48 Hours in San Antonio, Texas
48 Hours in San Antonio, Texas
...with CE Group, a DMC Network Company
Viva San Antonio! As the second largest city in Texas, San Antonio has flown many flags, converged many cultures and adopted many names. Whether you know us as Alamo City, Military City USA, Spurs Nation or simply 'S.A.', San Antonio truly is the melting pot of Texas. With our city’s year-long tricentennial celebration in full swing, we took our 300 years of culture and mixed it with our fiesta flair to show off the best our vibrant city has to offer. From UNESCO World Heritage sites to a thriving gastronomy scene, there are a lot more things to do than just “Remember the Alamo”.
DAY 1: Friday Night Arrival
4pm: Arrive in Style
The San Antonio International Airport is conveniently located in the center of the city, making it easy to quickly get to the Pearl district in 15 minutes or less. Rent a car at the newly opened airport rental car facility, located directly across from the terminals, or take a VIP sedan to the Pearl complex, where you will check in at Hotel Emma. Originally a 19th-century brewhouse, Hotel Emma is now an extraordinary 146-room, 5 Diamond hotel and the flagship of Pearl’s renowned culinary and cultural neighborhood.
Once you have settled into your room and finished your complimentary La Babia margarita welcome drink, it’s time to visit the iconic River Walk. The River Walk starts at the San Antonio Zoo and extends 15 miles to Mission Espada. Known for the big umbrellas and picture-perfect bridges, the River Walk is home to both lazy Sunday strolls and lively river parades. New river barges were introduced in 2017 and feature comfortable seating, bright colors, and a design reminiscent of Papel Picado, the elaborately cut paper banners that are strung across San Antonio.
Your 1.5-mile journey aboard the new fleet of river barges will take you from Pearl to dinner, passing beautiful attractions such as F.I.S.H., an art installation under the bridge featuring glowing fish at night, the San Antonio Museum of Art, VFW Post 76, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts and more, with details and history provided by your barge guide along the way. Halfway through your journey down the river, you will experience San Antonio’s Lock and Dam, where you will be lowered 9 feet to continue your voyage down the river.
6:30pm: Dine in a Historic Landmark
The Little Rhein Steakhouse is a delicious favorite for both locals and visitors to get a taste of authentic Texas fine dining. Guests can enjoy dining on seafood, fine wine or one of Little Rhein’s famous steaks inside their historic building or outside at a table overlooking the River Walk. Located in historic La Villita, this building opened its doors as a restaurant in 1967, but originally was the Bombach residence built in 1847.
8:30pm: Evening Stroll through 'La Villita'
After dinner, take a stroll through Little Rhein’s surrounding neighborhood, the historic 'La Villita'. La Villita, or 'little village', is one of San Antonio's first neighborhoods - that dates back almost 300 years. The historic property now features shops, restaurants and is a cultural hub for events, concerts, and festivals of all sizes. Also, part of the historic La Villita neighborhood is the Arneson River Theater. Most commonly known for its snapshot in Miss Congeniality starring Sandra Bullock, this theater is home to many of the local’s favorite events and concerts.
9:00pm: Illuminating History
The next stop on your downtown San Antonio tour is San Fernando Cathedral. Located in the center of downtown at Main Plaza and opened in 1750, San Fernando is notably one of the oldest cathedrals in the U.S. At night see this cathedral come to life with The Saga, a 24-minute show by French artist Xavier De Richemont utilizing video mapping to show the story of San Antonio’s rich cultural history. This show started in 2014 and continues to air every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday for free.
9:30pm: Long Bar Nightcap
Right around the corner from Main Plaza, you will find The Esquire Tavern. The Esquire boasts the longest wooden bar top in Texas – over 100 feet of prime drinking space. Remember, everything is bigger in Texas, Y'all! The Esquire Tavern opened in 1933 to celebrate the end of Prohibition and has been a beloved spot for locals and visitors alike ever since. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, but their Old Fashioned is one for the books.
DAY 2: Culture and Shopping
9:00am: Breakfast at Mi Tierra
If San Antonio had a national food, it would be the breakfast taco. Imagine a fresh, fluffy flour tortilla filled with delicious scrambled eggs, cheese, tortilla crumbles, and the works! Mi Tierra is the perfect spot to enjoy a breakfast taco or one of their huge assortment of delicious baking delights. Their panderia (bakery) is always stocked with everything from sweet loaves of Mexican bread, cookies, empanadas...are you hungry yet? Not only is the food something memorable, but the decorations and mural room are also unlike anything you've ever seen before. The ceiling is a kaleidoscope of color, completely covered in piñatas, Papel Picado, and streamers all year long.
For our friends with dietary restrictions or preferences, we suggest grabbing breakfast before we depart at Green located at Pearl, which features a gluten-free bakery and a vegetarian & vegan-friendly menu.
10:00am: Shopping and Souvenirs at El Mercado
Mi Tierra is located in El Mercado or Historic Market Square, which is the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico. During your visit explore over 100 locally owned shops featuring handmade embroidered dresses, jewelry, Talavera pottery and much more. You will be able to find authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex souvenirs for all of your family, friends, and colleagues here. Every year in April our city celebrates Fiesta, a weeklong celebration of our history and culture. During this time El Mercado is just one of many spots around town that are completely dedicated to festival booths complete with roasted corn, chicken on a stick, 'anticuchos y muchos cervezas'!
11:00am: Historic King William
On the south end of El Mercado, you'll find a 'SWell Cycle station', with rentable bikes that are available all over downtown that will have you enjoying the sights and sounds of downtown S.A. at a leisurely pace. Just 2 miles south of the bustling historic market you’ll find historic King William, a neighborhood settled by prominent German merchants in the 19th century. Hop on a bike and travel down to King William for a walking tour of the beautiful historic homes, art galleries and some of San Antonio’s most noteworthy restaurants and bars.
12:30pm: Pranzo Italiano (Italian Lunch)
In 2017 San Antonio received a UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation, which was one of the two in the U.S. Nonna Osteria, an exquisite restaurant located inside the Historic Fairmont Hotel, is just one tasty example of why S.A. received this designation. Nonna Osteria is founded and operated by Chef Luca Della Casa, born in Italy and featured as a finalist on Season 10 of the Food Network Star. Nonna, meaning grandmother in Italian, is a loving nod to Luca’s grandmother and the meals they cooked together.
If that meal doesn’t have you rolling out the door, walk across the street to the beautiful Hemisfair Park. Initially founded in 1968 for the World’s Fair this park recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and has evolved to become a local favorite multi-use space. On a Saturday afternoon, you might see a Zumba class facilitated in the courtyard, kids climbing the Yanaguana Gardens playset, or young professionals enjoying coffee & brews at the 'Commonwealth and Con Safos' restaurants located right on site. Cool off with a paleta (Mexican popsicle) for dessert from Paleteria and enjoy this relaxing, shaded park.
3:00pm: Historic UNESCO World Heritage Tour
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to burn some calories, hop back on a SWell Cycle bike to visit our next historic site, only a 3-mile ride on the mission reach of the San Antonio River Walk. Still too full to jump on a bike? Our CE DMC team will pick you up and take you to your next destination.
Join our certified experience guides for a look at the origin story of San Antonio. Our first stop is Mission San Jose, known as the 'Queen of the Missions' and is the showpiece of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Following that is mission number two, San Juan Capistrano, a mission that made its permanent home on the banks of the San Antonio River in 1731 and became a regional supplier of agricultural produce. Up next you will tour Mission Concepción, the oldest un-restored mission church in Texas which also dates back to 1731. Collectively designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015, all five of the San Antonio missions represent the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America and are the first World Heritage Site in Texas.
7:00pm: Discover Bliss
After a full day of discovering San Antonio’s historic treasures, relax, unwind and experience pure Bliss. A truly exclusive experience, Bliss is a Mark Bliss restaurant located between the Blue Star and King William neighborhoods, in what is known to locals as 'Southtown'. This fine dining restaurant is intimate and unique. Locals who enjoy the cuisine never have the same menu twice, but the service and attention to detail remain consistent every time.
9:30pm: Wind Down at Pearl
After dinner, you'll head back to the Pearl complex where you won't have to venture far to find a great nightcap. Just off the lobby of Hotel Emma, you'll find Sternewirth Tavern & Club Room, the hotel bar with a lounge setting that is both historic and comfortable as vignettes of seating around the room are complemented by private seating areas constructed out of old brewing vats. If you’re searching for a quiet nook, cozy up in the hotel’s private library and enjoy a nice read and a complimentary cocktail.
If you prefer to wind down your day with a bit of jazz, look no further than Jazz, TX, an underground jazz club right around the corner from Hotel Emma in the Pearl. Owned and operated by jazz legend Doc Watkins, the music venue bar and restaurant creates an intimate environment for its guests. Doc and his team of musical geniuses entertain main shows and midnight sets every day except Monday.
If you like to experience a city’s nightlife when you travel, there’s one more late-night spot we’d recommend — Paramour. Take a short half mile stroll down the River Walk to the rooftop bar. If you’re a Spurs fan you might get lucky and run into one of the San Antonio Spurs at this trendy bar located on top of an office building overlooking the river.
DAY 3: Departure Day - Shop and Relax
Rise and shine! Just steps outside your hotel room in the Pearl neighborhood is the city’s best farmer’s market where local artisan vendors and fresh produce pop-up every Sunday from 10 am – 2 pm. Enjoy a relaxing walk through the Pearl neighborhood, make a spa appointment through your hotel concierge or visit one of San Antonio’s world-class museums such as the San Antonio Museum of Art, Witte Museum, Briscoe Western Art Museum, McNay Art Museum, the DoSeum, or the Institute of Texan Cultures.
After relaxing at the spa, strolling through museum galleries or purchasing final souvenirs, it’s time to depart back to your destination. Your concierge at Hotel Emma will arrange a private SUV to transport you or you can return your car back to the rental car facility at the airport. Drink away your leaving sorrows with one last margarita at La Gloria by Chef Johnny Hernandez located in terminal A of the airport. Meaning 'the heavens' in Spanish, La Gloria is sure to send you home with heavenly memories of your time in the Alamo City!
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