San Antonio has long been known for its field trip-worthy sites such as the Alamo, the Spanish Missions and the River Walk. In addition to these spring break pit stops, take in the city’s urban treasures—it’s beautiful Spanish Colonial and Gothic Revival builds—and, at the Hotel Havana, its sultry Latin side.
When Liz Lambert opened Austin’s San José and St. Cecilia, she almost single-handedly revived two fledgling neighborhoods. Now the Texas pioneer has set her sights on San Antonio, breathing new life into a grand Mediterranean Revival castle on a wooded stretch of the Riverwalk district. The 27-room Hotel Havana’s tufted-velvet recamiers and club chairs and acres of dark Bastrop-pine floors create a breezy colonial feel. And it’s no surprise that the hotel’s bar—with red votives and dark, bordello-like nooks—is the city’s top spot for a nightcap.
San Antonio River Walk
Why It’s Cool: This granddaddy of river walks charms with four miles of cypress-lined cobble- and-flagstone paths along both sides of the narrow San Antonio River. Locals and visitors cool off on the horseshoe-shaped loop downtown, meandering past trendy shops and stopping at hot spots like Boudro’s for a prickly-pear margarita and guacamole prepared tableside.
Don’t Miss: The Museum Reach river walk section, which opened in 2009 and stretches 1.7 miles north, passes the San Antonio Museum of Art. Landscaped with native plants and small water cascades, the route features art installations under every bridge.
Granary ’Cue & Brew
This stylish barbecue joint, housed a historic clapboard house, relies on its 4,000-pound wood-fired smoker to churn out lunch and dinner. You’ll find giant beef ribs, tender pork belly and peppery sliced brisket on the meat-focused menu. Co-owner and brewer Alex Rattray also makes four types of beers in a backroom microbrewery. Order a flight and sample each.
Chef Johnny Hernandez, a local celebrity, opened Fruteria - Botanero in South Town, a neighborhood where beautiful old industrial buildings are reopening as condos, shops and restaurants. Stop in for breakfast, when the Fruteria serves delicious jugos and liquados, or fresh pressed juices and smoothies with yogurt or milk. At night, the restaurant converts into a Bontanero, or a Mexican bar that serves small plates.
Pick up a sweet treat at this new bakery, owned by Anne Ng and Jeremy Mandrell who cut their teeth at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, California, before relocating to the south. Locals are already addicted to their refined tarts and fluffy macaroons.