San Antonio Journals

Bill in the USA - SAN ANTONIO

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An August 2004 trip to San Antonio by billmoy

Sip Photo, San Antonio, Texas More Photos
Quote: San Antonio is one of the ten largest cities in the country, but it feels cozy. Visitors will enjoy the blend of brassy Texas hospitality and colorful Mexican influences that should provide for a memorable Tex-Mex experience.

Bill in the USA - SAN ANTONIO

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Overview

Mission San Jose Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
The Alamo is the most famous and centrally located of the five missions in San Antonio, but try to visit at least one of the others. The Mission San Jose is an historic complex a few miles south of downtown and holds an enchanting "Mariachi Mass" every Sunday at noon that is an unforgettable cultural experience. The River Walk is Tourism Central in the city. While some stretches are quite touristy and congested, other areas are quieter and remarkably beautiful considering you are in the middle of a big city. Take an open-air boat ride for a pleasant circuit around downtown. If you want some great views of the city and your hotel room is not high enough, check out the Tower of the Amer...Read More

Sheraton Gunter Hotel

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Hotel | "Sheraton Gunter"

Sheraton Gunter Hotel Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
Opening in 1909, the Gunter is one of the older hotels in San Antonio. It is still a charming property despite its age and its location away from the River Walk (it is only two blocks away). The exterior windows are filled with nostalgic black-and-white images of the Gunter in its heyday, and the lobby level also displays a few mementos like the original hotel switchboard, a couple of old phones, and some more dated photos. Otherwise, the lobby is comfortably classy with wood paneling, chandeliers, and a grand piano. The hotel has twelve stories and 322 guest rooms. If you are on the club level on the 12th floor, you will need to swipe your key card in the elevator to access it. My room was on ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

Sheraton Gunter Hotel
205 EAST HOUSTON STREET
San Antonio, Texas 78205
1-210-227-3241

Mi Tierra Cafe

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Restaurant | "Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery"

Mi Tierra Cafe Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
This colorful Mexican restaurant is the anchor of El Mercado, or the Central Market. It is enormous, open 24 hours ("we never close") and has a wonderful assortment of authentic food that your dear grandma would have cooked if she were Mexican. This establishment began in 1941 with three tables, but now the family business can seat over 500 diners. You can sit indoors or outdoors, and despite its many tables the place fills up during peak times. The large interiors are sectioned into smaller rooms and are colorfully adorned with murals, pinatas and typical Mexican paper decorations. There are roving musicians who are eager to play a song at your table, but there are placards that clearly indicat...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

Mi Tierra Cafe
218 Produce Row
San Antonio, Texas 78207
(210) 225-1262

County Line Smokehouse & Grill

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Restaurant | "County Line Smokehouse and Grill"

County Line Smokehouse & Grill Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
This restaurant is part of a small but thriving chain of barbeque joints in the south, and it is not a bad place for a huge meal. They have some prime seats along the River Walk, but if you want just a bit more quiet sit in one of its inside dining areas decorated with old-fashioned signs and props. Our table was along the glass wall facing the River Walk, so that was good enough for us. There are also counter seats and intimate booths. Start off things with a margarita, which is normal sized here and not a gigantic goldfish bowl. There is a good selection of beers brewed in Texas and Mexico, so this is where you can show your allegiance (I chose Negra Modelo of Mexico). The servings...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

County Line Smokehouse & Grill
111 West Crockett
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 229-1941

Sip

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Restaurant

Sip Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
This cafe across from the Sheraton Gunter and the Majestic Theater is a pleasant place for a light meal, snack or coffee. Relax in the sleek but unpretentious interior at one of the tables or along the counter facing the window. Piped in pop music does not drown out intimate conversation here. There are also a few outdoor tables that are protected from the elements by a canopy. My companion and I wanted a quick and light lunch before heading to the airport. I ordered the lunch special, which includes a panini sandwich, side salad or bag of chips, and iced tea for about seven dollars. You pay at the counter and wait for your order to be called out. If these were normal circumstances the wait wou...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

Sip
160 E Houston St
San Antonio, Texas 78205
210/222-0149

The Alamo (Mission San Antonio de Valero)

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Attraction | "Alamo"

The Alamo (Mission San Antonio de Valero) Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
Nicknamed the "Shrine of Texas Liberty", the Alamo is the most famous landmark in town and everyone knows it. Its plaza is teeming with tour guides, rhetorical speakers, military personnel, snow cone vendors, and a steady stream of visitors. Note that this ensemble was originally one of the five missions of San Antonio. Founded in 1718, its original name was Mission San Antonio de Valero. The current complex was begun in 1724; the church did not receive its entire roof until 1850. After being decommissioned as a mission, it became a military outpost for the Spanish. It eventually fell into Mexican control during its epic fight for independence from Spain finally achieved in 1821. The...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

The Alamo (Mission San Antonio de Valero)
300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 225-1391

San Antonio Riverwalk

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Attraction | "River Walk (Paseo del Rio)"

San Antonio Riverwalk Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
San Antonio has seemingly stumbled upon a tourism bonanza with its development of the River Walk, or Paseo del Rio. Some parts of it are a bit too crowded and touristy, but overall it is a wonderful way to embrace the river. It is regarded by some critics as one of the finest such urban developments in the country. Visitors just know it is a fun place. Plans to fill in the riverbed were scrapped. The three-mile long River Walk, about twenty feet below street level, was created along the downtown portion of the San Antonio River mainly from schemes by architect Robert H. H. Hugman, and the project broke ground in 1939. A thin tributary of the river conveniently makes a loop here, so the river ban...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

San Antonio Riverwalk
200 South Alamo Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 227-4262

El Mercado-Market Square

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Attraction | "Mercado (Market Square)"

El Mercado-Market Square Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
The festive and colorful Mercado, or Central Market, of San Antonio is just a few blocks west of downtown. Perhaps this is not an essential part of your visit, but if you have the time or are dining at the famous Mexican restaurant Mi Tierra, you may as well poke around here. There are over thirty vendors within the main building, collectively attempting to create the aura of a market in Mexico. This Mercado is generally recognized as the largest one outside of Mexico. I would imagine some of these items would be dirt cheap in Mexico, but they appear reasonably priced here. You can always comparison shop amongst the various storefronts to see if you can get a better deal, but they seem to be ev...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

El Mercado-Market Square
514 West Commerce Street
San Antonio, Texas 78207
(210) 207-8600

San Antonio Botanical Garden

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Attraction | "San Antonio Botanical Garden and Conservatory"

San Antonio Botanical Garden Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
The San Antonio Botanical Garden, which opened in 1980, is a great place for nature enthusiasts as well as architectural travelers such as me. Noted Argentinean architect Emilio Ambasz designed the attractive Lucile Halsell Conservatory, which debuted in 1988. The Sullivan Carriage House, the handsome main building originally constructed in 1896, is the gateway to the garden. It was designed by Alfred Giles and relocated from its original downtown location in 1988. The ticket booth, cafe and gift shop are located here. If you plan to have lunch here keep in mind that the cafe is open only from 11am to 2pm and is not open at all on Mondays. The handy brochure has a map of the bucolic grounds, wh...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

San Antonio Botanical Garden
555 Funston
San Antonio, Texas 78209
+1 210 207 3250; +1

San Jose Mission

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Attraction | "Mission San Jose"

San Jose Mission Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
San Antonio is the site of five Catholic missions built by the Spanish, who sought to expand its influence in North America through colonization and converting native Indians. The most famous is the Alamo (original name - Mission San Antonio de Valero). The middle one of the five on the "Mission Trail" that extends south from downtown is the Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo. Recognized as a National Historic Site in 1941, the "Queen of the Missions" is perhaps the most complete and beautiful of the missions. For information on the entire San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, stop in the modern Visitor Center. Four of the five missions (all except the Alamo) are under the jurisdi...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

San Jose Mission
6701 San Jose Drive
San Antonio, Texas 78214
(210) 923-8681

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

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Attraction | "Mariachi Mass at Mission San Jose"

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Photo, San Antonio, Texas
Quote:
For a unique cultural experience in San Antonio, make the effort to attend the Mariachi Mass that takes place every Sunday at noon at the Mission San Jose. It is a remarkably joyous celebration of religion, music, and life itself. The moderately sized interior of the Mission San Jose fills up every week, so try to arrive about thirty minutes before the mass. The seating is first come first served, and latecomers will probably wind up standing in the back of the church. People line up by the entrance outfitted in their Sunday best. The interior is modestly decorated in comparison to the detailed exterior, but the domed space is still impressive. The structural junctions and edges are colorfully...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 2, 2004

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
2202 Roosevelt Ave
San Antonio, Texas 78210
+1 210 932 1001