Weekend in San Antonio

We had ourselves a good ass weekend in San Antonio! Here’s a rundown of what all we packed in.

We flew down Thursday, getting in late afternoon. We went down with one of S’s partners and her husband, and met a friend of theirs who was in from Colorado for the conference. After checking into our hotel – the Grand Hyatt on the River Walk – we changed and hustled out to grab an early dinner. We went to Casa Rio, the first restaurant built along the modern River Walk. We enjoyed some fine tacos and margaritas while sitting outside in the perfect air.

That perfect air was the highlight of the weekend. I know it gets hot as balls in SA in the summer, and there are stretches of the year where the humidity can be nasty. But, man, it was freaking perfect all weekend. Always in the low-mid 70s during the day with almost no humidity. Evenings remained warm well past sunset, so dining al fresco didn’t require a jacket.

There was an interesting mix of folks at our hotel. Lots of docs in the for conference. There were lots of people in for the Rock n Roll marathon. And there were all these middle and high school mariachi bands in for some kind of competition. Friday and Saturday evenings we saw the kids heading to and from their events in their amazing outfits. Lots of bold colors, girls in big hoop skirts, etc. It was a lot of fun to people watch in the hotel bar.

Friday the ladies got to learnin’ so the other husband and I went out to explore the River Walk. I’ve never heard anything but good things about the River Walk and all of those were confirmed through the weekend. It’s really a fantastic place to hang out. Tons of restaurants and shops, lovely scenery, and this weekend not too crazy. We had lunch at County Line barbecue, which was very solid. A couple Shiner Bocks made it a real Texas meal.

After the ladies were done for the day, we all retired to the hotel pool. It was a pretty meager pool, more of a lap pool than a splashing around pool, so we mostly soaked up some rays. Since it wasn’t a big pool like the one at the Biltmore in Scottsdale, where we went two years ago, that also meant it wasn’t overrun with crazy kids.

For dinner that night we decided to hit the happy hour at the Tower of the Americas, which was right behind our hotel. We rode the elevator way the hell up, grabbed a nook in the bar, and ate some tremendous appetizers as we watched the sun set from 700 feet above ground. Following that was another stroll around the River Walk. As a Midwesterner, it’s always a little odd for me to spend time during the holidays in a warm climate. I loved how the River Walk was decorated, though. The river is bordered by all these huge Bald Cypress trees. Rather than being draped in lights, the trees had long light strands hanging from their upper limbs vertically toward the ground. The lights mimicked the natural tendrils you see on some southern trees. It was really nice.

Saturday I put in a long, photo walk in the morning. I managed to log nearly nine miles. I covered every path of the River Walk, toured the Hemisfair Park around the Tower of the Americas, and mingled around the Alamo, where a 5k/10K was being held. I didn’t cross the highway to tour the Alamodome, but it in sight of our hotel so I bowed in its direction to honor the events that took place there on April 7, 2008. Everything I had ever heard about the Alamo was also true: it’s pretty damn small. I also enjoyed the irony of how celebrated it is for its role in American history when San Antonio is an overwhelmingly Hispanic city.[1] Seriously, when I walked up to the actual building, they were organizing kids for the children’s run and I swear there wasn’t a white kid in any of the groups.

That’s the big takeaway from spending a few days down there: San Antonio really is a hybrid city. It feels both very American and very Mexican. Spanish is spoken everywhere, but you also see people who look like they are from Mexico who speak with a Texas accent. It helps that the Mexican government has a cultural office in Hemisfair Park, there is a UNAM extension, and the park is filled with art donated by Mexico. I’ve never been to Houston so can only compare with Dallas, which feels uniquely Texan with a dash of Mexico. San Antonio is a much more even mix.

Saturday afternoon my college buddy E-bro drove down from his home in Austin to watch the KU-Syracuse game with me. We hadn’t seen each other since my wedding over 14 years ago, although he, another college buddy, and I text each other almost every day. It was also the first KU game we had watched together in nearly 20 years. We found a table at a bar with a ton of TVs that were mostly tuned to the SEC championship game, got one switched to the KU game, and did our best to catch up while watching the Jayhawks win and under the din of the CBS broadcast which did its best to down out all conversations. It was great to spend a couple hours together.

I met the ladies at the Ruth’s Chris in our hotel where they were wrapping up dinner. I grabbed a quick bite, had a couple more Shiners, and that wrapped up our trip.

We were off early Sunday, which was kind of a mess. The Rock n Roll Marathon was starting about three blocks from our hotel, so our Uber driver struggled to reach us. Fortunately it’s only about 15 minutes from downtown to the airport and we got there in plenty of time to get through security and grab some breakfast before it was time to head home.

All in all a really good weekend. I highly recommend San Antonio, provided you time your visit properly. Avoid the summer heat. Locals told us the River Walk can be packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people in the winter when lots of northerners come down.


  1. I sent M a photo S and I took in front of the Alamo later in the day. Her response was “Is there a basement?” That’s a high quality response.  ↩