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From the New Park to Museums, Enjoy San Antonio on a Budget



San Antonio is full of delights and ready to be explored! The good news is there are plenty of free activities to enjoy that won't cost you a cent, although likely, once you start exploring you'll end up wanting to splurge on something, even if only a refreshing raspa (shaved ice)!

Whether you've visited the Alamo city before or it's your first time, you must take advantage of the recently opened San Pedro Creek Culture Park, located downtown. Similar to the riverwalk, this historic park is a celebration of nature, art and culture, and a great way to take in the city on a budget. Bring the kids, your best friend or your new romance and get inspired by this incredible city!

If you love art and culture, then you definitely need to take advantage of the free museum nights that virtually all the museums in town offer. Also downtown, The Briscoe Western Art Museum, is perfect for those who really want a taste of Texas and the wild, wild west! Admission is free here on Tuesday evenings.

 

 

 

 


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New Braunfels
Greune

If you want to find the oldest dance hall in the Lone Star State, you'll have to make the trip back in time to this tiny community right outside New Braunfels. Gruene Hall has been in continuous operation since 1878, and over the years folks like Lyle Lovett, George Strait, and Robert Earl Keen've played to packed houses. During the day, Gruene is a favorite of history buffs and antique hounds, who scour stores like Cactus Jacks and Black Swann for everything from old bottles and battered signs to European furniture and arrowheads. There're also a few places to cool your heels, most notably Janie's Table, known for their Hill Country-style.




If you only visit one museum in San Antonio, make sure it's the McNay. Not only do they have a superb art collection, the museum itself is a work of art. This 24-room, Spanish colonial revival-style mansion and its own sizable collection was donated by Marion Koogler McNay, an American painter and art teacher. The museum focuses primarily on 19th and 20th century European and American art and has some impressive pieces by artists such as Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Georgia O'Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Mary Cassatt and Edward Hopper. Also, be sure to visit the absolutely stunning interior courtyard, complete with a Japanese-inspired garden and fishpond. It's a nice place to sit and ponder.


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San Antonio


The Pearl Brewery is one of the coolest places you can visit in San Antonio. This brewery, established in 1883 and once home to Pabst beer, has recently been transformed from a historic brewery to a thriving multi-use space where you can eat, shop, learn, work and live. The Pearl is situated next to the recent Riverwalk expansion, so you can catch a tour boat or walk from the Pearl all the way downtown, past the San Antonio Museum of Art and numerous artistic elements that have been carefully built into the landscape. You'll find fine dining to street food restaurants, a great coffee shop run by the Culinary institute and more. The Culinary Institute and the Aveda School have facilities at the Pearl and both are open to patrons. Every Saturday, the Pearl is host to an amazing Farmer's Market and has become a traditional Saturday event for locals.


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River Walk
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta


Travel + Leisure ranked the San Antonio River Walk as the #1 River Walk in America. Also known as Paseo del Rio, this major tourist attraction brings in over five million visitors a year. Delight yourself with a relaxing dinner at one of the numerous restaurants or cafes that line the river. Spice it up by visiting one of the numerous night spots or enjoying the sounds of mariachis and other live music. Adults and children enjoy floating on river boats piloted by San Antonio's humorous tour guides. The River Walk is the perfect place to hang out with family or sit quietly with your date while you enjoy the sounds of a bubbling waterfall.




The Briscoe Western Art Museum is a collections-based institution building upon art and artifacts that tell the vast and multifaceted story of the American West. Located on San Antonio's famed riverwalk, the institution is housed in San Antonio's first Public Library and newly constructed pavilion. The Briscoe Campus consists of the historic Museum building, the Jack Guenther Pavilion and the adjacent McNutt Courtyard and Sculpture Garden. The Briscoe Western Art Museum, named in honor of the late Texas Governor, Dolph Briscoe, Jr. and his wife, Janey, preserves and interprets the art, history, and culture of the American West through engaging exhibitions, educational programs, and public events reflective of the region's rich traditions and shared heritage. Their unique collections include Santa Anna's Sword, Visions of Change bronze sculpture by John Coleman, Pancho Villa's Saddle of leather and silver, a replica of a Western mail stagecoach and much more!




San Antonio's Japanese Tea Gardens feels like a set straight out of a movie, something like What Dreams May Come or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The point is, it's a magical and enchanting place, perfect for declarations of love and sonnet writing. The restored garden is a beautiful destination all year long and features a verdant garden and floral display with shaded walkways, stone bridges, a 60-foot waterfall and ponds filled with fat and happy Koi. A whimsically winding walkway encompasses the garden and makes for nice after dinner stroll. If you visit just one of San Antonio's landmarks, be sure to make it this one!




There were five missions established in the early 1700's. These Spanish missions were more than churches. They became towns with a focus on encouraging the natives to become Catholic in order to be citizens. The Spanish king was able to extend influence outward from Mexico. Four missions are linked on this trail. San Jose, San Juan, Concepcion, and Espada. The fifth was the Alamo. With the exception of the Alamo, all four of the missions are still active Catholic parishes. Beautiful architecture remains almost as it was nearly 300 years ago. Step back into a beautiful history as you tour the San Antonio Missions. Family friendly and educational.




Located just below the headwaters of the San Antonio River, not far from downtown, Brackenridge Park has been a gathering spot since prehistoric times (dating back 11,000 years) and has since evolved into one of the most popular family hang-outs in San Antonio. This beautiful park is covered with Live Oak trees and offers visitors dozens of privately situated picnic tables and barbeque pits to choose from. Brackenridge offers three pavilions (available for events), a playscape for children, a softball field, a walking path around the pond, where you'll find all sorts of ducks and other wildlife and, best of all, a charming mini-train that runs right through the park.




To fully experience the wide range of diversity that San Antonio has to offer, San Antonio's El Mercado (a.k.a. Market Square) is the best place to take the kids for a unique, fun day. It was once home to a bustling produce market. Today, it's a festive and exciting representation of all of the colorful cultures and flavors that make up San Antonio. On the weekends, you can expect to find all sorts of activities, live music, vendors and events designed just for kids. Mom and Dad will also have fun shopping. There are plenty of leather and paper-mache goods, blankets, pottery and numerous other hand-made and imported items.


San Pedro Creek Culture Park
Photo courtesy of April Monterrosa


The City of San Antonio invested $125 million dollars into revitalizing the San Pedro Creek and transforming it into the San Pedro Creek Culture Park, which means a beautiful and free destination for visitors to enjoy throughout the year. Located on the western edge of downtown, near the Alamo, is a merging and celebration of this city's nature, art, and culture. The first section opened in May of 2018 and showcases the Plaza de Fundacion and its stunning "Rain from the Heavens" public art installation of custom tile work that adorns a dozen generational benches. Visitors can stroll through this picturesque park, very similar to the riverwalk, and take in their surroundings, which includes a variety of commissioned murals and art pieces that depict the history and culture of San Pedro Creek.


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Meet Kimberly Suta

Kimberly A. Suta is a professional freelance writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur with a background in marketing, advertising and social media. Her first business, Midnight Sun Innovations,...  More About Kimberly

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