Take a Walk on the Southside of San Antonio
I have lived in or near San Antonio my entire life and only recently learned about the hidden treasures located in its Southside region. Thanks to the South SA Chamber of Commerce, and Live from The Southside, I was able to take a weekend tour of the various parks, restaurants, and fine arts that south San Antonio has to offer – while staying in a beautiful hotel. I took a walk on the Southside and here’s what I saw. Here are 10 things to do and see in South SA.
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Antonio Brooks Hotel & Spa
I stayed at the Embassy Suites by Hilton San Antonio Brooks Hotel & Spa located across the street from the former Brooks air force base just off I-37 and SE Military Drive. It was graduation weekend during my stay so the place was buzzing with families carrying balloons and ceremonial knick-knacks through the lobby. The first thing that took me by surprise was the this Embassy Suites offers a free reception to guests everyday from 5:30-7:30 pm at the bar that includes a selection of wine, margaritas, and well drinks. Finger foods and snacks are also provided to compliment drinks. I’ve stayed in my fair share of hotels and I’ve never seen that before.
King size bed in the room made me want to hibernate. The only complaint I had about the room was the excess number of doors that made it feel like a maze. The Embassy Suites’ restaurant, the Nineteen17, offers cooked to order breakfast with everything you need to start the day. Real bacon, pancakes, assortment of pastries, fresh fruit, cereal, eggs, and fresh tasting juice all displayed in a large kitchen hall with plenty of seating to accommodate guests.
So often you hear people complaining about how noisy restaurants are getting, but at the Nineteen17 I did not notice this problem. Even with kids present. Obviously you don’t have to be a guest in the hotel to enjoy Nineteen17’s hospitality when it comes to food and happy hour specials.
Location: 7610 South New Braunfels, San Antonio, TX
Salt Cave at Pure Sol Spa
Apart from great food and comfy beds, the Embassy Suites by Hilton San Antonio Brooks also features a spa. The Pure Sol Spa offers a wide array of massages and wellness treatments that really put the “ahhh” in spa. They even offer a facial treatment designed for men that use a whiskey infused face mask, and every spa bed is heated for an added touch of luxury.
Pure Sol’s signature is the Salt Cave. A room modeled to look like a salt cave from floor to ceiling designed to engulf the senses with the nature minerals of real salt. The room is kept cold as you lay back in a chair covered in a warm blanket listening to gentle soothing music amidst the scenic tranquility of the Salt Cave. I left that room breathing better than ever. Works wonders if you suffer from allergies.
The only day Pure Sol is not open is on Mondays and you don’t have to be a guest in the hotel to take full advantage of their services.
Location: 7610 South New Braunfels, San Antonio, TX
Garcia Art Glass
No major city is complete without an art scene, and San Antonio is no different. We toured Garcia Art Glass to see (in real time) the artistry involved in creating a sculpture through glass blowing.
Watching glass blowing done by masters of the craft is a truly captivating experience to witness first hand. You can also see them work if ever drive past their shop. Which has been family owned and operated by women since day one. Call ahead if you want to find out the best times to watch the artists at Garcia Art Glass spin fire into art. Or stop by to check out the impressive art gallery that is their front reception at 715 S Alamo St, San Antonio, TX.
If you’re exploring the Southside of San Antonio and looking for places to eat, South SA offers a vast diversity of culinary delights. B&B Smokehouse is a South SA institution that has been around since 1958.
Family owned and operated, B&B has recently opened a new building with additional parking to supply the demand for their delicious Texas BBQ. I know that saying one place offers the best BBQ in Texas is like someone claiming they make the best pizza in New York City. However, B&B Smokehouse has the best barbeque chicken I’ve ever had in my personal life. Same goes for their fresh squeezed lemonade!
One thing I saw that gave me great peace of mind was when I was in the bathroom and had to wait behind a kitchen employee who was thoroughly washing his hands like he was preparing to go into surgery. I like that.
Location: 2627 Pleasanton Rd, San Antonio, TX
Casa Azul de Andrea
Casa Azul de Andrea is a small café in South SA that offers great food and an art gallery. The café is a tribute to artist Frida Kahlo and each room has portraits of her done by local artists (and are for sale). We stopped by for Sunday brunch to enjoyed mango mimosas with barbacoa quesadillas, and corn in a cup. If I had to sum up this place in one word it would be – refreshing. Like walking into a supermarket on a hot summer day and being cradled by industrial grade air conditioning.
Location: 1036 S Alamo St, San Antonio, TX
Seersucker Gin Distillery
Did you know San Antonio had a gin distillery? Did you also know that Seersucker Gin is the world’s first to make “Southern style” gin? Seersucker Gin Distillery is a little darling in South SA.
The distillery started giving out tours to people in 2017 where you will be shown, and explained, the full process of making their signature southern style gin – and then taste it. The property is beautiful with a large blue barn shaped building, manicured lawn, and white fence that ties the whole scene together perfectly. A place that makes you want to be sitting on a rocking chair while sipping on gin spiked lemonade. Delightful!
Location: 8501 Cover Rd, San Antonio, TX
Facebook: @ SouthernStyleGin
Craft soda is on the verge of being the next hip thing in the food world and Southside CraffSoda is proud to be made and bottled in South SA. Their product, Texa Cola, is a craft soda that incorporates citrus and real honey into their cola giving it a new-at-first taste with a thirst quenching finish. They bottled the first Texa Cola in March of 2019 and already have their product sitting on shelves in select HEB and Central Market stores in town. This craft soda is so good on its own but when mixed with bourdon, rum, or even Pinot Grigio (yeah, that’s right), Texa Cola is simply outstanding. I look for it every time I got to my HEB.
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
You don’t need to travel outside city limits to get in touch with nature thanks to places like the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. This park offers both hiking and driving trails to explore the property. Mitchell Lake Audubon is known best for its bird watching opportunities. The abundance of nature and birds makes it a unique place in South SA and certainly one worth visiting in the summer. Just remember to pack sun block and bug spray. Admission is only $5 for adults and $2 for children.
Location: 10750 Pleasanton Rd, San Antonio, TX
Hot Wells of Bexar County
I had never even heard of the Hot Wells of Bexar County until I arrived. One of San Antonio’s newest and the most fascinating parks. The remains of the sulfur water Hot Wells what was once a luxurious spa resort for the elite of the 19th and 20th century. People like Teddy Roosevelt and Charlie Chapin who visited and swam here so many years ago.
What is left of the original buildings are now the center piece of the park and give visitors a glimpse of what it must have been like. Separate pools for gentlemen and ladies, smaller windows, and walk ways. Future plans for this park is to open up another spa and give guests a taste of what luxury in the 1890’s was like.
Location: 5503 S Presa, San Antonio, TX
Mission San Jose
San Antonio’s most famous mission the Alamo has several other missions in its shadow, like Mission San Jose. Protected by the National Parks Service, Mission San Jose gives Sunday mass every week in its church. It is also a popular photography spot as I saw multiple students taking their graduation photos while touring the grounds of the Mission. There is also a trail that connects the four Missions in South SA: Mission Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan, and Espada. Trails that can be hiked, biked, or walked.
Location: 6701 San Jose Dr, San Antonio, TX
Confluence Park is a beautiful place to visit, a modern park with nature as its foundation. River Foundation is proud to offer this park venue to nonprofit and educational partners for free. This is a park designed to give back while providing a service in providing a place of green for the community. Even located in the middle of the city the only sound I could hear at the park was the sound of rushing water from the river below.
Location: 310 W Mitchell Street, San Antonio, TX
Southside San Antonio
These were only a taste of what South SA has to offer. I spent most of my time in Northeast SA and no idea all these wonderful places were here. South SA is still San Antonio, but it definitely has its own vibe and sense of style. I cannot recommend these places enough.
I would like to give a big thanks to South SA Chamber of Commerce, and Live From the Southside, for showing me around this part of the Alamo City.