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  • Writer's pictureBrett Hayden

Saturday in San Antonio

I've heard nothing but amazing things about San Antonio over the years, but even so, this city wildly exceeded my expectations! My friend Taylor and I made a day trip from Austin, but we both left saying we could've spent the entire weekend there.

We started the trip like any true Texas road trip with a stop at a Buccee's gas station (for my Wisconsinites, this place is like Kwik Trip x 1,000). We used their stadium-sized restrooms and grabbed some snacks for the remaining 45 minute trip. I left with an Icee in hand (the supreme slushy brand) and a small pack of warm cashews. Taylor opted for a healthier treat of cheese and turkey slices, basically an adult "lunchable." From there we made our way onto our first stop...

The Japanese Tea Gardens

This place was such a gem! We heard about it through a friend, and it ended up being such a nice way to start our day. We walked on the stone paths and bridges while taking in the views of the gardens, large waterfalls, and the ponds filled with Koi. Though the Garden was a bit smaller than we thought, it was a beautiful space to explore (plus free admission!). While we were there, two guys were dressed up as robots dancing around. You can imagine our surprise seeing "robots" in the peaceful and serene gardens, but when we realized theywere participating in a "Tik Tok" challenge it made a lot more sense.

Texas had a major winter storm a few weeks ago and the damage was somewhat apparent at the Gardens as a lot of the greenery looked dead and dried out. But if this is how beautiful it is now, I can only imagine what it looks like in the summer months. I will definitely be making a trip back to see all the plants looking lush and the flowers in bloom!

The Alamo

Let's face it, it's not a trip to San Antonio if you don't make a stop at The Alamo. It was very humbling seeing the historic buildings that were once a war scene and such a large part of Texas' history. It was like taking a step back in time even though we were right in Downtown SA. The buildings and grounds are incredibly well preserved. Knowing that we only had one day in town, we didn't stay at the Alamo long enough to take any guided tours. However, the history geek in me has definitely added that to my list the next time I'm in town!

The Pearl

Probably my favorite stop of the day was during the afternoon at The Pearl. It's basically a picturesque town square with a historic brewery, an open area for people to sit and picnic, and is surrounded by restaurants and other neat architecture.

We ate lunch at the Sternewirth Tavern connected to the Hotel Emma and it was the coolest place. It almost felt like I was stepping into an early Harry Potter book with the cobblestone walls, dim lighting, and antique, industrial decor. We each had a delicious burger and paired them with a "Pearl" beer (or two...). We especially liked the Sternewirth Tavern because at the end of our meal they gave us each a post card that we could write and they would mail out for us. We thought it was such a sweet sentiment.

When we were done eating, we knew we needed to snag one of the tastiest looking margaritas everyone was carrying around from a bar cart on the other side of the square. We got our prickly pear margs and spent the next half hour soaking up the SA sun & people/puppy watching.

We didn't know what to expect when we were recommended to visit The Pearl, but our expectations were far exceeded. This was another place I could have spent an entire afternoon at just relaxing and taking in the warm Texas sun with a yummy drink in hand. There were also plenty of restaurants in the area we weren't able to get to in one day that I'd love to experience another time.


Our next stop was the famous San Antonio Riverwalk, and let me tell ya, it lives up to the hype. Tucked between two streets is the river with a walking path on each side, bustling with city goers looking for a bite, a drink, or any other way to enjoy their time. There were boats passing by along the river with tourists that we would have loved to be on (if only we had known...).

I don't think we even made it through half of the walk before we became short on time. The Riverwalk is another place you could spend all afternoon enjoying. On my next visit, the first thing I'm going to do is book my ticket for a boat ride.

For our last meal of the day we opted to go the seafood route. We found a seafood joint right off of the Riverwalk and enjoyed some crab dip, shrimp cocktail, and oysters. The oysters were a first for me, but being that I'm crazy about all other seafood, I was sure I'd love them just as much (spoiler: I was right).

Ghost Tour

We ended our day on a spookier note with a walking ghost tour. We went with the Sisters Grimm to numerous locations in the downtown area. We learned more about the history & hauntings of the Alamo, The Spanish Governor's Mansion (one of the oldest buildings in SA), the Menger Hotel, which is considered to be the most haunted hotel in Texas, and more. The tour ended with a stop in front of a Holiday Inn that was previously the town's jail, and if you look closely you can still see the bars on the hotel's windows (I probably won't be staying there next time I'm in town).

The one thing I would recommend doing differently with a tour is to find one that allows you to go into the locations for an even spookier effect. We were only able to walk past and look into a few places, but weren't able to go inside like I would have liked. However, our tour guide told us that the bus tours that they do include access into the places they speak about so I took note of that for next time.

Ultimately, I left San Antonio so thoroughly impressed by the city and itching to plan a trip back. I noticed how dog-friendly the city was and would love to bring Stella with the next time I venture south of Austin. I'm so thankful Texas has so many interesting and new places for me to experience, and I hope this inspired you to consider visiting San Antonio for yourself sometime!


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