Ah, late October….what a great time to visit San Antonio for WCET’s 24th Annual Meeting! The weather is perfect, the festivals are in full swing, and the city is filled to the brim with great stuff to do and see. As the 7th largest city in the U.S. and a city with a deep cultural pride, San Antonio has something to offer everyone. As WCET members, we all have a passion for education, so it’s worth noting that San Antonio is home to 31 colleges and universities serving more than 100,000 students.
With our great conference program, I know you’ll be hard-pressed to find time to explore. But if you get the chance to stay through the weekend, I just want to point out that October 31 is not only Halloween, but November 2 is the annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration too.
In full disclosure, I don’t live in San Antonio, but up the road a piece in Austin – but I’m an unabashed fan of the city. I have many friends and colleagues who are both native San Antonians and filled with opinions on the best things to do and see while in the city. Below is a collection of the good stuff. It is by no means comprehensive. My advice is to start on the Riverwalk and enjoy the food and shopping, but also get out and explore this magnificent, friendly, culturally-diverse gem of a city!
If you are a history buff, then you are in luck. San Antonio is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. with Spanish missionaries visiting the region in 1691. By all mean go see the Alamo – it’s less than a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Learning about the history of the mission, the battle, and the emergence of Texas independence make this a fascinating stop. Oh, did I mention that it’s haunted, too? But don’t miss the other missions in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park: Mission San Jose, Mission Concepcion, Mission Espada and Mission San Juan.
Ah, now here’s where the city shines. The quality and variety of food is simply amazing. Yes, you should absolutely have some Tex-Mex while here. For a fun experience con mariachis, try the famous Mi Tierra restaurant near El Mercado. The Pearl Brewery has been renovated and is now home to a host of great restaurants including Il Sogno, Sanbar, and La Gloria.
Dives and honky-tonks include Sam’s Burger Joint, Tucker’s Kozy Korner, tons of places on The Strip section of N. St. Mary’s. For those who care to drive just a bit, check the world famous John T. Floore Store in Helotes for some great music, food and an authentic Texas dance hall experience.
San Antonio Art Museum (SAMA), the world famous Witte Museum, the McNay Art Museum, and the Briscoe Western Art Museum are just some of the formal art spaces in San Antonio. The gallery scene is alive and well here, too. You are in luck with the timing. First Friday in South Town, is going to be held on November 2! Blue Star in particular is an epicenter for that event, but all along South Alamo Street, from Cesar Chavez to Blue Star, 1st Friday is big, and I expect the Dia De Los Muertos edition in particular will be fun! All the South Town and Blue Star art galleries will be going all out on First Friday.
As people who know me would tell you, shopping’s not my thing. So, I’ll reference the Visitor’s Bureau’s website on this: http://www.visitsanantonio.com/visitors/shop/index.aspx I will tell you that there are some great deals to be had in San Antonio, because I’ve had some!
In closing, let me just say how happy I am that our annual meeting is being held in San Antonio this year. I think you’ll come to love this city as much as I do!
River Walk: Stuart Dee – San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau
Alamo: Richard Nowitz – San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau