San Antonio has no shortage of tourist attractions. The Alamo. The Riverwalk. Sea World. Fiesta Texas. Enchiladas. But if you’re a native Texan, chances are you’ve already done all of these. I still recommend going back. BUT – if you’re looking to experience a different side of San Antonio, I’ve got your direction – SOUTH.
Just south of the well-traveled downtown is Southtown, San Antonio’s burgeoning art district. It is packed with restaurants, art galleries, history, and hipsters. Let’s take it piece by piece.
If you’re hungry already, head to El Sol Bakery and Bistro, a Mexican panaderia catching this old concept up to modern times. They use only whole wheat, no animal fats (aka no lard), and everything is made fresh daily. You’ll be amazing at how good Mexican breads can truly taste when they haven’t been sitting in the glass cabinet for days. For lunch head to Liberty Bar which occupies an old renovated convent. Don’t miss their homemade fettucini. And finally, for dinner, head to the Alamo Street Eat Bar and dine at one of San Antonio’s newest food trucks. I highly recommend the Institute of Chili run by Chili Queens, Anna and Jenn. The original Chili Queens invented Tex Mex on the streets of San Antonio and these gals are taking it to a whole new level. Don’t miss “The Bomb”, a shredded pork sandwich topped with Chili and a fried egg. Mmmmmmmm. And then to wrap up the night, head to the Beethoven Maennerchor, a German beer garden and singing club that’s been around since 1867! Most don’t think of the Germans when they think of San Antonio, but this will change your mind.
If you’re looking for something to see in Southtown, head to the Blue Star Art Complex and check out the contemporary art at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum. Next drive through San Antonio’s King William District with some of the most amazing homes in all of Texas, including Villa Finale which is open for tours. Saved by Walter Mathis, this home contains an amazing collection of collections! Everything Mr. Mathis kept in his home is on display, including a real Napoleon Death Mask.
So, everybody knows about the Alamo. But, those that want to head further south can visit the other 4 missions of San Antonio inside of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. From Mission Concepcion to San Jose to San Juan to Espada, these grounds and chapels tell the story of Texas’s first settlers from Spain. They are amazing, and an absolute MUST-SEE for every traveler to San Antonio.
If you’re looking for something less legendary but more urban-legendary, visit the haunted ghost tracks of San Antonio at the intersection of Shane Rd. and Villamin Rd. Legend holds that a school bus full of children died at this intersection when the bus broke down on the tracks in front of an oncoming train. To this day, any car that stops near the tracks will be pushed over the tracks to safety by the ghost children. Don’t believe me? Then try it. Park about 50 feet before the tracks on Shane Rd., put the car in neutral and turn off the engine. Let off the brakes and be amazed as you travel up hill over the tracks. Your doubt will be erased when you end up over the tracks, safe and sound.
If you’re looking for a way to navigate all of this, hop on a B cycle – San Antonio’s bike share program. A simple fee gets you a bike all day with multiple stations all over the city. It is easy and fun. Seriously. And you can explore parts of the city that you never knew of such as the newly remodeled parts of the riverwalk.