SAN ANTONIO’S FAMOUS River Walk offers travelers plenty of entertaining options: a romantic barge ride under a canopy of 200-year-old cypress trees, riverside tables perfect for sampling margaritas and local cuisine, and plenty of spas, restaurants, bars, and shops. Ever since the 1968 HemisFair put the spotlight on the ingenious development that turned the land along a former flood-prone river through the middle of town into one of the most alluring urban developments, the River Walk has drawn people from around the world to its banks for alfresco dining, shopping, and nightlife.
Author Terry Scott Bertling Photography Dave Lauridsen
DAY THREE / Choose something from the healthful spa menu for breakfast outdoors at the Watermark’s Pesca on the River. Today you’ve rented a convertible—perfect for a Hill Country drive full of great scenery and great shopping. Crank up the country music on the radio (George Strait is the local favorite) and watch for waves of color along the roadside if your trip coincides with the spring wildflower season. And, yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to pull over, hop out into the wild-flowers, and take advantage of a colorful photo op on the side of the road.
After a 20-minute drive, you’re in the little town of Boerne, where your first stop is Jac’s Personal Touch, an eclectic home décor store packed with eye candy. Wander Main Street and you’ll spot Carousel Antiques & Pickles (famous for its sweet and spicy Fickle Pickles) and, a block off the main drag, A Little Nature Store and Kiss the Cook.
Lunch is some good home cooking at the Peach Tree Kountry Kitchen. Pass on dessert because your next stop is Fredericksburg, 40 miles north, where you won’t be able to resist the salsas, sauces, and jams at Das Peach Haus. Fischer & Weiser’s Original Raspberry Chipotle Sauce packs a kick and keeps you coming back for more.
In Fredericksburg, the main attraction is Main Street, with block after block of cute (and a few kitschy) shops. Start at Linens-N-More, with a whole room devoted to heirloom quilts. Head down the street to shops offering winetastings, clothing, jewelry, home furnishings, and gifts.
If the roadside blooms caught your eye on the drive, you’ll love Wildseed Farms Market Center, east of Fredericksburg, where you can stop and smell the flowers or buy seeds in bulk. Fields of flowers showcase what’s in season.
Farther east, pull into Becker Vineyards, a favorite Hill Country winery for its Lavender Festival every May and a 2006 Viognier that’s astounding. Grab a glass of your own favorite and enjoy it on the veranda. Around Fredericksburg and Blanco (the self-proclaimed Lavender Capital of Texas), there are farms to tour in late spring where you can cut your own lavender bundles and shop for everything lavender.
Now that you’ve enjoyed Texas Hill Country, it’s time to drive back to the big city. You’re going out tonight thanks to reservations made weeks ago at one of the city’s—and the state’s—finest restaurants. At Le Rêve, a French restaurant, chef Andrew Weissman puts heaven on a plate with his chef’s tasting menu (eight courses, each matched with a different wine, for $165 per person). Depending on what’s in season and suits the fancy of your culinary tour guide, you may enjoy an onion tart with goat cheese, beet salad with tomatoes and candied walnuts, bass and shrimp in beurre blanc, or beef tenderloin with seared foie gras.
Give the city one last look from Bar 601 at the top of the Tower of the Americas. Raise a toast to a great trip—even though you still haven’t caught a Spurs basketball game, heard the symphony, or wandered the historic Mission Trail. You may even decide to call home and let folks know you’ll be late getting back. A fourth perfect day! Terry Scott Bertling is the assistant managing editor of features and niche products for the San Antonio Express-News, where she also writes travel stories and contributes to the Shopping Posse blog at mysanantonio.com.
Alamo City has a temperate, subtropical climate with more than 300 days of sunshine yearly. March is one of the drier months, although thunderstorms can turn severe. Summer is sunny, hot, and humid. Triple-digit heat occurs roughly nine days each year. By fall (otherwise known as football season here), temperatures turn cool again, and winter cold fronts bring an occasional cold snap. Snow is rare.
Weather information is provided by The Weather Channel. For more San Antonio climatological details, visit weather.com.
Getting from the San Antonio International Airport to the River Walk costs about $22 by taxi and $14 by SATrans AirportExpress shuttle. For River Walk travel by barge or river taxi, Rio San Antonio Cruises’ main hub is near the Rivercenter Mall lagoon. River tours are $7.75 for adults and $2 for kids 5 and younger. Rio Taxi fares are $4 one-way. A streetcar service ($1) hits most major downtown tourist spots.
A SeaWorld (seaworld.com) Shamu, roller coasters, and a Lost Lagoon water park
B Six Flags Fiesta Texas (sixflags.com) Thrill rides and high-energy shows
C H-E-B Science Treehouse at Witte Museum (wittemuseum.org) Bicycle ride suspended 14 feet in the air, plus interactive science activities
D San Antonio Children’s Museum (sakids.org) Dozens of hands-on exhibits
E San Antonio Zoo (sazoo-aq.org) More than 3,500 animals and a nature spot for tiny tots