Say hi to San Antonio, the larger-than-life Texas hub known for its River Walk and its Spanish colonial missions (dubbed a Unesco World Heritage site). Here, you’ll also find a sprinkling of true under-the-radar gems from outdoor gardens to parks and art walks and naturally, some colorful history. And let’s not forget the libations of course. Grab your boots as we check out a few hidden spots around Alamo City.
FIRST YOU FEAST (AND SIP)
All good secrets start with food. The popular lunch-only spot, RO-HO Pork & Bread located at the Sanitary Tortilla factory serves up classic Mexican sandwiches (torta ahogada) made with birote bread, a spread of bean puree, your choice of protein, and is then doused with tomato salsa, cabbage, pickled onions and lime. For locally-grown food without the crowds, The San Antonio Farmers Market Association hosts three weekday markets – Olmos Basin (Tuesday), Leon Valley Community Center (Wednesdays) and St. Matthews Recreational Center (Fridays). Now it’s time for a sip. Every spring, Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling is known to buy pounds upon pounds of Poteet strawberries to add to its famed seasonal milk stout. You’re also welcome to tour the distillery or sample small-batch, grain-to-glass Texas bourbon (think single malt and rye whiskey) made with local ingredients. Set in the former Pearl Brewery, the newish jazz club, conveniently called Jazz, TX lets you pass through an entryway made from an salvaged 1800s elevator shaft, before enjoying live music, brisket tacos, pecan pie and tasty cocktails.
ART, HISTORY AND CULTURE
Tucked away outside the Briscoe Western Art Museum, you’ll find the McNutt Sculpture Garden (it’s easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled!) Shaded by stately live oaks and wild native grasses, the flagstone garden is adorned with two dozen bronze sculptures depicting Native Americans, European settlers and animals like horses and cougars. Looking to stand in the center of town? The San Fernando Cathedral (est. 1731) is chalked full of history – it was used as a lookout during the Battle of the Alamo, and it’s said that Texas Revolutionary James Bowie and Davy Crockett are entombed near the front. And, while many are uncertain if it is indeed the exact center, it sure looks to be close.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
While the hilly Friedrich Wilderness Park is the de facto restorative place for most visitors and locals looking to stretch their legs, the nearby 200-acre Crownridge Canyon Park provides a lovely respite full of hiking trails, grasslands and native plants. Later, you’ll find an underground world (literally) at the “wild” Robber Baron Cave. Once used as a prohibition spot, and hidden under Nacogdoches Road in the charming neighborhood of Alamo Heights, you can visit the sprawling passages when the Preserve hosts an open house (check the website for details) and provides guests with helmets, lights and knee pads (yes, you’ll do a bit of crawling). For stargazing, just look up! On the campus of San Antonio College, the Scobee Planetarium puts the dazzling Texas sky front and center. Guests can also explore space-themed simulators, Mission Control and the Orion Launch Vehicle. In the late morning, visit the restored San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden for a lovely sprawl of flowers, greenery, stone walkways, a waterfall and a lily pond with koi fish and turtles.
Hey y’all, a new Kimpton hotel will open in San Antonio in late 2024. See you soon!