With Christmas fast approaching, I spent some time the past few days reminiscing about great holiday destinations.
My lucky husband gets a good chunk of time off from work every Christmas. Because of this, we often sneak away on holiday esacapes.
One fun stop this time of year:
San Antonio, Texas
Hilton Palacio Del Rio - home base for a 2013 getaway.
San Antonio is located in South Central, Texas and is the seventh largest city in the United States. For centuries the area was home to the Payaya Native American tribe. The first European explorers arrived from Spain in 1691.
In 1718 the Spanish established a mission and presidio (military fort) along the river. This is seen as the founding of the city. Celebrations marking San Antonio’s tricentennial have been held throughout the year.
Sunrise over Texas.
San Antonio is rich with history and culture. The city is home to the Alamo, a UNESCO world heritage listed mission, a world class art gallery, amusement parks, shopping, a rodeo and many museums. However, the real draw at the holidays is the San Antonio River Walk.
The River Walk
The River Walk is a 15 mile pathway which follows the San Antonio River through the city. The landscaped walkway is located below street level and it passes countless parks, restaurants, hotels and shops. The area can be explored on foot or by barge.
At Christmas time it is decorated with over 100,000 lights!
Holiday lights along the River Walk.
The display is lit every November the day after Thanksgiving. The same night a spectacular holiday parade floats down the river bringing thousands of onlookers. The River Walk is free (except during the holiday parade) and is open to visitors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The holiday lights shine through the new year.
City lights as seen from the river.
Tower of the Americas as seen from the River Walk. This tower is 750 feet tall and provides panoramic views of the city from both it’s observation deck and revolving restaurant. More Info
Many of the city’s attractions are easily accessible from the River Walk. This includes the Alamo, San Fernando Cathedral, The Buckhorn Saloon/Texas Ranger Museum and La Villita Historic Arts Village. The River Walk itself is the city’s number one tourist destination.
The Alamo is a mission, turned fort, turned historic landmark made famous by an 1836 defeat of Texan forces by the Mexican Army. Texas, once part of Mexico, had declared themselves independent. In a show of force, Mexican troops set out to retake the Alamo in a show of military superiority. Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana led 6,000 troops against Alamo to reclaim the strategic location. A band of only 250 defenders was able to hold off Santa Ana for 13 days. Though the Texans lost the battle, Remember The Alamo served as rallying cry for American troops who would later defeat Mexico in the Mexican American War.
San Fernando Cathedral, final resting place of several Alamo heroes including Davy Crockett, William Travis and Jim Bowie.
Inside The Buckhorn Saloon/Texas Ranger Museum. In typical Texas style the saloon is decorated with ALL the dead things.
La Villita Historic Arts Village was one of the city’s first neighborhoods. It was later transformed into an arts center and marketplace. Today visitors come enjoy the market’s unique culinary options and to browse galleries for handcrafted art pieces. Many of the city’s biggest festivals including, Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos are held on site. There is also an 800 seat amphitheater in the village along the bank of the San Antonio River.
Along the River Walk itself, one of the main draws is alfresco dining. The first restaurant along the river, Casa Rio opened in 1946. It’s colorful umbrellas and Mexican food still attract hungry visitors today. Even with cooler temperatures, diners regularly eat outside during the winter months where they can enjoy river views and the sounds of mariachi music.
Casa Rios, a landmark dining establishment on the River Walk.
Bundled up, but still outside at The Lone Star Saloon.
No visit to the River Walk is complete without a guided float down the river. In December the lights filling the Cyprus trees are a stunning site. If you are lucky you may also pass boats filled with musicians along the way.
Happy camper LOVING all the lights.
Texas Longhorns Marching Band performing on the river the night before the Alamo Bowl.
And more lights!