San Antonio - for 6 weeks

Old Sep 15th, 2005, 09:37 PM
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fredman
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San Antonio - for 6 weeks

I will be in San Antonio for 4-8 weeks starting in a month or so, where should I go, what should I avoid ?
I'm not into 'touristy' stuff, I was thinking restaurants and off the beaten path places.
I am not sure where I will be staying - my job is arranging that, it's out of my control.
 
Old Sep 16th, 2005, 06:09 AM
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I'll leave your San Antonio question in more expert hands having only spent 2 evenings there. I have no idea where you're from, but if you have a 3-day weekend, a trip to Mexico might be as fascinating to you as it was to me.

The divide between Laredo, TX and Nuevo Laredo, Tam., Mexico (the closest entry point: 2 1/2 hours from San Antonio) was really eye-opening. Nuevo Laredo/Laredo however are border towns and as such have a bit of a weird energy having been built up probably faster than the infrastructure could handle due to NAFTA. There are some Mexico-curious US tourists on Avenida Guerrero, but I found Mexican workers far outnumber them. Many shirk visiting due to some high-profile shootings there and a rise in crime, although apparently there are some fabulous unique dining experiences and personally I found the bicultural transnational vibe eye-opening and fascinating.

However if you can take the time for an extra 3 hours to ply on to Monterrey (plenty of bus options also SA-Mty), you'll come to one of my favourite cities anywhere (founded in 1598), one where there are few tourists from the US/Europe (although some from other parts of Mexico), with a vibe unlike anywhere else I've been. If you're interested on the latter option, I could advise more.

Enjoy! DAN
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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 06:22 AM
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If you are into hiking a take a weekend trip/day trip to Fredricksburg (tourist town) and go to enchanted rock hiking.
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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 06:26 AM
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A couple of places that we really enjoy are Enchanted Rock State Park, Lost Maples Natural Area, Luckenbach, especially on a Sunday afternoon to hear music, Hill Top Restaurant outside of Fredericksburg. These are all near Fredericksburg, which is a touristy town, but situated in a beautiful and interesting location.
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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 06:36 AM
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If you got to Nuevo Laredo, please use extreme caution. There has been a HUGE increase in crime there in the last year or so, and much of it is crime against tourists. I don't scare easily, but even I would not go there right now.

I agree that Fredericksburg would be a great place to visit. South Padre Island is quite nice, but it is very touristy. And don't forget my home city, Austin!! We have some of the best live music to be found.
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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 07:34 AM
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We were in Fredericksburg and drove through Luckenbach Labor Day. Where in Luckenbach for the music? All we saw were the PO and about a million bikers! OK...now--what did we miss for our next trip?

Fredericksburg was quaint last time we were there, evidently in another lifetime. It's not so quaint and far more touristy now, with a couple of excellent shops (Homestead is one)but plenty with kitsch too, and there are still some good German restaurants. Pretty much gone are the real antique stores, if they ever existed! Our first time through we were there in the dead of winter and I far prefer that to the Labor Day crowd (but that might be true of any towns similar to this, so perhaps my opinion this time around was based on unfortunate timing.)

I have climbed Enchanted Rock several times, none since we've moved to this area, and it's a terrific hike, every enjoyable. Within a month, it should be hiking weather again.

The Hill Country around this part of Texas is gorgeous. Get in the car and head north and west. We've had destinations in our drives...Fredericksburg, Wimberley, Canyon Lake, Marble Falls, and have enjoyed the trips as much (sometimes more) than the destinations. Be on the lookout for deer as you drive!! They are everywhere and a definite road hazard.

Here's another off the beaten path place--Gruene, Tx (New Braunfels for all intent and purpose). Gruene hasn't yet gotten too touristy, but I don't know how they've avoided that plague. It has far more charm IMHO than Frekericksburg or Wimberley. Gruene Hall, music venue, has live performers all weekend and much of the week. Some of it's free, some there's a minimal charge. Some of our old time favorites have been there or are coming in the next couple of months...Aaron Neville will be there Nov 4, and we plan on doing that for sure. That schedule was set up before the hurricane so I hope it holds. Here's a note I posted about it after we first discovered it...will just cut and paste rather than go through it again:
Author: OO
Date: 04/11/2005, 06:42 pm

I'd thought about writing something about the Gruene Hall, actually. It was in full swing yesterday and I WISHED I'd had my camera. What a neat place! I don't know who the group was, but they must have had close to 150 people in the hall, loving it. Those rickety old floorboards, screened sides on the building, good music, a cool spring day = a very special moment. I felt glad to be "back" (in Texas) even!

I'd picked up a brochure while we were there, sort of in awe of what we had stumbled onto between that, the quaint teeny town, and the Guadaloupe, all surprisingly pretty! According to the brochure, Gruene Hall "has been instrumental in starting the careers of Lyle Lovett, George Strait, Hal Ketchum (?) and many others. The stage has seen the likes of Bo Diddley, the Dixie Chicks, Jerry Lee Lewis, Garth Brooks, and Willie Nelson." It hosted Nolan Ryan's 50th, and has been featured in numerous music videos and movies. They've got a website: www.gruenehall.com. I looked at upcoming events and see Taj Mahal (I went to school with him at UMass and still remember him singing at some of our freshman functions), Dr. John, and Leon Russell will all be there this month. It's only 15 minutes from our house so we'll be back for sure! We didn't have nearly enough time--would have loved to have stayed and listened longer, but the Masters was calling loudly to DH so we left.


They have a website: http://www.gruenehall.com/ which has some pictures as well as the schedule for the remainder of the year. Gruene Hall is amazing...it is the most "Texas" thing I've found in this area and the town and surrounds is pretty as well. While there, eat at the Grist Mill at an outside table overlooking the river if possible. (The river there is the Comal, I believe, not the Guadaloupe as I said in the note above.)

As P_M mentioned, Austin is a nice getaway too, and not far up the road. An hour and a half P_M? I dunno...took us 40 from our house last trip. I was surprised. I agree with her about Nuevo Laredo by the way. Violence is such now you couldn't get me near the place for any reason what-so-ever.

Even though you don't like touristy things, you might enjoy the Mission Trail, visiting the old Spanish missions in the area, of which the Alamo is only one. Visit http://www.nps.gov/saan/ for maps and more information.

If you hear of a mariachi symphony performance while you are here, do try to attend. The one we heard playing at a party we attended was awesome! Picture symphonic music performed by a combination orchestra and typical mariachi instruments. I grew up in New England in the Berkshires. Tanglewood would be "my thing" if I still lived there, but this was such an incredible experience--even more so here on a perfect night on a lawn under lit live oaks!

OK...that's starters. Now...although this should have been asked first...what sort of things do you enjoy?


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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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Wow, OO is a wealth of information!! Good job, OO.

Yes, the drive is about an hour and a half from downtown SA to downtown Austin, based on the usual traffic flow. If there's no traffic at all it can be faster, but that's almost never the case.
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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 08:21 AM
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PM is VERY correct that Nuevo Laredo has become quite dangerous recently, and I also would avoid traveling there. If you really want to go to Mexico, drive 2 hours west to Del Rio and go across at Cd. Acuna. It's a much smaller town, and there is not the violence there like in Nuevo Laredo. Also, the traffic across the bridges at Del Rio is nothing compared to Laredo!

I'll second OO's recommendations to explore the Hill Country, especially Fredersickburg. There are several good festivals there in the fall (Gillespie County Fair and Nights in Old Fredericksburg) that can be a lot of fun. They have street dances with German and country music, and the County Fair has pari-mutuel horse racing.

Enchanted Rock State Park is pretty cool, too. It is a huge bubble of pink granite, and it's almost other worldly! The deer in the park are so tame they will almost eat out of your hand.

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Old Sep 17th, 2005, 07:37 PM
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'I'm not into 'touristy' stuff, I was thinking restaurants......'

I don't plan on going outside the city at all, this isn't a vacation, it's job, they fly me in on Sunday night, and I fly out on Friday night, for 6-8 weeks solid, no chance to really go far.
Usually someone will suggest a restaurant that is well-hidden and not publicized, I tend to stay away from places you see advertising all over the place on.
 
Old Sep 17th, 2005, 08:58 PM
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Restaurant recommendations from a local gourmand:
In or near Downtown/the Riverwalk - Boudro's, Biga on the Banks - bistro/ foodie places, reliably good, moderate to upper moderate prices.
La Reve - upscale, arguably the best French in town, not cheap but very, very good.
Rosario's - best Mex and Tex-Mex in downtown area.
Las Canarias at the La Mansion hotel - very good white tablecloth type place.

Not far from downtown - La Fonda on Main (but only this one, not other places called La Fonda) great TexMex
La Paloma Blanca - great Tex Mex
Cappy's, or the more informal Cappycino's - eclectic american. Liberty Bar - funky but very good, eclectic menu. Save room for dessert.
Silo - great foodie venue, but not pretentious.
Picante Grill - on Broadway near the Witte museum; authentic and delicious Mexican, very informal
La Calesa - on Hildebrand just off Broadway, near University of the Incarnate Word - good TexMex
Bistro Vatel - french, very good if a bit pricey
L'Etoile - another French place, a bit less formal and less pricey but very good

A little further out but definitely worth it:
The Lodge in Castle Hills serves incredibly good food in delightful environment; make reservations.
Grey Moss Inn - a bit of a drive but good food in a nice Hill Country setting. The fried oyster appetizer is outstanding.

Too tired to be around people, just want something decent to go and/or resource for good snacks and nibbles:
Central Market on Broadway has an excellent prepared food selection in addition to a full range of supermarket items, great bakery, cheese and wine selections.

Enjoy!
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Old Sep 18th, 2005, 04:58 AM
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Can't add much more than what OO said... But do take a trip to Austin. I'd say it's an hour drive, give or take a few depending on the time of day. Austin has lots going on. You can always check austin360.com to see any special events, music, etc. October is a great weather month. (It will be about 100 here today, with a heat index of near 110...)
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Old Sep 18th, 2005, 03:00 PM
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Definitely make the trip to Austin for music, eating amd shopping.
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Old Sep 25th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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We live in San Antonio, and avoid the tourist places on weekends and holidays. But during the week, this time of year, the city is yours. Even El Mercado with its great farmers' market and fabulous MiTierra Bakery & Restaurante gives you that San Antonio feel without the crowds. It serves 24 hrs day. Go to the far end where the huge mural is. Have Chiliquitos or Migas for breakfast and definately the Mexican hot chocolate (with ever so light a touch of cinnamon & almond) made with real milk. Mariachi bands play there and at La Margaritas nightly. The Riverwalk is even pleasant on weeknights and a stroll there walks you by numerous restaurants, most very good. If you ever feel like sitting back and watching other people get rowdy, go to Dick's Last Resort bar on the Riverwalk. We have a great Central Library, and the Southwest Arts & Crafts Center is nearby, usually quiet. An evening at the Majestic Theatre, restored, with beautiful moving sky dome ceiling is worth the time. The area around LaVillita downtown has good, quaint restaurants for lunch and dinner.
You can go to www.sanantoniocvb.com -SA's official website, or to mysa.com to see what's going on, so you'll know if you want to avoid an area or join in the fun.
Do consider bringing friends or family one of the weeks. There's so much to do in SA.and the streetcars downtown are easy to get around in. Unfortunately, we're having an extended summer at present and temperatures are still in the 90's. Also, we have thousands of evacuees from New Orleans area still around. There are lots of quiet places and the most beautiful scenery is north of Loop 1604. Okay, I know you're not on vacation, but you will need some stress release, right? Are restaurants your main concern; what are your interests, and do you know what area you will be working in?
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Old Sep 26th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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Good eats

1. Rudy's BBQ in Leon Springs.

2. Restaurant Biga, at least the original one in the old house, not the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is the last place in SA you'd want to east.

3. I'd also just go to some of the little Mexican places down near the Mission.

Fredericksburg is a worthless tourist trap.
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Old Sep 26th, 2005, 06:14 AM
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Oh great. Now the Marriott ad drops down from above and covers up the space to write replies in. shoo shoo damned fly!

Anyway...I was going to say, I agree completely with metellus about Fredericksburg. I was so surprised and disappointed at what it had become since our last visit years and years ago, and I'll ditto Seamus' suggestion for Central Market if you just want to pick up something to eat back in your room. What a grocery store--worth a little tour itself!

I have no idea where you will be working fredman, but am sure you'll be around the river for play time, if not actually working or staying there. A friend and I had lunch at the Guenther House last week and it was outstanding. It's a restaurant I rarely see recommended, located in the historic home of the founder of the Pioneer Mill in the King William Historic District. They serve only breakfast (legendary) and lunch and are a nice escape from the madhouse of the river. I had a mouthwateringly good vegetarian sandwich and she had an equally good chicken/spinach salad with raspberry/walnut vinaigrette. We ate inside in a light bright solarium, but outside dining is available as well, which, despite the misters, was too hot to take advantage of last week with this record heat wave we've got going on. The restaurant makes a nice break if you are touring in the King William District, or is just a short hop from the Riverwalk area and nice respite from the madding crowds there.
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Old Sep 30th, 2005, 12:33 PM
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"Anyway...I was going to say, I agree completely with metellus about Fredericksburg. I was so surprised and disappointed at what it had become since our last visit years and years ago,"

It is really unfortunate but just about every place described in guide books a a quaint or interesting local town has turned into a tourist trap over the last 10 years, especially if it is within a few hours of a major urban area. I've pretty learned to ignore such places as they are almost never worth the drive.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 08:08 PM
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hi fredman,
I assume you are probably in San Antonio right now. I recommend visiting the markets (La Mercado). Enjoy the street vendors.
Pico de Gallos is a tex-mex restaraunt that didn't have many crowds and we really enjoyed the food. Also it is close to the Riverwalk, accessable by trolley.
I also recommend a visit to The Landing. Here is the website:
http://www.landing.com/
It's directly on the Riverwalk. (across the street from the Alamo)
It's live jazz music and very entertaining to watch. (I had so much fun, and I am not a huge fan of jazz) We did not need to have reservations when we went. They have a dinner menu. We didn't eat there, however the menu looks very good. The drinks were good but pricey.
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