How to spend 36 hours in San Antonio, with Hotel Contessa as your base camp.
6 p.m. | Dinner at Las Ramblas
Located inside Hotel Contessa, this restaurant offers views of the Riverwalk from their limestone patio. Inside, enjoy eclectic art installations over creative cuisine.
7:30 p.m. | Riverwalk Boat Tour
During these 35-minute narrated tour, you’ll learn about the city’s famous downtown Riverwalk that lines the banks of the San Antonio River, like its origins as a flood mitigation project. It’ll just make you that much more familiar with this mile-and-a-half commercial and entertainment hub, where you’ll be spending your weekend. Don’t worry if dinner runs late; tours last until 9 p.m., often later.
10 a.m. | Browse the McNay Art Museum
Housed in and around the original 24-room Spanish Colonial Revival mansion that fostered its founder’s original 700-piece collection, Texas’s first museum of modern art has grown in a trove of more than 20,000 works from Picasso, Monet, Degas, Hopper, and other names familiar even to art history amateurs. Use your cell phone to take an audio tour of 50 standouts.
12 p.m. | Have Lunch in the Pearl District
Bring an appetite when you venture to this foodie-friendly neighborhood a few miles north of downtown – you’re going to need it with 15 restaurants within 16 walkable blocks that serve everything from barbecue to ice cream. Our suggestion: lunch on the patio at Nao Latin Gastro Bar, the Latin-flavored restaurant staffed by alumni and students from the district’s Culinary Institute of America location.
3 p.m. | Visit La Villita Historic Arts Village
Located just south of the Riverwalk, one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Antonio is also a hub for its creative set. Along with shaded walkways that feature dozens of galleries and shops for sculpture, stained glass, jewelry, and fine art of all complexions, La Villita is also home to the Arneson River Theatre, a space for year-round outdoor dance and musical performances.
8 p.m. | Catch a Broadway show at the Majestic Theatre
First built in 1929, the 2,200-seat theater is a National Historic Landmark with dreamy details – stuffed birds perch on balcony railings and moving clouds project across the theater’s ceiling. And for more than 25 years, it has been host to the “Broadway in San Antonio” series, with productions of The Phantom of the Opera and The Book of Mormon that grace its stage.
9 a.m. | Rent a Segway
Feel like you still haven’t seen enough of the city? Wrap up your weekend visit with a Segway tour with SegCity. The two-and-a-half hour tours are an easy way to see a lot of the city in a short time, including classic San Antonio sights, like the Alamo, Main Plaza, King William District, La Villita, and more.
12:30 p.m. | Mariachi Mass at Mission San José
Dating back to the eighteenth century, this church was part of a quartet of Catholic missions whose limestone walls formed a stronghold against the brutality of the Texas frontier. Now under the auspices of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, its bilingual Sunday service features a Mexican mariachi band strumming guitars and tooting trumpets, providing a lively accompaniment for a choir of all religious persuasions.
The best food artisans, farms, and local markets.
Whether it’s a celebration or just a sweet tooth that can’t be tamed, a mouthwatering menu of more than 20 flavors of chocolate truffles, from vanilla chai to bananas foster to espresso to pumpkin caramel, is reason enough to pay a visit to this artisan chocolate shop. But that small-batch ethos extends across the spectrum of confectionary decadence, from chocolate-dipped strawberries to cookies and toffee.
Rebecca Creek Distillery
Using copper still pots and a one-of-a-kind filtration process, this craft spirit maker off Route 281 distills whiskeys and vodkas in small batches, carrying out every step under the same roof. Alongside its smooth-sipping flagship whiskey, its standout spirit is the subtly sweet Enchanted Rock Peach Vodka, which earned a silver medal at the Denver International Spirits Competition.
French techniques and handpicked ingredients are key for this Pearl District patisserie redolent with the smells of fresh scones, macaroons, breads, cookies, and croissants. Overseen by a pair of artisanal bakers who cut their teeth in California kitchens, the menu changes with the seasons; if you can, get one of their famous s’mores tarts – Bon Appétit once named it pastry of the week.
Blue Star Brewing Company
Underneath iron trusses in an old warehouse, this 20-year-old San Antonio brewery uses local ingredients and organic practices to make 10 different craft beers. Visit the tasting room and have a pint from its stainless-steel tanks – the spectrum ranges from the Texican, a clean amber-colored lager, to the Spire Stout, a Guinness doppelganger. Peer through the glass to see the goings on in the 34-barrel brewhouse.
Like a Local
Quirky, under -the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
Barber Shop Downtown
The striped pole at the entrance and the distressed leather chairs inside speak to the old-school pedigree of this barbershop located in the basement floor of an East Houston Street building. Originally opening in 1909, it has become something like a day spa for guys who prefer straight-razor shaves to pedicures. Haircuts and shaves are $20 each; shoulder massages are included.
At the intersection of Theo and Malone avenues, six LED-illuminated chandeliers dangle beneath I-35 and are part of public art installation by sculptors Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock. Made from salvaged bicycle parts, the piece evokes agricultural and Hispanic motifs rooted in the surrounding neighborhood. Now, blue and pink hues cast by the city-commissioned project brighten the once-dreary steel and concrete.
Denman Estate Park
Get a dose of green therapy inside 20 serene acres on the city’s northwest side. Breeze along the half-mile hiking trail, pause for lunch at one of the picnic tables shaded underneath the stands of oak trees, and glimpse the pond-side Pavilion of Gwangju – a colorful pagoda crafted by visiting artists from San Antonio’s Korean sister city.
In the main gallery of San Antonio’s Mission Branch Library, homegrown artist Chris Sauter executed this 9.5- by 13-foot mural to explore the past. Horizontal layers, each rendered in a different medium from paint and movie posters to maps and Apache basket pieces, reflect the complex and varied geological past beneath the library’s present day incarnation.
When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
Feature Adventure: Skeet Shooting
Fifteen minutes from the hotel in Olmos Park, the San Antonio Gun Club, with five fields devoted to American skeet shooting, is the only shotgun club in the country located within a metropolitan area. For first-timers, an instructor walks through the basics of safety, mounting, and stance while holding a 12- or 20-gauge shotgun – keep your weight on your front foot to better absorb the recoil – before you post up near an oscillating machine that hurls 108-millimeter clay targets at 40-plus miles per hour. Take aim and try to shatter as many as you can over a dozen 25-target rounds.
Drive-Through Safari | Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
A full day of fun and adventure
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is comprised of 450 protected acres filled with 40 free-roaming animal species from across the globe. Some of the species you may see on your wild African safari include zebras, wildebeests, kangaroos, and giraffes. A little education mixed with preservation is the recipe for a full day of fun and adventure.
Kayak Mission Reach | Mission Kayak
Begin your adventure
An easy five-mile paddle down the San Antonio River between Roosevelt and Espada Park reveals a scenic backdrop of the Missions Concepción, San José, and San Juan. Discover history and nature as you paddle down the river that gave life to San Antonio.
First Friday Pub Run | We Run San Antonio
Drink Beer; Get Fit
Open to all, scramble through San Antonio’s downtown watering holes. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. at Pat O’Brien’s in Alamo Plaza and finish up at Bonham Exchange at 11:00 p.m. If you enjoy drinking beer and like running, then there's no reason why you won't love doing both at the same time.
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A Benchmark Resort & Hotel
Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market Street, San Antonio, TX 78205 P: (210) 229-9222 Toll Free Reservations: (844) 258-7210