San Antonio has been called “the Venice of America” because of the river that meanders through the heart of town. And now the city, a gateway from South to Southwest, has extended its River Walk walking and biking trails to stretch 15 miles, heading both north and south of downtown. The revitalized routes pass urban art, new condos, and industrial districts turned chic destinations. Head north for the Pearl, a mixed-use development centered on the former Pearl Brewery plant, and the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is perched over the water. Or pedal south to see a mix of wooded parks, artsy districts, and some of the oldest missions in the Southwest at the tail end of the trail.
Where To Eat
Housed in a building that was part of Pearl Brewery, Cured serves a charcuterie–focused menu. Nearby, cozy lunch spot Bakery Lorraine shows off the talents of a couple who worked at Bouchon Bakery in Napa Valley and now serve up homemade soups, macarons, and pastries. For an authentic San Antonio experience, check out the pub food and cocktails at the Esquire, downtown’s oldest bar.
Where To Stay
Hotel Contessa was inspired by Barcelona’s modernist architecture, and its downtown location provides easy access to the northern end of River Walk—or bike to the south end (from $219). Boutique destination Hotel Emma opens in the Pearl’s hip district this fall, catering to the foodies who flock to the nearby Culinary Institute of America.
What To Do
La Villita is the city’s first neighborhood, consisting of small huts for Spanish soldiers. Now, find artists, boutiques, and restaurants. Tour 18th-century missions—like Mission Concepción, the oldest unrestored church in the U.S.—via Mission Reach, a bikeable path from the River Walk (visitsanantonio.com).
A spectacular video projected onto historic San Fernando Cathedral tells the story of the city in a 24-minute movie created by a French artist. The show airs three nights a week (mainplaza.org).
Looking to take home a souvenir?
Check out the silver and turquoise jewelry from Angelita.
The Texas Folklife Festival in mid-June celebrates 40-plus cultural groups that contribute to San Antonio’s diversity—and that of the whole state.