We just got back from a quick trip to San Antonio. I lived there from third grade through high school and things like The Alamo, Tower of the Americas, Institute of Texas Cultures and many a Mexican restaurant were the backdrop of my childhood – one which by most people’s definition would be defined as pretty sad. Going back with my husband and daughter in tow is always very special. Something I never imagined I’d do since I was convinced that if I made it to adulthood I would live far away from that place! But now, going back just makes me very happy and I guess I have Shamu to thank.
Sea World and Six Flags appeared on the scene shortly before I left. The two parks are about 20 minutes apart and located on the perimeter of San Antonio, part of which sits on the edge of the hill country. Our favorite of the two is Sea World. Seeing killer whales on TV is one thing, but getting up close and personal is unforgettable. And September is a good time to do it. We arrived around 10:30 and the lines for thrill rides were practically non-existent. The key to having fun at Sea World is starting early in the morning and saving the shows for later. We stayed until late afternoon then checked into a hotel nearby for the evening.
There are a few luxury resorts in the area, our favorite being The Westin La Cantera. It has an amazing pool area with a slide, fountains and roving waiters who’ll cheerfully bring you refreshments from the café. Along with a few other very good restaurants, there’s also a spa, tennis court and a world class golf course. About 3 minutes down the road is an upscale shopping mall called Shops at La Cantera, and across the street is Six Flags. Like most other cities in Texas, you need a car to get around. Downtown San Antonio, where you’ll find loads of good restaurants, is about a 30 minute drive. We took Fuzz to a place called “Eyes over Texas” which is the spinning restaurant at the top of the Tower of the America’s. Our steaks were very good, but I imagine they will be getting even better because it’s about to be converted to a restaurant called Chart House.
After dinner downtown, we drove back to the hotel, circled some breakfast items and hung them on the door for room service, then went to bed. We wanted to be well-rested for a trip to the San Antonio zoo. The zoo, which is near downtown in Brackenridge park, is opened 365 days a year. It’s changed quite a bit. In fifth grade, my friend and I use to rent horses for 10 dollars an hour and ride by ourselves all over the park. The stables are gone, but the zoo and park are still very nice and Kiddie Park, the tiny amusement park on Mulberry is still there too.
There are so many other things about San Antonio I appreciate more as an adult. The Institute of Texas Cultures, which sounds kind of boring in an educational sort of way, is an extremely interesting, hands-on place to learn about the different ethnic groups who settled in Texas. I loved it as a kid and can’t wait to take Emma. For architecture buffs, there’s The King William Historical District, where people have restored houses from Old San Antonio. Those are just a few tourist attractions that come to mind at the moment, but I can think of more…..like Mission Trail, The Pearl Brewery, The Witte Museum, the McNay Art Institute and the Blue Star Gallery of Contemporary Art. Oh, and The Alamo! It sits in the middle of downtown surrounded by shops and pigeons. It’s not exactly a spectacular site in and of itself, but when you hear the story and walk through, you might get the chills. I sure do. I could go on and on, but I thought I’d include this info for anyone planning a trip to Texas.