Mention San Antonio and three things immediately spring to mind: the Alamo, the River Walk, and the Spurs. But this vibrant southern city with a Spanish heritage offers much more to the visitor. Fine dining, art museums, nightlife, and a rich culture make San Antonio a particularly satisfying destination. Fall is the perfect time to visit. Summer crowds and heat have fled, while the new NBA season is just getting started. Next time you need a little fall fiesta, point your airplane to this Texas “River City!”
Stinson Municipal Airport, the second-oldest continually operating airport in the United States, lies just south of San Antonio proper and just outside the San Antonio International Class C airspace. Use caution for five towers east-southeast of Stinson that rise to as high as 2,049 feet msl, plus one 30 nautical miles northwest that tops out at 3,049 feet msl.
Of course you’ll walk along the river, and don’t miss taking a River Walk boat cruise. But there’s more to explore. Completed in 2009, a 1.3-mile River Walk extension to the north called Museum Reach gives access to the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Pearl Brewery complex. It's an interesting juxtaposition of ancient classics from the Middle East and Rome, Asia, Latin American folk art, and contemporary art. An ecosystem restoration project, the final Mission Reach section, was completed in 2013. It’s accessible by foot or bike (no boat tours) and connects the public to a natural section, unlike the famous sections with bars and restaurants. Take a kayak, bike, or running tour or rent a kayak and take the eight-mile paddling trail, which has some man-made whitewater features. Also worth a visit is the Witte Museum, established in 1926 on the banks of the river near Brackenridge Park. The Witte displays a wealth of South Texas artifacts, from saddles and firearms to dinosaur bones and Western art.
San Antonio offers accommodations for every taste. The elegant Mokara Hotel and Spa is right on the River Walk. At the north end of the River Walk, the hip Hotel Havana is quieter. I'm also really partial to the decor, mid-century modern with a Cuban twist. Established in 1859, the Menger is loaded with history and sumptuously furnished. Theodore Roosevelt organized the Rough Riders here in 1898 and returned for their reunion seven years later. Danish immigrant sculptor Gutzon Borglum created his initial models for Mount Rushmore here as well.
Restaurants and bars abound, but a few standouts deserve special mention. Over in Market Square, Mi Tierra Cafe is a huge, authentic Mexican restaurant plastered with colorful decorations and open 24 hours. Bohanan's Prime Steaks and Seafood is famous for Chef Mark's Frito Pie, and of course, the steaks. Get the pretty Prickly Pear Margarita (say that fast five times) at Boudros, a Texas bistro on the River Walk with American southwest and Gulf Coast region dishes. You can't beat the selection of tequilas at Iron Cactus Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar, though. The three-chile pork loin is almost worth flying back to San Antonio! So indulge, remember the Alamo, and immerse yourself in the River Walk atmosphere. You can do it all in San Antonio.
Share your favorite destination in the AOPA Hangar: Places to fly, things to do, where to eat!