Julia London's Guide To San Antonio

If you're in San Antonio for RWA, you might appreciate an insider's guide on what to do, what to see and, most importantly, where to eat. And what better guide than romance author and San Antonio native Julia London? Today the author shares her favorite go-to spots for fun in the Alamo City.

If you’re like a lot of people I meet, the only thing you know about San Antonio is the battle of the Alamo, and you probably think the actual Alamo is a lot bigger than it really is. You’ll see for yourself: The Alamo is a short walk from the conference hotel, and a whole lot smaller than Hollywood has made it.

It seems to me San Antonio doesn’t get the buzz other cities in Texas get (hello, Austin), but it is truly one of our most unique cities. I love the laid-back, Latin American, tropical vibe. But at the same time, the city is also progressively urban. In town for a day or a week, here are a few suggestions for what to see and do:

Mission Concepcion


Historic sites: There are so many! But a must see is the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The Alamo wasn’t the only mission, and several remain standing. What’s a mission, you ask? The missions were established by Franciscans to bring Christianity to the indigenous people. Which, technically, would be some of my people. The great news for you is that the River Walk has been greatly expanded in recent years, and you can walk, rent a bike, or run from your hotel to see them. What? Was that a no? Then it’s only a few miles from downtown, a short cab ride.

Plates of Mexican food

Food at Rosario's


Good Eats: What’s San Antonio without Mexican food? Fortunately, you will find authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex food all over San Antonio. One of the more iconic spots downtown for Mexican food is Rosario’s. Not into Mexican food, or afraid of the strong possibility of Mexican food overdose? Try one of my faves: Cappy’s, which is about four miles up Broadway. It serves what I would call American cuisine and is fabulous if you need to get out of downtown. You could walk there, but it’s kind of uphill. So maybe you should take a cab. 

Exploring the Vibe: San Antonio has a very rich museum system. The McNay art museum is an oasis in the middle of town. So is the Witte. But this month, the San Antonio Museum of Art has an exhibit of 100 Henri Matisse works on display. To celebrate—the museum is also hosting Matisse Paints the Town, so you may notice Matisse-themed window displays and events around town. Guess what? The museum is free and it’s on the River Walk, which means you can stroll there from your hotel. No, seriously, you can walk there.

A view of the San Antonio botanical gardens

Only part of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens


Great Outdoors: Need to get out of air-conditioned air? Brackenridge Park is more than 300 acres of beautiful landscaped park and recreation. Just a few blocks from the park is the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, a really lovely spot to unwind. And guess what? You can walk here, too! (Or bike. Or run. Okay, take a cab then). It’s just north of downtown on the River Walk.

Fun Times: Pearl Brewery has been repurposed! Back in the day, the Pearl Brewery was exactly what the name implies, but since it has shuttered, it has been transformed into an island of dining, shopping, and urban living. Surprise! It’s also on the River Walk. Don’t walk there—take a river taxi! Not to be confused with the tour boats you’ll see, these riverboats fly a flag. You can pick one up from any of the water taxi stops along the river. Take one from your conference hotel to the Brewery for a bite, a yoga class, or to rent a bike. No? Then visit Twig, a local bookstore.

I sincerely hope you have a great conference and love San Antonio as much as I do. Just remember to take water with you. It can get a little steamy.

- Julia London 

If you have any other San Antonio tourism suggestions, sound off in the comments! Julia London's latest novel, Return to Homecoming Ranch, is available today. For more romance visit our Everything Romance page.