Holiday Goddess Vicki Arkoff owns a pair of cowboy boots that were made for walking the streets of San Antonio. And we mean that in the good way.
San Antonio is the place to see where Texas history begins, especially when you chose to leave taxis behind to instead follow in the footsteps of the city’s earliest inhabitants and history-makers. Here you can walk back in time to colonial Spanish days at one of San Antonio’s five 18th-century missions that spread European culture and converted the native people to Christianity — forever changing the face of the Southwest, for better or worse. Wander the streets of La Villita, one of the first Spanish settlements, and later home to German and French pioneers. Or head to the King William neighborhood, a national historic district lined with impressive restored homes. Sit at the bar in the Menger Hotel where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his “Rough Riders” years before and toast the ex-President with a hearty “Bully!”
To avoid wearing holes in the soles of your new snakeskin Tony Lama’s here’s a guide to San Antone’s best urban treks:
River Walk: Use a smart phone to explore 12 points along the San Antonio River Walk, a winding, tree-lined linear park that meanders through the heart of the city, one block below the street. The cafes, restaurants, hotels, shops and nightclubs that line the River Walk today began as the vision of a young architect, Robert H. H. Hugman, in 1929. Renowed local historian, Lewis Fisher, narrates the tour. To get started, use your smart phone download free tag readers for maps, history, walking tours and more at bit.ly/pkeNZmscan, courtesy of the hospitable San Antonio Official Travel Guide.
Downtown Texas Star Trail: Explore 2.6 miles of historical San Antonio using a map and guide to the Texas Star Trail and learn more about 79 historic buildings, objects, places, events and customs of San Antonio and Texas through history. The San Antonio Conservation Society first produced this tour in 1986. Pick up a complimentary printed version of the tour at the San Antonio Visitor Center right next door to the Alamo.
Central Urban Corridor: More than 10 hiking and biking routes range from an easy 1.7 miles all the way to a 20-mile trek along the San Antonio Missions trail south of downtown. Pick up maps in the Visitor Center and explore top historical sites in the city’s urban core as well as points south, north and east of downtown, with rich histories that are a little more off the beaten path. Watch, too, for dramatic renovations and development at key spots like the Missions area and the Pearl Brewery. Bring your own bike, rent one upon arrival, or try the new “bike share” program. Learn more about these and other adventures at www.visitsanantonio.com/visitors/play/outdoor-recreation/index.aspx
Houston Street: Houston Street began as an unpaved lane lined with small homes, corrals and the site of a U.S. military headquarters. But by 1900, Houston Street was transformed into the city’s major business corridor. Find out more about the rich history of Houston Street with a self-guided kiosk tour which highlights the history and architecture of many of the significant structures. There are eight kiosks which start at the corner of Alamo and Houston Streets and end at Santa Rosa Street.