san antonio - culture, creativity, & fabulous fiesta
the perfect vibe city
San Antonio is one of those cities with that perfect vibe going on, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll…with a dab of salsa for good measure.
In fact, you’ll get all of this and more if you visit during the month of April when Fiesta takes over the entire city with parades, parties, and piñatas. Fiesta began in 1890 when a group of citizens threw a parade to honour the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.
Today, more than 100 events are scheduled over nearly two weeks that include food festivals, galas, concerts, heritage exhibitions, art fairs and more.
The Alamo is the most visited tourist attraction in the city. This remarkable piece of architecture was established in 1718 as the city’s first mission, and later was the site of several altercations including the Texas Revolution. Today, visitors can stroll through the various sections individually or take a guided tour to learn all about the history.
The city is easily discovered on foot, especially when strolling along the world-famous River Walk, the second most visited attraction. This unique pathway follows the shoreline of the San Antonio River right through the centre of downtown, and was recently extended further north and south as well. It was designed by Robert H.H. Hugman and features towering cypresses, flagstone paths, and stylish footbridges. It’s a crossroads of culture and commerce connecting hotels, museums, sidewalk cafes, theatres and more. During Fiesta time, the river boats sail back and forth decorated with lights and live bands performing onboard, entertaining diners at the multitude of outdoor terraces. Another wonderful time of year to visit is over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday time.
Mission Reach is the newest expansion to the River Walk, providing a more natural section of the river with hike and bike trails, and portals leading to each of the Spanish Colonial Missions that make up the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The city’s B-Cycle bike share program is a quick and easy way to get around, and another way to travel this route is by kayak, available for rent through local outfitters. Final plans include a total of 15 miles, stretching from the four Spanish colonial missions in the south, through downtown, and up to the museums in the north.
While many come to discover the past, there are plenty of current happenings throughout the city as well. The Pearl district has become an iconic culinary and cultural gathering place featuring the Culinary Institute of America’s newest campus, luxury apartments, chic shops, fantastic restaurants, and much more. Cured Restaurant opened here late last year and operates as a gastropub with a nod to the region’s Southern heritage, featuring craft beers, seasonal dynamic dishes, and artisanal house-cured meats that hang in a see through refrigeration unit. Pearl can be easily reached by following the River Walk out of downtown.
There’s a smorgasbord of locally influenced options when it comes to dining out. Rosario’s combines traditional south-of-the-border dishes with authentic house specialties, all prepared with a contemporary twist. For something truly reflective of the region, La Gloria features culinary treasures discovered in the puebolitos, mountains and coast villages of Mexico, and The Fruteria offers botana-style Mexican tapas and fruit-infused specialty tequilas and cocktails.
San Antonio has also quickly become a hotbed of culture, with a superb collection of museums and art galleries. The recently opened Briscoe Western Art Museum has three floors of artwork, sculptures, photography, and more. The museum also features stagecoach and chuck wagon displays, as well as walls of saddles and spurs, offering visitors a glimpse back in time to the days of yore. The San Antonio Museum of Art is located in the former home of the Lone Star Brewery, and features a diverse array of art and antiquities ranging from Greek and Roman sculpture, to Latin American folk art and ancient Asian artifacts, as well as American contemporary paintings and sculpture.
The Witte Museum is dedicated to the history, science and culture of South Texas, featuring permanent exhibits ranging from historic homes to dinosaur bones. The McNay Art Museum has an extensive collection of Southwest and Renaissance art, as well as 19th and 20th century European and American art. Other art institutions and museums include ArtPace, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, Buckhorn Saloon & Museum, The Southwest School of Art, Texas Rangers Museum, and Texas Transportation Museum.
For a taste of south-western gay culture, head to Midtown where there are several bars, restaurants, and accommodation options. For drinking and dancing, be sure to stop by The Saint, Heat, Sparky’s Pub, Pegasus, The Bonham Exchange, and Essence There’s also a selection of gay owned and operated Bed & Breakfasts in the historic King William’s neighbourhood.
Pride San Antonio produces several events throughout the year, such as San Antonio Q-Fest: The San Antonio LGBT International Film Festival, Scary Fairy, The RainBoo Run 5K Run/Walk, The Rainbow Dash, The Krystal Kelly Running of the Queens High Heel Race, and a variety of sporting events. Their main event, the “Pride Bigger Than Texas” Pride Parade and Festival is held the first Saturday following the fourth Saturday in June, which so happens to be July 4th in 2015. What a way to celebrate Independence Day!
There are many types of accommodations to choose, from hotels and resorts to inns and B & B’s. The Westin River Walk is centrally located, offers spacious rooms, a seasonal rooftop pool and lounge, and onsite dining at Zocca’s located right on the River Walk. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this Italian influenced restaurant has an intimate indoor bar and dining area, as well as an outdoor terrace where diners get a perfect view of the activity on the river. They offer a great selection of pastas, salads, and wines, and for dessert don’t pass up the Chocolate Pizza. It’s one of a kind made with white and dark chocolate, strudel, and caramel!
Make San Antonio, Texas your next gay getaway, and discover the rhythmic pulse of all that the city’s culture and creativity has to offer.
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