San Antonio is an easy city to love, and I say that having not fallen in love with every bohemian city out there. My main reason for visiting was to experience their annual Luminaria celebration and I left with a huge appreciation for the local art scene. As I normally do with my Boho Guides, here are a few tips and tricks on how to make San Antonio feel like your home away from home.
Sample Mexican Food at Market Square
It only took one meal to discover that San Antonio is a foodie’s dream destination. When I visited the city’s beloved Market Square, I saw a good mix of locals and tourists and I’m guessing that has a little to do with the authentic and cheap Mexican food served by several of the vendors. It’s a great way to experience Mexican food while shopping and listening to live bands perform. As I lazily walked from vendor to vendor, there were moments when I actually forgot that I was in Texas and not Mexico. The mix of cultures here is refreshing and part of San Antonio’s overall charm.
Gallery Hop in La Villita
Conveniently located within walking distance of The Alamo and other downtown attractions, La Villita is the first village in San Antonio and quietly sits along the river bank. As soon as you reach La Villita, it’s apparent that there is history attached to the area. The pedestrian streets connect a series of more than 20 artisans, galleries and shops with items ranging from high-end artwork to quirky souvenirs. Many artists also use the area as their outdoor work space, which adds an element of excitement to the quiet neighborhood.
Bid on Art in Southtown
As an appreciator of anything avant-garde, I naturally gravitated toward Southtown, a neighborhood dominated by art museums and a younger demographic. Definitely worth a visit are Blue Start Contemporary Art Center, the San Angel Folk Art and Say Si, an art school where you can bid on original work from the school’s most talented students. After looking at the current displays and seeing just how affordable many of the pieces were, I almost bid on a few items myself. Artwork can be expensive, but clearly it doesn’t have to be. Say Si showed me that you can still get quality artwork that speaks to your creative tastes for a reasonable price.
I came to San Antonio thinking that Luminaria was going to be major highlight of my trip, and while it truly was spectacular, I was surprised by how many other events were also taking place that weekend including the Paella Challenge I attended. I even stumbled upon a festival of sorts in La Villita where I managed to score a free slice of apple pie. I later learned that free live entertainment is a core part of local San Antonio culture. On Fridays in July in August for example, the Balcones Heights Jazz Festival draws a large crowd. When you visit, stay up to day with what’s going on that weekend because chances are pretty high that there is something cultural taking place right under your nose.
Friendly up to the Locals
Budget bohemians will be glad to know that it is possible to wine and dine in San Antonio without splurging. Located in Southtown near the galleries and the King William Historic District, is the appropriately named ‘The Friendly Spot‘. In fact, this employee was so friendly that he offered to pose in my picture before I even thought to ask him. Attracting families and 20-somethings alike, the joint serves up burgers, quesadillas, nachos and other simple but satisfying foods. For other cheap eats, order a quick meal from one of the city’s many food trucks.
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