Most of the recent Summer Vacation Tour stops have been outside of the U.S. Today, though, Amanda of teamespinoza.com is taking us on a thoroughly American tour of San Antonio, Texas. (P.S., Amanda? You’re a natural at this travel writing stuff!)
AMANDA from SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
A little more about Amanda
My husband and I want to be citizens of the world and travel the globe with our 3 young children. However, my heart will always belong to Texas. I grew up near Houston, TX, but now I have lived in San Antonio, TX for 14 years. This is where most of my family lives and where I have made lifelong friends. Let me tell you about where I hang my hat (or where I would if I wore a hat).
San Antonio is famous for The Alamo, it’s beautiful Riverwalk, Market Square, Sea World, and the amusement park Fiesta Texas. Beyond the big, flashy tourist spots are havens of laid back fun with delicious food and great friends.
Here are five reasons why I love San Antonio, Texas:
1. San Antonio’s proximity to the Texas Hill Country, Austin, and the Guadalupe River.
Driving from East to West it would take you 12 hours to cross the state of Texas. Texas is not a small state and San Antonio sits near its heart. I am very fortunate to be less than an hour and a half away from many Texas gems. My very first date with my husband, Daniel, was a day trip to New Braunfels, TX including driving through the Texas Hill Country in his black Mustang convertible. We love exploring Texas together and even more now with our 3 children.
Here are a few of my favorite Texas Hill Country spots. New Braunfels, TX is known for tubing down the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers. Gruene, TX is right next door with boutique shops, restaurants, and Gruene Hall. Fredericksburg, TX is an old German town with a thriving main street, wineries, a wildflower farm, and nearby Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. We took a babymoon in Marble Falls and canoed on Inks Lake. We have also taken day trips to Canyon Lake, Austin, TX and Corpus Christi, TX with our kids. You can fill a whole Summer traveling our section of Texas. For more information about day trips in Texas check out the website of the show The DayTripper.
2. San Antonio’s variety of spectacular Tex-Mex, Bar-b-que, Modern, and Food Truck Cuisine.
San Antonio is definitely not lacking in good Tex-Mex food. My favorite is Jacala’s Mexican Restaurant. It is my benchmark for all cheese enchiladas, rice and beans. They make fresh tortillas right in front of you at the restaurant. Be sure to grab a breakfast taco while you are here. A breakfast taco restaurant will not be difficult to find.
Our diet is not entirely made of chips, salsa, and tacos. The latest season of the show, Top Chef, was largely based here in San Antonio, because San Antonio is quickly becoming a major player in the culinary world. This is in part to talented chefs like Chef Andrew Weissman, Chef John Besh, and Chef Jason Dady. Also, the gourmet food truck scene has exploded here in the last year and a half offering tasty food at low prices in kid-friendly food truck parks.
One of my favorite foods from Texas is bar-b-que. It would be the one food that I missed the most if we moved away. Salt Lick near Austin is the gold standard of Texas bar-b-que, but Rudy’s BBQ or Two Brother’s BBQ will suffice if you need something closer to town. For more on where to eat in San Antonio check out SavorSA.com and Eater.com’s San Antonio Restaurant Heat Map.
3. San Antonio’s nearby Country Dance Halls.
Yes, we like to wear boots. We enjoy boots because without them your toes will get stepped on while you are two-stepping across the wooden floor of a dancehall. I know this from experience. I’ve already mentioned Gruene Hall. It is one of the many hubs for all things Texas and Americana Music. Pat Green, Bruce Robison, Kelly Willis, and Hayes Carll are a few of my favorite Texan musicians. If you aren’t near Gruene, TX, then you can head to Leon Springs Dance Hall or Luckenbach. For more on Texas and American music you can download the KNBT app and listen to their station live. I love this app!
4. San Antonio’s fun places and events to explore.
Since having 3 children our outings inside the city limits have been very kid friendly. Every April San Antonio hosts a 2 week long celebration called Fiesta. Fiesta celebrates our culture, history, and traditions through parades, festivals, and food. This year we attended The San Antonio Fiesta Arts Fair. The kids had a great time getting their faces painted, creating necklaces and screen prints. You can’t leave Fiesta without getting a spicy roasted corn on the cob and paletas to cool you off.
Besides Fiesta you can explore Brackenridge Park which holds our zoo, a Japanese Tea Garden, the Eagle train, and The Witte Museum. My kids love the maze-like playground and waterfalls at Hemisfair Park. The old Pearl Brewery is now home to restaurants, Culinary Institute of America, a kids book shop, and a new section of the San Antonio river that connects to the San Antonio Art Museum. Our next adventure in June will be celebrating cultures from around the world at the The Texas Folklife Festival.
5. San Antonio’s Southern hospitality and relaxed culture.
If you visit San Antonio you will run into helpful and friendly people. Most of us aren’t pretentious and don’t care if you have latest designer purse. Our culture is definitely relaxed and casual. I have found it easy to connect with friends that truly care about me and show me true hospitality. This is in part to my awesome church, River City Community Church. Also, I have found a fabulous group of women through Twitter and we call ourselves the #foodiemamas. We like to get together at new restaurants and eat delicious food. The community of people you will find in San Antonio is one of the best on the planet.
If you ever come through San Antonio I hope you will feel as welcome as I do!
Amanda and her husband, Daniel, blog about their life, travels, food, books, being business owners, being parents, and a whole lot more at teamespinoza.com. You can find Amanda on Twitter at @AmandaEspi.