My first trip on assignment was to sunny San Antonio, Texas. While it seems to be synonymous with The Alamo, it's so much more-- it's a town filled with rich culture, kind people, and beautiful sights. Read on to get the lowdown on this family vacation hot spot.
The streets were bursting with tourists, but it wasn't overwhelming. I got settled in and then headed off to meet my blogging crew for my evening meal: a delicious Tex-Mex assortment from Rio Rio on a charming river taxi turned dinner boat. Our guide and captain was knowledgeable and personable and answered all my questions while still gracefully steering the boat. Now that's talent. Here I got to see what the Riverwalk is all about.
Accessible at many points in it's 2 1/2 mile stretch, view from the boat is almost indescribable. The beauty, the architecture, the constant glimpse of something new is not only fun but exciting for anyone young or old alike. Even though you are below ground level, nothing worth seeing is obstructed from your view. I now fully understand why people describe San Antonio as the "Venice of America.": bridges that join both sides of the Riverwalk are lined with flowers and ivy, and not one of them are the same. Each have a distinct look and often an abstract mosaic underneath which you can see as you float by. For as many people as there were out on the walk, I couldn't get over how clean it was. Immaculate, even. Four stars for the Riverwalk experience--weather you decide to walk it one day or ride through it the next, this is a must.
The next day, we started the day early and embarked upon a full list events with the first stop at the Alamo. Now, I've seen the John Wayne movie and am fairly versed in US History and have heard the story told by my father at least once. But entering the grounds, I was surprised to see a lovely array of interesting horticulture ranging from cacti to palm trees. The smell of honeysuckle and orchid filled the air and punctuated the serenity found within the Alamo's walls. The peaceful yet emotional atmosphere provides an excellent opportunity to educate yourself and your children about the history behind the Alamo---audio tours are available, but I think with the amount of written information and the number of guides available to answer questions, you can save the $6 for a snow-cone at the Market Square.
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And that's where we headed next. Imagine a marketplace filled with food, clothing, jewelry, art, music, and games and you've got yourself smack in the middle of the excitement that is Market Square. Pop-up booths line the streets outside stationary shops and you can wander around for hours seeing and tasting your way through the market. I was happy to see local artists producing their wares in plain sight and picked up some items for my own home. The locals are pleasant and happy to show off their skills to out-of-towners. If you know any Spanish, you've got a slight advantage as most of the merchants speak it fluently. But no fear, I don't know a lick of it and managed perfectly fine.
I could have stayed in the market all day, but as I was on somewhat of a tight schedule, I was off to discover some other parts of the area. The Blue Star Art Gallery is an awesome way to introduce your family to some art. The galleries consist of local artists who's works are in rotation. Though I'm not quite sure what makes art "good", I was intrigued by what was being showcased. The galleries are free and open to the public so you can spend as little or as much time here as you desire--a great idea for families looking to enrich their time in town.
By the end of the gallery tour, I was starving and walked across the street to the Blue Star Brewing Company. Here I was delighted to taste a flight of their home- brewed beer. As a novice home brewer, I am always interested to taste the intricacies of home brews. My favorite was the Smoke Ale which tasted exactly like a summer BBQ. They offer delicious classic southern cuisine and your whole crew can enjoy something at this family friendly eatery.
I got back to my hotel just in time to get ready to meet owner of Luke, Chef John Besh. We got to get up close and personal with the Chef as he and his executive chef Steven McHugh cooked up a fabulous 4 course meal. You can read more about this experience in Part 2.
From the skyline to the river, and even the highways with their terra cotta accents, San Antonio has plenty to offer any family seeking a fun, relaxing, and stimulating get-away. Other attractions of note are the Ripley's Museum, the San Antonio Zoo, SeaWorld San Antonio, and the San Antonio Children's Museum. For more information on how to book your San Antonio escape, visit http://www.visitsanantonio.com.