By Dana Clerkin 2016-06-10 05:00:27
Explore sights and sites, tastes and tours when you travel to the heart of Texas for #ANC16. Be prepared for your senses to explode when you attend this year’s Annual National Conference (ANC) in the City of San Antonio, right in the heart of Texas. No other community in Texas can pique a visitor’s sense of energy, sights, sounds, aromas and tastes like “Alamo City.” The seventh most populated metropolis in the United States boasts some of the grandest and most beautiful places ever visited in one location, not to mention the most delicious. FEEL HISTORY COME ALIVE There are three top attractions in San Antonio (other than ANC) that you simply can’t miss during your visit. The Alamo Travis. Bowie. Crockett. Esparza. The past comes to life when you tour the most-visited historic landmark in Texas, right in the heart of San Antonio. Guided by Alamo History Interpreters (or self-guided), visitors can trace the outline of the original fort as it was during the famous battle of 1836 when a Spanish Mission church became a fortress defended by a small group of Texans during a 13-day siege. Stand in the very spot where Davy Crockett fought so valiantly or walk along the north tower where Colonel Travis spent his final moments. Visit www.thealamo.org for more information. El Paseo del Rio Nothing reinvigorates the soul more quickly than a stroll along The San Antonio River Walk. Built one story below sea level, this 3-mile river connects many other tourist attractions and offers peace and serenity at some spots or excitement and liveliness at others. Visitors can shop, eat, drink and dance their way along The Walk or they can experience it from the water on chartered boats and river taxis. For details about making the most of your experience, visit www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com. Mission San Jose The “Queen” of San Antonio missions is just one of five Spanish colonial missions (the Alamo is also one) in San Antonio. Each mission, beautiful in its own right, represents the largest concentration of Spanish colonial Catholic missions in North America, has been named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is part of the U.S. National Park Service. The missions were centers of work, education and trade and formed the basis of the founding of San Antonio. Begin your tour at the stunning Mission San Jose adjacent to the Visitors Center. Learn more at www.nps.gov/saan. VISUALIZE A FEAST FOR YOUR EYES If you’re lucky enough to spend a day in town before or after ANC, take in the views offered by three other highly recommended tourist destinations. The San Antonio Museum of Art Housed in a historic brewery, this museum offers important permanent collections of Latin American art, as well as European, Asian and Islamic antiquities. The museum has Tuesday evening hours with free general admission. Check www.samuseum.org for other hours and fees. HemisFair Urban Park The spectacular city view from the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas alone is worth the trip to this Park built in honor of San Antonio’s 250th anniversary. If you brought your family with you, your kids will delight in the water gardens and playground with its castle and space tunnel. Learn more at www.hemisfair.org/visitor-information. El Mercado The Market Square is a great place to shop—just ask the locals! Clothing, art, furniture, plates, ceramics and other decorative items with a Mexican flare will not disappoint. It’s been described as the largest Mexican market outside Mexico. Explore more than 100 locally owned shops and stalls. Credit cards and cash are accepted by most vendors. Visit www.marketsquaresa.com to learn more about its history and the shopping and dining destinations available today. Pearl Brewery You can’t mention beer and Texas in the same sentence without making reference to the Pearl Brewery. This beautiful limestone landmark is the place to learn about the haunted stories surrounding it and what was once the largest brewery in the entire state. It’s now at the heart of a dining and shopping district. To learn more history before you go, check out http://atpearl.com/about/history. HEAR THE MUSIC OF LIFE Some people stroll the River Walk, but others will dance their way from one end to the other, as they listen to the sounds of mariachi or flamenco bands giving free performances along the cobblestone street. But don’t confine your music appreciation to this part of the city. The diversity of San Antonio’s music scene is perfect for any music lover, and live music clubs can be found all throughout the city. One of San Antonio’s best live music bars is Sam’s Burger Joint, www.samsburgerjoint.com. The blues and rock atmosphere welcomes some of the best musicians who come through San Antonio. If cool and intimate are the qualities that you are looking for in a music scene, head to Luna, www.lunalive.com. This place changes its artists and genres up to five times a week, so be sure to check out its website before you go. When you want to hear the real sounds of this TexMex city, be sure to take in Azuca Nuevo Latino, http://azuca.net, the spot to listen to a variety of Latin music. Combined with a festive and energetic atmosphere, this venue will give you much more than the Alamo to remember about this city! “IT SMELLS SO GOOD, I CAN ALMOST TASTE IT” Whether you decide to sample San Antonio’s signature dish (chili) or one of many of the other delectable Texan, Latin and American cuisines, your taste buds will thank you at the end of every meal. Start by revisiting two places where San Antonio music reigns supreme. Reviews for both Sam’s Burger Joint and Azuca Nuevo Latino rate the food as delicious as the music, which makes dining at each place a win-win destination. Other popular and highly rated restaurants in San Antonio can be found not only along The River Walk, but also not far from the center of town. We’ve compiled some that intrigue us, organized by the likely bill amount at the end of your meal. $$$ | Bliss While a bit pricey, Bliss gets high marks for its menu, atmosphere and service. Chef Mark Bliss is one of the Southwest’s top chefs, and some people credit him with putting San Antonio on the fine dining map. Serving contemporary American cuisine, Bliss prides itself on being ”seasonal and creative over predictable and familiar.” Closed on Mondays, Bliss recommends advance reservations. (210) 225-2547 www.foodisbliss.com Wildfish Seafood Grille “You had me at crab.” Or maybe sea bass, shrimp or scallops. If seafood is to your liking, then head over to Wildfish Seafood Grille. When reviewers exclaim, “Fish-tastic!“ ”Perfection!” and “Always a good choice!” you know you’ve picked a winner. Entrées range from $31-50, but if this is your one dining splurge in San Antonio, you shouldn’t be disappointed. Reservations are recommended. (210) 493-1600 www.wildfishseafoodgrille.com $$ | Cappy’s Restaurant Another great seafood restaurant that boasts American cuisine is Cappy’s. Lunch and dinner include regional and seasonal specialties. Land-lovers will enjoy great steaks from Allen Brothers in Chicago and a killer Kobe beef burger served with hand-cut fries. (210) 828-9669 www.cappysrestaurant.com Rosario’s Mexican Café Y Cantina Consistently rated as one of the best Mexican restaurants in San Antonio, Rosario’s is located a little south of the River Walk. Shrimp tacos, enchiladas (mole, verde or spinach), smoky salsa and chips and mango margaritas top the list of menu favorites. Rosario’s is reasonably priced and great for groups. (210) 223-1806 www.rosariossa.com $ | Bill Miller Bar-B-Q Here’s a short and sweet review: slow-cooked and old-fashioned barbeque served at fast-food speed. Oh, and it’s cheap, too. Bill Miller Bar-B-Q is so popular that guidebooks list it as a “must” on general sight-seeing itineraries. Barbeque plates start at $7.75, but a chopped barbeque sandwich is only $1.95. Hard to beat that! Bill Miller’s is a chain restaurant with several locations in and around San Antonio. (210) 226-4707 https://billmillerbbq.com The Station Café When sandwiches are called “fresh,” “yummy,” “amazing” and “marvelous,” then it’s likely you’ve arrived at The Station Café. Located in a renovated auto service station about half a mile south of The Alamo, the café offers a variety of fresh hot and cold sandwiches. You’ll also want to take a stroll around the great neighborhood of beautiful historic homes. Reasonably priced. (210) 444-2200 http://thestationsa.com Be sure to capture your memories of your San Antonio experiences —places you’ve visited, dined, danced, toured, listened to music and shopped—and share them with the tag #ANC16. Your fellow SNA members want to see what you liked most about this city and why you’ll always Remember “The ANC” in San Antonio. Dana Clerkin is a freelance writer based in Oriental, N.C., and a former staff vice president, Foundation programs for SNA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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