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Big, bigger, biggest

by Anna Streatfeild on 03 February 2014, 14:02PM

They say that everything’s bigger in Texas and they sure weren’t fibbing- big hats, big smiles and big portions, my fly-drive trip to the Lone Star state was definitely big on all these things and more. My one week trip took in San Antonio, Bandera and Austin which was a great mix of cowboys, culture, history, live music and good old southern hospitality. Here is the first part of a series of blog posts following my recent trip starting in San Antonio.

San Antonio is located on the southern edge of Texas Hill Country and is a great place to soak up local history and culture. Home to several Spanish Missions, which are colonial era compounds. All five are located in a line from the centre of downtown San Antonio to the southern edge of the city and include the Alamo, the most famous building in Texan history. Originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound and was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, making it what is considered now the ‘Shrine of Texas Liberty’. Any day of the week there are queues of people lining up to visit, I’d recommend getting a private guide, who will really explain the historical significance of the site.

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As soon as you arrive in San Antonio you can see the strong Mexican influences, from the architecture, building décor and food. Possibly the best place to experience all of this is Mi Tierra Café, where you can eat your fill of delicious Mexican food, whilst taking in the spectacularly colourful surroundings, which include an ever growing painted and sculptured fresco depicting local and famous Mexican people. They even have staff wearing traditional Mexican dress and Mariachi bands to entertain you whilst you eat. The staff are all super friendly and will help you choose your meal, if you fancy a drink, the strawberry frozen margaritas come highly recommended!

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San Antonio is also famous for its River Walk. The San Antonio River runs through the city centre and provides easy access to the city’s cultural hot spots, historic sites and other attractions, as well as being a destination in itself. It is lined with bars and restaurants, making it a great place to wander along, stopping off for food and drinks and do a spot of people watching.

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The San Antonio Museum of Art is possibly the most pleasant galleries I’ve ever been to and has the most incredible art collection. The building itself is really lovely to walk around so a visit won’t disappoint. The museum is renowned for its collections of Latin American, Asian, and Ancient Mediterranean Art, as well as a growing and notable contemporary collection, including Texas and regional art. To get there you can walk along the River Walk from central downtown, if you do, keep an eye out for the odd piece of public art that lines the river, including some huge colourful fish sculptures that are hanging from under the bridge near the museum.

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There are lots of choices for accommodation throughout the city, from the Omni La Mansion along the Riverwalk to the Radisson Hotel & Suites in downtown Austin, which has the largest outdoor pool in the city.

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For dinner, I suggest you head to the Pearl Brewery, The birthplace of Pearl Beer and long-time staple of the San Antonio economy. Its is now being redeveloped into an art-filled urban village next to the Museum Reach portion of the River Walk. Here you can find a number of modern chic bars and restaurants, if you can’t decide where to go, you could do a ‘dinearound’ which is where you have starter in one place, main course in another and desert somewhere else. If you do this, make sure you haven’t eaten for a few hours prior as you will definitely be feeling pretty stuffed afterwards.

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For nightlife, Ocho at the Hotel Havana is a funky spot for Hemingway margaritas and mojitos. Make sure you check out the speakeasy-like dark underground space in the hotel’s basement. The Esquire Tavern is the oldest drinking establishment on the Riverwalk and is known as having the longest wooden bar in Texas and serves some pretty fine cocktails.

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If you like western music, go where the cowgirls and cowboys go. Big as a barn, Cowboys Dancehall is a rodeo of country fun teeming with bars, dancefloors, and a mechanical bull. You can also join in on one of the Texas two-step lessons and live music. Probably not somewhere to wear your best pair of heels but you are definitely guaranteed lots of fun.

To find out more about holidays to Texas, visit www.travelbag.co.uk/holidays/usa

For more information on San Antonio go to www.visitsanantonio.com

Author bio: Anna Streatfeild is the UK PR Consultant for Texas Tourism


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