See also: Best Things to Do in San Antonio
There are few city parks as famed as the Riverwalk built around the San Antonio river at the centre of the eponymous city. Unique in its conception of a cultural village centred around networked waterways, the Riverwalk of San Antonio has given travellers from all across the world reason enough to visit the historic Texan city. But the mesmerising waterfront is not the only thing that makes San Antonio a great vacation city! Be it the city's colonial heritage, its immaculate cityscape, or the many artsy shopping and gourmet districts, there's something for almost about everyone here.
Now that we have established the availability of a number of vast prospects, let's talk a little about planning your actual vacation. San Antonio, unfortunately does not have the most efficient public transport system and that's precisely what makes the choice of hotels and neighborhood particularly significant. And that's where we step in. Here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of San Antonio and what they might have in store for you, traveller!
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The famed riverwalk of San Antonio definitely lives up to the hype that you've likely been subjected to while planning your vacation to the city. Picturesque as it can be, this historic neighborhood is nothing short of a village setting pulled right out of a fairy tale book. Beautiful birch trees line and other canopies line the paved path that is a dream for people looking for endless romantic strolls or even a quick break from the bustling crowds of the big cities. Nested right in the midst of a metropolitan area, this quaint walking trails at riverwalk provide a unique opportunity to go back to nature without having to travel too far out of the city itself.
Also, all of that in just one half of what Riverwalk has to offer you. But to really complete the picture, take the aforementioned fairyland village setting and throw in a slew of cafes and bars as well as a handful of chic boutiques and a couple of historic buildings and museums housing some of the most incredible artefacts. The cafes and eateries in the neighbourhood are particularly exquisite, with their waterfront setting and vast variety of options in terms of cuisine selection. You will never really have to leave the neighborhood to look for a better place to dine in. A healthy number of bars and nightclubs also mean great things are in store for the late risers. And between your restaurant hopping it, do try and catch a glance at the stunning San Antonio Museum of Art (or better so, drop for a full tour of the packed halls).
As a centre for tourism and hospitality in San Antonio, Riverwalk has one of the highest number of accommodation options; the best among these are some of the most obscure looking of homestays and airbnbs. Travel is easy in this well connected neighborhood; it is also very pedestrian friendly but you can always rent a bike for convenience.
The larger Downtown part of San Antonio offers an ever wider range of entertainment options. The Riverwalk extends into a majority of this central business district, but it has a few unique experiences to offer of its own. For starters, this neighborhood is a great place to marvel at the colonial heritage of the city as many of its most iconic landmarks are situated in the vicinity. The fortress of Alamo, a stunning Spanish-style mansion that later also became a centre for Texan independence movement, is one of the most frequent landmarks in this part of the world. The La Villita arts village is another top sight, with its many souvenir shops, art galleries and Mexican restaurants. A tour of the beautiful streets here should definitely be on the top of your to-do lists.
Such other attractions as the historic Majestic Theatre further imbue character to Downtown San Antonio. Broadway shows and theatre performances at this establishment have attracted crowds from far for long now, so it's best to have tickets booked beforehand. The Market Square is a great meeting place for quick lunches and stop-overs in the midst of all the sightseeing. The colourful outdoor plaza has a number of street vendors that sell great snacks and take out food that will keep you coming back for more. It is also a great place to take in flavour of the city's public life as people from all over frequent the market as a quick stop for food and fresh produce. The outdoor space here is also the venue for the annual festivities of Cinco de Mayo, one of the most famous and vibrant festivals of San Antonio.
As the central business district Downtown San Antonio is well connected to all other parts of the city, making it a great place to stay. The neighborhood also has one of the highest number of budget hotels and inexpensive accommodation options in the city. That said, you should not have too much trouble finding a luxury stay either.
Sandwiched between the neighborhoods of King William and Lavaca is the eclectic Southtown, home to some of the best bars and nightlife establishments in all of San Antonio. The two ventral thoroughfares of St Mary and Press Streets are lined with a diverse range of eateries ranging from taco stands and mexican food stalls to French cafes and fine dining restaurants serving the best European cuisine. But even bigger draws of the neighborhood are it's dynamic nightlife and many watering holes; modern bars, nightclubs, eclectic pubs and even the once-on rage speakeasies, you name your choice for an evening drink and Southtown will give you a never-ending list of options to choose from.
Further down south, the neighborhood of King William has developed an alternative artsy appeal of its own partly due to the presence of several art studios and galleries housed in some outstandingly restored warehouses and Spanish mansions. The outstanding cityscape attracted the artists to this part of the city, which in turn led to the rise in the number of art galleries and exhibitions in the area further cementing the reputation of King William as the art capital of San Antonio. Today, you can wander the streets of the picturesque urban neighborhood in search of the best handicraft stores and upscale souvenir shops. The closer you get to the San Antonio river, the better these establishments get. Some of the best mixed-use spaces in the neighborhood offer art exhibits, souvenirs shops, breweries and full restaurant menus all within one venue!
The neighborhood is essentially an extension of the vast downtown district, but is still further out than most others on the list. Getting a taxi or a rental car is the best option to commute to Southtown. Hotels and homestays are decent and varied in terms of the range of budgets.
On the quieter side of the city then! Just south of Downtown San Antonio lie the quaint quarters of La Villita. The neighborhood's lush surroundings, set on the banks of a meandering San Antonio river lend an almost village-like vibe to it, which has its own target audience. If you are looking for long walks along the waterfront or around quiet avenues lined with green canopies, La Villita is definitely the place for you. Very close to the waterfront is the La Villita Historic Arts Village, a unique arts enclave that will transport you to a whole different realm. The prospects that this historic arts village offer are limitless: you can marvel at the stunning facades of stone cathedrals or hop into a boho art gallery or simply enjoy the surroundings while sitting beside the beautiful stone bridges built over artificial creeks!
The Arneson River Theatre built across the river with a pastel-coloured stage on the north side and an amphitheatre-like sitting on the south is also a must visit in La Villita. The performances at the venue are vibrant and varied; take a look at the schedule which might include performances by local troupes, festivals, music concerts, plays and even opera performances. Take some time off your daily dose of sightseeing to ensure a visit to the gigantic Hemisfair Park, situated at the east end of the neighbourhood. The Institute of Texan Culture and the Magik Children's Theatre definitely warrant a mention when talking of the park, but all of that might just fade in comparison to the sweeping views of the city from the top of the Tower of the Americas. The city is an absolute sight to behold, especially during night to time your visit accordingly.
The neighborhood is rather compact and travel is easy as pedestrian traffic dominates. The hotels are expensive as La Villita has become the preferred choco of some of the biggest names in the hospitality business.
Tobin Hill, the northernmost neighborhood on the list has over the years become synonymous with the Pearl Complex. And while there's good reason for that, this up-and-coming part of the town also has so much more to offer. But before we talk about that, let's give up a quick reminder of the great things that make up the Pearl Complex. The huge centre is anchored by the central Pearl Brewery that functions out of a majestic Victorian building. Not only do you have an unlimited number of beer and drinks to choose from, the establishment now houses a slew of cafes, shopping stores, and boutiques to keep you busy. The plaza just outside hosts a busy farmer's market and live music events that ensure that neighborhood's lively vibe never dies down!
Large parts of the neighborhood share an industrial past, but the cityscape began to change after significant restoration and developmental works. Today, several avenues and plazas in Tobin Hill have become distinctive unique entertainment centres. While the North Main Avenue has many bars and nightclubs, the Strip has become home to several mobile vendors and food trucks. The neighborhood also has a huge green space, the Brackenridge Park that offers a nice change of scenery; it constitutes a golf course, children's park and walking trails. You can always head out to the park for evening walks or take out your rental bike for a ride along the riverfront to quickly rejuvenate you at the end of a long day.
Tobin Hill can be an expensive neighborhood when you're looking at hotels and resorts. You should, however, be able to get you hands on a nice and reasonably priced homestay or airbnb. Getting here should not be too difficult but renting your vehicle only makes things easier.
That's all from our side, traveller. Choose the neighborhood that best suits your vacation idea and get packing for your next visit to this dynamic riverside city!