-style macarons. If you’re in the mood to shop, pick up a tailored guayabera from Dos Carolinas, or a piece of handcrafted jewelry from Ten Thousand Villages. Pearl Brewery is even home to Hotel Emma, a true gem in San Antonio’s boutique-lodging scene, in case you don’t want to leave.
202 Lamar, San Antonio, TX 78202, USA
Alamo Beer Company started production in 2014 and is now one of San Antonio’s most vibrant places to grab a drink. Expect a wide beer hall filled with picnic tables, plus live music, food trucks, and an annual Oktoberfest celebration. There are usually at least four beers on tap, but be sure to sample the crisp Alamo Golden Ale. It’s a local favorite.
155 East Commerce Street
When a place has not only the longest wooden bar in Texas (100+ feet) and is the oldest watering hole on the Riverwalk, you just know it’s worth a visit. But rather than rest on the above laurels, Esquire Tavern churns out some terrific and thoughtful scratch-made eats and drinks. From starters like pink peppercorn-flecked deviled eggs and mashed potato-filled tacos con papas to heartier fare like burgers, chicken mole and shepherd’s pie, the food takes comfort foods to the next level with fresh, well-sourced ingredients and modern executions. And as the icing on the culinary cake, the craft cocktail program here is award-winning and endlessly interesting. Plan for some enjoyable late nights at the Esquire on your next stop in SA.
6701 San Jose Dr, San Antonio, TX 78214, USA
Unlike many national parks, San Antonio Missions isn’t just one location. Rather, the park comprises a chain of centuries-old Catholic mission churches snaking along the San Antonio River. A daylong tour introduces travelers to several of these structures and highlights what makes each one unique, from the architecture of Mission Concepción to the aqueduct at Mission Espada. Private vehicles can be arranged for the Mission Trail, but active guests may prefer to follow the Park Service’s map via bicycle. Check your hotel for local bike rentals or guided tour options before hitting the trail, and expect to pedal around 8 to 10 miles.
3853 N St Mary's St, San Antonio, TX 78212, USA
Transport yourself to a different place and time with a simple stroll through San Antonio’s Japanese Tea Garden, a lush expanse full of shaded walkways, stone bridges, blooming flowers, and spectacular koi ponds. The garden was originally created between July 1917 and May 1918 using prison labor. Local residents donated bulbs and plants to beautify the landscape and, in 1926, a local Japanese-American artist named Kimi Eizo Jingu moved into the space and opened the Bamboo Room, where he served tea and light lunches. Thanks to a major renovation that concluded in 2008, the garden is as stunning as ever. It’s an especially wonderful spot for photos when visiting San Antonio.
San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
Festive Plaza in La Villita, a complex with shops run by local artisans, offers a more unique experience than the souvenir-selling El Mercado. Aside from shopping for authentic handmade goods, you can learn about its rich history. Self-guided walking tours (you can find many online for free) are a great way to explore this area. Browse shops while you learn about the surrounding landmarks and buildings.
1410 Guadalupe St # 113, San Antonio, TX 78207, USA
San Antonio’s west side is one of the city’s cultural hubs. Latin and Mexican-American influences are vibrantly displayed through public art and murals. The area around Guadalupe Street is an especially rich place to explore. You’ll find art around every corner, cultural centers, theaters, coffee shops, and bakeries. One of the best resources I came across was the San Antonio Neighborhood Tours sponsored by the City of San Antonio Office of Cultural Affairs. You can download free PDFs of the guides here: http://www.saculturaltours.com/. We did the West Side Murals Y Mas Tour. It was an awesome experience that included more than 50 unique sites.
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