While you are in central Texas, it 's easy and makes sense to do as many things as possible because (it's all relative-by Texas distances) nothing is very far from anything else. So a trip to Austin can be combined into a trip to San Antonio, only an hour away. I took the opportunity of tagging along on hubster's springtime business trip to pop in and visit Number One son, off on his grand college adventure. San Antonio is an old and historic city that has morphed recently into the seventh largest city in the USA ( Dallas is 9th and Houston is 4th, currently). Lots to see and do in this fun town. Just don't go in summer, it's too hot !
Non-locals will want to go to Sea World and Six Flags and all that. You can't make a visit to this town without a pilgrimage to the Alamo, an old fort and one of Texas' most sacred historical sites. The fun thing to do next is head a few blocks from the Alamo to the Riverwalk, and enjoy the many fine bars and restaurants located along this pleasant waterway. It's kind of like a Tex-Mex version of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Word of advice: I made a mistake of staying in a very luxurious hotel along the Riverwalk, once, thinking I wanted to be able to get drunk on margaritas and walk (not drive) back to my hotel. Big mistake! The mariachi music played all night long - until the wee hours -and I got no sleep at all ! While festive when you are awake, mariachi music will drive you insane if you are hung over. If you insist on staying in the area, be sure to book a room on the far side of the hotel, not overlooking the water. I promise you will regret it, however picturesque, if you do.
Locals know there are plenty of great restaurants, shopping, a beautiful garden/historic home district, a zoo, and lovely things to see and do that are away from the crowded touristy Riverwalk and downtown area. I personally favor a restaurant and shopping area a few blocks from downtown, home of the fabulous Mi Tierra bakery, bar, and cafe.I've been eating there since the 70's when I first discovered this spot on a high school field trip, and later became reaquainted with it on business trips to S.A. when I worked at P&G. It's full of locals and a destination spot for celebs - when I ate there in March, a famous football team was having some sort of recruiting dinner at the table next to us, and there were dozens of well known millionaire coaches and players chowing down not 2 feet from us.
My purpose in visiting S.A. this time was not to take in the touristy sights, but to visit Son Number One and all his college friends, his gf and roommates, and take them all out to dinner. Son No One got extremely lucky and randomly drew a great bunch of guys for his roomies, they all get along pretty well (they are living in a 4 bedroom 2 bath, on campus, apt style dorm, with its own kitchen and living room) and lord knows they have saved him from some serious scrapes his first year in college. It was so cute- when I arrived at their apt, they were hurriedly cleaning, putting things away, and one was mopping as I walked in - trying to make the place presentable for me to see. I know they live like slobs most of the time, but I was touched that they made an effort to be presentable. We had a nice little visit, I took them all to Wal-Mart and let them load up a grocery cart full of stuff, we dropped it all off at the apt, and then went out to eat . Then I left. (This type of ideal parental behavior I learned from parents of friends of mine in college. Lord knows, not my own parents.) I did not inquire too closely nor query them too ardently. I'll save that for Son No One, later. :o)